Calipari says assistant will do "fabulous job" coaching Dominican team

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - In the coming days, Kentucky assistant coach Orlando Antigua will inherit the reigns of the Dominican Republic national team, and will do so with his boss' blessing.

John Calipari spent the past two years as the coach of the Dominicans, nearly leading them to the 2012 Olympic games in London.

Antingua, a native of the DR, was an assistant on that staff, too, positioning himself as the next coach of his country's team.

"It's the only reason I really did it," Calipari told WKYT on Friday, after being inducted into the Bluegrass Business Hall of Fame..

"I think doing it, and then giving Orlando the opportunity to go back to his country, where he was born, to be able to do that, is kind of neat."

After making a two-year commitment to coach, Calipari led the Dominican team to the finals of an Olympic qualifying tournament before losing to Nigeria. The loss prevented the Dominican Republic from reaching its first Olympic games.

"The time it takes to be here and coach this team, to take five weeks, to stay in touch with recruiting, the grind of that for two summers was tough," Calipari said.

Antigua played for the national team in 1994-5 and 1997-98. He's spent the past four seasons as a UK assistant under Calipari.

"There's things out there to accomplish," Calipari said of the future of the DR team. "We did things that had never been done with that organization. There's still things left that he can go and accomplish with their team."

According to a Dominican basketball website, the announcement that Antingua takes over should be coming soon.

"It needed to be someone from the Dominican Republic who's coaching that team, when they break through and get to the Olympics, or do things that are new accomplishments for them," Calipari said.

"I've officially retired. It's the first job that I've officially retired from," Calipari added.

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