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Luka Pavicevic Named Sunrockers Shibuya's New Head Coach

After missing the playoffs this spring, the B.League team handed the coaching reins to veteran bench boss Luka Pavicevic, who previously led the Alvark Tokyo.

Luka Pavicevic is the new head coach of the B.League's Sunrockers Shibuya.

The Central Conference team made the announcement on Wednesday, May 31, three days after the Ryukyu Golden Kings were crowned as 2022-23 champions.

Pavicevic replaces Ken Hamanaka, who took over as head coach in December 2022 after his predecessor, Tsutomu Isa, was dismissed two days before Christmas. The Sunrockers had a 10-9 record at the time of Isa's departure.

Shibuya finished the season with a 28-32 record and failed to make the playoffs.

Hamanaka, 33, served as an assistant coach from 2019 until being promoted to head coach near the end of last year.

In 2021-22, the Sunrockers had a 33-26 record, and in 2020-21 they went 38-22.

Ex-Alvark coach Luka Pavicevic instructs his players during the B.League playoff quarterfinals on May 15, 2022. (B.LEAGUE)

Pavicevic, who turns 55 on June 17, previously coached the Alvark Tokyo from 2017-22. It was a highly successful five-year period for the Alvark, who won back-to-back titles in 2017-18 and 2018-19 with Pavicevic in charge.

"I would like to thank the management of Sunrockers Shibuya for the trust and respect which they expressed when inviting me to be the head coach of a club with such a long basketball tradition in Japan," Pavicevic said in a statement.

The Montenegrin bench boss added, "I accepted this position with a sense of privilege, but also with a feeling of great responsibility at the moment when the organization is making its significant transition of ownership from Hitachi to Sega Sammy."

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Vendrame to Return in 2023-24

The Sunrockers announced that veteran point guard Leo Vendrame signed a contract for the 2023-24 season on the same day as Pavicevic's appointment was made official. Vendrame averaged 9.5 points and 5.0 assists in 60 games in 2022-23.

Shibuya's 2022-23 roster included former NBA players Ryan Kelly, James Michael McAdoo and Kevin Jones.

Luka Pavicevic in a December 2021 file photo. (B.LEAGUE)

Past Success for Luka Pavicevic

Before joining the Alvark, Pavicevic coached several clubs in pro leagues in Europe, including in Greece, France and Montenegro. He guided Alba Berlin to the 2007-08 Basketball Bundesliga title and a German Cup crown in 2009.

What's more, at the 2011 World University Games (Summer Universiade) he led Serbia to a first-place finish in China.

Looking ahead to his next coaching post, Pavicevic said, "It will be a serious challenge to lead this team towards the new future, and I feel motivated and inspired to start and create the process that would lead to achievements and accomplishments that are set in front of it." 

He added, "Also, I look forward to the moment when the Sunrockers team will reunite with their great fans next season and, together with them, try to pursue the high goals and expectations which will wait ahead."

A former point guard, Pavicevic's pro career (1982-2003) included stints in the former Yugoslavia, Israel, Hungary, Finland, Poland, Macedonia, France and Serbia. He also played at the University of Utah.

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Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and Twitter @ed_odeven.


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