SAN JUAN (FIBA Americas Championship) - Puerto Rico have decided to put veteran coach Flor Melendez in charge of the national team.
Melendez was unveiled on Wednesday, ending weeks of speculation about the man the country would choose following the cancellation of an earlier agreement with Rick Pitino.
Los Angeles Lakers assistant Jim Cleamons, former Wake Forest University and University of South Carolina coach Dave Odom, ex-Brazil boss Moncho Monsalve, Spain's 2008 Olympic coach Aito Garcia-Reneses and ex-NBA coach Eric Musselman were highly-touted foreign coaches to express interest in the post and interview with the evaluation committee.
In the end, Puerto Rico chose one of their own.
Looking back on the decision to make Pitino coach in December, Puerto Rican Basketball Federation president said: "I was wrong. I played for an event and not a projection of future.
"When I spoke with him (Flor), I saw the passion he felt for the program.
"I perceived that this was the opportunity of a lifetime.
"All those things I took into consideration.”
Beltran said that some of the foreign candidates lowered their salary demands at the last minute, "but my decision was made."
At an emotional press conference in which Melendez was presented with a white polo Puerto Rico coaching shirt, the 64-year-old said: "I've always said there may be coaches better than me, but there will be no one who works harder than me."
Melendez played for Puerto Rico and was a member of their 1968 Olympic team in Mexico.
A long-time coach in the Puerto Rican top flight, he also walked the sidelines as the boss of the country's women's team.
He was an assistant coach to Julio Toro seven years ago when Puerto Rico’s men played at the 2004 Olympics and upset the United States on the opening day of the tournament.