Halifax Rainmen’s search for new head coach is on

The Halifax Rainmen are in search of a new head coach.

Although there’s still a slight chance Josep ‘Pep’ Claros could be back for a second season, Rainmen owner Andre Levingston said Tuesday it’s more much more likely the native of Barcelona, Spain, will take a year off to spend time with his family.

Levingston said he plans to have a head coach in place by the first week of August so he can prepare for the National Basketball League of Canada tryout combine on Aug. 25 and 26 and the draft on Aug. 27.

“I have to move forward,” Levingston told Metro. “I talked to (Claros) about it and told him I can’t wait forever because I need a coach in place for the combine. I’m moving forward with an interview process so I’m prepared (to hire somebody) and not behind the eight-ball if he decides not to come back.”

Claros, a veteran coach with an impressive international resume, guided the team to a second-place NBL Canada finish last season, going 23-13. He took the Rainmen to the league’s inaugural final before the London Lightning eliminated them in a highlight-packed five-game series.

Claros, who has two young children including one less than a year old, left immediately after the season ended and coached Pioneros de Quintana Roo to a FIBA Americas League championship.

“If I was a betting man, I would say that Pep will not be returning,” Levingston said.

Levingston said replacing Claros will be difficult.

“You’re looking for somebody who, first and foremost, is knowledgeable and passionate about the game, but also has the ability to get every ounce out of every player,” Levingston said. “Pep was able to do that.”

The Rainmen haven’t signed anybody for the 2012-13 season but have protected five players: guards Joey Haywood, Taliek Brown and Chris Hagan and forwards Tyrone Levett and Darnell Hugee.

Although it won’t be easy, Levingston hopes to re-sign all of them and build around them with an infusion of fresh blood.

“I’ve really spent a lot of time scouting this summer,” Levingston said. “Now, I’m going to start looking for a new head coach who can help us to get to that next level and win a championship.”

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