Roy Ward on the Nunawading Spectres, plus this week’s big plays and the media wrap-up.
Last Monday Adam Ballinger turned down Nunawading Spectres, on Thursday re-considered and on Saturday night he successfully made his debut.
The Spectres were desperately looking for a fill-in for centre Simon Conn who will miss the next six weeks with a knee problem, and short of forcing president Paul Flynn or coach Dave Biwer back out of retirement – Ballinger seemed the perfect option. The 340-game NBL veteran called time on his professional basketball career at the end of the NBL season where he played for the Illawarra Hawks, with Ballinger and his family moving back to Melbourne where they had lived for several years while he played with Melbourne Tigers.
While looking for his first job post-basketball, Ballinger had continued to lift weights and run but had barely touched a basketball since the NBL season ended.
But a life of playing basketball in Indiana, then at Michigan State and then the NBL made sure when Ballinger walked into Spectres’ training on Thursday night he wasn’t too far off the rest of the team.
“They called Monday and asked if there was a chance, I said right then it wasn’t a great time as I was waiting on a job,” Ballinger said.
“I didn’t get the job so I went back to square one and called Dave [Biwer] on Thursday afternoon and asked if there was still the option to come play.
“He said yeah but you have to come sign something so we can get it in by the end of the day or you won’t be eligible to play in the playoffs.
“So we got it all done in a couple of hours and I practiced that night.”
Ballinger took on the number three jersey and suited up against Frankston Blues on Saturday night but quickly fell into foul trouble with three fouls before half time.
Biwer still threw Ballinger back into the game in the second half and the veteran shooter matched his coach’s faith making some important shots down the stretch to finish with 17 points on six of 14 shooting in 25 minutes.
“My head was away from basketball, it definitely was but all things considered I had still been lifting and running just to keep my head straight so I was in decent shape but not basketball shape,” Ballinger said.
“My timing is off and my shot was off but if you shoot enough some will go in.
“I was in foul trouble early but then I got to play a bit more – they run a bit of motion so I can pick and pop all day, that was good.”
Ballinger will play out the season with the Spectres who could boast a potent frontline with Conn, Ballinger and import Delwan Graham in uniform for the run to the SEABL finals.
But for now, Ballinger is happy to soak up his unexpected return to basketball.
“The pressure is not as intense but I still want to play hard and still want to win,” Ballinger said.
“I played with Dave in my first season in the NBL with Victoria Giants and Tommy Greer was always telling me about Nunawading and how good of a club it was.
“He wanted me to come play here, now it’s finally worked out.
“I’ve been trying to get started in life after basketball.
“I just want to enjoy this season and enjoy still playing in front of a crowd and enjoy playing basketball – tonight was a fun start.”
Ballinger’s signing capped a big week for the Spectres with star point guard Shane McDonald winning a contract with NBL champions New Zealand Breakers.
Notable performances –
*North West Tasmania’s new import Garrett Jackson showed more of his talents with 30 points and 12 rebounds in the Thunder’s win over Albury-Wodonga, although Bandits’ guard Daniel Sepokas showed his shooting skills with seven three-pointers in his 31 points.
*Dandenong’s Lucas Walker celebrated his new NBL deal with Adelaide 36ers with 28 points and 12 rebounds against Sandringham while teammate Daequon Montreal had a big game as well with 26 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
*Mt Gambier import Damian Johnson flirted with a quadruple-double as the Pioneers scored their 10th straight win. Johnson had 15 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and eight blocks as his Pioneers’ beat Ballarat on Sunday.
*Sandringham’s Junior Hairston pulled in 20 rebounds and added 13 points in the Sabres’ loss to Ballarat with Miners imports Roy Booker knocking down 27 points while new signing Gregory Thondique offered 24 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
*Kilsyth’s twin towers Tim Lang and Auryn Macmillan made big impacts on the Cobras’ win over Canberra Gunners as Lang scored 23 points while Macmillan pulled in 17 rebounds along with nine points.
*Bendigo’s Tony Lewis was on song against Frankston on Sunday as he scored 26 points and dragged down 11 rebounds.
SEABL media links –
*New Zealand Breakers announce their signing Nunawading Spectres star Shane McDonald. Story: http://www.nzbreakers.co.nz/article/id/r01lf7f8b3h215o72n6mtqz5e
*Border Mail’s Steve Smith (@stevesmithffx) reports on the Bandits split in Tasmania. Report: http://www.bordermail.com.au/story/3161540/a-mixed-bag-for-bandits/?cs=10
*The Advocate’s Cameron Whiteley reports on Garrett Jackson’s big night against Albury-Wodonga. Report: http://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/3161359/fans-on-their-feet-for-jackson-antics/?cs=88
*Whiteley also has a match report and picture gallery from Stuart Wilson: Report: http://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/3160131/thunder-win-a-thriller-at-home-against-alburywodonga/?cs=88 and Gallery: http://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/3160095/seabl-basketball-pictures-photos/?cs=88#slide=22
*Ballarat Courier’s Melanie Whelan (@Melanie_whelan) reports the Miners need to fine tune their game. Report, pictures: http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/3160660/miners-must-fine-tune-after-loss-to-top-team/?cs=63
*Bendigo Advertiser’s Nathan Dole reports on how the Braves’ beat Frankston. Report: http://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/3160548/braves-surge-clear-of-blues/?cs=3343#slide=2
*Hobart Mercury’s Simeon Thomas-Wilson spoke to Chargers’ star Kevin White. Report: http://www.themercury.com.au/sport/local-sport/chargers-looking-to-reload/story-fnj92b0f-1227403362272
*Bendigo Advertiser also have a great photo gallery from the game by Bill Conroy. Gallery: http://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/3160548/braves-surge-clear-of-blues/?cs=3343#slide=2
*Geelong Advertiser’s Wes Cusworth (@WesCusworth) reports on the Supercats’ brush with reality against Mt Gambier. Report: http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/sport/local-sport/geelong-supercats-thrashed-by-reigning-champs/story-fnjuhs0b-1227408545022
*Great picture gallery from Crossover Photography from Nunawading Spectres v Frankston Blues. Gallery: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.920431891352090.1073741855.729589120436369&type=3&hc_location=ufi