New Boomers coach Brett Brown has a message for his team and fans – Australia is going to the Tokyo Olympics to win a gold medal.
Brown, who coached the Boomers between 2009 and 2012, takes the place of Andrej Lemanis, who recently led Australia to the semi-finals at the FIBA World Cup.
Under Lemanis’s leadership, the Boomers achieved their highest world ranking of third, in addition to gold medals at the 2017 Asian Cup and last year’s Commonwealth Games.
However, missing out on the medals at the 2016 Olympics and this year’s World Cup prompted Lemanis to make the decision to step down.
“To keep doing the same things over and over and expecting the same thing isn’t smart,” said Lemanis, who had been a Boomers assistant coach under Brown before taking the top job in 2013.
“I came to the realisation that we needed fresh energy, a fresh set of eyes, fresh ideas. Someone to get us over the hump.”
That fresh pair of eyes is Brown, who is now the coach of the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA, with Australia’s Ben Simmons and Jonah Bolden among his players.
There was speculation Brown’s anticipated return to the Boomers would be designed to secure Simmons’s participation in Tokyo.
The point guard was named the NBA’s rookie of the year for 2017-18 and received his first NBA All-Star selection last season.
He did not join the Boomers for the Rio Olympics in 2016, and although he declared he would play in this year’s World Cup, he later withdrew from the Australian squad a month out from the tournament in China.
The 76ers star has not confirmed he will play for the Boomers in Tokyo, but Brown expects an announcement soon.
“In the event that it works out in the way that we’re all hoping … I will give him the ball again,” he said.
Brown said that he would make an announcement on his assistant coaches “soon”, adding that he would balance helping young Australian coaches with surrounding himself with people who “talk my talk.”
In a statement, Basketball Australia said Lemanis left “an impressive legacy”.
“Andrej’s impact has been profound and his legacy for this team has been foundational,” BA chief executive Jerril Rechter said.
“Andrej and his supporting staff, including Luc Longley, Will Weaver, Adam Caporn and David Patrick, have been incredibly selfless and our federation is grateful for their commitment.”
Brown’s history with the Boomers, including at the London Olympics, made him “perfectly positioned” to take the side to next year’s Tokyo Olympics, Rechter said.
Although Brown admitted to being “disappointed” to hear Lemanis was standing down, “it was a borderline duty” and he “felt a sense of responsibility,” to reprise the role he vacated after the 2012 Olympics.
“This is our mission and my message to our team: We’re going into the 2020 Olympics to win a gold medal,” he said.
“I understand the magnitude of this statement. I would feel irresponsible having any other goal but this.”