The new “breed” of basketball minds in the European scene

The assistant coach of Szolnoki Olaj Mate Jacab

The season may have not been concluded yet, but several young coaches have left their mark in the European basketball “stage” this year. As a result, we set a list with the most promising head and assistant coaches of the season.

The European basketball has always produced talented individuals in the coaching position with many of them getting their chance to compete against the best.

More so, in the last ten years several NBA organizations trusted European coaches in positions of great importance. Many of them were active in domestic and international competitions in Europe, before they made “the jump” to the NBA.

Our wide selection of coaches was born after 1985, but they experienced basketball at the highest level through EuroLeague and other international competitions. Furthermore, several of them have already experienced domestic success building winning teams all over the European leagues.

KAMIL SADOWSKI (Polish) 1991 Asseco, POLAND

Kamil Sadowski is a young coach,who is serving as an assistant in Arka Gdynia. Arka Gdynia is one of the leading teams in PLK being in the fourth place of the standings, while the team took part in this season’s EuroCup, after an impressive 2018-19 season, where Przemysław Frasunkiewicz side finished first in the PLK’s regular season and third in the Playoffs. Sadowki was part of the coaching staff that helped Arka Gdynia return to the upper level of the European basketball by participating in a European competition for the first time in six years.

SINAN CAMBEL (Turkish) 1989, Pinar Karsiyaka TURKEY

Sina Cambel has worked in five teams, before getting in Pinar Karsiyaka last summer. The Turkish coach worked for 11 years as an assistant in several teams including Trabzospor, Gaziantep and Belediyespor, before joining Besiktas and the national team of Turkey. He followed Ufuk Sarica as an assistant coach the last three seasons learning via high-level competitions in Turkey and Europe. Cambel is getting the recognition and the props for helping Pinar Karsiyaka being in the second place of the BSL in 2019-2020 season until the suspension of the basketball activity due to the coronavirus outbreak.

DOMINIK GUNTHNER (German) 1988, Brose Basket Bamberg, Germany

Dominik Gunthner believes that basketball is the most attractive thing in the world. Since 2015, Gunthner is a member of the assistance team of Brose Basket. The 32-year-old (business administration bachelor) earned his first laurels in the Brose youth concept and thus made the leap to the professionals. He has not achieved any great victories as an active player in his basketball life, but he works all the more successfully as a coach. He is a two-time German Cup winner (2017,2019) and an one-time champion (2017) as an assistant coach with Bamberg.

FRANCISCO HERNANDEZ (Spanish) 1988 Burgos, Spain

San Pablo Burgos came up to the Spanish League’s first tier five years ago. Along with several other young coaches, Francisco Hernandez followed San Pablo Burgos from the second tier of the Spanish basketball to the ACB. He was there, when Burgos achieved its first win in the Spanish ACB, while, this season(2019-2020), the Spanish team made its debut in the European stage by participating on Basketball Champions League with Hernandez on the bench as an assistant coach. The young coach has also worked to Fuenlabrada prior to his San Pablo Burgos stint.

LASSI TUOVI (Finnish) 1986 Strasbourg, France

Lassi Tuovi has steadily worked his way to the upper level of the European basketball being the head coach of SIG Strabourg since January. Tuovi has worked under coach Henrik Dettmann in Besiktas in 2016. After a mediocre season in Turkey, he had a short stint in Graveline Dunqureke, before going to Strabourg SIG under the veteran French coach Vincent Collet in 2018. Collet was dismissed in January passing the torch to Tuovi, who will try to lead the French team to new highs after a mediocre 2019-2020 season. The coach from Finland had a 2-5 record until the suspension of the French League due to the coronavirus outbreak, while Strasbourg extended his contract until 2022. Furthermore, he served as a video coordinator in the national team of Finland.

TUOMAS LISALO-JONAS LISALO (Finnish) 1986 Crailsheim, Germany

After the end of his playing career, Jonas lisalo couldn’t stay away from the game as he acquired several coaching qualifications and trained as professional basketball coach. The coach from Finland had worked in many Finnish teams as a head coach before stepping out of his country boundaries to work in Germany along with his brother Tuomas lisalo(borned in 1982). In particular, they are working together in German Bundesliga’s side Crailsheim Merlins. The Merlins are having the best record in the history of the team during the 2019-2020 season being the third best side in the German League until the suspension due to the coronavirus crisis. With a story of a basketball cinderella on their CV, Tuomas and Jonas lisalo have a bright future as head coaches in the European basketball stage.

JAKAB MÁTÉ (Hungarian) , 1991, Szolnoki Olaj, Hungary

Mate Jakab, basketball coach from Hungary, has been working as an assistant coach of the biggest and the most successful Hungarian club- SZOLNOKI Olaj KK for 3 years. He helped the team win the Hungarian Cup 2 times in row, in addition to one National Championship as well. In 2013, he was hired for the position of the assistant coach of the Hungarian Women Senior National Team. There was not any other precedent in Europe that a 22 years old coach was involved to the senior national team program. Furthermore, he worked at MAFC Budapest (1st division men’s team) where he became the youngest head coach ever in the history of the Hungarian basketball. He has more than 50 games of international cup experience.

EDOARDO CASALONE (Italian) 1989 Sassari, Italy

Edoardo Casalone is one of the most promising assistant coaches in Europe as he is working under Gianmarco Pozzecco on Dinamo Sassari’s coaching staff. Being a member of one of the most successful teams in the last couple of seasons, Casalone experienced many incredible moments as an assistant coach. He helped Sassari win the FIBA Europe Cup in 2018-2019 season, while the team made the Italian League Finals the same season. He worked in Legadue in Tortona, as assistant coach and won the Italian Cup (2017). Moreover, he was a part of the Italy U18 staff under coach Capobianco for a period of time.

MARCO ESPOSITO (Italian) 1987 EA MILANO, Italy

Marco Esposito is serving as an assistant coach in EA Milan since 2018. The young Italian coach has won the Italian Lega Basket in 2017-18 season as an assistant under Simone Pianigiani, while he had ample of experience in the EuroLeague as EA Milan is participating in the competition every season. He has also served as assistant coach in Brindisi before joining the most winning club of the Italian Basketball. Furthermore, he had the privilege to work alongside Ettore Messina this season, who returned to the European scene, after being in the NBA for a good number of years.

Photo: delfi.lt

EVALDAS BERZININKAITIS (Lithuania) 1985, Zalgiris, Lithuania

Evaldas Berzininkaitis is an important factor in the Zalgiris Kaunas coaching staff. A great statistical analyst and a valuable member of Sarunas Jasikevicius coaching team, Berzininkaitis draw the attention by helping the Lithuanian team build its defensive mentality. He has been working in Kaunas as an assistant since 2013 winning 8 consecutive Lithuania League titles. He is also pretty experienced in the EuroLeague level as he took part in EuroLeague Final-Four in 2018 under Sarunas Jasikevicius, who led Zalgiris to the third place.

Nicola Brienza (Italian) 1980 Trento, Italy

Nicola Brienza was born and raised in Cantu, Lombardy, where basketball is commodity due to the historic value of the team’s area. As a result, Brienza has worked his way up in the club rankings being an assistant for about 12 years (2004-2016). Cantu promoted him two times in the head coach position (2016, 2019) before Brienza signs a contract with Trento(June 2019). Trento is one of the most successful clubs in Italy the last couple of seasons getting to two Lega Basket Finals in the last three years.

Petar Mijovic (Montenegrin) 1982, Buducnost, Montenegro

Petar Mijovic is the home-grown head coach of Buducnost. The Montenegrin coach has ample of experience in the Adriatic League. He was also one of the members of the coaching staff that competed in EuroLeague in the 2018-19 season with the team. At the same time, he was part of the coaching staff that led Buducnost in the Finals of the Adriatic League under coach Repesa. After, Slobodan Subutic’s brief coaching stint, Mijovic promoted to the head coach position in October, leading Buducnost to the second best record in the Adriatic League until the season hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Stefanos Dedas, photo via eurohoops.net

Stefanos Dedas (Greek) 1982, Hapoel Holon, Israel

Stefanos Dedas has worked in professional basketball for about 18 years despite being just 37 years old. Namely, Dedas worked as an assistant to Spartak Saint Peterburg, Gaziantep and Slovenia NT, while he spent his first 9 years of his career in his home-country, working in several Greek clubs including Aris , PAOK and Iraklis. In his career, he has a pretty impressive resume working with a big number of EuroLeague superstars as Corey Higgins( Gaziantep), Kostas Sloukas (Aris Thessalonikis). In the last three seasons, he became the head coach of Bahçeşehir Koleji (2017-19), competing in the first tier of the Turkish League, while he continued to Israeli side, Hapoel Holon on December leading the team to the 4th seed of the regular season until the league suspension on March.

Pedro Calles (Spanish) 1983, Vechta (Germany)

Pedro Calles is a major contributor for Rasta Vechta resurgence in the last two seasons leading the team to the semi-finals of the German Bundesliga. As a result, Vechta made its debut in the European stage by competing in the FIBA Basketball Champions League this year. The club from Germany became one of the most famous stories in Europe last season, after beating Brose Bamberg in the quarter-finals of the playoffs, before they fell to the later champions Bayern Munich in the semi-finals. Calles was leading Vechta to the Top-5 of the German Budesliga this season, before its suspension due to the coronavirus outbreak.

JANIS GAILITIS (Latvian) 1988, VEF Riga (Latvia)

Janis Gailitis has led VEF Riga in three championships in the last four years being the head coach of the team the last four and a half seasons. VEF Riga is a two-time quarter-finalist in the VTB League featuring in many battles with several top European clubs like CSKA Moscow and Khimki Moscow. Gailitis is one of the most young head coaches in Europe helping the team return to a major european competition this season. Namely, the Latvian club participated in the 2019-2020 FIBA Basketball Champions League getting its first victory against Montenegrin club Mornar.

SAM ROTSAERT (Belgian) 1982, Spirou Charlerois

Sam Rotsaert is a Belgian promising head coach working in one of the most winning clubs of the country. He has reached, with Spirou Charleroi, the second round of the FIBA EuroCup leading them also to the final of the National Cup in Belgium. Furthermore, he led the team to the fifth place of the Pro League, being on the verge of a playoff run before the season ended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

JOHANNES ROIJAKKERS (Dutch) 1980 Goettingen, Germany

“Johan” Roijakkers is a Dutch coach, currently being the head coach of the German Budesliga club BC Goettingen. After he won a championship in Slovakia with Prievidza (2012), the young coach got to lead Goettingen to the PRO A (second tier league in Germany) championship in 2014. He remains with the club until this day keeping the team in the first tier league for 5 consecutive seasons. Before the pause, Goettingen was having its bests run of the decade in the German League this season, being in the playoff contention (9th) in the eighth year with Roijakkers in the head coach position.

JULINA ESPINOSA (French) 1984, Chalon, France

Julien Espinosa, holder of a professional Masters in “Physical activity, nutrition and health” joined Olympique Antibes Juan-les-Pins in 2007 as an educator in the center of club formation. By 2013, he was the head coach of the club from March 2013 until last January. The Frenchman led Antibes to two promotions before replacing Phillippe Herve in Chalon’s head coach position.

ANDIN RASHICA (Kosovar) 1990, Sigal Pristhina, Kosovo

Andin Rashica is the youngest coach to win the Kosovo Cup in 2018 as he served as an interim head coach in 2018 for Sigal Pristhina. Furthermore, he is the youngest to coach a team in the first tier of the Kosovar League, as he was just 23, when he received his first experience as a head coach of the BC RTV 21. He is also a member of the Kosovo national team having the role of the assistant coach. Being in Sigal Pristhina since 2015, he served the team as the head coach two times (2017,2019) winning the Kosovo SuperLeague nine times.

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