Saints put harmony hopes in Bowman's hands

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 17/05/2014
Brandon Bowman
ROSS GIBLIN/Fairfax NZ
JUST LANDED: New Wellington Saints import Brandon Bowman enjoys the crisp Lyall Bay air after his arrival.

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Brandon Bowman's arrival in Wellington got off to an inauspicious start.

Still rubbing the sleep from his eyes after a long haul flight from Los Angeles, the latest Saints import - the fourth this season - discovered yesterday morning that his luggage hadn't joined him on the second leg from Auckland.

The 29-year-old globetrotter took it in his 2.06-metre stride.

After a photo shoot at Lyall Bay beach - "nice, but a little different from Santa Monica" - he ripped into a breakfast of eight eggs and explained his basketball journey.

That was interesting, but not as interesting as his passion for music and starring role in a YouTube video, where he belts out a baritone version of Lionel Richie's Hello.

"Ha ha ha. You really want to know about that? When I played in Israel, they wanted me to make a music video," Bowman said.

"It was a woman that runs the top news station, so I did it. I was bored. I'm glad you enjoyed it. It went viral [4891 views and counting]. One of my games in Germany this season, they stopped the warm-ups and played the whole video. I was so embarrassed."

Following a distinguished high school and college career, the free-scoring forward flirted with the NBA in a series of summer league stints (Portland, New Jersey, LA Clippers, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Charlotte).

He never played an actual NBA game, but has carved out a solid professional career with stays in Italy, Germany, Turkey, Bulgaria, France, Serbia, Israel and Korea.

Bowman's season in Germany finished a fortnight ago and he was relaxing at home in LA when Saints coach Shane Heal came calling, seeking a replacement for the disappointing Elijah Obade.

Bowman doesn't know much about New Zealand, apart from "winter being in summer."

"But I actually went to a Lorde concert, her first time in America, like a year and a half ago or something. It was in LA, at this club called Belasco. No-one had ever heard of her but everyone had heard of her when she left. She did her stuff. I'm really big into music."

But Bowman hasn't been flown to Wellington for his musical ability.

The Saints are single-minded in their pursuit of an eighth NBL championship, and swung the blade on Obade following their third loss of the season, last Saturday in Hawke's Bay.

Bowman has an impressive CV and would have played for Heal's Sydney Kings last season if former NBA player Sam Young hadn't been available.

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His Westchester High School team was ranked No 1 in the United States, and he played for the USA at the youth world championships in 2002.

Bowman's Georgetown University team-mates included Roy Hibbert (Indiana Pacers) and Jeff Green (Boston Celtics).

"Roy is a classic individual, he's one of a kind. I talk to those guys all the time. We had a good team."

Good enough to make the NCAA's Sweet Sixteen in 2006, Bowman's senior year, in which they lost to eventual national champions Florida.

"We shouldn't have lost. We were up by like 10 with two minutes left. I hate talking about that game."

BOWMAN has a week to settle into Wellington before making his debut at home to the Super City Rangers on Friday.

The 7-3 Saints should comfortably qualify for the Final Four, which was yesterday confirmed for Wellington's TSB Bank Arena on July 4-5.

The introduction of Bowman, who, like fellow import Ernest Scott, can play either forward position, is an interesting twist.

Heal's Saints are now without a traditional centre and BJ Anthony will be asked to log plenty of minutes in that position.

"A lot of teams in Europe put me at the four because I'm tall but I'm really a small forward," Bowman said.

"Coach said I'd be playing the three and the four. I've been a scorer all my life but I don't want to just come in thinking this is my team. I just want to ease in and help this team win, play solid and get a championship."

Said Heal: "He is a good athlete, can play both the three and four positions and can score in multiple ways. At 6ft 8in his length will help us defensively."

- Wellington

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