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King Jeff jumps into new role

THE Sydney Kings' revamp - exodus? - continues today with key management visionary Jeff Van Groningen leaving the NBL club for an exciting new role at AEG Ogden.

It was Van Groningen who played a key role in the Kings' three-year rebuild which this season saw the club reach the semi finals after eight years in the post-season wilderness.

The club also enjoyed a record attendance of 14,569 for Game 2 of their semi final series against Melbourne United, an NBL record crowd for this season and for Sydney.

But my information is Van Groningen, or JVG as he is better known, was offered a new role with AEG Ogden - the company which took up Kings' ownership in 2016 - and it was, in the immortal words of "The Godfather" author Mario Puzo, an offer "too good to refuse".

AEG Ogden is responsible for the management of the largest network of venues in the Asia Pacific region, including arenas, stadiums, convention and exhibition centres, and theatres through Australia, Asia, and the Middle East.

Its venues include Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Qudos Bank Arena, RAC Arena, Suncorp Stadium to name just a handful, and in the Asia Pacific, AEG Ogden operates 12 venues across three countries as part of the AEG global network of more then 100 venues.

I believe Van Groningen already has resigned as Sydney Kings' General Manager of Basketball, a capacity he was in this season past, under new club ownership.

KINGS REBIRTH: From left, Kevin Lisch, Harvey Lister, Jeff Van Groningen and Andrew Gaze.

Previously, he was the club's managing director when Harvey Lister, chairman and CEO of AEG Ogden, secured the Kings' license and was looking for the right man to kick-start Sydney's renaissance.

JVG brought in Australian basketball icon Andrew Gaze for three years as Kings coach, also securing star players Kevin Lisch and Brad Newley to drive the rebirth.

Jerome Randle and Daniel Kickert were other pieces added to the jigsaw before he landed the biggest piece of all, Andrew Bogut.

Bogut (pictured) won the league MVP award and was instrumental in Sydney's playoff return and in attracting huge crowds wherever he played in Australia.

With their "mission accomplished" - the mission having been return the Kings to prominence in a city notorious for its fickle fan following - Gaze chose not to seek reappointment and now JVG also has moved to greener pastures.

Bogut, who is back in the NBA to complete the current season with Golden State Warriors, will be back to spearhead Sydney's 2019-20 championship drive.

Former West Sydney Razorbacks (then Sydney Spirit), Perth Wildcats and Illawarra Hawks coach Rob Beveridge, is believed to have interviewed for the Kings' head coaching role.

Beveridge coached Bogut and Newley in his Gold Medal winning Australian Emus team at the 2003 FIBA Under-19 World Championship, and also coached Lisch to a championship at Perth and also at Illawarra.

Long-time Hawks assistant, Matt Flinn, has succeeded Beveridge at Illawarra.

But with the Kings poised to move into the secondary phase of their JVG-led rejuvenation, his chance to work again for Lister, the Brisbane-based businessman who previously co-owned the Bullets in the NBL during the early 90s, was too good an opportunity.

My (e)mail is JVG will be working to bring more basketball-related activities into AEG Ogden's venues, a perfect position for someone who has been around hoops administration for most of his adult life.

At 22, Van Groningen at Geelong was the youngest assistant coach in the NBL. He was GM of Melbourne Tigers - where his association with Gaze began - at 29, before seven years with Brisbane Bullets in the same capacity.

He also has worked in an on-air commentary role for FOX during its NBL coverage.

“I was so excited to be a part of the Kings, because Harvey’s vision matched the vision I’ve always had about how you want to run a club,” Van Groningen said in 2016 when the revamp plans first were unveiled.

“And that is you don’t do anything by halves. You realise you are in a competitive market, so therefore you compete and you don’t play the poor cousin.

“No, we want to be everything that a spectator would expect when they walk into a professional sporting club and more.”

Mission accomplished.

HAPPY DAY: Jeff Van Groningen, left, and Andrew Gaze, announcing signing Andrew Bogut.

Mar 12

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