Game has special meaning for one fan

Otago Nuggets supporter Charlie Bauchop (14) passes a ball at the Edgar Centre this week as...
Otago Nuggets supporter Charlie Bauchop (14) passes a ball at the Edgar Centre this week as Nuggets centre Sam Timmins watches. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Charlie Bauchop is one of the most excited people in Dunedin this week.

The 14-year-old is among the Otago Nuggets’ most devoted fans.

A year ago, he was a regular at the fan headquarters, missing just one game as he watched the side win the Showdown title in Auckland.

Tomorrow night he will get to watch the side in person.

The Nuggets are set to return to the Edgar Centre for the first time since 2014, as they face the Wellington Saints in the National Basketball League season opener.

It will be a special night for many fans.

For Charlie, it will be of particular significance.

The Nuggets ignited his passion for basketball.

The year 10 pupil Logan Park High School plays for his school and the Otago under-15 teams, as well as being a very capable referee.

While older fans will have plenty of memories being in the crowd at Nuggets games, Charlie’s experience of following the team was much shorter.

He only caught the tail end of the team’s previous stint in the league, before it withdrew for five years following Basketball Otago’s financial issues.

That did not mean his passion was any less though.

His father took him to a game when he was 5 in 2012 and that was the start of it.

"I just loved it," he said.

"I wanted to go again and again. I just kept going."

In fact, for someone so young he has an impressive memory of some key moments.

He remembers Mark Dickel’s game-winning buzzer beater that was waved off against the Hawke’s Bay Hawks in 2013.

He also remembers watching the live statistics as the side won 145-139 in quadruple overtime against the Taranaki Mountainairs — a score he remembers.

Not bad for someone who was 6 at the time.

It made last year’s win all the more special too.

"It was great. I remember watching them when I was like 7 and 8 and seeing them get close.

"It was amazing to actually see them win it."

How does he think they will go this year?

"Hopefully, really well.

"Can we get back-to-back titles? Hopefully."

Tip-off tomorrow is at 7.30pm.

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