Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

New Star coach Jose 'like Mourinho as Glens boss'

BASKETBALL: ALL IRELAND SUPERLEAGUE

Star signing: top international coach Josep Maria Berrocal will take charge of Belfast Star in what is a major coup for Ulster basketball

BELFAST Star have pulled off a staggering coup by appointing Josep Maria Berrocal as head coach for their return to the All Ireland Superleague this season.

Berrocal's CV includes being assistant coach at Barcelona for 14 years when they won the equivalent of the Champions League as well as more recently coaching Dynamo Kiev and last year Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine.

His assistant will be Star stalwart and former Irish captain Adrian Fulton who engineered the move after working with the Catalan coach in Dublin.

"I had worked with Jose and when I knew that he was out of a job I decided to write an email but after writing I didn't send it because I thought it would be ridiculous asking him to come," said Fulton.

"But then after a couple of days I sent it, I just thought 'why not?' But when he said yes I couldn't believe it.

"To put it in perspective, this is like Jose Mourinho coming to manage the Glens.

"I've no doubt that some very big clubs will be after him when they hear he is with us but we are hopeful that he will be with us until the end of the season."

Not only will 47-year-old Berracol be coach of the Superleague side in Star's 50th anniversary year but he will also take an overview position of coaching throughout the club, who are returning to the elite level of the sport after a two-year absence.

Star's return to the Superleague is a major boost for the sport here as it brings an Ulster side back into the top end of basketball and clearly the Belfast side are determined to be a major title threat.

Indeed, it has been mooted that they will have two professional players on their roster, including a Spanish ace.

Fulton confirmed that Star are after a Spaniard who he believes would be a major asset to the Belfast outfit.

"Yes there is a Spaniard we are looking at but I can't say much more than that, only that he is top quality," added Fulton, who led Star's under-19 team to All Ireland Cup glory last year.

"We are also looking at bringing in an American and because the word has got out about our new coach we have had some Irish players very keen to play for us.

"Having Jose is going to bring a whole new dimension to the club and I hope the players are ready to adapt and of course Jose knows that he will have to adapt as well.

"For example last year he had a budget of six million euro, so it's going to be a lot different with us!

"But he knows that, he has been coaching in Dublin at the Rip and Run summer camp so he knows that it is going to be a very different challenge for him.

"For the players it is a once in a lifetime opportunity – he's going to be working with the young players as well, right from our very youngest up to the teenagers so it's just an amazing opportunity for the club.

"At the moment he is working with a French professional select side and then he will be coming to us at the end of the month. His long term goal is to get involved in the NBA, that's how good he is and he has already worked with NBA players at Barcelona."

Star's 50th anniversary has also coincided with the return of Bill McCotter as chairman, a position he held for many years.

It would seem that all the pieces of the jigsaw are being put in place for an exciting season.

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