HARARE (AfroBasket 2017) - Dead last. That was the position for Zimbabwe at AfroBasket 2015.
A team that upset South Africa in its qualifying campaign to reach this past summer's AfroBasket, which was staged in Rades, Tunisia, Zimbabwe finished 16th out of 16 teams. They were the only country not to taste victory at the event, losing all five games they played.
"This was a real eye opener for the future, for myself and especially for the young guys in the national team, and also for the delegation that came across," Pinkerton said to FIBA.com.
Pinkerton, who learned his basketball while growing up in Harare and once suited up for the national squad himself, played semi-professional basketball in South Africa from 1993-96. He went back home in 1998.
Seventeen years later and he was coaching at his continent's flagship event, the AfroBasket. Zimbabwe struggled but they did show some promise in stretches of games.
After opening the tournament with an 87-67 blowout at the hands of Algeria, Zimbabwe played with more fire and concentration and gave Cote d'Ivoire (64-52) and Cape Verde (76-65) hard games.
There was cause for optimism heading into their Round of 16 game against Egypt. In that clash, however, the Pharaohs cut Zimbabwe down. Egypt, who had finished runners-up two years before and also played at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, hammered Zimbabwe, 102-62.
His side finished at the bottom of the standings, yet Pinkerton says something positive can come out of the experience. "In Zimbabwe, we don't have a professional league," he said.
"I'm hoping the experience in Tunisia sets the foundation for us to be more professional and hopefully get more sponsors in Zimbabwe and make the sport a professional one like the rest of Africa.
"Hopefully the young players, the delegation, have picked up what I picked up. When we go home and start working hard, hopefully the next time we come back, we'll fight like our neighbors have done."