Czeching In at Eurobasket

Red Claws Coach Mike Taylor is helping coach the Czech national team at Eurobasket

Eurobasket is in full-swing this week and one face on the sidelines should be familiar to NBA D-League fans. It's none other than Maine Red Claws coach Mike Taylor.

Taylor is embarking his fourth season as an assistant coach for the Czech Republic's team as the squad aims to be crowned the best among the 24 countries in the FIBA tournament. He spoke to shortly before he headed to Slovenia for the competition.

"One thing that stands out about Eurobasket is it's teams playing for their country and their country's pride," he said. "There's great investment level from everyone involved. There's tremendous intensity because it's everyone playing for their flag so everyone prepares, invests and gives their best."

Taylor, who will enter his second year coaching the Red Claws this season, got the opportunity from an ongoing friendship with the team's head coach Pavel Budinsky. Taylor has coached at several places in Europe since 2001 and the two became friends as they kept crossing paths with each other over the years.

"We became very good friends," Taylor said. "When he became coach of the Czech team, we stayed in contact and he came up with this idea 'I'd like for you to be the assistant coach, would you be interested?'"

Taylor was.

As an assistant, Taylor is primarily in charge of coordinating the Czech team's offensive strategies. Taylor said the gig is another example of how the NBA D-League is a great stepping stone to other opportunities.

"I think the D-league is high level basketball and a unique way to coach," he said. "The nature of the league is there is high roster turnover so you've got to be able to adapt with different situations and players with different types of attitudes. To have a positive approach to the D-League, that creativity to adapt with constantly changing circumstances prepares people well for situations like the NBA and other places."

The Maine Red Claws are the single affiliate of the Boston Celtics, a franchise going through an overhaul with a new coach after trading away their core veterans. Taylor was asked how the Celtics have incorporated the Red Claws into their rebuilding plans.

"Right now a big focus for them has been on (new coach) Brad Stevens coming in and his transition," Taylor said. "But we're that resource and we're available to send our guys to get evaluated or welcome some of their guys for development. We'll do whatever the Celtics want us to do."

He added he expects the strong affiliate relationship between both teams to continue this season.

"The Celtics did a great job giving our guys great evaluations throughout last season," he said. "Members of the front office from (Celtics General Manager) Danny Ainge on down came out to watch our team play throughout the season. I think the structure is in place for Red Claws guys to be evaluated this season too."