TREVOR Gleeson remembers watching in awe as a youngster when basketball legend Lindsay Gaze brought the Australian men’s team to Warrnambool’s Seaside Carnival.
Now he’s part of the national team.
Gleeson, who coached Perth Wildcats to the National Basketball League title in April, was yesterday announced as assistant coach of Australia’s men’s team, the Boomers.
He will work alongside head coach Andrej Lemanis and fellow assistant, multiple NBA championship winner Luc Longley, when the Boomers contest the Federation of International Basketball Association World Cup in Spain from August 30 to September 15.
Gleeson’s elevation to international level caps a remarkable period in his career. Two years ago he was ousted as coach of the Melbourne Tigers.
“It was a dream,” Gleeson said of being involved with Australia’s team.
“To be apart of this with what transpired 12-16 months ago, it was probably out of reach and I was ready to head in a different direction professionally.
“The 12 months have been a bit of a whirlwind.
“To get this opportunity to help the Boomers and be part of the national program is something I didn’t think would happen.
“It just puts you at a different level. You are going up against the world’s best, not just the players but the coaches and being in that environment is exciting.”
The 45-year-old said his championship-winning Wildcats were his priority. The timing of the World Cup meant he would miss a period of pre-season training with his club.
Gleeson’s tenure with the Boomers includes the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
“We still have to qualify for that, the Word Cup is the most immediate priority.”
Gleeson will be reunited with former Melbourne Tiger Patty Mills, whom he brought to Warrnambool for a practice match during his brief stint with the Tigers.
Gleeson said Australia would have a strong squad in Spain, highlighted by the point guard position.
Mills, who helped the San Antonio Spurs to the NBA Championship last week, Cleveland Cavaliers’ Matthew Dellavedova and Dante Exum, who will be drafted into the NBA next week, will all be vying for the same spot.
Gleeson said Australia was keen to do well at the World Cup before taking on New Zealand next year for a spot in the Olympics.
Gleeson revealed his appointment as assistant coach followed a lengthy chat with Lemanis during the Sino-Australia Challenge between China and the Boomers, which started in Perth in May.
“We sat down and had a couple of hours’ talk to see what he was after and how I could help,” he said.
Gleeson is well credentialed for the job. He has coached in America, South Korea and extensively in the NBL.
Lemanis said Gleeson would replace Wollongong Hawks’ Gordie McLeod as an assistant coach. He thanked the Wildcats for supporting Gleeson.
“I always enjoyed competing against Trevor during my time in the NBL,” Lemanis said.“I really respected the way Trevor coached his team to the NBL Championship this year — his demeanour on the sidelines, the respect he had from his players and the style in which they played suggested a real maturity in his coaching.
“I was always keen to have an NBL coach on staff and after meeting with Trevor to discuss the role, it became clear that he was a great fit for our current staff and that he would have a lot to offer us as a group.”