Now being a two-time NBL titleholder, I can say there are some similarities in the way we won both grand finals but a stark contrast in the journey to them.
The first year we won, it seemed like it was our destiny.
We started the year 9-0, winning games by great margins and had James Ennis as one of the most dominant basketballers ever to play in the NBL. After the disappointment of previous seasons’ grand finals, it seemed like we would overcome that obstacle.
This season’s path was far different; we had a roster change on the eve of the season with Hugh Greenwood joining the AFL and the late inclusion of Jarrod Kenny and Nate Jawai. Damian Martin started the year on ice after a calf strain and suffered a shocking broken jaw later in the season.
There seemed to be more defining moments this year, which I strongly believe contributed to our end of season success.
One that stands in my mind is the way we recovered after an upset loss to Townsville at home in round three. We were asked to back it up two nights later in Illawarra, playing in a hostile environment where we stole a game in a come-from-behind victory.
While things didn’t come easy this year, it gives me a much greater appreciation for the championship finish. Most of us started this journey in June, and the work we’ve toiled is insignificant compared with the thrill of winning a championship trophy.
For us to come together at the right end of the season and put in one of the more dominant defensive displays in grand final history is something I’ll be extremely proud about for years to come. Let’s hope this group stays together and we can go back-to-back.