British Basketball have confirmed BBL play-caller Tony Garbelotto is to become Head Coach of its Senior Men’s team.
The 48 year-old is the first British-born head coach of the GB men’s team in the modern era, having been previously Assistant to Chris Finch in the build-up to London 2012. He will succeed Joe Prunty in time for the autumn’s FIBA Basketball World Cup qualifiers against Greece and Estonia.
He is best remembered in this country for leading Mersey Tigers to three domestic trophies in 2011, including the BBL title with an all British roster, but has also coached in Europe and in Asia.
Garbelotto will combine his duties for the national team with those of BBL team Glasgow Rocks, as well as for Scotland at April’s Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Garbelotto said: “For me, it was the right time to come back to the UK for all types of personal reasons. It’s definitely a great situation to be in. Obviously, I’d been in Asia for the last three years and in Germany prior to that and there was this unique set of circumstances that came together.
“It’s an interesting time for British Basketball as there seem to be a lot of things happening and there’s an incredible group of young players coming through.”
Coach Garbelotto paid tribute to his predecessor Joe Prunty and added: “We’re all extremely proud of the way this group has developed and I think Joe has done an incredible job of fusing those young players with the older players.
“You can see the discipline that this team plays with and I think we can be thankful that we’ve worked with such a high-level coach who took this group on, after Coach Finch left the programme. Credit to Joe for what he has done over the last four years.”
The Englishman is also intrigued to see what happens over the next few years and continued: “We should be excited about our prospects going forward. Some players are very young, especially those players involved in the junior teams this summer but more importantly, the core of this team are at the stage where they can only get better.
“I’ve been involved in the modern Great Britain programme since its inception and I don’t believe that even before London 2012, we truly got the fusion of young and mature players at the right stage. They are a really tight group and if we can add players to this group for the World Cup qualifiers, we can be excited about the possibilities where this team can take us.
Meanwhile British Basketball Performance Director Mark Clark commented: “First of all, I’d like to thank Joe Prunty for everything he has done for the programme since he arrived in 2013.”
“Joe has left the programme in a healthy state, with young players such as Gabe Olaseni having had a first taste of major tournament play and showing they can perform at this level.
“I’ve known Tony for some time and he is a very talented coach with a deep knowledge of the international game and I’m looking forward to working with him.”
Glasgow Rocks owner Duncan Smilie stated: “It is a great honour that The Glasgow Rocks head coach has been named as the new Head Coach of Great Britain. We’re more than comfortable Tony will be able to fulfil his duties in full at The Rocks as the reality is the GB role has a minimal impact on our BBL season.
“The appointment of Tony is just reward for his achievements at home and abroad over the years in the game he cares so much about. Great Britain will be all the better for his appointment and the Rocks will benefit greatly from it.”