Tony Garbelotto guided the Glasgow Rocks to their first win against the Newcastle Eagles in five years on Friday night, which caps off an eventful week for the Englishman.
The 48-year-old lead Great Britain in to their opening World Cup Qualifiers against Greece and Estonia a week ago. The games cap off an exciting few months for the well traveled coach, who has returned home to lead his nation.
Garbelotto was appointed as the new Glasgow Rocks head coach in June after three seasons coaching in Asia.
He was then appointed as the head coach of the Great Britain basketball team for the 2019 World Cup Qualifiers, on top of his duties as the Scotland coach for the Commonwealth games in April.
Britain fell in overtime to Greece last week in Garbelotto’s first game as head coach, and was followed with a defeat in Estonia on Monday.
“I learnt many lessons.” Said Garbelotto. ” I think we still need to strengthen our roster. We still have players we can bring in. ”
“I need to do a better job of rotating players. I was not ready for this aspect and it is different from coaching club basketball. I think overall we competed extremely well and showed character and heart to stay in those games. We need to build on this and to continue to develop a style of play but this is tough as we only have limited time to work with the players”
Garbelotto called on three of his club players to join him on his roster for the games. Kieron Achara, Kofi Josephs and Gareth Murray all suited up for Britain. Despite this, Garbelotto explained that this did not necessarily make his game-plan any easier.
“Understanding roles or defining roles at International level is completely different than at the club level. Actually Gareth (Murray) is probably the only player that makes a smooth transition as he is such a complete player”
The overtime thriller against Greece was played at the Leicester Arena and drew a sell-out crowd. The game and venue emphasized the growth of basketball in Britain and the direction it is heading in.
Garbelotto referred to the strength of their opponents. Despite not playing last week, Greece boasts one of the worlds best basketball players, Giannis Antetokounmpo. He hopes that down the line we will have stars of our own in the national team.
“It was a good feeling to play in Leicester and the Riders really helped us throughout the week.”
“We still though have a way to go to replicate the exposure and standing of basketball in this country in comparison to a country like Greece.”
British Basketball legend Drew Sullivan joined Garbelotto as an assistant coach for the qualifiers. Sullivan retired from the game at the end of last season after one of the most successful British Basketball careers of all time.
“I think it was great having him on the staff. For me it was important to have him as a direct link to the players.” Said Garbelotto.
“I think it was great for him as a young coach and I know that this experience has given him a greater insight into what he needs to work on as a coach.”
Finding a balance for duties between club and country has been a challenge that Garbelotto is working around. Glasgow are all ready well in to their BBL season, and he had to step away from it to focus on Britain.
“The balance has been much tougher than I thought. It is mainly down to the tough early season schedule of the Rocks. I just had so little time to do the things I needed to for GB consistently.”
“I think also that everything has been so new. If it was my second season at the Rocks there would have been a degree of stability to build on. It is a challenge, but one I think I can master.”
Garbelotto’s attention now returns to the Glasgow Rocks as they push on in their BBL campaign. They sit in the Playoff positions at present.
“Our start has been up and down. We have struggled to get the right balance, personal and chemistry.”
“We have suffered two season ending injuries to two imports. I hope to get some consistency in the coming months and make a push for both the Trophy and the play offs.”