For Japan hoop followers, the Miami Heat will have a familiar face helping out during the upcoming Las Vegas Summer League.

Bob Pierce has been added to the Heat’s Summer League coaching staff as an assistant.

It’s another stop during his nomadic coaching career, another stamp on his passport.

The Vegas showcase, featuring 24 NBA teams’ summer rosters, is scheduled to be held July 8-18.

One of the longest-serving foreigner mentors in Japan pro sports, Pierce’s coaching stops in Japan have included stints as the first mentor in team history for both the Shiga Lakestars (2008-10) and Akita Northern Happinets (2010-11). He then called the shots for the Sendai 89ers when the Tohoku-based franchise rebuilt from scratch in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake, leading the 89ers to the playoffs in the 2011-12 season. He was let go midway through the next campaign.

These days, Pierce is based in China, where he kept busy as an assistant for the China Under-18 national team in recent months and as director of instruction for Five-Star China Sports in Shenzhen since July 2013.

Pierce, who has served as an Asia-based scout for the Heat, most recently, and Cleveland Cavaliers, got his start in Japan basketball with Hitachi in 1997, and worked with the Japan national team as an assistant in 2002, among other stints in pro, club and university basketball here.

Longtime NBA big man Juwan Howard, a Miami assistant, is the team’s Summer League head coach.

Joining his mentor: Earlier this month, Brandon Cole, a former Miyazaki Shining Suns and Toyama Grouses forward confirmed he will reunite with his former Xavier University head coach, Sean Miller.

But this time, they’ll work together for a Pac-12 Conference powerhouse. Cole will be a grad assistant.

Miller has led the University of Arizona since 2009, and the Wildcats have a .755 winning percentage (188-61 record) since he took over.

Cole tore his right ACL playing pickup basketball in September 2015 in Cincinnati, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

The injury and knee surgery led to Cole’s retirement as a player, but new opportunities were on the horizon. (Before the injury, he was planning to play in Dubai, the Enquirer reported.)

This past season, Cole worked on some of ESPN3’s Northern Kentucky telecasts as a color commentator.

Cole credits Miller and others close to him with helping him embrace the next chapter of his working life.

“I didn’t want this to be it (for my playing career,” he told the Cincinnati Enquirer earlier this month. “But after a couple of months of really thinking about it and talking about it with my loves ones and close friends, it was pretty much unanimous.

“Everyone to a man told me the same thing, like, ‘You can’t turn this down. You’ve got to take this opportunity because this could lead to so many good things for the next 20 or 30 years.”

Seeking a change: Guard Narito Namizato, who has participated in NBA-affiliated tryouts in the past, is seeking a move to the United States to play pro ball, he told Okinawa Times.

Namizato’s Osaka Evessa contract expired on Thursday.

“Isn’t ‘challenging’ the NBA an annual pilgrimage?” a Japan hoop insider The Japan Times.

“I’m actually glad some of these players are trying to do something. I just wish there was more information about where or what they are doing to see if any of it is worthwhile.”

Though he was eligible, Namizato, best known for his aggressive offensive moves while with the Ryukyu Golden Kings from 2011-15, was not selected in the 2013 NBA Development League draft.

Simmons update: Lockdown defender Marcus Simmons, one of the Yokohama B-Corsairs’ original standouts, recently joined the Philippine Basketball Association’s Phoenix Petroleum Fuel Masters before the upcoming 2016 PBA Governors’ Cup.

Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia has high hopes for Simmons, who starred at USC before launching his pro career.

“He’s an energy guy, a two-way player and he will be the anchor of our defense,” Vanguardia said of Simmons, according to an article published on the PBA website.

New career: Former Akita big man Anthony Coleman recently joined Arizona State men’s basketball coach Bobby Hurley’s staff as an assistant.

For the past three years, Coleman worked as a marketing representative for Adidas.

Explaining his approach to the job in a recent interview with The Arizona Republic, Coleman said, “Honestly, I was the first point of contact of trying to establish and figure out in terms of who could potentially be an endorsed athlete,” Coleman told the newspaper.

“So as time went on, I built relationships with players, parents and coaches and let them get a sneak peek as to who we were as a company. And then when the time came, I would hand it off once it got to the NBA side.”

Coleman, whose college career included stops at Xavier and Long Beach State, played for the Happinets during the team’s inaugural 2010-11 season. He appeared in 19 games and averaged 5.6 points, then was released in February 2011 due to an injury.

Seeking a gig: Veteran bench boss Zeljko Pavlicevic, the Japan men’s national team coach during the 2016 FIBA World Championship, said this week that he’s opening to weighing offers from teams in the B. League for the upcoming campaign.

Pavlicevic has previously coached the Chiba Jets (he was dismissed in March), now-defunct Wakayama Trians and Shimane Susanoo Magic. The Croatian mentor has also guided title-winning clubs in Europe during a celebrated career on the sideline.

Vacancy filled: Takeo Mabashi is the Sendai 89ers’ new head coach, the team announced on Wednesday. He will also retain his role as general manager.

Mabashi, 45, has been with the 89ers since their inception in 2005, serving at various times as an assistant coach and general manager. He served as interim boss from February 2013 until the end of the season, then returned to his GM role on a full-time basis. He replaces Shuto Kawacahi, who guided Sendai for the past three seasons.

The 89ers went 37-15 in Kawachi’s third season on the bench.

Feedback: edward.odeven@japantimes.co.jp


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