Bryant named Rera Kamuy coach

by Ed Odeven

It’s official: Joe Bryant will be Rera Kamuy Hokkaido’s new head coach, the Japan Basketball League team announced on Tuesday.

Details of Bryant’s contract were not released to the media, though the offer is believed to be a one-year deal.

For the past several weeks, Bryant was one of two foreign finalists for the Sapporo-based franchise’s vacancy, according to basketball insiders. Now, Rera Kamuy will hand the reins to a veteran coach who has had success in the rival bj-league.

As Tokyo Apache’s bench boss for their first four seasons (2005-09), Bryant compiled a 92-84 regular-season record and guided the club to three playoff appearances, including back-to-back trips to the title game in 2008 and ’09. Tokyo lost both title games, but Bryant’s overall success at Tokyo set a standard for future Apache squads.

In recent days, Bryant has shown up at Los Angeles Lakers games, watching his son Kobe’s team participate in the playoffs.

Bryant, the first current or former bj-league mentor to accept a head coaching gig in the JBL, didn’t coach during the 2009-10 season.

The 55-year-old, a former NBA and Italian League player, will be given a chance to turn Rera Kamuy into a winner.

Rera Kamuy went 34-78 under Tomoya Higashino, who wasn’t retained as coach after the team’s third straight losing season.