NBL great Gaze seals first coaching win
Photo Source: AAP
He is Australia's most decorated basketballer, achieving almost everything during a celebrated 20-year playing career.
On Thursday night, the great Andrew Gaze chalked up his first win as a rookie NBL coach after guiding the Sydney Kings to a pressure-relieving 88-84 win over the Illawarra Hawks in Wollongong.
But the last thing the seven-time NBL MVP and five-time Olympian wanted was to hog the limelight after Sydney's round-two victory, especially with a Saturday night home clash with the Cairns Taipans to prepare for.
"I'm more happy for the players," Gaze said of his maiden coaching triumph.
"As I keep telling these guys I'm here to try and help them, and I get excited with their joy and excitement because I know what they've been through as players.
"My relief is that these guys care. They care about the game, they care about winning, they care about the opportunity they have, so I feel the pressure that they go through and I was more relieved that we broke our duck and got a win in a very, very tough environment.
"I've had more than my fair share of unbelievable times and now I've got this opportunity to share in some more in a different capacity.
"Whatever this journey of mine is, I just want the players to enjoy the experience, to be able to enjoy the wins and deal with the losses.
"Losses have piled up for Sydney in recent years and that's a trend Gaze hopes to reverse.The club cleared out half of last season's playing roster and recruited some big names to fill the vacancies.
Eyebrows were raised when the Kings lost last week's season-opening home game to the Brisbane Bullets, but the hard-earned road win over a formidable foe like Illawarra underlined the Kings' potential.
Pleased as he was to see his side register its first win, Gaze had already shifted his attention to the Taipans, who lost in overtime to titleholders Perth last week.
"It's a very limited time to recover and we don't have a lot of time to prepare," he said.
"We have a video session [on Friday] and a walk-through session on game day, but it is what it is. All teams have to do it. I'm not crying and saying we've been harshly done by, but it does make it tough."