Basketball: Anthony chases redemption

Otago Nuggets forward BJ Anthony hopes to push his national prospects with some strong...
Otago Nuggets forward BJ Anthony hopes to push his national prospects with some strong performances in the National Basketball League this season. Photo by Craig Baxter.
BJ Anthony has a point to prove and it starts today in Gore.

The former Tall Black will make his debut for the Otago Nuggets in a pre-season game against the Southland Sharks.

Anthony signed with the Nuggets last season but injury intervened and he never took the court. He agreed to return this season and hopes his performances for his new team in the National Basketball League will help him rehabilitate his image and regain his spot in the national side.

The 24-year-old has made some mistakes off the court in the last few years.

He was caught drink-driving the night the All Blacks won the World Cup and last year he was suspended by the Breakers for 10-days after another night out drinking meant he was unable to take a full part in training the next day.

While Anthony has had his discipline problems, he has faced up to them and worked hard during his suspension. It was during that time he picked a up stress fracture in his lower left leg.

He was cut from the Breakers in May, rested his injury and has spent the last three months playing in Germany for the Magdeburg Eagles in what is effectively a third-tier tournament.

He played well, though, and made the league's all-star five.

Most importantly, he has got back up to speed. He has dropped 7kg and is looking trim at 113kg. The 1.98m power forward would like to shed two or three more kilos but is fit and ready to make an impact for the Nuggets.

''It was exactly what I needed,'' Anthony said of his stint in Germany.

''It took me about a month to get my legs back and I just started building from there.

''I've got a chip on my shoulder.

''I missed last season and haven't played in New Zealand for about a year now, so I've got to show everyone that I'm back.

''And show the Breakers, too. Hopefully, they will know I'm down here.''

Anthony, who lives in Auckland, arrived in Dunedin on Thursday and is looking forward to the warm-up match against the Sharks.

He will be up against his old Breakers team-mate Kevin Braswell.

''It should be fun. Give him a couple of bumps,'' he joked.

Nuggets swingman Brendon Polyblank is expected to miss the warm-up. He rolled an ankle and is unlikely to be risked. Guards Hayden Allen and Mark Dickel are available and regulars James Ross and Riki Buckrell will also suit up.

American centre Antoine Tisby is playing for the Summerside Storm in the finals of the Canadian National Basketball League and may arrive in Dunedin as late as Thursday. It is unclear whether fellow import Akeem Wright will return for a second season.

The Nuggets have been scrambling to secure sponsorship to fund his return but there is still a shortfall.

Nuggets coach Alf Arlidge said the warm-up game was also an opportunity to reward some of the younger players who have been training hard but might not get much court time throughout the season.

The Nuggets open their campaign against the Waitakere Rangers at the Edgar Centre on April 20.

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