After spending the past few years coaching professional basketball in the LNBP, Mexico's top professional basketball league, Fernando Rojas returned to Tampa and founded the Tampa Bay Rebels, a minor league basketball team. Here's a quick Q & A with Coach Rojas:
Coach, when did you get back in the U.S.?
I came back home in the summer of 2010 after two years of coaching in the LNBP.
How was the league?
The LNBP is the largest professional league in Latin America. They allow players from different countries to participate, which makes for stronger play. I had the opportunity to work for two clubs and the level of play is getting better every season.
Would you say the level of play is as good as the D-League?
Half of the teams have the same level as the D-League squads. Last year, the LNBP champion played against the Rio Grand Valley Vipers from the D-League, losing the game by just two points. Keep in mind that some players like Jamario Moon played in Mexico for two years and now he has been in the NBA for five years.
How did you choose your players?
At the professional level, many agents contact you with information about their players all the time and some team owners have their own preferences...even the media gets involved by making public suggestions. When possible, I like to select players that I personally know. When I was abroad, I brought along players from the Tampa area that I knew were capable of succeeding.
What are your plans now?
I am Head Coach and GM of the Tampa Bay Rebels. The challenge is getting the proper financial support for the club to continue our international exposure and to build a true basketball club that the city can be proud of.