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Slovenia's EuroBasket-winning Kokoskov becomes first European head coach in NBA
PHOENIX (FIBA EuroBasket 2017) - Serbian Igor Kokoskov has become the first European-born head coach of an NBA team after being handed the reins of the Phoenix Suns.
A long-time assistant in the NBA, Kokoskov has also been one of international basketball's brightest coaches the past several years, first leading Georgia's national team at the FIBA EuroBaskets in 2011, 2013 and 2015 and more recently steering Slovenia to the FIBA EuroBasket 2017 title.
Coaching Slovenia was his finest moment. After guiding the team successfully through EuroBasket qualifying in the summer of 2016, Kokoskov coached the national side in an unbeaten run at the 24-team tournament last summer.
They finished top of the group in Helsinki ahead of Finland, France, Greece, Poland and Iceland. Slovenia then, in the knockout round, overcame Ukraine, Latvia and Spain before edging Kokoskov's native Serbia in the Final.
The 46-year-old Kokoskov has this season played a huge part in the rise of the Utah Jazz as an assistant to Quin Snyder. The Jazz are knotted at 1-1 with the Houston Rockets in the NBA's Western Conference Semi-Finals.
Kokoskov has been on the coaching staff of seven teams to reach the Conference Finals, two teams to reach the NBA Finals and he won an NBA title as an assistant coach with the Pistons in 2004, becoming the first non-American assistant to be an NBA champion.
He will experience a homecoming as the coach of the Suns as he served as a Phoenix assistant from 2008-13.
Kokoskov and Goran Dragic, the EuroBasket 2017 MVP, both arrived at Phoenix at the same time a decade ago. Dragic is now a star with the Miami Heat.
"We are thrilled to bring Valley resident Igor Kokoskov back to Arizona as head coach of the Phoenix Suns," said General Manager Ryan McDonough.
"Igor has been a pioneer throughout his basketball career and he brings a wealth of high level coaching experience to our club.
"He was one of the first non-American born assistant coaches at both the NCAA (Missouri, 1999-2000) and NBA levels and his most recent head coaching stint includes leading the Slovenian national team to the 2017 EuroBasket title, which was the first European title in the history of the country.
"Igor's teams have always had a player development focus, a creative style of play and a track record of success."