FREMANTLE basketball export Liam Rush has led Swedish team Sundsvall Dragons to its first national title.
The former Sydney Spirits player arrived in Sundsvall at the end of December last year.
The Dragons had lost nine straight games and were second from the bottom in the national competition, Ligan, when Rush arrived.
His arrival sparked a turnaround that saw the Dragons claw their way to the top of the ladder and make the final play-off series. A victory over Solna Vikings, the reigning champions, was enough to bring the title to Sundsvall for the first time.
Rush was the top scorer in the final game with 23 points.
Local newspaper headlines such as Gold Rush typified the town’s response to his efforts.
However, the former local was a little more modest about his impact on the team. “I was just that missing piece,” he said. “This is as much the town’s championship – the crowds have been amazing.”
Rush said he had tried to create a healthy team spirit both on and off the court by teaching his teammates some Australian slang words.