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Argentina's Lamas named Japan coach
TOKYO (FIBA Asia Cup 2017) - Japan have sent out a loud statement about their determination to get better in international basketball by appointing former Argentina boss Julio Lamas as their new coach.
Lamas, one of the top tacticians in his homeland, last held the reins of Argentina at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.
Lamas last coached Argentina at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2014
He had coached the team to a fourth-place finish at the 2012 Olympics. The 52-year-old will take over a Japan side that showed a lot of promise at the FIBA Asia Cup 2015, where the team finished fourth to earn a spot in one of the three FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments 2016.
The Japanese were completely overmatched at the OQT in Belgrade, however, falling to Latvia, 88-48, and then to the Czech Republic, 87-71.
The Japanese Basketball Association (JBA) decided to take a new direction, announcing last December that Kenji Hasegawa would not continue as coach.
Now the movers and shakers in the Japanese game have put their faith in Lamas.
The veteran is excited about the opportunity to coach the Japanese, who are hoping to be in peak form when the country hosts the 2020 Olympics.
"Basketball in Japan has room for improvement and I would like to do it under an organized program," he said. "Japan has players with energy and discipline to aid individual and collective growth and has young promising players who could be a part of the team."
Lamas has already coached one of the best teams in the world but likes the idea of broadening his horizons and also helping raise the level of performance for Japan.
"I decided to accept the offer from the JBA because I was enthusiastic about the project presented to me and because it represents an enticing professional challenge," he said. "I suspect that working under such high professional standards like those in Japan will, too, represent an opportunity for me to grow professionally.
"I accept this challenge with excitement and with the desire to do a great job that will please the Japanese fans.
"I look forward to working with the JBA staffs and players in pursuing steady and continuous improvement. Together we will work as hard as needed to make sure that our team reaches its maximum potential."
In a statement, the Japanese Basketball Association (JBA) explained why it was attracted to Lamas.
The JBA said: "Coach Lamas fully understands how to compete at the international level, even with the disadvantage of physical size."
Japan's average height at the OQT was 1.93m, substantially smaller than Latvia's 2.00m and the Czech Republic's 2.01m.
Japan's players aren't the tallest but they do show a lot of heart
The statement continued: "We are very confident that his coaching experience and knowledge will lead our men's national team to the next level. It's extremely important for our men's national team to become stronger and have success at the international stage for the future of basketball in Japan. We are very happy that we were able to take a big first step towards our bright future with his appointment."
Lamas is to take over the team after his arrival at the end of June or in early July. Luka Pavicevic will hold the reins until end of June and coach the team at the East Asia Championship 2017.