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Dirk Bauermann
Dirk Bauermann (GER)

Warsaw (EuroBasket) - Germany’s most successful coach in history Dirk Bauermann is crossing the eastern border to take over as the new national team coach for Poland in the build-up to EuroBasket 2013.

The 55-year-old Bauermann replaces Ales Pipan, who guided Poland to a first place ranking in the EuroBasket qualification campaign last summer but will not have a chance to finish the job in Slovenia, where Poland take on Slovenia, Spain, Croatia, Czech Republic and Georgia.

“He is a world class coach. I am counting on him to lead Polish basketball to a new quality,” said Polish federation boss Grzegorz Bachanski about Bauermann, who signed on a one-year deal.

“I am looking forward to this very new challenge,” added Bauermann.

Pipan, who has accepted a job as new coach for The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, served two summers as Polish national team coach, coming in as the successor to Igor Griszczuk. Under his leadership, Poland finished 17th at EuroBasket 2011.

Bauermann began building his reputation as he led Bayer Leverkusen to seven consecutive German league crowns from 1990 to 1996. After a short stint in Greece, the Oberhausen native landed at Bamberg where he helped build the foundation for the current powerhouse. Bamberg claimed two league titles under Bauermann in 2005 and 2007.

Bauermann also served as the German national team coach in 1994 and from 2003 to 2011. He led Germany to the silver medal at EuroBasket 2005 – a result ranking alongside Germany’s 1993 European title and their bronze medal at the 2002 FIBA World Championship. He also guided Germany to the 2008 Olympics.

After the German league prohibited national team coaches from serving simultaneously as BBL coaches, Bauermann twice had to chose between club and national team. In 2008, he decided in favor of Germany and left Bamberg.

The defensive-minded coach Bauermann returned to the club scene in 2010 when he took the bench for the ambitious project at Bayern Munich, a storied football club with four European club crowns which finally wanted to invest and build up its basketball team.

Bauermann and Bayern started in the second division that season and earned promotion to the BBL for the 2011-12 season. But Bauermann once again had to decide between Germany’s national team and club – he had been allowed to coach Bayern the previous season because they were in the second division.

Bauermann this time decided for the club and guided Bayern into the BBL playoffs in their first season in the BBL, but the team was bounced in the first round of the post-season.

The coach, who had a contract until 2014, was then sacked by Bayern six days before the start of the 2012-13 season – since when he hasn’t worked.

Bauermann seems like a decent fit with Poland. Just like Germany and Dirk Nowitzki, Poland’s team focuses around a dominating NBA player in Marcin Gortat with a strong supporting staff of role players. And just like Germany, Poland also have a strong group of emerging young talents in Mateusz Ponitka from Euroleague side Asseco Prokom, Przemyslaw Karnowski from Gonzaga and Tomasz Gielo at Liberty as well as Michal Michalak – all four of them from Poland’s magical 1993-born generation.

And since the team lacks a lot of firepower, Bauermann’s strong defensive game plan would likely fit in well with Poland’s personnel.