American import Spicer a slam-dunk specialist

HERE ME ROAR: Southland Sharks American import Sylvester Spicer wants to lead his new team to a win against the Otago Nuggets in Dunedin.
JOHN HAWKINS/ The Southland Times
HERE ME ROAR: Southland Sharks American import Sylvester Spicer wants to lead his new team to a win against the Otago Nuggets in Dunedin.

Southland Sharks American import Sylvester Spicer might be named after the iconic cat from the Looney Tunes series, but out on the basketball court Spicer says he plays more like a lion.

The 200cm power forward flew into Invercargill on Thursday and will suit up tonight when the Sharks begin their National Basketball League campaign against archrivals the Otago Nuggets, in Dunedin.

Spicer, 24, is a fierce competitor and is known for his aggressive nature when competing for a rebound or defending the opposition big men in the low post.

He has been described as a fantastic physical specimen and likes nothing more than to throw down a slam dunk on offence and entertain the crowd.

"I asked my mum and dad about [my name] and it revolves around Sylvester the cat and Sylvester Stallone. I play more like a lion or a big cat, though," he said, laughing. "Expect a lot of slam dunks. I've been playing [basketball] for about eight or nine years and I was dunking before I started playing. I could dunk before I could dribble."

Spicer will fill in as the Sharks' temporary American import until former NBA player Kaniel Dickens arrives next month.

He has just finished playing in the Portuguese Pro Liga with Alges, where he averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds a game, and before that spent time in Israel with Ramla.

Spicer has not had long to familiarise himself with his new team-mates and get up to speed with the Sharks' moves, but said he was a quick learner and did not expect too many problems tonight.

"It isn't hard for me. I'm a quick learner, when it comes to plays. My goal is to come in and do whatever they expect me to do," he said.

Spicer said he based his game on the best elements from NBA players LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard and could contribute in many ways with his scoring, rebounding and hard-nosed defence.

"It's unique," he smiled, when asked to describe his playing style.

"When people see me, they probably wouldn't expect much.

"When they see the first five minutes of me playing, they're like `he's a great player'."

While he was in New Zealand, the Dallas native hoped to continue to develop as a basketballer, help the Zero Fees-sponsored Sharks pick up some wins and attract attention from other leagues around the world.

"My goal is to basically keep developing my game.

"Every basketball player's goal is the NBA, but with my situation it's creating a name for myself to continue playing all year round," he said.

Off the court, Spicer is a keen fan of social networking website Twitter, which he was slowly getting his head around.

"I've been twittering for about four weeks. I had a Twitter account for seven months, but every time I went on I didn't click with it. My friend said `if you get more people to follow you, it will be better'. It's starting to make a lot of sense now," he said, laughing.

The Southland Times