Arrival of new imports shakes up SBL
LEE Roberts, Adrian Majstrovich, Markus Monroe, Jerrah Young and Ephrem Davis have either returned to the SBL or made their debuts in the league over the past fortnight as teams look to make their move towards being genuine championship contenders.
While it is unlikely the Giants can make a push towards the playoffs from the bottom of the ladder, they have been improving and will now hope the arrival of Majstrovich will help them have a much stronger second half to the 2014 season than the first half was.
Meanwhile the Perth Redbacks with Roberts, Collie Crane Hire South West Slammers with Monroe, Joondalup Wolves with Davis and Sun City Plumbing Geraldton Buccaneers with Young all will be hoping their import arrivals help them get near or to the SBL championship for 2014.
Former Kalamunda Eastern Suns and Stirling Senators 6'7 power forward Roberts has now played the last two weekends for the Perth Redbacks and was a major reason for the 119-113 win over the Mandurah Magic on Friday night.
Roberts was outstanding with 36 points and 15 rebounds while shooting 14-of-23 from the field and he might just be the addition the Redbacks need to be a title contender.
Teaming with fellow import Stan Okoye and Perth has plenty of firepower plus some steady, experienced hands including Jarrad Prior, Dennis Tawhiti and Joel Wagner when he returns to the court.
The Redbacks have been a steady playoff team the last five seasons but haven’t been genuine championship threats. The Redbacks have won three SBL championships in 1989, 1990 and 1997 but it has been a long time between drinks with the last grand final appearance coming in 1999.
Majstrovich is obviously no stranger to the SBL but has now signed with the Silver Lake Resources Goldfields Giants for the rest of the 2014 season.
The Giants might remain on the bottom of the standings with a 3-14 record, but have been performing much better in recent weeks.
In Majstrovich's first appearance in Saturday night's narrow loss at home to the Joondalup Wolves, he contributed 23 points and nine rebounds while shooting 9-of-17 from the field.
Majstrovich began his SBL career with the East Perth Eagles before going on to join the NBL and become a championship-winner with the Perth Wildcats in 2000.
He has also had stints in Europe and New Zealand, but it's the SBL where he has really made his mark despite being the NZNBL MVP in 20014.
Majstrovich has also spent time in the NBL with the Brisbane Bullets, New Zealand Breakers and Adelaide 36ers, but most recently he played with the Kalamunda Eastern Suns in 2009 and 2010, the Perth Redbacks in 2011 and 2012, and then the Perry Lakes Hawks last year.
He then returned to New Zealand to play with the Nelson Giants but injury soon ended that and now he's back in the SBL looking to make his mark again with the Goldfields at 34 years of age.
Davis is also no stranger to the SBL having previously played with the Willetton Tigers in 2012. He has now signed up with the Joondalup Wolves for the rest of the 2014 season.
The 6'10 big man lined up in Joondalup's losses back in Week 12 away to the Cockburn Cougars and at home to the Mandurah Magic, and then helped the Wolves to a 103-97 victory on the road to the Goldfields Giants last Saturday night.
His first appearance against the Cougars saw him finish with 15 points, seven rebounds and three blocks in over 23 minutes and then against the Magic he had 15 points and nine rebounds before fouling out after almost 30 minutes.
Then in the win over the Giants he scored 13 points to go with seven rebounds and two blocks in 24 minutes.
The Wolves are hoping he could be just the addition to help get their campaign back on track with the Wolfpack currently in sixth position with a 9-8 record and looking to again be a contender after winning the 2011 championship, and being runner-up last year.
Davis last played in the SBL in 2012 with Willetton averaging 18 points and almost 11 rebounds a game, and most recently was playing in Bahrain averaging 21 points, 13 boards and three blocks.
Young has joined the league-leading Sun City Plumbing Geraldton Buccaneers and helped them to an eighth consecutive win beating the defending champion Lakeside Lightning 90-83 at home on Saturday night.
Young spent 25 minutes on the court finishing up with six points, six rebounds and four blocked shots, and now he will only try to build on that as the Buccaneers look to maintain top position and aim to win just their second championship in the SBL.
The Buccaneers won their only title in 2000 beating Lakeside in the grand final while they have also lost grand finals in 1989, 1996, 1997 and 2001.
Young arrives at the Buccaneers having started 2014 with the Hobart Chargers in the SEABL on the back of two years in Finland, and two years before that playing in France.
The experienced and good-sized forward comes with good credential and along with Aaron Ralph, Bennie Lewis and Carter Cook gives the Buccs plenty of scoring threats.
Monroe has now also signed with the Collie Crane Hire South West Slammers and the combo guard made his first appearance last weekend.
Monroe helped the Slammers to a 100-85 win over the Cockburn Cougars at home on Saturday night with him contributing 17 points and eight rebounds while shooting 6-of-17 from the field and 1-of-4 from three-point territory.
His shooting rate can improve, but already having good numbers in his first outing is a good sign that he can help the Slammers at least finish in their current fourth-place and make a run at the 2014 championship.
The Slammers have previously won five men's SBL championship in a golden era winning five of the six titles between 1995 and 1999. The only hiccup was missing out in 1997.
Since then, though, the Slammers have not managed to reach a grand final and in fact up until last year's fifth-placed finish, had not made the playoffs since 2001.
Monroe came to the Slammers for a tryout upon the request of fellow Waylon Baptist University alumni Ty Harrelson, but then when Todd Hendley pulled a hamstring he received a call up into the squad and has already shown he can more than hold his own fresh out of college.
Article by Chris Pike
Photo by Margaret Prior