San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina had to step in for Gregg Popovich during their series against the Golden State Warriors, and his players were impressed by the work he did.
After the death of Popovich’s wife, Messina handled the final three games of San Antonio’s series loss to the Warriors, and those who played for him feel he’s ready for a promotion.
“He handled it very well, with great composure,” Spurs veteran Pau Gasol said, via Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News. “He handled the adversity and also the opportunity really well. He sent the right message to the team coaching the right way. He was always sharp and in control of the situation. He did a good job.”
Both Gasol and Manu Ginobili, veterans who know the league well, think Messina is ready for an NBA head coaching opportunity.
“Messina has been one of the top head coaches in Europe,” Gasol said. “It’s hard to get that opportunity in the NBA, but if there’s someone who should get it, it should be him.
“It would be a great step, kind of like when the first European players came to the NBA and proved they could play and make a difference and handle themselves well.”
“I think the time has come,” Ginobili added. “For sure, he’s very capable and experienced.”
Messina has an incredibly accomplished overseas resume, but would become the first European head coach in the NBA if he were to land a job. At least one team is reportedly lining him up for an interview.