Lemanis, Beveridge set to battle for Boomers job

ANDREJ LEMANIS: Is the bookies favourite for the vacant Boomers head coaching role, but he faces a stiff challenge from Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge.
ANDREJ LEMANIS: Is the bookies favourite for the vacant Boomers head coaching role, but he faces a stiff challenge from Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge.

Just for a change, it looks like voluble Perth Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge stands between Andrej Lemanis and his ultimate ambition.

Lemanis is coach of the back-to-back Australian NBL champion New Zealand Breakers who have established the hottest rivalry in the league with Beveridge's Wildcats.

The Breakers guru is also the bookies' favourite for the vacant Australian Boomers head coaching job which has just been opened up for applications by Basketball Australia.

Lemanis has said he would apply for the role after spending the last four years as an assistant to Brett Brown.

Australian online bookmaker sportsbet.com.au has set a market for the job, listing Lemanis as the $1.75 frontrunner to step into the top job.

But the bookies have Beveridge, who has also put his hand up for the role, at $2.05, suggesting their on-court rivalry in the NBL is about to go to a new dimension.

Sportsbet has another Boomers assistant, the under-achieving Adelaide 36ers' Marty Clarke, as third favourite at $3.25, a generous for a coach whose team has not established a winning culture.

Former Boomer Shane Heal is also rated a contender at the longer odds of $13, though it's unlikely he will put his hand up for the job at this early stage of his coaching career.

Heal is coaching the Sydney Kings and has logged some time as a Boomers assistant alongside Lemanis. He appeals as a long-term option to guide the national team, but probably needs more time to garner experience.

Lemanis deserves the job for a number of reasons.

He has served his apprenticeship as the right-hand man to current San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Brown, so has intimate knowledge of the players, systems and requirements of the job.

Lemanis has also transformed the Breakers during his eight years at the Auckland club from league easybeats to standard-setters.

The Breakers eliminated Beveridge's Wildcats en route to their titles in 2010-11 and 2011-12 and currently lead the league with a 20-3 record heading into a bye weekend.

They are bookies' favourites to go on and complete just the second threepeat in league history.

Last season's grand finals series which Lemanis' Breakers beat Beveridge's Wildcats in a three-game classic that was rated one of the finest in the league's history.

Beveridge's Cats are again the Breakers' closest challengers this season and still entertain hopes of hauling in the Kiwis for the minor premiership.

The Wildcats are 17-5 and near-certainties to own the tiebreaker with the Breakers with just one more matchup to come, in the final round of the regular season in Perth.

The Cats thumped the Breakers twice early in the season, but that was reversed in a round 17 matchup at Vector won 98-71 by the defending champions.

Lemanis would not have to give up his Breakers job to take on the Boomers role and the Kiwi club has said they would not stand in the way of him coaching his country.

Both are astute coaches who oversee high quality programmes, but Lemanis' improvements as a tactician and motivator have been borne out by his team's dominance over the last three years.

Lemanis deserves this shot at taking his coaching skills on to the international stage.

Once again he just has to get by that pesky Beveridge to achieve his goal.