Figure out everything you need to know about the Spurs assistant coach who will be leading the team in Game 3 of their playoff series against the Warriors.

By Khadrice Rollins
April 19, 2018

Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina will serve as the head coach for Thursday's playoff game against the Warriors.

Messina will be filling in for Gregg Popovich, who will miss the game after his wife Erin died Wednesday.

The Spurs are trailing Golden State 2-0 in the series and almost any hope of pulling off the upset of the defending champions will come down to Thursday's game. 

So, let's take a look at Steve Kerr's counterpart for Game 3.

NBA Start

Messina's first experience with the NBA came in 2011 when he was a part of the Lakers. He served as a coaching consultant for the 2011-12 season but took a job as a head coach in Russia for the next season instead of returning to the NBA.

In 2014, he joined the Spurs staff as an assistant coach. Messina and Becky Hammon are the two assistants on staff with the least amount of time with the Spurs, as they are finishing up their fourth years with the organization.

International Coaching Career

Messina's head coaching career started in 1989 in the Italian League with Virtus Bologna where he served as the top guy until 1993. The Catania, Italy native then took over as the head coach of Italy's national team, a role he kept until 1997, at which point he returned to Virtus Bologna where he stayed until 2002. He stayed in the Italian League after his second stint with Virtus Bologna and took over as the head coach at Benetton Treviso from 2002-2005.

From there Messina shifted to the Russian League where he spent four seasons at CSKA Moscow. He also went to Real Madrid for two seasons before heading to the Lakers. When he left Los Angeles, he returned to CSKA Moscow for another two seasons prior to joining Popovich's staff in San Antonio.

In 2016, he took back over as the head coach of the Italian team.


In 2008 Messina was named one of the Euroleague's 10 greatest coaches ever and in 2009, he was inducted into the Italian Basketball Hall of Fame. He was the Italian Coach of the Year in 1990, 1993, 1998, 2001 and 2005 and the Russian Coach of the Year in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. He was the Euroleague Coach of the Year in 2006 and 2008 and the European Coach of the Year in 1998.

In addition to individual honors, Messina also has a long history of winning championships. He won three Italian Championships with Virtus Bologna (1992-93, 1997-98 and 2000-01) and a fourth with Benetton Treviso in 2002-03. He also won seven Italian Cups during his time with those two teams (1990, 1999, 2001 and 2002 with Virtus Bologna and 2003, 2004 and 2005 with Benetton Treviso) and an Italian Super Cup with Benetton Treviso in 2002.

In Russia he captured the Russian National Cup in 2006 and 2007 and won the VTB League in 2013 and 2014.

Messina guided Virtus Bologna to the Euroleague Championship in 1998 and 2001 and then he took CSKA Moscow to the Euroleague title in 2006 and 2008.

In international competition, he won silver in the 1997 European Championship with Italy to go with another silver medal from the 1994 Goodwill Games and a gold medal from the 1993 Mediterranean Games.

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