Many who watch the Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL) would recognise Jacob Jackomas as the assistant coach to the Illawarra Hawks.
On track to reach the play-offs, the Greek Australian has been helping guide his team to potential NBL glory. Additionally to his role in the NBL, however, Jackomas was recently made the International Scouting Coordinator for the Australian national basketball team, the Boomers.
“The two things: It tests your coaching and your experience, your past experience in certain situations, and the other thing is it’s an unbelievable learning curve as a coach,” Jackomas said to The Greek Herald.
“Basically your job is to figure out how to beat other coaches, whilst learning off other coaches and other and other teams.”
One of the best parts about Jackomas’ job is getting to see some of the best players in the world represent their country, which he says is a “different kind of passion”.
“They play differently than what they do with their clubs, some of them are different human beings.”
“It’s just a great learning experience in that regard whilst obviously representing Australia.”
Jackomas references the incredible talents of Giannis Antetokounmpo. Two-time NBA MVP for the Bucks, Giannis was born in Greece and has enjoyed great success both with his national team and in the NBA, which is regarded as the world’s highest level of basketball.
“There is something different about him (Giannis) but I haven’t learned that yet,” Jackomas says light-heartedly.
“This is only new to me, but there are stories… Like when Manu played for Argentina, that’s where he played his best basketball.”
“They say about Giannis that when some of the Greek players that have come through, they’ve matched with some of the best players in the world but can’t play in the NBA.”
“It’s just when you put that jersey on… And I think that grows in the tournament rather than outside of the tournament.”
As International Scouting Coordinator, Jackomas’ role is to assist coaches in their preparation for the Olympics. Jackomas says presenting coaches with facts and statistics play a large part in this process, but there is certainly room for gut instinct.
“It’s funny because it changes in every experience, so obviously I was in China before this for 10 years, so I knew that league well after watching it for a while so I could go on my gut. Now, being at the NBL for a year I’ve had to rely on more facts because I don’t know it as well,” Jackomas explains.
“In the early stages of what you do, it’s more about what you see and then, as you start to see repetitions of stuff over years or over games, in the NBL it’s been over games, you can start going ‘well they do this stuff’.
“Because obviously you go with your fact and then you see it again and they beat you somewhere else that you can’t see when you’re doing something.”
The Hawks have a rich history in the NBL, joining for its inaugural season in 1979. Jackomas joined the side in July 2020 as assistant coach, with the Greek Australian having known Hawks Head Coach Brian Goorjian for 11 years, working together in Australia and China.
They’re currently in the run for the NBA play-offs, yet the team has had to deal with two of their best Australian players being unavailable.
“Brian Goorjian is one of the best coaches, he’s in the top 10 in the world, and then obviously in our country, his record is one of the best in all our sports.”
“Being able to work with your one of your best friends and with a group of guys, it’s been an absolute blessing. I’ve just loved every minute of it.”
Currently ranked #3 in the world, the Boomers will head into Tokyo looking to claim their first-ever Olympic Games basketball medal.
“What the experts have said, it’s one of the best chances to medal,” Jackomas concluded.