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Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 08:46:32 AM

Andrej Lemanis will depart the SKYCITY Breakers with a heavy heart but content that the club he has just led to a ‘threepeat’ of Australian National Basketball League Championships is in good health and ready for the next challenge.

Lemanis was today confirmed by Basketball Australia as fulltime Head Coach of the Australian Boomers and the Australian Institute in Canberra, leaving behind 8 years of commitment to the North Shore based basketball franchise but taking with him some great memories, great friendships, and great respect from all who have worked with him or supported the team during his tenure.

Lemanis also leaves behind a club that has achieved what only one other has achieved in the history of the league, and none within the first ten years of existence – that is to win three consecutive championships. And with 7 of the current playing roster already signed for at least one more season, and a strong foundation built upon community programmes and a youth academy, plans are in place for that legacy to continue.

The last act for Lemanis was a fitting one for a coach who has given his complete commitment to the club that showed faith in him those 8 years ago to head up the Breakers coaching team. The win over Perth to sew up a third consecutive Championship was the 150th career win with the club.

Lemanis took time to reflect on what he and the club has achieved through 8 years of hard toil and daily dedication to being a little better each and every day.

“I am honoured and humbled to be given the opportunity by Basketball Australia to lead the Boomers programme through this next Olympic cycle,” said Lemanis.  “To coach the National Team of my home country is the greatest honour I can have as a coach.

“I leave the Breakers with a heavy heart. I am extremely proud of what we have been able to build here together over the past eight years and take comfort in knowing that the Club is in a better position now than when I arrived. The Club is well positioned to successfully continue forward. We have built a program which relies on good people all contributing their piece to the puzzle. We have proven time and again that the Club is bigger than any one person – and so it is with me. The great people involved in the Club combined with the investment the club has made in the development of our young players will ensure the club continues on its current successful path both on and off the court.

“I would like to personally thank Paul and Liz Blackwell for their love, support, guidance and friendship over the past eight years – they have helped to shape who I am as a person. My wife Angela has been an amazing source of strength and support – I would not have been able to lead this team without her. The Club is a wonderful environment for improvement and growth. The players, coaches, support staff and office staff have all helped me to become a better coach and a better person – I thank them all for their part in the journey – and what a wonderful journey it has been.

“It is impossible to remove myself from the Breaker family. Whilst I may no longer be living at home, I will always feel a special connection and have an acute interest in how the club is going, and will return for family functions along the way.”

Owners of the SKYCITY Breakers Paul and Liz Blackwell acknowledged the coach and the person, in keeping with the club’s values and philosophies.

“Andrej has been an integral part of the development of the Breakers, not just as Head Coach but as part of the leadership team that has driven the strategic direction of the club and created what has become the Breakers environment and philosophy. Andrej is someone who has lived the values of the club, and his ethic of hard work, continuous improvement and commitment to good people are part of the foundations which the Breaker’s success has been built. We are sad to see him go as we value him greatly as a person and a friend, but he leaves with our best wishes and will always be part of the Breakers family – we would not be the club we are today without Andrej’s contribution.”

SKYCITY Breakers General Manager Richard Clarke was philosophical about Lemanis’ departure, and believes the club’s succession planning will allow for a quick adjustment and the opportunity to continue to build on the success Lemanis’ has had in the role.

“We are really proud of what Andrej has achieved, and that he will now get the opportunity to test himself again in a new role. The opportunity to compete at Olympics and World Championship level is a fantastic one for Andrej, and we know that he will be a great Boomers Head Coach.”

“Our approach as a club has always been to support our people in achieving their goals, whether they are players, coaches or staff. Andrej being offered this opportunity reflects both on his work here over the past 8 years and on the club being able to provide an environment for him to create that success.”

“We are currently in the process of filling the Head Coach position, and are confident that we will be able to do so from within the club. The Board has interviewed Dean Vickerman on his vision and approach to the role, and will continue to work through that process this week.”

It is only fitting that the final word is reserved for Coach Lemanis as he wishes the club he has helped build all the best for a future without him.

“Thank you for all of the positive support I have received from the public over the last few weeks wishing me well. You are a special group – I ask that you continue to enjoy the ride with the Breakers – it is a unique club and one you should fell great being a part of.”

Lemanis will work out notice of one month and assist in a handover to the new Head Coach before commencing his role with Basketball Australia. Clarke says the club is currently working on the succession plan and hopes an announcement can be made in the next few days in regards the next SKYCITY Breakers Head Coach.