Hire plays to win championship

Greg Hire under pressure in game one against Adelaide.
Greg Hire under pressure in game one against Adelaide.

At college in the US, he won conference championships with Augusta State in 2009 and 2010.

During that time, the team stamped itself as one of America’s best NCAA Division 2 sides, advancing to the nationwide Final Four in ’09 and the Elite Eight in ’10.

Hire returned from college to captain the Wanneroo Wolves, now known as the Joondalup Wolves, to their first State Basketball League championship in 18 years in 2011.

And since turning pro at the end of that year, the forward has not missed an NBL grand final series with the Perth Wildcats.

But the 26-year-old hasn’t won an NBL championship in that time either.

The Wildcats were outplayed by the New Zealand Breakers in 2011-12 and 2012-13.

With Hire now a vice-captain at the club he idolised as a youngster, he is determined for 2014 to be the year he shares in grand final glory.

His determination was evident in Perth’s 92-85 win over the Adelaide 36ers in game one of the grand final series at Perth Arena on Monday night.

Making use of his restricted game time behind star import James Ennis, Hire produced the best grand final performance of his career.

His hustle was often the difference in 50-50 situations.

And he was just three rebounds shy of a double-double, having knocked down 10 points and taken seven rebounds.

But that’s all in the past.

His focus remains squarely on game two of the best-of-three series in Adelaide tomorrow night.

‘It’s going to be a great occasion; we know what sort of challenges there are and what sort of obstacles (we face),’ he told wildcats.com.au.

“We have some things to work on and to win a championship you need a lot of things to go your way.

“We may have to change our game plan a little bit… they’re (Adelaide) in the grand final for a reason, they won’t back down.”

Hire shrugged off Adelaide coach Joey Wright’s implication that Monday’s umpiring had favoured the Wildcats after Perth earned 47 free throws to the 36ers’ 13.

He put it down to his side’s attack on the hoop, especially that of Ennis, who scored 14 of his 30 points at the free throw line.

‘You’ve got an exceptional athlete in Jimmy trying to dunk it every single time; the only way you can hold him back is by fouling him,’ he said.