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The enquiry on behalf of the Malaysian Basketball Association came from ex-SBL General Manager Greg Gurr who is currently Chief Technical Advisor for FIBA Asia. On a recent trip back to Perth he tabled the possibility with Darren Russell and the rest is history.
Russell (or Whopper as he is known in WA basketball circles) was typically excited about the trip. “What a tremendous opportunity to be involved on the international stage. Basketball is the winner here. We get to showcase the talents of some of the best WA has to have. Cannot wait!”
The team will be called the Western Tigers and will be coached by 2010 SBL Championship Head Coach Shayne Hampel. Willetton assistant Peter Cook will again be his offsider and he will be joined by Darren Russell and Scott Rubery to form a super experienced quartet.
Hampel has assembled a group with a good mix of youth and experience.
“We are excited about the opportunity to perform on the international stage. This tournament is a very prestigious one in Asian basketball circles and we will be practicing hard prior to departure.
The level of competition will be extremely high with the focus on quickness. The Asian game is all about shooting the ball from range. We have recruited the team around this with a bunch of quick athletic players around bookends Matt Wundenburg and Travis Moore. Being able to defend the perimeter will be key and we have assembled some of the best defenders in the SBL too plus added NBL hopeful Everard Bartlett.”
The team is headlined by super athletic ex-NZ Breaker and Wildcats training squad member Everard Bartlett. He will be joined in the back court by Wildcats Development player and reigning SBL Assists titleholder Joel Wagner to form a potent back court combination. We thank the Perth Wildcats for allowing both players to attend this trip.
Also joining these two are some of the SBL’s best perimeter players.
After a breakout season with the Wanneroo Wolves, Seb Salinas is on the tour and will be needed to produce the same form in this tournament. His outside shooting and defensive presence will be important as they try to curb the quickness and perimeter shooting of the opposition. He is joined by Redback Robert Cassir, who is also training with the Wildcats, and looking to continue his rise in stature.
They are joined by Willetton Tigers championship backcourt Adam Nener and Ian Callaghan who using this tournament as a spring board into their 2011 SBL title defence. Nener will captain the team. Rounding out the perimeter players is ex-Giant Mark Heron who has been hard in training in preparation for this event.
The forward brigade is lead by Matt Wunderberg who will also be vice captain and he is joined by SBL veteran Travis Moore. Willetton junior Nick Clarke will partner these two. Nick has had an injury interrupted SBL season and this is the start of his 2011 campaign. The Asian teams will have some big inside targets and it will be up to these three to control their effectiveness on the inside.
The team will be sponsored by Alpha Blast who have come onboard as principal sponsor for the tour and will be onhand in KL for the tournament.
Basketball WA is not affiliated with the independant Western Tigers touring team
Photo by Grant Lauterbach