Rodger relishing chance to shine with Nuggets

Otago Nugget Richie Rodger takes a break from his last day working at St Margaret’s College...
Otago Nugget Richie Rodger takes a break from his last day working at St Margaret’s College yesterday. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
This time last year Richie Rodger was not expecting to be back in an Otago Nuggets uniform.

Now, he is gearing up for a second season with the team.

The point guard has re-signed with the team for this year’s National Basketball League.

It is one of the lasting silver-linings Covid-19 has brought the team.

Rodger (24) was at college in the Philippines when the pandemic hit and he returned home.

He went on to play a key role in the side’s title-winning season a year ago.

It was form that generated interest from other teams in the league.

However, Rodger, who grew up in Dunedin and attended Kavanagh College, decided to remain home.

"It was pretty easy in the end," he said.

"I had a few offers from other teams, but I can’t say no to playing in front of friends and family.

"That was one of the reasons and I just felt like I’d have a larger role with the Nuggets this season than I would with other teams."

That role will certainly grow from a year ago, when he occupied the sixth man spot.

With Tall Black veteran Jarrod Kenny running the point, Rodger slotted in at the two spot a lot.

However, this year Kenny is gone and Rodger was expecting to play more point guard.

He will likely have a bigger role this year, too.

An elite facilitator with a handy jump shot, Rodger brings a high basketball IQ and rarely makes mistakes.

Given a greater opportunity, he has the potential to work his way into the conversation with the country’s elite point guards.

That is something he had been deprived of for a long time until last year.

But he was keen to make an impression this season.

"Hopefully, I can have a solid year this year, maybe the [Tall Blacks] coaches will have a look at me. That’s all I can ask," he said.

A return to the Philippines was possible at some point in the future.

He was completing his degree online and he retained ambitions of playing there.

While he spent two years in the country, he did not play a game.

An ankle injury hindered him, while the process of getting his passport — his mother is Filipino — was a slow one.

It had made an impression on him, however.

The country was obsessed with basketball and the finals of the college competition his school was in had sold out 18,000-seat arenas.

He was happy playing for the Nuggets in the meantime.

He liked the team’s roster so far, which now had nine confirmed players.

Other Dunedin locals were Sam Timmins, Darcy Knox, Matthew Bardsley and Aaron Roydhouse.

Youngster Akiva McBirney-Griffin and Pafe Momoisea have joined imports Isaiah Moss and Geremy McKay in filling out the announced players.

The side will host the Wellington Saints at the Edgar Centre in its season opener on April 24.


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