By John Calipari, 05.05.11
Just an update to let you know that I have formally accepted the head coaching position with the Dominican Republic’s national team. I am so excited to begin working with Southgate Sports, which operates all aspects of the team, as we prepare for FIBA’s upcoming Tournament of the Americas.
I have already spoken with several of the Dominican players in the NBA and Southgate will have more about those players’ participation in the coming weeks. We will hold a mini-camp here, in Lexington, at the beginning of August with some of the Dominican Republic’s emerging young stars, most of whom are already playing American college basketball, including our own Eloy Vargas. The mini-camp will precede the team’s official training camp which will include the veterans.
We really hope the Big Blue Nation will show the Dominican Republic the love and support you show our University. There will be an opportunity for fans to see the team in a planned exhibition game at Rupp Arena vs. former Cats and also my former players. The team will play another exhibition in the Dominican Republic before heading to Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil for the Jenaro “Tuto” Marchand Continental Cup (August 24-26). From there, we will travel to Mar del Plata, Argentina for the FIBA Americas Championship for Men/Olympic Qualifying Tournament (August 30 – Sept. 11).
Some of you may ask, ‘Why would you do this?’ and my answer is simple: Southgate is committed to re-energizing Dominican Republic basketball and building a solid grassroots program, much like we’ve been helping with in China. Beyond that, this will be a great learning experience for me to be able to coach against some of the best minds in international basketball. I know that being in the NBA helped me do a better job of preparing our young men to reach their dreams and this opportunity will do the same.
I see no downside in this, especially knowing that I’m able to do a majority of the training here in Lexington at the state-of-the-art Joe Craft Center. We’re helping another nation spread the love of basketball and feel what the Big Blue Nation feels 12 months a year. We want to see basketball courts right next to all the baseball academies and build a consistent winner in the Dominican Republic.
Can’t wait to get going. I’ll keep you posted on everything as we proceed. Go Big Blue and Go DR!
About Southgate Sports
Southgate is a Dominican Sports Management company. The company owns the Escogido baseball team in the Dominican Republic Professional League (LIDOM), Leones de Santo Domingo Basketball team in the Dominican professional basketball league (LNB), and the San Juan Senators in the Puerto Rican professional baseball league (PRBBL).
The company is owned by the Bonetti, Vicini and Najri Families, among others.
These families are important members of the Dominican business community, with interests in banking, automotive, agrochemical, media, industrial, and consumer products industries. These families are also deeply involved in the community through various charities and foundations. Additional information about the Bonetti, Vicini and Najri families, please visit the websites: www.gruponajri.com.do; www.mercasid.com.do; and www.vicini.com.
This past January, Southgate Sports reached a historic agreement with the Dominican Basketball Federation to operate all aspects of the Dominican National team. Eduardo Najri, Board Member of Southgate, is the official representative by and between the National Team, the Federation, FIBA Americas, and all other negotiations, including selection of the National Team’s coach.
“Southgate and the Dominican Republic welcome Coach Calipari to the team,” Eduardo Najri said. “Not only are we excited about Coach’s experience on the court, but we also look forward to having him help us develop our grass roots efforts in the Dominican.
“Coach Cal’s commitment to our team, and our country marks a definite ‘before and after’ for Dominican Basketball. I can guarantee that the University of Kentucky has just increased its fan base by about 10 million basketball loving fans.”