Jablonski reckons he'll have Paringatai taped

BRENDON EGAN
Last updated 05:00 21/08/2012

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Thundercats' American guard Max Jablonski is confident his team can shut down RP Vikings' danger man James Paringatai in tonight's Southland men's A-grade club basketball final.

National Basketball League veteran and Southland Sharks' power forward, Paringatai, is the leading scorer in club basketball this season with 37.1 points per game and an integral figure in the Vikings' line-up.

Few players in the competition can match Paringatai's strength and size close to the basket, and he has proved a difficult man to contain.

Paringatai has added another string to his bow in the last two years with his outside shooting game improving rapidly. If left unguarded on the perimeter, Paringatai, who became the first Sharks' player to bring up 50 games this season, can hurt the opposition.

Jablonski, who has starred for the Thundercats this season, said Paringatai had been a key focus for the team heading into the final.

"We have to keep him from getting the ball," Jablonski said.

"We need to shut him down and keep him from being able to catch it in the low and high post. When he goes on those big man moves, he's pretty tough to stop, without fouling him."

With the experience of Ian Cathcart and the talented Campbell brothers, Tim and Will, in their ranks, Jablonski said the defending champion Vikings were far from a one-man band.

"It's going to take a lot of defensive intensity, a lot of patience and a lot of hard work. If we keep a level head and play smart team basketball, we should be okay."

The 23-year-old Jablonski moved to Southland one year ago, to be closer to his mother, who owns Stella's cafe in Bluff.

Jablonski played division three collegiate basketball at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, and also spent two seasons on the university lacrosse team.

He will be eligible to apply for New Zealand citizenship in May next year, and said he had aspirations to become a naturalised Kiwi and play for the Sharks in the NBL.

"I really like it here. I'm pretty much in love with this country. It's a great place," he said.

Jablonski was a development player for the Sharks this season, and trained with the side. He did not see any court-time, though, with Kevin Braswell and Larry Abney, operating as the two American import players.

Jablonski has been a key performer for the AWS Legal-sponsored Thundercats this season, averaging a team-high 25 points per game. In last week's semifinal win over the Lonestar X-Men, he was the best player on court, knocking down important baskets in the second half, to help lead his team to a 76-69 win.

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The Buffalo, New York, native comes from a strong basketball background. His father, John, played NCAA basketball for the University of Connecticut Huskies in the 1970s, marking up against Kobe Bryant's father, Joe, and many future NBA players. He went on to play professionally in France and Greece, upon finishing college.

Jablonski's brother, Ben Batory, also made a living from the game, playing in Ireland and Malta, while his sister, Anna, competed in the French women's league.

Jablonski, who works as a Kiwi Can programme leader for the Foundation for Youth Development, believed the style of basketball in New Zealand was much more physical, than what he had experienced at college. "Basketball (in New Zealand) has a good physicality and intensity to it. They really take it seriously."

- Southland

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