Basketball: Breakers in great position - departing Lemanis

Andrej Lemanis. Photo / Getty Images
Andrej Lemanis. Photo / Getty Images

Andrej Lemanis, the man who guided the Breakers to three-straight ANBL titles, will leave the club after being named as the new Australian coach this morning.

Lemanis has been in charge of the Breakers for the past eight seasons, taking them from near the bottom of the competition to three-time champions, and has signed on as the Boomers coach through to the 2016 Olympics.

"I am honoured and humbled to be given the opportunity by Basketball Australia to lead the Boomers programme through this next Olympic cycle," said Lemanis.

"To coach the National Team of my home country is the greatest honour I can have as a coach.

Lemanis said he leaves the Breakers in a great position where they can continue to build on recent successes.

"I leave the Breakers with a heavy heart. I am extremely proud of what we have been able to build here together over the past eight years and take comfort in knowing that the club is in a better position now than when I arrived.

"The club is well positioned to successfully continue forward. We have built a program which relies on good people all contributing their piece to the puzzle. We have proven time and again that the club is bigger than any one person - and so it is with me. The great people involved in the club combined with the investment the club has made in the development of our young players will ensure the club continues on its current successful path both on and off the court."

Assistant coach Dean Vickerman is likely to take over from Lemanis, with support from Judd Flavell. Paul Henare, Pero Cameron and Dillon Boucher could come into the frame as a second assistant.

Breakers general manager Richard Clarke confirmed Vickerman is the only person to have interviewed for the head coaching role and hopes an announcement can be made in the next few days.

"We are currently in the process of filling the head coach position, and are confident that we will be able to do so from within the club. The board has interviewed Dean Vickerman on his vision and approach to the role, and will continue to work through that process this week."

Henare, who is coaching Southland in this season's New Zealand NBL after a stint with Hawkes Bay, said he was "definitely" keen to rejoin the club he spent eight years at as a player and Boucher, who recently retired as a player and will join the corporate team, would also consider the role.

"I feel like I have a lot to offer on the basketball court," Boucher said. "I haven't exactly put my hand up for the job but if they were to float the idea past me it would definitely be something I would consider.

"Whether I fill an assistant coach's position or not is irrelevant. I will still be in and around and trying to help the team succeed because, as far as I am concerned, if you are part of the [Breakers] family then you are part of trying to make this thing work. I have a lot of expertise to offer no matter what my position at the club."

Both Boucher and Henare endorsed the candidacy of Vickerman who will take over with the club in a strong position. Boucher is the only player who definitely won't be back next season, although league MVP Cedric Jackson is expected to be close to tying up a deal to return to the NBA.

"There are plenty of people out there who want the job," Boucher said. "Dean would be the obvious choice and probably deserved to be a head coach five years ago. He's done his time and thoroughly deserves it.

"I think he's going to take confidence going into this role knowing the players he's got. He will try to stamp his authority on what he's doing but he knows the players, knows what has gone on in the past and knows the team has been left in good hands."

Lemanis was a controversial appointment when he took over after a dismal 2004/05 season. Most expected Tall Blacks coach Tab Baldwin to get the job but Lemanis was preferred.

"The first time I met him I thought, 'Man, can we have a coach longer than one season without any disruptions'?" Henare said. "I just wanted the club to be successful and hoped Andrej was going to help us do that.

"One of the things I liked about him was he was all about putting in the work on and off the floor and holding people accountable. He was able to still stay true to who he was as a coach and person but still find a way that was better than before."

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