Cheshire Phoenix have announced the appointment of hugely respected John Coffino as the club's new head coach

Coffino has penned a two-year deal at the Northgate Arena and replaces John Lavery, who is to remain with the BBL Championship club as assistant coach, as well as heading up the organisation’s community programme.

New Yorker Coffino's résumé includes spells coaching in the NBA Development League and the NCAA Division One. He will be joined on the coaching staff by Mike Burton

“We are pleased to announce John Coffino as our new Head Coach,” said Phoenix chairman Andrew Donaldson.

“Today is an exciting day for this organisation. We are thrilled that we have reached an agreement with Coach Coffino.

“We are proud of the reputation we have built in a short time period, and Coach Coffino will bring his stellar reputation, along with a wide spectrum of talents, contacts and coaching experience, to our organisation with a keen focus to achieve excellence, on and off the court.

“We have every expectation that he will take us to the next level.”

Coffino's career has seen him spend nine years coaching top-level college basketball programmes  with NCAA Division One teams Iona College, Niagara University and St Peter’s College where he coached teams in the March Madness tournament.

He also spent two years in charge of the Albuquerque Thunderbirds between 2008 and 2010, coaching them to a league record 16-game winning streak on their way to a third placed finish in his first season in the Southwestern Division.

Recently he has been Head Coach with the Dankind Academy in Nairobi, Kenya, a programme that offers victims of poverty and refugees in West Africa the opportunity to play basketball and receive high-quality coaching.

“I am thrilled and honoured to be part of the Cheshire Phoenix family,” said Coffino.

“I look forward to joining an already successful staff, team and organisation.

“The chance to develop players and to help expand appreciation and enjoyment of basketball in the community is an opportunity I could not turn down. I am especially pleased to associate with a franchise that embraces the local community as a valuable member of its extended family and values the development of its local youth an essential component of its overall mission.”

Coffino is held in high regard in the basketball fraternity and a number of the new recruits at the Nix are already familiar with the Bronx native.

Bob Hill, former coach of the New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs, and the Seattle Supersonics said of Coffino’s appoint to the club: “The Cheshire Phoenix have hired a terrific person as well as an outstanding coach.”

Last season’s head coach Lavery, who guided the club to fifth spot in the BBL, a play-off berth and Trophy semi-final, gave his backing to the new coach.

“I have really enjoyed coaching the Cheshire Phoenix,” he said.

“I am also really looking forward to working with Coach Coffino. We have already spoken and I am looking forward to coaching with him and trading ideas.

“The community programme is critical to the growth of the club as a force within Cheshire, however, and I am proud to be taking on the role full-time and ensuring that the Phoenix is giving something back to the community.”