Men's SBL Player Column – Ben Purser

Much of the disappointment from this year stems from the high expectations we set ourselves coming into this season.

Following a successful second half of season 2015 where we won nine of our final 13 games and took it right up to the Wolves in the first round of the finals we truly believed we were just a few small adjustments away from competing for a championship in 2016.

Fortunately for us, after a roller coaster season, our win last week over a resilient Kalamunda side enabled us to secure a spot in the finals and keep the dream alive.

Going into the year we were excited at the prospect of Bryton returning for another season with the Hawks. We felt that last year he was one of the top two or three players in the league and a key piece we could build around. We were also extremely buoyant about the return of a fit and healthy Rob Cassir, who in my mind, is one of the most underrated players in the SBL. When Jordy Hickert moved up to Perth and we were able to secure the services of big Brian Carlwell, the final pieces of the puzzle appeared to be set.

Unfortunately sometimes the best laid plans don’t work out. This season, Hobbs, Cassir and Hickert have played a combined 43 of a possible 78 games. We never use injuries as an excuse but it’s fair to say that finding consistency has been our biggest challenge this year – a task made that much harder when key pieces from your core playing group are on the sidelines.

Despite all this, we couldn’t be happier to be where we are at this point and we have been encouraged by some really positive play in the last month of the season. The opportunity to play finals basketball coupled with the return of season 4 of The Bachelor has definitely left me with a smile on my face!

Our expectations are always to play finals at this club. Anything less simply won’t cut it. In my nine years playing for Perry Lakes we have played in two grand finals and only missed out on finals twice (which I believe are the only two times in MSBL Hawks history). Winning definitely makes basketball more enjoyable and I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of successful teams at every level of basketball I’ve played at.

The sustained success on and off the court at Perry Lakes is something I am proud of and I will always remember playing and watching games at the old Perry Lakes Stadium when I was kid. The club’s reputation is a credit to all who have passed through its doors (in whatever capacity) over the years and I hope that future generations of Hawks will continue to add to the club’s rich tradition.

On a personal note, the last couple of seasons have been somewhat challenging for me as I transitioned from living the dream at university for seven years to working full-time. It’s fair to say that although my priorities in life have shifted, basketball remains my true passion. I’ve always enjoyed working on my game and seeing the results of the work I put in translating to games. I also simply love training and playing each week with a group of guys who are also some of my best mates. Despite having less time to dedicate to the sport nowadays, none of this has changed.

I’ve really enjoyed being able to take a bit of a step back in terms of on court responsibilities and I have tried to make a concerted effort to express to the younger guys in our group (1) how fortunate we are to be able to play the game of basketball at this level and (2) the level of hard work and dedication required if you want to make an impact. 
I’m really excited about our first round match up against Cockburn. Obviously they have had a very successful season and they have a really balanced team, with quality players at each position. I don’t think we can take much from our win against them a few weeks back. They had a number of players out injured as well as the fact that a playoff game is a lot different to a regular season game, in terms of the increase in intensity and more time spent on scouting and game preparation.

This season I would say the toughest player I have had to guard was Dan Alexander from Lakeside. He has an extremely well rounded, efficient game and always seems poised and in control. Another player of this mould is Gav Field. I always enjoy the challenge of guarding Gav and we have had some good battles over the years. He is extremely versatile on offence and is obviously a great shooter, but is also long enough that when he gets into the paint he can always get his shot off. As I mentioned before, this Cockburn team has number of players that can hurt you and it will take great team defensive to get the job done on Saturday night.

In a match up that wouldn’t look out of place at a pro-wrestling main event, I’m also excited to see the battle between two of the league’s premier big men – Brian Carlwell and Marcus Goode. Both players are incredibly mobile for their size. BC does seem extra motivated when he goes against guys who can match him physically and I’m sure Marcus feels the same way. I think the key to this match up will be who can win the battle on the boards, particularly the O-boards. Generating second chance opportunities for your team is often where games are won and lost.

Good luck to all teams playing this weekend.

Fans of The Bachelor, you can download a sweet new podcast by Josh Garlepp, myself and our friend, Callum Walley, by searching for “will you accept these beers” on iTunes. Alternatively, you can tweet us at @willyoubeers or #WillYouAcceptTheseBeers. We don’t hold back. Cheers.



Photo: Sebpix



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