At times one could imagine that the bald figure barking signals and hope from behind the Giants Nordlingen bench could enter the court himself at any time and help push the team forward in some way, but the 37 year 202cm ex player Mario Matic has found a home giving advice from the sidelines instead of on the court in the last seven years as head coach and has done a successful job. However sometimes success and passion for something you cherish is put on the back burner for family love. After seven years of coaching the Giants Nordlingen, the ex BG Leitershofen big man has decided to step down from the job. So often in professional sports the ego far outweighs the rational mind, but for once it hasn´t as Matic has proved. Matic hasn´t stepped down to take a better coaching offer, but has done it for family reasons and has set other priorities in life and decided to move to the beautiful Starnberg lake in Bavaria to his partner in life.
Way before Matic who has the Croatian/German citizenship went into the coaching ranks, he had a very fruitful and long professional playing career from 1995-2010. He started his professional career in 1995 in Croatia and came to Germany in 1999 and never returned back. While in Germany, he made himself into a very solid second Bundesliga player playing for clubs like Crailsheim, Kaiserslautern, Bayreuth, Weiden, Leitershofen and three years with Nordlingen. His best statistical season was early in his career in 2001 when he averaged 16ppg and 8,5rpg for Crailsheim. After he hung up his playing jersey, he decided to make the next jump and go into the coaching ranks. He was seven years with the Giants Nordlingen and twice led the club from the Regionaliga to the German Pro B. He had great success leading the team twice to the top four teams in the Pro B. He had his downs as well like in the 2013-2014 season where the team suffered many injuries and top import player Cardell Mcfarland left the team early in the second half of the season. The club continued to believe in the coaching of Matic and let him have the reigns of the team. The club then returned back to top form in the 2014-2015 season dominating the Regionaliga and making the jump right back to the Pro B.
Last season, he saved his best for last in his last year as coach leading the club into the playoffs despite starting poorly losing five of the first six games, but then closing out the season with a 12-4 record. In the playoffs, they began by sneaking by Oldenburg who had won the Pro B the season before and then surprisingly swept Iserlohn which had been the best team in the Pro B. The Cinderella story almost continued in the semi-finals against Ehingen, but they lost 2-0. They had a terrible shooting day in game one losing 69-60 and then played their hearts out in game two losing the final game 77-76, but going out with pride. The club played with a thin rotation all season long and had to rely every night on the scoring of the trio of Jordan Talbert, Brandon Lockhart and Janek Schmidkunz who averaged 50 of the clubs game average of 76. This scoring reliability reminded one a bit of the 2008-2009 Nordlingen team that had a similar thin roster and needed the American trio of Danny Gibson, Monta Mcghee and Osvaldo Jeanty to provide scoring every night. Matic did a great job giving a lot of trust to these players and just letting them play. Matic was also responsible for the development of the youth and brought players like Joschka Ferner to the Beko BBL to ratiopharm Ulm and Moritz Trieb to medi Bayreuth. This season´s scoring trio will always remember Matic fondly as a coach and human being. “The level of trust he has in his players was a big thing for our success I believe. He also helped to make the team feel like a family which led to us all having good relationships on and off the court”, stressed Brandon Lockhart. “Mario formed a team, made sure everyone knew their roles and embraced it and most importantly, he always showed that he wanted to work with this group of guys and no one else. The confidence he put into the team and dedication to make it all work is unmatched to me in the league”, added Janek Schmidkunz. “Mario is a great coach not only because his knowledge of the game but because his knowledge of players. He lets us go out and play our games and not try to dictate too much. He trusted us to make plays which was a huge reason we were successful”, warned Jordan Talbert. Mario Matic had a great 7 year run with the Giants Nordlingen with more highs than lows. He brought a type of new life to Nordlingen basketball again that had made the Beko BBL a few years before and then seemed to have disappeared to the Regionaliga. Matic loves basketball and knowing his drive and passion probably for the orange ball won´t totally abandon in Bavaria and probably will return somewhere and supply his super Mario coaching abilities again elsewhere.