American signing promises to give all for Nuggets

Otago Nuggets American import Akeem Wright gets familiar with his new surroundings at the Edgar Centre yesterday. Photo by Jane Dawber.
Otago Nuggets American import Akeem Wright gets familiar with his new surroundings at the Edgar Centre yesterday. Photo by Jane Dawber.
Akeem Wright should fit right in. The Otago Nuggets' new signing arrived in Dunedin yesterday to gloomy and overcast conditions. But having come from a Canadian winter, it felt like T-shirt weather to him.

The 27-year-old, 2m tall American has a solid reputation. The Philadelphia-born forward played college basketball for Kansas State University and has played professional basketball in Argentina, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Canada and two games in the D-League for the Bakersfield Jam.

At Kansas State he played under respected coach Bob Huggins and alongside New York Knicks guard Bill Walker, whose team-mate Jeremy Lin has captured the world's imagination with his rapid rise from cast-off to A-lister. It is a inspiring story for everybody who has ever dreamed of playing in the NBA.

"[Lin] was on the verge of getting cut ... but he got his opportunity and made the best of it," Wright said.

"That is what it is all about, you know. When you get your opportunity you need to continue to work and once your name gets called - just be ready."

Wright will team up with fellow American Antoine Tisby in the Nuggets forward line and he is looking forward to having the big centre on his side for a change.

They have played against each other for several different teams and most recently in the Canadian NBL.

"We played in the same junior college conference ... and we played against each other in Saudi Arabia. And I've just been playing against him in the Canadian league - he was a tough match up.

"When I heard we was going to be on the same team my eyes lit up. He's a great player and I can't wait to get on the court with him and play with him."

Wright is quietly-spoken. The long flight from Moncton, to Toronto and then on to Los Angeles, from where he flew to Auckland before finally arriving in Dunedin, left him a little overwhelmed.

But he has done some research on his new team and knows the Nuggets have struggled to compete in the league.

"A lot of good guys have played basketball in this league and it seems like competitive basketball out here. I expect it to be physical and I know I'll go up against guys who like to compete.

"This is my first time out here so I'm just hoping for the best and want to come out here and play hard, showcase my skill, have fun with my team-mates and hopefully get lots of wins. That is what it is all about ... winning."

The Nuggets snapped a 33-game losing streak last season but with just two wins from 16 games the franchise will be hoping Wright and Tisby can help lift the team.

"I've checked how they've gone in the past and know that they have not gone so well. But it is a challenge for me, Tis and the rest of the guys. You can't go into a season saying that you are going to go 2-14 again. You got to continue to work and keep believing in each other."

And that is Wright's promise to the Nuggets' fans.

"I'm a guy who will leave it out there on the floor. I'm going to play hard every game for them and try to score, rebound and defend to the best of my ability. But, hopefully, just get wins."