The Bendigo Braves have announced the head coaching line-up for the 2021 NBL1 season.
David Hogan will continue his role with the Braves men while Mark Alabakov will get the chance to lead the women after being signed for the 2020 season that was cancelled due to the pandemic.
"I am looking forward to the season and excited for the challenge," Alabakov said.
"I am hoping to see continued growth from the Braves program through to the elite level and for our athletes to be able to take that next step.
"Then there is the potential for our Spirit athletes to be able to play down and gain more experience during their off season."
Alabakov takes over the role from Megan Moody who led the Braves women to SEABL championship glory in 2018 and to the NBL1 semi-final in 2019 where they fell short to the Geelong Supercats by three points.
He has years of experience as an elite-level coach and is eager to get to work under his two-year signing with the Braves.
"The two-year opportunity gives stability and time for me to put my own fingerprint on the Bendigo program," Alabakov said.
The 2021 NBL1 season is expected to tip-off in mid-April and the coaches haven't wasted anytime in thinking about team rosters.
Alabakov said there had been preliminary conversations with athletes about playing for the Braves.
"We've been able to have some chats with people and get some interest about playing here in Bendigo
"It's going to be a markedly different roster to Megan's team," Alabakov said.
"It will be about meeting our group of athletes and taking the next step as elite basketballers."
Alabakov, who is also the Spirit assistant coach, has just returned from hub life in Queensland for the 2020 WNBL season.
"It has been an intense few weeks but it's nice to come back from the hub and be able to sleep in my own bed and switch off," he said.
"It was a great experience but I am excited to get into the Braves stuff and start moving forward to next year."
Alabakov is joined by Hogan who continues as head coach of the men after his first year in 2019 where he led the squad to the grand final where they lost by nine points to the Nunawading Spectres.
Before the cancellation of the 2020 NBL1 season, Hogan and the players were hard at work during pre-season.
"For the boys it was devastating," Hogan said.
"We'd gone through an entire pre-season on the back of the grand final loss the year before.
"I had a lot of empathy for them as they lost a year of sport to no fault of their own.
"We're now ready for a strong season."
During lockdown Hogan and his wife Elise welcomed their second child Xavier James into the world which now makes a family of four with their first son Hugh.
However, Hogan and a few of the players wasted no time after restrictions lifted to get back on court at the Bendigo Stadium in preparations for the upcoming season and he has a fair of idea of what his team might look like.
"We don't know what could happen tomorrow. If we do get imports there will most likely be quarantine requirements and stuff like that so there will be a focus on our local Australian talent," he said.
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