The Sky City Breakers have just one spot left to fill on their roster for the 2015/16 Australian National Basketball League season with Friday’s announcement that Australian guard Shane McDonald will join the club as they look to win a fifth championship in six years.
The Nunawading Spectres point guard is taking a break from his full time teaching career and is relishing the opportunity to link up with the Australian NBL defending champions.
“I have followed the ANBL and really admired from afar what the SKYCITY Breakers have been doing, it is so clear they have developed a fantastic culture – that was something that attracted me. In fact I probably wouldn’t have gone to any other team on a similar deal but when one of the best sporting organizations over the last ten years asked me to suit up, the attraction to come and see what it is all about and what they have done to be successful was massive.”
Breakers head coach Dean Vickerman believes he has a player with the experience and temperament – not to mention the game, to do a great job for the club.
“When it was understood we were unable to retain Rhys Carter I reached out to Shane, a player I had coached before and won an Australian U/20 Championship with. That title was a long time ago but I always hoped I would get the opportunity to coach Shane again because he plays the game the right way and enjoys passing the ball as much as scoring.
“The qualities I was looking for in this role are a feisty defender, have the ability to attack pressure and make great decisions, playing at a high tempo, to be a constant three point threat and to possess the experience to lead the team when Cedric is off court. I believe Shane meets all these requirements and also offers a unique skill set with his ability to play the game as a left hander but shoot right handed.”
McDonald has enjoyed a ten year career with the Nunawading Spectres in the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL) amassing over 200 games for the club. This season he is leading the League in assists, averaging 8.6 dimes per game. In addition he is averaging 18.1 points per game with shooting splits of 48.5/31.6/82.0.
To put these figures into context the SEABL competition is the strongest of the State Leagues in Australia and is perhaps a small rung down from the Bartercard New Zealand NBL.
He has ANBL experience with the Singapore Slingers (29 games in 2007-8) Perth Wildcats (5 games in 2008-9) and a brief single game stint with the Melbourne Tigers in 2012. Ironically that one game was against the Breakers.
“Dean contacted me about six weeks ago, with a general enquiry about playing at this level. I hadn’t thought about it to be honest, I have just turned 30, I am settled in Melbourne and only just got married. But Emily (McDonald’s wife) and I spoke about it and we thought if all the stars align it would be cool, and in the end everything worked out as it needed, we are really excited about the move.”
McDonald knows he has not trodden the typical basketball pathway but is up for the challenge and says there are advantages in signing such a contract at 30 years of age with ten years of SEABL experience behind him.
“I have a little bit to prove, I will come in hungry and willing to do whatever is asked of me. The difference for me as a ‘rookie’ is I have the experience and know the game pretty well, I can come in and have an impact and fill any role asked of me. Obviously the Breakers look like being a great team again with most of the roster returning from last season, I know I will fit in where required.”
That ten years has been spent working fulltime as a PE teacher and basketball coach at Maribyrnong College in Melbourne.
“I have always taken quite a balanced view of things, at the time when I had to make a decision to pursue the NBL fulltime or not, the league was on shaky ground and I went the career route. I have since consolidated a nice career in teaching and coaching basketball. That is something I don’t regret at all, but now this opportunity has come along I am super excited about another crack and joining the Breakers. I still have a great passion for the game and some unfinished business.”
Vickerman believes the Breakers will present a different threat to the championship winning roster of last season.
“Last year we used a rotation of three players at the point guard and shooting guard positions, this year we will have four players in Cedric, Corey, Reuben and Shane who all offer different strengths and will allow us great versatility in the backcourt.”
The last time McDonald was in Auckland in January 2012 he suited up for the Melbourne Tigers and shot 100% (1/1 FG & 2/2 FT). More of the same will be just fine for Dean Vickerman and the Breakers.