Basketball

Sixers' Brett Brown to coach Australia at Tokyo Olympics

AP, AFP-JIJI

Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown will guide the Australian men’s team at next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

Basketball Australia said Wednesday he will succeed Andrej Lemanis, who coached the Boomers to the semifinals at the 2016 Olympics — the team’s best Olympic result — and this year’s World Cup. The governing body did not say how long Brown will coach Australia.

“When the opportunity to coach the Boomers next summer in Tokyo came up, I was reminded of my deep history with Australia and Australian basketball,” said Brown, who will assume the role after six years in charge of the 76ers.

“I felt a duty to try and help in any way that I could. The spirit of the country and the athletes of the country exemplify on a day-to-day basis the passion that is Australian sport . . . I’m very excited to be a part of that again.”

Australia is one of seven men’s teams to have already qualified for Tokyo. Its roster could include Philadelphia star Ben Simmons. Australia also has several other NBA players, including Utah’s Joe Ingles and Dante Exum, Cleveland’s Matthew Dellavedova and San Antonio’s Patty Mills.

Brown coached the Australian team from 2009-12 and was an assistant from 1995-2003, including the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. He has an intimate knowledge of the Australian game, having also coached the Melbourne Tigers, North Melbourne Giants and Sydney Kings.

“We’re going to the 2020 Olympics to win a gold medal,” Brown said in a Basketball Australia statement. “This is our mission and my message to our team.

“I understand the magnitude of this statement. I would feel irresponsible having any other goal but this.*

Lemanis, who was instrumental in Australia achieving 2017 Asia Cup and 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medals, while leading the team to its highest-ever FIBA world ranking of third, called the switch to Brown “a transition.”

“My aim was always to leave the team in a better position than when I joined,” Lemanis said. “One of the key elements in making the Boomers environment so special is the willingness of everyone involved to sacrifice for the greater good of the team.

“It is my belief that for the Boomers to medal at the Tokyo Olympics, the coach best positioned to deliver that is Brett Brown.”