Leg­end talks up top-line coach

Mercury (Hobart) - - SPORT - MELISSA WOODS

AUSSIE bas­ket­ball great An­drew Gaze says hav­ing a Boomers coach in the NBA in the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics is a “huge ad­van­tage”.

Philadel­phia 76ers coach Brett Brown, pic­tured, is set to be an­nounced as the re­place­ment for An­drej Le­ma­nis, with the Bris­bane Bul­lets NBL coach de­cid­ing to cut short his con­tract over­see­ing the na­tional men’s team.

The change got the thumbs up from NBA All-Stars guard Ben Sim­mons, who plays un­der Brown at the 76ers.

Sim­mons con­tro­ver­sially dropped out of the Le­man­is­coached Boomers’ re­cent World Cup cam­paign in which the team once again fell achingly short of a medal.

The 23-year-old told ESPN af­ter the Philadel­phia NBA game he in­tended to play in Tokyo.

“I’m ex­cited. I’m look­ing for­ward to it. He’s coach­ing me now, so we have a great re­la­tion­ship. I’ve known him my whole life. I’m ex­cited to put to­gether a great team,” Sim­mons said.

With the Olympics just eight months away Gaze felt that hav­ing a coach based in the US, where most of the play­ers are, made sense.

If ev­ery­one is fit, it’s likely that at least nine of the 12-player squad will be cur­rent NBA play­ers.

“I think An­drej was do­ing a great job but it’s help­ful to have some­one in­volved in the NBA be­cause we have so many play­ers who can rep­re­sent Aus­tralia who com­pete at the NBA level,” Gaze said.

“To have some­one who is ac­cus­tomed to the men­tal­ity, the style of play, and all those vari­ables that go along with play­ing in the NBA — to have an elite coach that’s at the coal-face of that is a huge ad­van­tage.”

Gaze said the fact that Brown had pre­vi­ously held the role — from 2009 un­til 2012 — be­fore hand­ing over to Le­ma­nis, and had a close re­la­tion­ship with many of the play­ers would make the tran­si­tion as smooth as pos­si­ble.

Brown took many of the team veter­ans to the Lon­don Olympics in 2012, where they were knocked out by the USA.

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