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Larry Sengstock: The man behind the medal

There is no doubt that Larry Sengstock is an Australian sporting legend. Even without the opportunity to watch him out on a basketball court – looking at the overview of his career is impressive. Sengstock’s playing career spanned from 1979 – 1996, played 18 NBL seasons, winning five titles, represented Australia over 300 times, including four Olympic Games and also four World Championships. In a word: unbelievable. While all sports like to celebrate their past champions, the reality is with such focus on current players, the younger generation are so often unbeknownst to the greats that have gone before. Although the internet is solving this problem to a large degree - the reality is that footage of former champions isn’t available in equal measure. However, in the case of Sengstock the immeasurable impact he had on the game of basketball in this country and his overall position in it, doesn’t rely on highlights packages. In recognition of his amazing achievements – the first player to play 400 NBL games, the first to win five championships, and the inaugural NBL Grand Final MVP – in 1999 the NBL decided to name the Grand Final MVP Award after him. The Larry Sengstock Medal is still presented to this day. LarryMedalLarryMedal2

Top: Larry Sengstock presenting the Grand Final MVP Medal to Glen Saville, 2001 Bottom: Larry Kestelman presenting the Grand Final MVP Medal to Damian Martin, 2016

Born in Maryborough Queensland, Sengstock came down to Melbourne as an 18-year-old to play with the Saint Kilda Saints. Although a good size at 6”6’, Sengstock was often up against taller players. As displayed in his MVP performance in the 1979 Grand Final, his size was in many ways irrelevant. In fact throughout his career, in which he also played for the Brisbane Bullets, the Gold Coast Cougars/Rollers and the North Melbourne Giants (winning titles with both the Bullets and Giants) Sengstock was renowned for fighting above his weight. Though he did transition from a centre to small forward as bigger imports entered the league, he still often went up against faster, taller opponents and those who could jump higher. But it didn’t seem to worry him; his heart, effort and basketball intelligence made up for the shortfall. Many people who grew up watching the NBL throughout the 1980s and 90s remember Sengstock as a key member of a generation that helped take basketball in this country from the tin shed to the entertainment arenas. The name ‘Larry Sengstock’ is now embedded in NBL history for his was a truly extraordinary career.

© Sport the library/Jeff Crow/NBL Basketball-NBL/Nth Melbourne Giants 1993 Larry Sengstock 1993-0006-9203-157Career history

  • 1979–1981: St Kilda Saints

  • 1982–1989: Brisbane Bullets

  • 1990–1992: Gold Coast Cougars/Rollers

  • 1993–1996: North Melbourne Giants

Career highlights and awards

  • 5x NBL Champion - St Kilda Saints: 1979, 1980 - Brisbane Bullets: 1985, 1987 - North Melbourne Giants: 1994

  • NBL Grand Final MVP (1979)

  • All NBL First Team (1982)

  • Australian Basketball Hall of Fame (2001)

Member of the Boomers Olympic Team

  • 1980 (Moscow)

  • 1984 (Los Angeles)

  • 1988 (Seoul)

  • 1992 (Barcelona)

Member of the Boomers World Championship Team

  • 1978 (Philippines)

  • 1982 (Colombia)

  • 1986 (Spain)

  • 1990 (Argentina)

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