Goorjian will be the Dragons’ founding coach in the new Asian league

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Brian Goorjian’s next adventure will be to build a team from the ground up after signing a two-year deal to be the founding coach of the Bay Area Dragons in the new Asian Super League. ‘East.

Goorjian is Australia’s National Basketball League’s most successful coach with six league titles, and also guided the Boomers men’s national team to their first Olympic medal with a bronze in Tokyo last year. This medal was also a first for Asia-Pacific.

He also spent more than a decade coaching in China and worked with national teams there and in Japan before returning to Australia for a two-season stint in the NBL with the Wollongong Hawks, which ended ended May 1 with a semi-final loss to Sydney Kings.

The Kings won the title on Wednesday, a day before the Dragons announced the top coach’s next assignment.

“That’s the direction of basketball in this region,” Goorjian said of the EASL, which will feature winners and runners-up from the Japanese, South Korean and Philippine leagues as well as league champions. Taiwanese and the Dragons in a house. -and-format outside.

Joining the new league “was absolutely a no-brainer,” Goorjian told The Associated Press in a phone interview from Melbourne, Australia. “It was a ‘Wow, this could be so special’.”

The Dragons will be based in Manila for their first season and will compete in the Philippines league as well as the eight-team pan-regional EASL which is set to launch in October. Travel hurdles during the COVID-19 pandemic meant it was too difficult for the Dragons to play outside of Hong Kong in Season 1.

Goorjian, 68, from California, will be busy, continuing to coach the Boomers in international competitions and working on recruiting for the Dragons, who will have a roster of free agent players from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. as well as two foreign imports.

“That initial group is really important: their culture, the way they train,” he said. “We want to put something really exciting on the ground this first season so that we look attractive on the road.

“I will control recovery, rehabilitation, culture, training regimens, style of play. I mean, it’s totally in my wheelhouse. I’m really excited about this opportunity, because I have a good opinion stopped.

EASL chief executive Matt Beyer said Goorjian’s experience and success was an asset to the league.

“Coach Goorjian has an incredible track record as the most successful coach in Australian (basketball) history. He is also deeply rooted in Asian basketball,” Beyer said. will turn the Dragons into a powerhouse.”

As well as extensive domestic league and international experience – Goorjian is a six-time Australia Coach of the Year and was the first foreigner to win the accolade in China when he won it in 2013-14 – what Goorjian brings to the teams is a lot of energy and passion.

“We want to be entertainment for the eyes,” he said. “That’s how the game is played now.

“I like a lot of those teams when you go to Asia, it’s a mark of that region – the Philippines are tough, strong guys who like to play hard defensively and like to go up and down. My short time in Japan was similar.China is highly rated…moving up and down the floor, playing an eye appealing style of basketball.

As well as being a showcase for homegrown talent, the league will give Asian players access to more international travel for away games and, Goorjian said, provide “the extra room needed” to accelerate development. Game.

“They need that kind of experience like they have in Europe,” he said.

There are plans to expand the league, potentially giving major clubs in the Chinese Basketball Association access to international competition.

For now, Goorjian said: “Bay Area Dragons, we are going to be that team that leads the way, gives these young Chinese players an opportunity. The competition will see that.

Another thing they will likely continue to see is Goorjian pacing the side of the pitch, maintaining the energetic approach to training that characterized his time in Australia and was well received in China.

“Most of my energy – my mindset is always to be like you are in training – it’s not about yelling at the referees, but you can shout instructions, interact with your players, move up and down on the key, touch, point, feel,” he said. “I appreciated this aspect and the environment in China and during my stay in Asia.

“I could be natural. I could be me. I can’t wait to be there again.

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