Wakayama negotiating to bring back Pavlicevic

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

After a complete organizational shake-up that included a planned switch to a new coach, veteran bench boss Zeljko Pavlicevic is in discussions with Wakayama Trians ownership to return to lead the team for the 2014-15 season, The Japan Times has learned.

The cash-strapped Trians, who are under new ownership, had planned to sever ties with Pavlicevic, a two-time Euroleague winning coach, after last season. At a hastily arranged June 11 news conference in Wakayama, team officials, including Ken Okamoto, the new president, and Yosuke Kondo, the new acting owner, said a coaching change was a priority.

But now, the Trians are still without a coach, and Pavlicevic has resurfaced as the team’s top option, a source close to the situation informed The Japan Times on Thursday evening.

The team, which was owned by Panasonic and based in Osaka through the 2012-13 JBL season, has also gutted its roster as a major cost-cutting initiative as it moves forward for the second season of the NBL era.

The Trians went 41-13 during the 2013-14 campaign and earned a championship runnerup finish in their first season under Pavlicevic, who had coached the rival bj-league’s Shimane Susanoo Magic for the three previous seasons.

A well-respected mentor in international basketball circles, Pavlicevic, 63, guided the Japan men’s national team from 2003-06.