The Australian national team turned to an old friend to replace Brett Brown.
Basketball Australia officially tabbed Brian Goorjian as its next head coach ahead of the Tokyo Olympics next year, it announced on Friday. Goorjian replaced Brown, who stepped down last month shortly after he was fired from the Philadelphia 76ers.
“I am honored to be appointed as the men’s national coach and I am looking forward to the challenge,” Goorjian said in a statement. “Being reunited with some of the guys I previously coached at the Beijing Olympics is an exciting prospect.
“Australia is very fortunate to have such a talented group of athletes at this time. There is certainly a feeling of unfinished business, so there is a strong commitment from these players to participating in the Tokyo Olympics.
“I will be sitting down with Basketball Australia over the coming days to get fully briefed on their existing plans as we start the road to Tokyo and beyond.”
Goorjian, 67, led the Boomers at both the 2004 Olympics in Athens and the 2008 games in Beijing. The Glendale, California, native spent time with the Japanese National basketball team, had an 11-year run in the Chinese Basketball Association and won six championships in Australia’s National Basketball League. He is currently the head coach of the Illawarra Hawks — where projected top pick in the upcoming NBA draft LaMelo Ball played last season.
Brown, who had worked with the Australian national team for decades, was hired to lead them at the Tokyo games last year. Those games were postponed until next summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, and then Brown was fired from the 76ers in August after a seven-year run. Due to both the pandemic and his uncertain future in the NBA, Brown opted to step down from his post.
“The uncertainties around the direction of my professional future unfortunately mean that I cannot commit to the time and preparation that this job deserves and requires,” Brown said last month. “The difficulties around traveling internationally with my family during the pandemic have also contributed to my decision … This was a difficult decision which did not come easy.
“My past experiences with the current Boomer players are among my most memorable as a coach. To coach the Boomers was a privilege and an honor. I will work closely with Basketball Australia in any way that I can to ensure a smooth and successful transition.”
More from Yahoo Sports: