Write off the 36ers at your own peril, even though they are taking the less costly approach to a championship.
Today Fiasco Sports watched the team chemistry and style of play in action in a pre-season scrimmage against the Canadian College team the Lethbridge Pronghorns.
The 36ers played with plenty of flair but have also added basketball IQ to their already established Australian contingent.
There were lots of expected performances from the already settled in Adam Gibson, Anthony Petrie and Daniel Johnson, but it was the new editions to the squad that we were excited to see for the first time.
Both former Melbourne United players Lucas Walker and Matthew Hodgson seemed to have fit into coach Joey Wright’s game plan of ‘small ball’, with Walker set to play in the power forward position in the rotations.
Hodgson seems a much more affordable upgrade from long serving Luke Schenscher (who has departed for the Crocodiles) who can perform his role in defence and offence.
Kenyon McNeil looks a better fit than many of their recent import guards.
He brings a great balance of ball-handling skills, creating scoring opportunities for himself and basketball IQ.
You only have to watch him move around the court and he looks like a veteran player, already illustrated by his quick thinking.
When a ball was looking lost out of court from a turnover, McNeil threw the ball quickly back on his opponents foot and got it back for his team.
The 36ers second import Ebi Ere is a quality player, despite lacking the athleticism of his championship winning days in the NBL.
He drained his open shots and was a big part of the offence in his five man rotation, don’t be surprised if he starts in the three spot, with an injured Mitch Creek having to start the season later – he’s currently replaced by rookie Central Districts Lions College player Daniel Carlin.
Ere looked fluent in his movement despite his age but maybe the question mark is his ability to lock down on his direct opponent, which Creek may have the advantage over him in the starting role.
The team’s flexibility again will be a key weapon against all opponents this season.
Former Cairns Taipans guard Nathan Sobey seems like almost the perfect recruit for Wright’s team, especially with their intention to play “above the rim” this season.
Sobey is a very athletic guard for his size and surprised us with his vertical leap off plenty of weak-side cuts to the basket for some rim-rattling jams.
He’s a compact player that should see plenty of minutes and an upgrade on guards Tom Daly (who is doing very well at the Mt Gambier Pioneers and should see NBL action again in the future) and veteran Peter Crawford.
After signing a three year deal, Brendan Teys has improved once again and if possible his basketball smarts have improved as well making him the glue that holds the group together in those little underrated important plays.
South Australian born Brandon Brine was the Pronghorns best player on court today. After being a 36ers rookie many years back, he should see some NBL action in the future with a club.
The 36ers could be a top four side this season, and the pre-season blitz competition in Townsville will provide a better look at the opposition.
Written By Tristan Prentice.