Legend talks up top-line coach
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.