BASKETBALL: It's taken eight years but Brisbane fans will have a basketball team back on the court when the NBL showcases its eight teams in its annual pre-season Blitz challenge.
Assembled by national coach Andrej Lemanis and one of the game's most decorated former players CJ Bruton, the Bullets will again strut their stuff against Perth, Adelaide, New Zealand, Melbourne United, Illawarra, Cairns and the Andrew Gaze-coached Sydney Kings.
The Kings will showcase 21-year-old American Michael Bryson, an exciting young talent, while Adelaide will unveil another exceptional import in Terrance Ferguson, a kid signed straight of high school by 36ers coach Joey Wright, who already has last year's scoring sensation Jerome Randle returning.
Gaze and Kings chief executive Jeff Van Groningen spotted Bryson playing for the Phoenix Suns in a summer camp and liked what they saw, especially his defensive skills.
In the game they watched, Bryson did a superb defensive job on Buddy Hield, who had posted a spectacular college season and was widely considered a certain lottery pick in the NBA draft.
"Bryson virtually locked his shot down, he was pretty impressive,” said Van Groningen, the former chief executive of the Bullets.
"He is extremely athletic but with our strong backcourt of Kevin Lisch and Jason Cadee he will be more a defensive weapon than your stereotype scoring guard.”
Bryson averaged 18 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists during his senior year of college.
Wright has scored a big coup with Ferguson, who will be snapped up in next year's NBA draft.
Van Groningen said a number of his NBA contacts had already asked him to keep them updated on his progress in the NBL.
Brisbane goes into the Blitz on the back of a good recent winning series over New Zealand and with a well-balanced roster with a blend of experience and youth.
The Bullets have recruited well with the signings of Australian Boomers Adam Gibson and Cameron Bairstow on the back of quality US imports Torrey Craig and Jermaine "Dollar” Beale, who has the NBL three-point record of 10 in one game.
Another international star who has found his way back to the Australian league is big David Andersen, who will suit up for Melbourne United.
The Blitz, held at the Brisbane Convention Centre, will feature all eight NBL teams and two teams representing China's national competition. The tournament will also have a slam dunk contest and three-point shoot-out.
Defending NBL champions Perth tip off the first game against Tianjin Ronggang Gold Lions tomorrow night, with the action continuing until the final games on Monday night between Brisbane and Cairns and Illawarra and Melbourne United.
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