Despite finishing 2007 tied for third place in Group B of the Euroleague regular season, Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv will start the new year with a new head coach after Oded Kattash resigned from the bench. Zvika Sherf, a homegrown Maccabi product who has coached at the highest levels of Europe for decades, was appointed Maccabi's new head coach until the end of the season. Sherf had been the club's general manager since midsummer. The change came after Maccabi suffered an 18-point Israeli League loss on Monday night to the last team in the standings, Ironi Ramat Gan. That was Maccabi's third loss in eight Israeli League games, marking the team's worst start in the domestic league in decades. All of Maccabi losses this season, other than one, were by very big margins. In a meeting with the club's management today, Kattash said he takes full responsibility for the team's situation and asked to resign. "The team needs a change, and in this situation, the only significant change that can take place is in the coach's position," Kattash said in the official press release of the club. "As someone who always sees what's best for the club before his eyes and holds a big place in my heart for it, the management accepted my will to resign from my position as coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv, the team I love so much. I love the club and the players, believe in their abilities and hope they win all the titles this season."
Sherf, who was appointed the club's general manager last summer, will coach the team until the end of the season. The general manager's position will not be filled at the moment, the club said. Sherf started his coaching career with Maccabi and was the assistant coach when the club won its second Euroleague title in 1981. Later, as its head coach, he carried the team to two Euroleague finals, and is considered one of the most successful coaches in the history of the club. His last campaign on Maccabi's bench was the 1996-97 season. Other than coaching in Hapoel Tel Aviv, Hapoel Jerusalem and several other clubs in Israel, Sherf also spent several seasons overseas, and very few coaches in the continent have more experience than him in European Championships and the Euroleague. He coached in Limoges, won the Saporta cup with Aris Thessaloniki, spent time with its arch-rival PAOK, and later coached in Makedonikos, Idea Slask and Dynamo Moscow. In addition, Sherf is the head coach of the Israeli national team in the past three years, a job he also held during the 1980s and 1990s, which makes him one of the most veteran coaches in Europe.