You could say basketball coach Zico Coronel is living the dream on the way to hoop heaven after securing an assistant mentoring role with the New Zealand Breakers this week.
"I think it's a higher peg and just new people to work with and learn from so that's exciting with all the other exciting things happening at the club," says Coronel who is based in Auckland now to help the franchise prepare for the 2019-20 Australian National Basketball League (ANBL) season.
The Taylor Corporation Hawks coach says the Breakers hadn't advertised for his role. He made the cull through head hunting.
"I was fortunate to be contacted and considered to be worthwhile to add some value," says Coronel who will join Nelson Giants mentor Mike Fitchett, the incumbent assistant coach.
The Breakers have also added NBA to their roster, such as American swingman Scotty Hopson, who has plied his trade with the Dallas Mavericks and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Hopson arrived from Hapoel Holon in Israel, following new head coach Dan Shamir who has replaced Kevin Braswell.
Shamir has been coaching in Europe since 2001, after serving for a year under Rick Pitino at the University of Kentucky in 1999. In that time, he established himself as a top mentor in Israel and was named the Israeli premier league coach of the year last season.
Coronel, in his second year as head coach in the NBL after 13 years as assistant, took the Hawks to the grand final a fortnight ago under a fan-pleasing, three-point philosophy.
He attributes part of his elevation to the Hawks buying into a "great culture".
"It was absolutely thrilling to see EJ Singler get a contract with the Brisbane Bullets," he says of the US import small forward's success that bodes well for the Bay franchise as a nurturing ground.
However, the 35-year-old former schoolteacher is bracing himself for the thrills of Shamir bringing a European flavour to the ANBL.
"It's a very beautiful way of playing basketball, very tactically oriented and good to be a part of to watch it grow," says Coronel who made a trip to Spain in January last year to boost his portfolio.