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Sea Bears lock up coach and GM for two more seasons, second coach with year-round deal

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Following a successful inaugural season, the Winnipeg Sea Bears are locking up their bench boss for the next two seasons.

The team announced on Wednesday that head coach and general manager Mike Taylor has signed a full-time, year-round contract that will keep him in Winnipeg through the 2025 season.

"From our very first phone call with Mike, it was apparent that not only was he a top-level professional coach with experience from around the world, he was also an amazing human being who fosters exactly the type of inclusive, respectful and collaborative environment that we're striving to build," said team president Jason Smith at a news conference on Wednesday.

The Sea Bears finished the season 12-8 – tied for the best record in the Western Division. The team also averaged 90.1 points per game, which was the best mark in the west.

To cap off the year, Taylor was named the 2023 Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) Coach of the Year.

With his new contract, Taylor becomes only the second coach in the league to secure a year-round deal.

"I can really say that I feel great about the fit here in Winnipeg," said Taylor. "Winnipeg is a fantastic sports town. It's a big league city, with the NHL and the Jets, the tradition of the Bombers and I'm so proud of our first steps in our inaugural season with the Sea Bears.

"I think we did a great job connecting with the city, but the city loved the team back. We could never have imagined the wonderful response – selling out the arena, big crowds, so much support and love for the Sea Bears throughout the town."

Smith said having Taylor locked up for the long term and year-round will increase offseason scouting and team development as well as find more ways to grow community engagement throughout Winnipeg.

Taylor said he is excited to see what the second year of Sea Bears basketball has to offer.

"It's a point where we want to continue to establish our organization, continue to grow and build on and off the court and we want to continue to build on that connection with the city and eventually the dream goal of pursuing the CEBL Championship."

Taylor's coaching career in the CEBL started with the Fraser Valley Bandits before he made his way to Winnipeg. Prior to that, he coached multiple teams overseas and has served as the head coach of Poland's national team, where he was able to increase their rank from 42 to 13 in the world.

Most recently he led the Polish squad to a top eight finish in the 2019 World Cup.

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