Forget about American players making good in Europe: David Blatt is simply one of the top head coaches on The Continent, and the Team Russia miracle worker has just added another gold star to his resume in “coming home” to Maccabi Tel Aviv on a three-year contract.
Blatt has some huge shoes to fill in Israel in the wake of the departed Pini Gershon (hey, let’s see Blatt nearly cause an international incident in an exhibition game), but he certainly has the acumen to do so.
Indeed, Blatt served as assistant coach to Gershon in Tel Aviv in the early 2000s and is credited with helping recruit the likes of Anthony Parker and Maceo Baston. Not to mention becoming part of perhaps the greatest coaching staff ever assembled in Europe with the 2003-04 triple crown-winning Maccabi team — after he’d won consecutive Israeli League titles *as head coach*.
Perhaps most known internationally for his Team Russia’s astounding 2007 Eurobasket upset win, Blatt has also earned quite an awesome reputation in three other national leagues over the past decade and a half.
In 1996, Blatt took the Coach of the Year title with Hapoel Galil Elyon; in 2005, he took the Russian counterpart of the award with FIBA Eurocup-winning Dynamo St. Petersburg. And in passing, Blatt spent a year in Italy to snag Benetton Basket its last league championship and Italian Super Cup to date in 2006.
Most recently, Blatt led Aris Thessaloniki to the Eurocup quarterfinals and will next be helming Team Russia again in the upcoming FIBA World Championship.
Outstanding news for Maccabi Tel Aviv fans, then, as this team should continue to be a Euroleague power for years to come.
Official FIBA writeup follows.
(FIBA) – David Blatt is going to have his hands full this summer as the coach of Russia in a very tough Group C at the FIBA World Championship.
He’ll be putting a lot of concentration into his new job before then, though, after signing a three-year contract to coach European giants Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Blatt, widely acknowledged as one of the top coaches on the continent, is returning to Maccabi – a team he led to Israeli league crowns in 2002 and 2003. His Maccabi team also reached the Euroleague Final Four in 2002.
Blatt, 51, has had a huge amount of success outside of Israel as well. He guided Dynamo St Petersburg to an undefeated campaign in the FIBA Europe League and also steered Benetton Treviso to a Lega A title and a Coppa Italia win.
With Russia, Blatt made his mark on international basketball by turning a team that had no focus and confidence into a EuroBasket 2007 champion.
Having also coached Efes Pilsen and Dynamo Moscow in recent times, Blatt earlier this year replaced Fotis Katsikaris as coach of Aris Thessaloniki, leading the team to the Eurocup Quarterfinals, and also into the Greek playoffs.
“I’m glad to be home,” Blatt said after signing his contract on Friday morning. “It’s a great honor for me to continue the work done by Gershon. I want to return Maccabi Tel Aviv to its natural place where it should be in Israel and Europe.”
Maccabi reached the Euroleague Quarterfinals this season and had home court advantage but were upset by Partizan Belgrade. Their season of frustration came to an end after Galil Gilboa upset them in the Israeli playoff final.
“There are so many people who love this wonderful club and want success, and working together, I believe we can have it,” he said.