Paul Mokeski, new Moncton Miracles coach, plans defensive overhaul
Paul Mokeski played in the NBA for 12 years and has coached the sport for twice as long.
It's easy for the Moncton Miracles to look up to their new coach. At seven-feet tall, Paul Mokeski is taller than all of the players on the NBL Canada team.
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Mokeski is a former professional basketball player, who spent 12 seasons in the NBA with Houston, Detroit, Cleveland and seven years with the Milwaukee Bucks.
He is the new coach of the National Basketball League's Moncton Miracles and is now in charge of turning around the team's performance.
The team has a meagre record of six wins and 11 losses, but the team leads the league in points scored.
Mokeski said his first focus will be shoring up the team's defensive play. Once that is done, the new coach has larger ambitions.
"My goal is to make this team a team that is feared to play in the playoffs," he said.
Mokeski said at this high level of sport, if a team makes the post-season anything can happen.
"I'm not afraid to say our goal is a championship," he said.
"But I've also been around enough to know that's not easy and saying it is one thing and doing it is another,"
Player turned coach
After Mokeski's playing days were over in 1991, he said he wasn't ready to say goodbye to the game he loved since he was a little kid.
"I've been coaching for 24 years. Coached at about every level: college, NBA development league, overseas, in the NBA and then last year as an associate head coach in the Canadian league in Brampton," said Mokeski.
I'm not afraid to say our goal is a championship.- Paul Mokeski, head coach of the Moncton Miracles
He got to know the Canadian league while in Brampton, but didn't think he'd be a coach this year.
"Professional coaching jobs, especially head jobs, are very hard to come by," he said.
"I actually just got back from China. I spent three weeks in China advising one of the pro teams there and their junior team."
But then the Miracles came calling.
"It was an opportunity that jumped out at me, especially at this point of the year," he said.
Mokeski credits his own coaches over the years with making him the player, and the coach, he's become.
"I have a passion for the game and now I have a passion to share that knowledge with the younger players," Mokeski told Information Morning Moncton.
"(I) love that you can go out with just a basketball and a hoop, by yourself, and get better if you wanted to. And you're imagination takes over and you're ... counting down one, two, three, four and ready to shoot the winning shot when you're a little kid."