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Nathan Jawai returns to the NBL

The Perth Wildcats have signed Nathan Jawai, one of the biggest and most popular figures in Australian basketball. Jawai, who stands at 209cm tall and weighs in at 143kg, has played in the NBA and for some of the biggest European clubs. The 28-year-old is also an Australian Boomer who most recently helped see his country qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games at the FIBA Oceania Championships. ‘Nate’, is excited to return to the NBL for the first time since being named NBL Rookie of the Year with Cairns in 2008. “This is an outstanding opportunity for me to continue to develop my game in an extremely strong competition at a highly professional organisation,” he said. “I’m excited to play in front of big crowds at Perth Arena, and am looking forward to working with my new teammates to build the strongest front court in the league.” After representing the Cairns Taipans eight years ago, Nate Jawai was selected as the 41st pick in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers. He was then traded to Toronto where he secured a two-year deal, but only played six games as he battled a cardiac issue. In 2009 he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks and then the Minnesota Timberwolves where he played 39 games – the highlight, a team-high 16-point and six-rebound outing against Portland. From 2010 onwards Jawai has played in Europe – representing powerhouse clubs Parizan Belgrade (Serbria), UNICS Kazan (Russia), Barcelona (Spain), Galatasaray (Turkey) and MoraBanc Andorra (Spain). His last full season, before suffering a neck injury, was at FC Barcelona Regal, where in 30 games he averaged 7.1 points and 4.7 rebounds. Wildcats head coach Trevor Gleeson said he will be a huge boost to his team. “What I love about Nate is his willingness to do whatever the team needs. He’s not in there to be selfish, he’s very conscious of helping the team out and we love that attitude here at the Wildcats,” he said. “He’s a dominant force inside, just his mere presence on a basketball court is an asset. You saw how unselfish he is in the Boomers series against New Zealand. He finds open shooters and sets great screens to free up teammates. “I’m really happy he’s decided to come to the Wildcats to improve himself. He’s here for all the right reasons – to get himself in the best physical condition possible and to win a Championship.” Nate Jawai was born in Sydney but grew up in the small town of Bamaga – close to the tip of the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland. He attended high school in Cairns where he played rugby league before picking up basketball as a 15-year-old. At 22 he became the first Indigenous Australian to play in the NBA. Nate Jawai will join his teammates in Perth in the coming days. The Perth Wildcats have one position remaining on their 2015/16 roster.
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