AUCKLAND (FIBA Oceania Championship/FIBA Basketball World Cup) - Nenad Vucinic didn't steer New Zealand to one of three coveted spots for the London Games when the Tall Blacks competed at the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) this summer.
Few expected the coach to lead an underdog side to Britain, though.
Yet what Vucinic and the Kiwis did do was provide plenty of evidence that good times are on the way for New Zealand basketball.
They put forth a gritty and determined effort in their second game that resulted in a 68-64 victory over Angola.
The outcome wasn't enough for the Tall Blacks to leapfrog the African nation into second place to claim a spot in the Quarter-Finals, yet it did underline the coaching acumen of Vucinic, a former New Zealand player himself, and his ability to motivate.
New Zealand showed at the OQT in Caracas that come 2014 at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain, they're going to be a very tough team to play against.
Another coach on hand at the OQT in Venezuela was Tab Baldwin.
At the helm of Jordan this summer, Baldwin was the coach who shot to fame as the New Zealand boss in 2002 that steered the team into the Semi-Finals of the FIBA World Championship in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Vucinic served as an assistant coach to Baldwin with the Tall Blacks.
Baldwin marveled at the job Vucinic was able to do at the OQT.
"In some ways, he's done a better job with the Tall Blacks than I did," Baldwin said in an interview published on the tvnz.co.nz website.
"I had a group of players who had played together and reached their prime at the same time, but Nenad has had to manage a transition to new players."
New Zealand had to play without leading players Thomas Abercrombie and Kirk Penney because of injuries.
They also had to rely on the gifted yet inexperienced teenage point guard Tai Webster to play big minutes against the veteran-laden sides of the The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (MKD) and Angola.
New Zealand were able to beat Angola.
In the second half of that contest, in fact, it seemed that New Zealand might win by enough points to advance to the Quarter-Finals on a tie-breaker.
"The only reason they were even competitive was that Kiwi never-say-die attitude and Nenad's influence from the sideline," Baldwin said.