Manawatu Jets chairman Ricky Pene got the late birthday present he wanted with confirmation former LA Lakers scout Ryan Weisenberg had signed to coach the basketball team this year.
The signing was imminent but Pene said it was a coup for the franchise.
"We are bloody excited to have him on board," Pene said last night, after receiving confirmation of the appointment.
"It's not just good for our franchise, but for our fledgling youth."
Weisenberg's deal is for one season and Pene said the Jets were working with the Palmerston North Basketball Association to try to create a package where the American could also work in youth development programmes and stay for longer.
The signing is likely to lure a few players to the Jets this season and Pene said it took a combined effort from the sponsors and board to create a deal that best suited Weisenberg and his family.
Money problems and the Jets have gone hand in hand in past seasons but Pene stressed the franchise was on top of things and could afford to sign Weisenberg, who has also worked as an assistant coach in the WNBA for five seasons.
"We just knew what this guy can bring to the table and when you've got that kind of opportunity we just went and threw everything at it.
"We've just put it into our budget. The coaching staff comes out of trust funding.
"We've applied confidently for funding for a coach."
Pene admitted they had put all their resources into signing Weisenberg and that the outlook would have been grim if he did not put pen to paper.
"We probably had one plan B, that was about it."
Weisenberg is expected to arrive around January 20 and his wife and family will join him after that.
Signing players is the next thing on Pene's shopping list and it won't be too long before a roster takes shape with some of the players who trialled in December to be given another chance to prove themselves in an extended squad.
"I'd like to think now we've got this over the line it'll be within the next three or four days we'll have the bench guys signed and a couple of starters."
Likely signings will be last year's captain Kaine Hokianga, Paul Bristol, Josh O'Connell and Piers Finch.
Players who are signed will work with new strength and conditioning coach Kyle Chapman alongside two other assistants within the franchise until Weisenberg touches down.
"No doubt Kyle is going to be vital for the pre-season four to six weeks to get these guys into shape," Pene said.
Weisenberg is expected to bring a couple of American players with him but Pene could not reveal any names.
Pene said the franchise was a realistic chance for the play-offs this coming season.
"I'm going to back this guy to have our team as prepared as anybody in the league."
Worked with the LA Lakers from 1999 to 2005 as a video analyst and advanced scout.
Had two seasons with the Houston Comets (2007-09) in the WNBA after working with the LA Sparks for three years.
Owns three NBA championship rings and two WNBA championship rings.
Is one of only two people, alongside Bill Laimbeer, to win NBA and WNBA championship rings in the same year.
Worked in numerous high school programmes in the United States during the past 10 years as a coach.
- Manawatu Standard