Mighty man: Jaanus Levkoi coach to both basketball finalists

Eclexi naiskonna juhendaja Jaanus Levkoi.

PHOTO: Argo Luigas

Even with the Estonian ladies basketball championships finals only starting today, Jaanus Levkoi may already count himself «champion coach». Not that one team would be toweringly stronger. The matter is quite unique – Mr Levkoi trains both finalists.

For Mr Levkoi, training two teams is nothing new. For years, he heads up the leading Estonian club Eclex and Audentes/Noortekoondis as well. Playing in Baltic League, the two teams have joined forces. Often, they train together. And naturally, both use similar tactics and movements.

Understandably, at finals Mr Levkoi will not be trotting from one team’s bench to the other. Rather, he will concentrate on one of them. Yesterday, he was inclined to think that he himself would help Audentes, putting the Eclex burden on the shoulders of his assistant, Reet Rausberg. Alas, the club’s managers decided different, and thus the experienced coach will still lead Eclex.

«The women must prove themselves. At Estonian-Latvian joint league finals in Cesis, we had a chance to take a medal, but we forfeited it,» said Mr Levkoi. «In the home finals, they clearly have the upper hand. Putting the players one on one, older women ought to be some twenty points better.»

The controversial situation is quite unexpected for the coach. No-one doubted Eclex making it to the finals. However, their opponent was predicted to be Tallinn University. However, experienced university team failed to overpower the girls. The third and decisive game went to the up-to-18-year-old youth team.

«I wouldn’t say this kind of an outcome points to low level of our champions league. Rather, to its narrow base,» says Mr Levkoi. «I dare say the quality has gone up, especially due to Baltic league and the joint league with Latvians. Hopefully, Tartu and Rapla will be able to improve.»

Coaching both teams is quite a yoke on Mr Levkoi. During the season, as coach, he leads over a hundred games – a huge amount indeed. The 63 years old will not maintain the tempo for long, any more. Should opportunity come to make a quality leap with Eclex, he’d continue with them. If not – he’d prefer the youth studying at Audentes. And, as if club basketball was not enough, Mr Levkoi also sits in Estonian national team head coach chair.