Giants recruit a real 'dunker'
When you stand 2.1m tall (that's 6' 11" in the old money), you're a professional basketballer and your family name is pronounced "dunker", you had better be able to play above the rim.
Fortunately for the Mike Pero Nelson Giants, new recruit Josh Duinker loves the air up there.
Duinker yesterday committed to the Giants for the 2015 national basketball league season. Signing any useful tall guy is reason to be excited but Duinker has an added advantage. Due to a Kiwi connection through his mother, he can play for the Giants as a local player, rather than using one of the two import slots.
Duinker is currently the backup centre for the Sydney Kings in the Australian league. Previously, he attended Richmond University on scholarship, played professionally in Spain, then moved to Leiden in the Dutch league. In his first season there, he made the Dutch national team, was named league rookie of the year, centre of the year, made the All Rookie team and was selected in the Allstar Five.
He's secured a Kiwi passport and will join the Giants once the Kings' run ends in the ANBL and Duinker weds his fiancee.
"He might arrive only a week or two before we start but Nelson's as good a place as any to have a honeymoon," said Phill Jones, a current director of the Giants.
"We think we have found a young guy [Duinker is 25] who can fill one of our frontcourt spots and give us a lot of size and energy.
"He appears to have a good upside."
Duinker is athletic for a man weighing 108kg and standing a haircut under seven feet tall and finishes well around the basket. He's adept with either hand and can step out to hit the three-point shot, although that's not likely to be part of his job description with the Giants.
"Josh and Mika [Vukona] can open up the floor but we are looking to base our perimeter game around our guards, so the big guys will spend most of their time down on the baseline."
The tandem of Duinker and Vukona has been described by new coach Tim Fanning as having "great motors".
"He [Duinker] is a very big body. He and Mika will complement each other."
With six players confirmed - Duinker, Vukona, Sam Dempster, Bronson Beri, Adam Rainbird and Ali Granger - the Giants are looking next at their two imported players. One will be a point guard who can cover shooting guard, the other is likely to be a slashing perimeter player.
Fanning stresses versatility and "fit". He has already seen six players work out from his base in California but will not rush his decisions.
"I am doing personnel stuff for the [NBA] D League and have a close eye there to see guys who will be cut as they are not 'NBA prospects', but very good basketball players. They are free agents in January and February and in great shape with very few jobs available until the fall.
"We are looking and investigating different import players to have 2-3 players at each 'player type', so we will go after the imports that we think will be the best fit, both on and off the floor."
Jones said there was a balancing act involved in assembling next season's Giants squad.
"It's a fine line between being undermanned and overloaded," he said. "With three or four names to add, we are trying to walk that line."
- The Nelson Mail