Basketball / B. League | B. LEAGUE NOTEBOOK

Former Olympiacos assistant Christos Marmarinos named Storks bench boss

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The Nishinomiya Storks on Tuesday appointed veteran Greek coach Christos Marmarinos as their new bench boss.

Marmarinos replaces Miodrag Rajkovic, the Serbian who led the second-division team this past season.

The Storks went 34-26 under Rajkovic, placing third in the six-team Central Division, 14 games behind the B2 champion Shinshu Brave Warriors.

Rajkovic replaces departing mentor Takatoshi “Big Bashi” Ishibashi on the Hachioji Bee Trains sideline.

In 2018-19, Ishibashi’s second season at the helm, the Bee Trains went 11-49 and were demoted to the third division.

Hachioji announced Rajkovic’s hire earlier this month.

Marmarinos will arrive in Japan with a deep knowledge of European basketball on his resume. Starting in 2004, he became an assistant coach for Olympiacos, a prominent Greek League team. He served in that position for 14 years.

The 42-year-old now gets a chance to call the shots.

“I am very happy and honored to be the head coach of the Nishinomiya Storks for next season,” Marmarinos said in a statement. “I would like to thank the Storks management for giving me this opportunity and I look forward to coming to beautiful Japan and starting work. I will give my 110 percent to make sure that we will have a successful season.”

In addition to his long association with Olympiacos, which went to six EuroLeague Final Fours (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017, winning back-to-back crowns in 2012 and ’13), Marmarinos worked as an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs during the 2012 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

At that time, he spoke to eurohoops.net about the experience.

“I will try to use everything I learn here, so we can be more effective and quicker in the way we work and function,” Marmarinos told the website.

Spending time with the Spurs was a valuable experience for Marmarinos.

“First and most important concerns all the aspects of organization,” Marmarinos told eurohoops.net. “They execute everything really quick, from the trips from one place to the other (we left our luggage when we were about to leave and . . . we found them in our hotel rooms) till how quickly every member of the staff is moving for the common good. Everybody respects everybody.

“They are very well organized and they don’t leave anything to chance. And of course, they don’t change habits when it comes to the actual game. Coach (Gregg) Popovich set the program for the Summer League, so we will work based on the same philosophy with the first team.

“The only thing I didn’t notice any differences is at coaching dynamics. I can name few coaches from Europe who could work at the NBA. On the contrary I don’t know many executives who would be able to work over there.”

Former Cleveland Cavaliers bench boss David Blatt took over as Olympiacos head coach in June 2018. As a result, the team’s coaching staff was revamped.

Kabaya retires

Shooting guard Masayuki Kabaya, one of the driving forces behind the Yokohama B-Corsairs’ 2012-13 bj-league championship season, has retired.

The 37-year-old announced his decision on Tuesday.

In a statement, Kabaya reflected on his pro career by saying, “14 years of professional life has become my best treasure.

“I will do my best (in my) second life from today on the basis of my past experiences.”

Last season, the Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture native, suited up for Shinshu. He averaged 2.2 points in 49 games.

His pro career included stints with the Mitsubishi Diamond Dolphins (2005-07, 2009-11), Toyama Grouses (2007-09), Yokohama (2011-18) and Shinshu.

For the title-winning B-Corsairs, Kabaya average 13.3 points per game, starting all 52 games that season. He shot 43.4 percent from 3-point range. In the final, he was 5-for-5 from beyond the arc and scored a game-high 35 points to pace the B-Corsairs against the Rizing Fukuoka.

After the May 2013 final, then-Yokohama coach Reggie Geary, a former NBA guard, commented on Kabaya’s basketball skills.

“He is a tremendous player who goes under the radar in the basketball culture and within the press in Japan,” Geary said.

On the same night, B-Corsairs forward Shawn Malloy praised Kabaya for his lights-out shooting.

“This is something that we see every day. . . . When he gets going, no one can stop him,” Malloy said.