Basketball State Cup Holon Reunites a Triumphant Triumvirate

Dan Shamir, Pini Gershon and Elad Hasin will try to rework their Maccabi magic against their former employer.

Arie Livnat
Arie Livnat
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Arie Livnat
Arie Livnat

The triumvirate that ran Maccabi Tel Aviv six seasons ago is bringing a measure of success to Hapoel Holon this season, despite the team's lower-than-average budget.

Holon head coach Dan Shamir takes his team into tonight's State Cup semifinal against Maccabi Tel Aviv with the help of his assistant, Elad Hasin, and chief administrator Pini Gershon. In the 2005/06 campaign, during which Gershon held the reins, with Shamir and Hasin serving as assistant coaches, Maccabi won both the league championship and the State Cup in Israel, and reached the Euroleague final.

Gershon, left, enjoying a moment with Shamir. Credit: Abdallah Shamaa

Hasin says he helped make the match between the other two in 2003 after Gershon asked him if he knew Shamir and then asked him to make contact with him about being his second assistant coach upon his imminent return to Maccabi. "I was on my way to close things with Hapoel Tel Aviv, and Elad called me up on the way," Shamir recalls.

Instead, Shamir joined Maccabi. Shamir was promoted to first assistant coach in 2005, and Hasin moved over from the position of scout to being second assistant coach.

This summer, it was Gershon who brought in Shamir, who, in turn, recruited Hasin. "Elad's a terrific coach who understands basketball," Shamir says of Hasin. "He knows how to work with players, to scout and to prepare for games. He's very creative and thorough, and he has ideas both on defense and offense."

The main difference between the way things get done in Holon and were handled in Maccabi is that Gershon is primarily a consultant. "At Maccabi, Pini ran everything," Hasin says. "Today, Dan's in front, Pini's up above, and I back up Dan. It's basically a continuation of Maccabi except that it's taking one step forward."

Shamir says that Gershon is not around on a daily basis yet his presence is felt. "There are some things that are not done without him, like building the team," he says. "When he said 'no' about a player, it was 'no.'"

During Holon's games, Gershon sits in the stands next to Moti Daniel, the CEO, and signals orders to Hasin. "I know Pini on a level that doesn't require words," Hasin says. "I read his thoughts. It's enough for him to signal something and I'll know what he's going to say, when to switch defense, what offense to employ, which play to run. We have a very special connection in this regard."

At halftime of every game, Gershon speaks with Shamir. "We exchange ideas and he makes a few comments," Shamir says. "In his very sophisticated way, he knows how to drop a word about what he wants here and there."

After the game, Shamir gets feedback from Gershon. "He can tell me, for example, that we should have fouled in the last possession," says the coach, hinting at last week's game against Ashkelon.

That loss dropped Holon into a tie for third with Ashkelon, at 9-6. Still, that's a lot better than the 11-16 record Holon posted last season before the three arrived.

"We love working together. There's great coordination, and the results speak for themselves," Hasin says. "It's only the beginning. We want this project to go a few years."

With the best brains in basketball, a lot of experience and a successful track record, Holon will try to upset Maccabi Tel Aviv tonight. "We've been through this before, and maybe that gives us something," Shamir says. "When I was in Jerusalem, we reached the finals. I felt that the experience I amassed at Maccabi helped me. When I was in the State Cup final with Bnei Hasharon, I felt that the experience I gained as an assistant coach helped me. How that experience will influence things now, I don't know."

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