Basketball: Lemanis' Breakers future in doubt

By Michael Brown

Andrej Lemanis. Photo / Greg Bowker
Andrej Lemanis. Photo / Greg Bowker

Breakers' coach Andrej Lemanis will reach a significant milestone tomorrow night when he is in charge for his 250th ANBL match, but there's growing doubt about how many more he might add.

Lemanis has applied to take over from Brett Brown as Australia men's coach and is seen as a favourite, along with arch-rival and Perth coach Rob Beveridge.

It has been advertised as a part-time position, and Basketball Australia chief executive Kristina Keneally said the successful applicant could continue to coach an ANBL side, but Lemanis is reportedly keen to work fulltime if he is successful because he doesn't think he could do justice to two teams.

Keneally said the job could be made fulltime for the right applicant, which would involve being in charge of the entire men's high performance programme.

Lemanis has been Breakers coach for the past eight years - and Boomers assistant for the last four years - and he's in charge of a side favoured to earn a third consecutive title.

They sit on top of the ANBL ladder with five regular season games remaining.

The club are far from panicking about the possibility of losing Lemanis and believe they have able successors in assistants Dean Vickerman and Judd Flavell. Paul Henare, Pero Cameron and even Dillon Boucher, who is retiring at the end of the season, could also come into the frame if Lemanis left.

Applications for the Australian position close on Friday but before that the Breakers host Adelaide at Vector Arena on Thursday night.

It's a game that marks Lemanis' 250th in charge of the club and he will become just the fifth coach to achieve the feat with one team, joining Lindsay Gaze (Melbourne Tigers), Brian Kerle (Brisbane Bullets), Brendan Joyce (Wollongong Hawks) and Phil Smyth (Adelaide 36ers).

"It's nice to get recognised for 250," Lemanis said. "There was a time when 50 was looking like a long, long way away and that's a testament to the club and people who run the organisation.

"There have been a lot of people who have contributed along the way and been on this journey with me. It has been an honour and a privilege to lead this team and I look forward to the next part of the journey."

The upcoming finals are a big part of that, and the Breakers are intent on maintaining their two-game lead over Perth at the top of the table. They take on an Adelaide side rooted to the bottom of the table but one that has shown some life having won their last two games.

On top of that, the Breakers have had a two-week break since their last match, which has proved challenging for a side who played 10 games in six weeks after Christmas.

"Last week was tough and we could feel it dragging," Lemanis said. "But the excitement of playing on Thursday is a good sign."

The Breakers will still be without backup centre Will Hudson, who is battling a knee injury, but will have plenty of emotion around the game with forward Mika Vukona playing his 200th game for the club.

- additional reporting Newstalk ZB

- APNZ

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