A triple Olympian as a player, Nielsen is currently the head coach of the Austin Spurs, which is the G League affiliate of the highly respected San Antonio Spurs organisation. The iconic Boomer has enjoyed a successful transition from his outstanding playing career into coaching and is regarded highly across professional leagues in the USA and Europe, as well as the National Basketball League (NBL).
Nielsen will link with his former NBL championship and Boomers coach Brian Goorjian and brings a wealth of international basketball experience, having played professionally in the NBL, Greece, Lithuania, Spain and Russia, as well as donning the green and gold of the Boomers 132 times.
Upon making the announcement, Basketball Australia CEO Jerril Rechter AM said it was an important appointment for the Boomers nine months from the Tokyo Games.
“Matt Nielsen joining the coaching staff of the Boomers for their Olympic campaign is a significant boost to the program,” she said.
“His intimate connection to the Boomers as an Olympian, followed by his successful transition to elite coaching both domestically and internationally reflects the prestige that the Boomers program has globally.
“We hold Matt in high regard and are thrilled he will join Brian Goorjian as our Boomers head assistant not just to contribute to the podium expectations we have, but certainly beyond the Olympic campaign,” concluded Rechter.
Matthew Nielsen said he was thrilled to link with the Boomers again after a stellar playing career and was looking forward to working with the coaches and players in the pursuit of the elusive medal.
“I am extremely honoured and excited about this opportunity. The current group has done such a fantastic job on the world stage and are primed to take that last step,” he said.
“Goorj’s knowledge of this team and his international experience make it a perfect match-up and I can’t wait to assist in this process.”
Boomers head coach Brian Goorjian echoed the excitement of having one of the great leaders in Boomers history as part of the coaching staff heading into Tokyo.
“I have tremendous respect for Matt Nielson as a player, a person and a coach,” said Goorjian.
“As a player, he was an integral part of my time at the Sydney Kings playing a major role on the club’s first NBL Championship team. He then became my Captain the following year when the Kings won back-to-back Championships.
“Matt was a natural leader with a superb work ethic and a real competitive streak. He then left Australia to play for powerhouse clubs in Spain, Greece, Russia and Lithuania where he developed a real understanding of European basketball. However, he was always available to wear the green and gold and it was a real pleasure to go into battle with him again at the Athens Olympics, the Beijing Olympics, and a World Championship”.
“I saw first-hand his passion for the green and gold, how his basketball astuteness was developing, and the respect the other players and coaches held for him. I am delighted that he will be a big part of our Australian team going to Tokyo and I know that this appointment will be extremely popular with our National Team players and a huge help to me,” Goorjian added.
Respected San Antonio Spurs General Manager Brian Wright said the Spurs organisation was pleased to support Nielsen in his new role with the Boomers.
“There is nothing like putting on your country’s colours, and we’re thrilled that Matt will be able to continue to represent Australia,” Wright said.
“His experience of playing for the Boomers for 15 years and his passion for Australian basketball will make him a great addition to Coach Goorjian’s staff.
“We’re proud of him and excited that he will have this experience,” Wright remarked.
The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled for 23 July – 8 August 2021.