November 27, 2019 / 12:35 AM / 13 days ago

Brown named Australia coach, targets gold at Tokyo

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown is targeting Olympic gold at next year’s Tokyo Games after being named for a second stint in charge of Australia on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Nov 6, 2019; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown reacts during the first half against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Brown, who coached the Boomers between 2009-2012, replaces Andrej Lemanis who guided the team to fourth at both the 2016 Rio Olympics and the recent World Cup in China.

Brown has intimate knowledge of the Australian game, having coached the Melbourne Tigers, North Melbourne Giants and Sydney Kings in the nation’s top flight.

“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,” the 58-year-old said in a statement.

“I felt a duty to try and help in any way that I could.

“This is our mission and my message to our team: We’re going into the 2020 Olympics to win a gold medal. I understand the magnitude of this statement. I would feel irresponsible having any other goal but this.”

Brown coached Australia to the quarter-finals at the London Olympics, where they were beaten by eventual champions, the United States.

Lemanis, who succeeded Brown after London, took an Australian roster laden with NBA stars to Rio but they were heartbroken to miss out on a medal for a 14th successive Olympics.

Local media reported Lemanis had strained relationships with key players, with both Ben Simmons and Jonah Bolden late withdrawals from the World Cup.

Lemanis said his replacement by Brown, who manages both Simmons and Bolden at the 76ers, was a “collaborative process” and in the best interests of the team.

“I leave with plenty of fond memories,” he 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.”

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Kim Coghill

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