BY HENRY MILLER
EDINBURG — Mahmoud Abdelfattah spent the past season offering plenty of suggestions to then-RGV Vipers head coach Joseph Blair.
Now, Abdelfattah will be the one making the decisions.
As reported last week by The Monitor, Abdelfattah was named the eighth coach in Vipers history on Tuesday at Bert Ogden Arena. The Vipers also announced the return of general manager Travis Stockbridge, who previously worked as an associate coach for the NBA’s Houston Rockets.
Abdelfattah has been with the Vipers for two years, working under both Matt Brase and Cody Toppert. During his time as an assistant coach under Blair, the Vipers went 34-16, ranking first in the Western Conference and Southwest Division.
“Making the decisions rather than being the guy who throws out suggestions, which I like to do, will be the biggest transition,” Abdelfattah said. “JB (Joseph Blair) would have to tell me, ‘Hey, that’s enough, I can only take so many in 30 seconds.
“Now I’m the guy who has to decide, on and off the court, for practice, community involvement and to put the players in a position to succeed — doing the jobs for the players and being a role model for the community.”
Abdelfattah originally joined the Vipers during the 2017-18 season as a basketball operations manager. In addition to that, he also served as an assistant coach for the Jordanian national team. Prior to coming to the Vipers, he severed as an assistant coach at his alma mater St. Cloud State in Minnesota, where he oversaw player development and led recruiting efforts. He began his coaching career as a student assistant coach at St. Cloud St. in 2010.
Last season, the Vipers capture their third G League Championship, also winning the title in 2010 and 2013. They are arguably the most successful team in the league, having played in five of the 10 championship series and winning three, more than any other team in the league. Last year, the Vipers also led the league in points (128.4), rebounds (56.2) and 3-pointers per game (9.0).
“I’m just really excited about this opportunity and the ability to grow,” said Abdelfattah, who becomes the first Palestinian-American head coach in the G League. “I really don’t have any concerns other than the unknown things that will happen. Our roster is still not finalized, the staff is being finalized and we will work to establish a culture in the way you want to run a team. Those first couple of weeks are when guys may test you, test the waters to see what they can get away with. If you set a tone early, they understand what they can and can’t do.”
The Vipers will not only be in search of trophy No. 4 this season, but also to be the first team to win back-to-back G League titles.
“Winning back-to-back is a very difficult thing to do,” Abdelfattah said. “I’m just trying to take the pressure off me for that already.”
The G League draft will be held Oct. 26. Training camp begins Oct. 28.
The Vipers open their regular season Nov. 9 at Austin. Their home opener is at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 9 against Austin. Then, they face the Santa Cruz Warriors, who they met in the Western Conference finals last year, at 7 p.m. on Nov. 12.