Returning Bullets hit the mark with coach Lemanis

Andrej Lemanis gestures to his players while coaching Australia during the 2014 FIBA World basketball championships match against Turkey at the Palau Sant Jordi arena in Barcelona. Photo: AFP PHOTO/ QUIQUE GARCIA
Andrej Lemanis gestures to his players while coaching Australia during the 2014 FIBA World basketball championships match against Turkey at the Palau Sant Jordi arena in Barcelona. Photo: AFP PHOTO/ QUIQUE GARCIA

JEFF Van Groningen says the appointment of Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis to coach Brisbane when the Bullets finally return to the NBL next year after seven years in the wilderness could pay immediate dividends.

Van Groningen, who was in charge of the franchise when it won the club's third NBL championship in 2007, said with Lemanis' world-wide contacts and intimate knowledge of Australian talent playing overseas, he could put a team on the floor capable of challenging for a title in the club's first season back.

"Lemanis is one of only two coaches who've won back-to-back-to-back championships in NBL history with New Zealand," Van Groningen told APN after the NBL confirmed the Australian coach would be in charge with former title-winning Brisbane guard CJ Bruton as his assistant.

"He is in the prime of his career. He has a lot of upside and he won't be coming to Brisbane to see out a career."

In most national competitions it would be a tough ask, or virtually impossible, for a new team to win a title in their first year.

But Van Groningen, who was also involved in a championship win with the Melbourne Tigers, pointed out that basketball was very different to other sports that needed a serious development plan and lengthy playing roster.

He said you only needed to secure six-or-seven quality players - two good imports and three or four talented Australians - to make a run at the title.

"The club will have the Bullets name, but they will be starting from scratch trying to assemble a team. That's a great challenge for the organisation," he said.

"But having someone as credible as Lemanis, and also CJ (Bruton) will help attract the talent Brisbane will need. Players coming to Brisbane will know they are coming to a program that will be well run and they will be well coached, which is a fantastic result for a fledgling franchise trying to get off the ground.

"It's not rugby league or AFL where you have to put together squads of 30 or more players.

"If you can recruit well with your imports, and add three or four good Australians you can compete from day one. Brisbane could well do that."
Van Groningen said it would be advantageous for Brisbane to have its front office in place as soon as possible, but added the NBL had so far handled the appointments very well.



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