Gershon’s position in doubt

Olympiakos’s failure to reach this season’s Euroleague Final Four tournament has increased the likelihood of a split between the ambitious Piraeus basketball club and its high-profile Israeli coach Pini Gershon, who transferred from Maccabi Tel Aviv last summer. The Greek club, which was ousted from the Euroleague by Spanish club Tau Ceramica last week after losing twice in their best-of-three quarterfinal series, went into the current season with a Final Four spot as its main objective. This season’s tournament is to be held in Athens at the Olympic basketball arena between May 4 and 6. Crowned European champions 10 years ago, Olympiakos had last reached the Final Four stage of Europe’s most prestigious club-level competition eight years ago in Munich. Gershon took responsibility for his team’s 95-89 home defeat against Tau Ceramica last Thursday, two days after the Spaniards blitzed the visiting Greek side 84-59 in their quarterfinal series opener. Apart from the end of Olympiakos’s Euroleague run, the Piraeus team has not fared as well as it would have liked in domestic competition. It presently lies third. The Israeli coach has shown no intention of submitting his resignation. The latest developments at Olympiakos indicate that the administration’s support for Gershon has severely deteriorated. The coach, reports said, is expected to be summoned for a premature end to his one-year contract, which expires in two months. Gershon, who cut short a mediocre career as a player in his early 20s to try coaching instead, led countless Israeli clubs before moving his way up to assume the post at Maccabi Tel Aviv, a traditional powerhouse in Israeli and European club-level basketball. Should the Israeli’s deal with Olympiakos reach an end, his assistant, Yiannis Sfairopoulos, is expected to take over as interim coach for the season’s remainder. Panathinaikos, Olympiakos’s archrival in Greece and a three-time European champion, secured its Final Four berth last Thursday after beating Dynamo Moscow, 73-65, in Russia for a 2-0 win in their quarterfinal series. The Athens club will meet Tau Ceramica in the semifinals.

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