SEABL- Men’s mid-season report

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Roy Ward on North-West Tasmania plus the media wrap-up.

North-West Tasmania entered the Queen’s Birthday break with a positive win-loss record and a new import ready to join the side.

But they aren’t resting on their laurels and know that in a super competitive SEABL competition they need to keep winning to stave off the sides chasing them in the South Conference.

With a 6-4 [win-loss] record and St Mary’s college graduate Garrett Jackson signed and awaiting a visa to head out to Australia, Thunder coach Phil Thomas said his team was looking forward to the resumption of the SEABL season this coming weekend when they visit Brisbane Spartans on Friday night before flying to Melbourne to face Sandringham Sabres on Sunday afternoon.

“We are happy with where we are at although there are a couple of games we’ve dropped that we could have changed the result of,” Thomas said.

“We were disappointed with the Kilsyth game because we were well below our best and well below what’s expected at SEABL level.

“But overall we are travelling well.”

The Thunder have, effectively, lost two players heading into this round with young star Kyle Clark now away with the Australian under-19 side ahead of their FIBA world championships campaign in Greece later this month while import Monzaigo Williams was released to make way for Jackson.

Thomas remains hopeful Jackson’s visa will be signed off in time for him to fly to Australia and be in uniform for the road trip but he also remains disappointed he needed to let go of Williams.

“We should have gone bigger and that was a mistake I made when we recruited too small,” Thomas said.

“We have been having matchup problems all season.

“We kept with the same formula as last year because BJ Jenkins was such a success for us but Monzaigo didn’t have the same grunt or experience that BJ brought us.

“But it was still a tough decision because he is such a great person and very polite and coachable.

“It was a tough call and something I didn’t take a lot of pride in but for the sake of the program moving forward.”

Jackson is 200 centimetres tall and can play the small or power forward positions so will boost the team in the post and help cover for Clark’s departure as well.

“St Mary’s coach Randy Bennett spoke well of him as a person and said he was a gym rat and he was confident he would get the job done for us,” Thomas said.

“Everything is in place and all the contracts and things with FIBA Oceania and Basketball Australia have been sorted so we are just waiting for his visa to be stamped.

“We are hoping he will be with us for our road trip because he is keen and ready to go – if we don’t have him I’ll be disappointed.”

Among the better performers for the Thunder have been import Fred Hunter who leads the team in points and rebounds, co-captain Mason Bragg and returning forward Brad Simpson.

“Fred has made the adjustment to SEABL really well and we are happy with him,” Thomas said.

“We are really pleased with Mason who is one of our young guys but he is already a co-captain and Brad Simpson has eased his way back onto the court after a serious back injury last year.

“It was recommended to him that he stop playing all sport last year or his injury could become permanent and stop him from ever playing again.

“With the help of our physio Ryan Carroll and Brad’s specialists he has been able to get back on court and he is doing a job for us at power forward.”

With Clark away until July and scheduled to move to St Mary’s to begin in US college career later this winter, Thomas admits he can’t be certain his young star could play the whole post season should the Thunder make the finals.

“Firstly we are hoping we will be in finals and we will have him with us but we can’t be sure,” Thomas said.

“Kyle is such a mature person for his age, nothing fazes him, he just walks into training and doesn’t expect any special attention.

“He just continues to improve and we know once he goes to college we won’t see him back in SEABL, he will continue to rise through the grades.

“We see him as a future Boomer and who knows from there.”

SEABL media links

*The Courier’s Melanie Whelan (@Melanie_whelan) reports Ballarat Miners are closing in on a new import. Report:

*The Advocate’s Cameron Whiteley reports on North-West Tasmania signing import Garrett Jackson. Story, picture:

*The Advocate also posted a scouting video on Garrett Jackson. Video:

*Dandenong Journal’s Jarrod Potter (@JarrodPotter) reports former Dandenong Rangers junior Damian Rance has signed with San Francisco State. Report: