The Chiba Jets have parted ways with head coach Zeljko Pavlicevic, the NBL club announced on Friday.
Former Jets guard Hiroki Sato was named the interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
Pavlicevic, a well-traveled head coach in the former Yugoslavia, Europe and Japan (he led Team Japan at the 206 FIBA World Championship), was hired by the professional club before the 2015-16 season. But he has led the Jets to a disappointing 13-21 record, and they are currently in eighth place in the 12-team NBL this season.
The 64-year-old Croatian previously coached the bj-league’s Shimane Susanoo Magic and NBL’s Wakayama Trians. He guided the Trians to the NBL Finals two years ago (they lost to the Toshiba Brave Thunders).
“In sports, sometimes you can’t come up with the outcomes that you are asked, even if you have the strongest will,” said Pavlicevic, who won a pair of FIBA European Champions Cups (now commonly called the Euroleague) with Croatian teams Cibona (1985-86) and Pop 84 Split (1990-91), in a team-issued statement. “After careful consideration, I’ve agreed to end the collaboration between myself and the club.”
Club president Shinji Shimada said in a statement: “(Pavlicevic)’s tried to accomplish his tasks in the 34 games we’ve played so far, but in order for the club to overcome the status quo, we’ve made a difficult decision. However, we would like to express our appreciation and respect for Coach Zeljko.”
Sato, 34, has been the team’s ambassador for its community activities since his retirement following the 2014-15 season. The native of Yotsukaido, Chiba Prefecture, is an original member of the Jets, who debuted in the bj-league in 2011 (they defected to the NBL two years later).