Basketball: Tall Ferns coach Lucas finishing up with Fire

By Mike Lacey

Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

Tall Ferns assistant coach Chris Lucas has announced that he is stepping down from one of his current coaching roles; fortunately it is not the one involving the Tall Ferns.

The highly credentialed South Australian has recently announced that he is stepping down after five years at the helm of the Townsville Fire. During that time the Fire have enjoyed unprecedented success winning the Australian Women's National Basketball League championship for the last two seasons after finishing runners-up in the two preceding years.

It has been a tough decision to make but Lucas has spent large parts of the past eight years away from his wife and family in Adelaide as he has pursued his basketball coaching dreams.

"To have had a semi-final, four grand finals and two championships in my time at the club is something that is pretty special and something that I am very proud of."

"I have had five years in Townsville and three years before that in Canberra and been fortunate enough to have been involved in seven of the last eight WNBL Grand finals. My family have been extremely supportive of my dreams and my passion of coaching women's basketball and I think this is now the time to give back to them."

Fortunately for New Zealand basketball Lucas still feels he can commit to this year's international programme. The Tall Ferns commitment will again take him away from family but only for five or six weeks as the Ferns prepare for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in France in June.

"I have every intention of continuing to be involved in the programme and trying to get through to the Olympics."

When overlooked by Basketball Australia for their international programme in 2015 Tall Ferns head coach Kennedy Kereama was quick to add Lucas to his coaching team.

"I wanted someone who could challenge me philosophically and someone who has also been in my position as an international head coach. Chris has a wealth of knowledge and to really enhances the Tall Ferns programme," said Kereama.

Veteran Tall Ferns guard Micaela Cocks has spent the past five seasons playing under Lucas' tenure at Townsville and has no doubts about his qualities.

"Chris brings world class experience into the programme. He has been a part of the Australian set up and they are top three in the world so he knows what it takes to win and has an immense understanding and knowledge of the game.
He is passionate and dedicated and will work hard to give the players the best he can."

Fellow Olympian Lisa Wallbutton also speaks highly of Lucas.

"Chris is an extremely passionate coach, he has a good analytical eye for the game and his tactical knowledge is one of the strengths he brings to the Tall Ferns programme. Chris brings a winning mentality to the team coming from a very successful programmes in Australia, he knows how to get the best out his players and create a winning culture," she said.

"I still have a burning desire to help the Tall Ferns achieve the ultimate goal", said Lucas.

Those words will be music in the ears of Kereama and his 23 player training squad that assemble in Auckland early next month.

- NZ Herald

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