Mount Gambier hosted Australian basketball royalty on Saturday night, with hoops legend Andrew Gaze coaching at the Icehouse.
The Australian Basketball Hall of Famer, five-time Olympian, described as the one of the greatest players Australia has ever produced, brought his NBL1 team the Melbourne Tigers to the Icehouse to take on the Castec Rural Pioneers.
Basketball’s Mr Nice Guy proved quite the attraction, with local youngsters swamping Gaze for autographs before, during and after the game.
While Gaze’s Melbourne Tigers outfit was soundly defeated, he was full of praise for the Pioneers.
Going down 56-88 to the Mount Gambier side, Gaze said his team had “had better days”.
“They are the best team we have played so far, they have been together for a while,” he said.
“They are really well organised, really well coached, Richard (Hill) does a great job with them,” Gaze said.
“We have got a young group this year and hopefully we continue to build and get some experience into them.
“About 5-6 years ago I was here as well, it’s vastly different since then, I usually coach the youth league team so I have not been coaching the senior team, but this year I am helping out with the senior team as well.
“It was a lot different as well, Richard has always been there, they have got a really good team, they shoot the ball really well, they’re really well organised and they are going to be hard to beat.”
While the season still has quite some time to play, Gaze said looking ahead to the NBL1 finals, the Castec Rural Pioneers were bound to be in the mix.
“I think the Pioneers, Geelong, Frankston and Sandringham when they get their team together, they have got some NBL guys coming in, we have not played everyone of course, but they are the teams who are going to be there,” he said.