Jun 13, 2013, 5:34 PM EDT
Over the last four-plus years, Kentucky assistant coach Orlando Antigua has been a valuable member of head coach John Calipari’s coaching staff. Antigua also served as Calipari’s assistant on the Dominican Republic’s men’s national team for the last two years, helping lead the program that Antigua played for during the 1990s.
On Thursday it was announced that Antigua would be promoted to head coach of the Dominican national team, stepping into the position that’s been open since Calipari stepped down from the position last year.
“I’m extremely excited to have this opportunity. Anytime you can coach and be a participant of a national team, it’s very special,” Antigua said Thursday. “For Coach Calipari and [athletic director] Mitch Barnhart to allow me to take part in this opportunity means a lot, on a personal level as well as professionally.
“I’m also thankful to the Dominican Federation, [general manager] Eduardo Najri and [president] Rafael Uribe for their confidence in entrusting this program and team to me. It is my goal to build upon the recent success we’ve enjoyed and continue to make this a program the Dominican Republic can be proud of.”
The Dominican national team fell one win short of qualifying for the London Olympics last year, and the team included players such as Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks and Francisco Garcia of the Houston Rockets. Also on the team was 7-footer Karl Towns Jr., a verbal commitment to Kentucky and one of the top players in the Class of 2014.
Those three will likely figure prominently in Antigua’s plans as he looks to build the Dominican Republic team into one that can take the final step and qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The new position will also give Antigua more experience as a head coach, something that could pay dividends down the line when it comes to his college coaching career.
Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
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