Jonas Kazlauskas, an assistant to Del Harris last summer with China at the Olympics, has finally been handed the reins to Chinese basketball national team.
China want to take giant strides in the sport and contend for a medal when Beijing hosts the 2008 Olympics and they see Kazlauskas, who coached Zalgiris Kaunas to a Euro League crown in 1999 and then steered his country to a bronze medal at the Sydney Olympics, as the ideal man.
He had hoped to be the head man at last summer's Athens Games, but China wanted both Kazlauskas and NBA coach Harris to be involved, and the former eventually agreed to serve as Harris' assistant.
The Far East giants, whose most famous player is 7ft 6in giant Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets, reached the quarter-finals in Athens.
Greek giants Olympiacos, the club side Kazlauskas coaches, confirmed that the Lithuanian had signed a two-year deal with an option of two additional years to lead the Chinese, who are expected to qualify for FIBA World Championship 2006 in Japan.
(bscup.sina.com.cn July 25, 2005)