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NBL players relish opportunity to learn at BWB Asia

Basketball without Borders (BWB) Asia in Melbourne has given young players from all over the Asia-Pacific region the opportunity to learn from some of the best basketballers in the world. Aussie stars Patty Mills and Joe Ingles, NBA legends David Robinson, Bruce Bowen and Jerry Stackhouse, Milwaukee Bucks leading scorer Khris Middleton and Aussie heroes Andrew Gaze and Lauren Jackson are just some of headline names teaching the BWB campers this week. Flying under the radar, however, has been the impact of some of our local stars; members of the NBL family giving back to the basketball community. Brisbane Bullets sharpshooter Daniel Kickert, free agent Lucas Walker and Melbourne United’s Majok Majok, Nate Tomlinson and Igor Hadziomerovic have all been on deck throughout the BWB event. “I’m loving it,” Kickert exclaimed during an energetic Day 3. “It’s unbelievably well organised and there’s a lot of really good talent on show. The coaches are great and it’s a lot of good fun.” Kickert, who played collegiately in the United States before playing professionally in Italy, Spain, Poland, Ukraine and now Australia, has been impressed with the standard of play from the campers. “There are a few really good Aussie kids here and I’ve liked what I’ve seen from a few of the Kiwis,” Kickert said. “Also, you don’t usually get to see a lot of the Asian players at this age. The young Asian players are so highly skilled now, there are a few really good shooters here and a couple of really good point guards. “It’s fun to see the development of basketball throughout Asia.” For Hadziomerovic, working with some of his own NBA idols has been the ultimate in professional development. If Iggy’s recent struggles with osteitis pubis have taught him anything, it’s to take advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow as a player. “I’m learning a lot from the NBA guys,” the United guard said. “I’m working with Stackhouse every day because he’s coaching our team. Just the little points he has, the points of emphasis he talks about with the kids, are all really helpful for me too. I’m learning specific things like body positioning and stuff like that.” It’s not all between the lines either. Lunch with Milwaukee Bucks small forward Khris Middleton provided Hadziomerovic with the chance to pick the brain of a genuine NBA shooting star. “He spoke about what he’s doing during the offseason and it was great hearing about the amount of work he’s already putting in since his season just finished,” Hadziomerovic explained. “All the skill work, strengthening drills and things he’s doing to stay in shape. Just hearing how prepared those guys are just really opens up your eyes.” Kickert agrees. “It’s great just to be in the same gym as those guys. I’m learning from lots of the little pointers that they’re giving. It’s very interesting as a player to see that,” he said. Of course, the players aren’t the only ones involved. Sydney Kings coaches Andrew Gaze and Lanard Copeland and Melbourne United’s Dean Demopoulos and Mike Kelly have also been working the event. Demopoulos, who spent nine years coaching in the NBA before bringing his talents Down Under, is pleased to see his players soaking up everything they can. “It’s cool being with the legends, watching them work and what they say. I’m sure our guys are going to get things from that because everything’s a learning experience,” Demopoulos said. “It’s great, our guys come here and these young kids learn from them and our guys learn from the legends.”
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