Paurini to bring up century against old team
It seems only fitting that National Basketball League veteran Josh Paurini will celebrate his 100th game against a team close to his heart.
The 33-year-old Canterbury Rams guard is certain to draw loud applause when he checks into the game today in his hometown of New Plymouth against former team, Taranaki.
Paurini has been in the NBL for 10 years and is the kind of player every basketball team needs.
He is not flashy and won't light up the scoreboard, but has an outstanding work ethic and always gives it everything he's got.
NBL statistics list Paurini on 110 games, but he said they mistakenly credited him with 11 games while he was out with a broken leg.
Paurini will have plenty of family and friends in the crowd to celebrate his milestone. Bringing up the feat against Taranaki, who he played 83 games for, means a lot to him.
"To do it in front of the team that helped me out more than any other team and where I plied my trade for seven seasons, it's going to be emotional," he said. "It's one of those goals I've always had. It's one of those things you've got be blessed to be able to do."
Coming off the bench and being a role player is not for every basketballer. Paurini said it had never bothered him and he was happy to do whatever it took to help his team win.
He had always preferred dishing off an assist to a team-mate in a better scoring position, than putting the ball in the hoop himself. It is that kind of attitude Taranaki captain and former team-mate Aaron Bailey-Nowell said sums Paurini up.
"That's what his strength is. He knows how to get the ball to the right people.
"I've got a lot of respect for Josh. He's always been a leader on the teams I've been on."
Paurini made the move to Christchurch this season to be closer to wife Tanya's family. When he heard that the Rams were being resurrected, he trialled for the squad and said it was an honour to play for a team with so much history. Canterbury won four NBL titles between 1986 and 1992.
His NBL career began in 2003 with Waikato, where he played eight games over two seasons.
In his first year in the league, two-time defending champions Waikato were favourites to win the final against Wellington, but were dealt a surprise loss.
Paurini's finest memories had been with Taranaki, where he played with younger brother, Eli.
He had always enjoyed wearing the amber and black singlet, but today will match up against them for just the second time.
"I've always dreamt about going back there and having that dream game against your old team."
Paurini felt the standard of the league had improved significantly from when he first started.
"I think it's getting better each and every year - if you look at the players teams have now and who they're going after."
AT A GLANCE
Today: 5pm vs Taranaki in New Plymouth
Sunday: 3pm vs Super City in Auckland
Canterbury Rams: Jeremy Kench (c), Glen Dandridge, Ethan Rusbatch, Richie Edwards, Matt Rogers, Marcel Jones, Joel Stratford, Inga Solofuti, Josh Paurini, Jason Thompson