Finns Bring in Gordie, Promote Toijala

29 March 2010

If a country aspires to be the best in senior team competitions, the basketball federation had better make sure the youth teams are in good shape.

Finland fans will certainly like the way their national team set-up looks now.

Head coach Henrik Dettmann bolstered his staff ahead of this summer's EuroBasket 2011 qualifying campaign by adding under-18 boss Jukka Toijala to this staff.

The Finns then appointed naturalized Finn Gordon Herbert as the new under-18 coach.

Herbert, a Canadian, got his Finnish passport while playing professionally in the country from 1982-94.

He has led numerous club sides and also had a stint at the helm of Georgia's national team.

"A unique opportunity to add a world-class coach with great international experience opened up for us," Dettmann said.

"The appointment of Gordie shows that we are committed to creating the best circumstances for players to develop themselves.

"Coaching is an extremely important part of those circumstances."

Herbert represented Canada's national team from 1982-87.

As a coach, Herbert spent a decade leading teams in Austria, Germany, France and Greece before joining the coaching staff of the Toronto Raptors.

In the three seasons he coached in the Euroleague, twice his sides reached the Top 16.

He also had two seasons coaching in the ULEB Cup (now the Eurocup).

In addition, Herbert won the German Bundesliga with Frankfurt Skyliners in 2004 and the French cup with Pau-Orthez in 2007.

In 2004-05 he was named as Coach of the Year in France and in 1999-2000 he received the same title in Austria.

Last summer, Herbert had back surgery and returned to Finland.

He took over league team Espoon Honka, but was forced to step aside in January due to back problems.

Paris Basket Racing Head Coach Gordon Herbert
Gordon Herbert is also part of the FIBA Europe Coaching Certificate

Since then, he has been concentrating on rehabilitation, which has gone well, and he was able to commit to the under-18 program.

"I am more than excited to have this opportunity to coach the national team of Men's U18," Herbert said.

"Finland has one of the best national team programs in Europe.

"It will be a very good learning experience for me to be involved in this program."

Finland will compete in the U18 European Championship Division B this summer in Tel Aviv, Israel, against Slovakia, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.

Rising Star Toijala

Dettmann is equally excited about the promotion off Toijala to the senior staff.

"I've been looking for reinforcements for the coaching staff of the men's national team for a couple of years already," Dettmann said.

"With Gordie coming in, it became possible to transfer Jukka Toijala to our staff.

"He is both suitable and capable.

"At the same time this will be a natural next step for Jukka's career."

Toijala, 37, has established himself as one of the top coaches in Finland even though this is only his fourth season coaching at the top level after retiring as player.

Under his guidance, Finns Kouvot have been playing a very team-oriented game with good results.

Kouvot were runners-up in 2008 and they are currently fighting the for Regular Season title with Tampereen Pyrintö.

Toijala, who was Coach of the Year 2008 in Finland, has made it public that he will be looking at other opportunities from abroad and will leave Kouvot after the season.

"When Henrik called me about the switch to the men's national team, I originally said I'd like to think it over during the weekend," Toijala said.

"The truth of the matter is that the decision was made in five minutes.

"I am really happy for our youth national team program, which will now add the expertise of Gordie."

Finland are going to need everyone's best effort this summer.

They will take on Israel, Italy, Montenegro and Latvia in EuroBasket Division A, Group A.

Last summer, Finland took part in the Additional Qualifying Round for EuroBasket 2009 in Poland.

"For myself, this will be a great career and learning opportunity to join the coaching staff of our men's national team, which has made huge progress during the last couple of years," Toijala said.



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