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NBA Team Names Serbian Native As Head Coach, Making History

Serbian basketball coach Igor Kokoskov (file photo)

The Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association (NBA) have hired Igor Kokoskov of Serbia as head coach, making him the first person born and raised outside of North America to lead an NBA team.

"Igor has been a pioneer throughout his basketball career, and he brings a wealth of high level-coaching experience to our club," Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough said on May 3.

"He was one of the first non-American-born assistant coaches at both the NCAA and NBA levels and his most recent head-coaching stint includes leading the Slovenian national team to the 2017 EuroBasket title.

“Igor's teams have always had a player-development focus, a creative style of play, and a track record of success," McDonough added.

The 46-year-old Kokoskov is currently an assistant coach with the NBA's Utah Jazz. He is due to join the Suns organization after the conclusion of the current season for the Utah team, which is competing in the NBA playoffs.

Kokoskov has been an NBA assistant coach for 18 years. Prior to joining the Jazz, he was an assistant with the Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, and Los Angeles Clippers.

He was also coach of the Georgian national team from 2008 to 2015.

Kokoskov was born in the town of Banatski Brestovac in 1971. He graduated from the University of Belgrade.

He began coaching at the age of 24, shortly after an automobile accident ended his career as a basketball player.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters