Van Pelt ready to lift Giants to new heights
New Goldfields Giants men’s coach Matthew Van Pelt says he is unfazed by the weight of expectation after he was this week tasked with returning the squad to the NBL1 finals next year.
The Giants made the playoffs in 2022 under Wayne Creek, but this year slipped to 11th place that prompted team management to replace Scott Manton after one season.
Van Pelt takes over at the helm of the Giants after he led the Saigon Heat to four consecutive Vietnam Basketball Association titles and was crowned the competition’s 2023 coach of the year.
“Pressure comes with being a head basketball coach, so I don’t really think about that,” he said.
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“I don’t necessarily feel pressure because when you’re a head coach, expectations to find success are normal (and) I just want to embrace this new chapter and go into it with the understanding that there will be adversity.
“Accomplishing what I want to accomplish will not be easy and it probably won’t always go as planned.
“I just need to stay the course and learn my new environment one-day-at-a-time when I get to Kalgoorlie.”
Van Pelt, whose extensive resume lists him as the “winningest professional coach in Vietnam basketball history”, this week said he looked forward to getting to work alongside the 2024 squad when he arrived in January.
“They can expect to have some fun, to really compete and to really embrace the team environment,” he said.
“I can’t wait to get to know the guys and be a part of something bigger than myself.
“It’s about doing big things not just individually, but together, and I am looking for guys who buy into that and will embrace that.
“On game days I’ll be focused not just on the starting five, but on making sure all 12 players on the roster that day are ready to fulfil their roles for the unit.
“And we want to have fun doing it — this game that we tend to complicate so much is something we all started playing at one point because it’s fun.
“I aim to keep it that way.”
Van Pelt said he was grateful for the Giants allowing him to fulfil his Australian coaching ambitions after he played in Darwin in 2013-14 and had a 2017 player development stint in Melbourne.
“Coaching in Australia had absolutely been on my radar,” he said.
“I almost moved to a different conference in the NBL1 two seasons ago, but the timing didn’t work out.
“Ever since, I have been considering getting back there — I just needed the right organisation to help me make it happen and the Giants have done that.
“I believe Australia to be among the best basketball countries in the world, so getting the opportunity to be back in Australia is an opportunity for growth that I am very excited about.”
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