Tony Garbelotto has vowed to bring trophies to Glasgow Rocks after being confirmed as the club’s head coach.

The Londoner, now 46, returns to the UK after a five-year hiatus overseas that recently included a spell in charge of Vietnam.

Appointed on a two-year deal, Garbelotto steps into the void created by the exit of Sterling Davis last month and arrives on a mission to end the Scots 14-year wait for silverware.

“I am very pleased to be named the new Glasgow Rocks head coach,” he said. ” This franchise and club has long been considered one of the top clubs in the UK and I am excited about the possibility of bringing success to the club, Glasgow and Scotland.  I hope that I can not only make an impact on the court by ultimately winning silverware but also make an impact in the community and leave an ongoing legacy for basketball in Scotland.”

In his previous BBL stints, he led Mersey Tigers to all four major domestic trophies, including the British Basketball League title in 2011, following spells at Newcastle Eagles and Birmingham Bullets.

After a two-year spell with German club Heidelberg, Garbelotto moved to Asia for a dual role which also included coaching Saigon Heat.

Now he faces the task of cracking open the duopoly of Leicester and Newcastle, with a core already in place that includes Great Britain internationals Kieron Achara and Gareth Murray. Winning, says owner Duncan Smillie, is the primary goal.

“We had 99 – actually 100 – applicants because my Dad applied,” he said. “And it was a real mix of Dads who were coaching kids to number twos in the NBA. It was a really broad spectrum. We cut down to a shortlist to do Skype interviews. But we said this is the salary, this is the playing budget, this is what we do in the community. These are the idiosyncrasies in the BBL.

“A few guys dropped out then but we did interviews with seven guys and then invited three to come here. We put them on the court with some of the players and asked them to put them through a drill to see them on the court. I was a bit uncomfortable because all three were very experienced but it was important to see the dynamic and get a feel for what life would look like. The other two candidates were fantastic. I was impressed with the quality but the guy who stood out, because of his profile and his basketball IQ, his rep, his knowledge of the BBL, was Tony.

“I want to win stuff and he’s got a recipe for success in this league. He’s had trophies. That’s what we want. But now the work starts in recruiting the best players possible to put a good team on the court for next season.”

The signing has been given the backing of his former charge on Merseyside, former Great Britain captain Drew Sullivan who, saw Garbelotto at work up close as part of the Mersey Tigers team that landed the domestic treble in 2011.

“I think it’s great for the BBL that Tony is back over here working,” Sullivan said. “Tony is a born winner who demands a high level of professionalism, attention to detail and work ethic from the players that he works with. I can honestly say that Tony wouldn’t have signed to coach Glasgow if he didn’t think he could help the club improve.

“With that being said now he is back in the country I sincerely hope the people at British Basketball are taking notice. With the change to how qualifiers are done now, I can’t imagine there is a better candidate for the Great Britain job which he could do along side the Rocks. I think the GB programme is ready for a British coach. So hopefully they do the right thing.”

Photo: Mansoor Ahmed


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