From Ma­reeba to the world

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Bron­wyn Wheatcroft and Sam Davis GROW­ING up in a small town such as Ma­reeba hasn’t stopped one man from reach­ing his dreams and be­ing proud of where he came from.

Man­ager of the Aus­tralian Boomers basketball team, Ju­nior Al­bert grew up in Ma­reeba and grad­u­ated from Ma­reeba State High School in 1998.

Speak­ing to the Ta­be­lands Ad­ver­tiser, Al­bert rem­i­nisced about the hard work he put in to his ca­reer and the many sport­ing groups he was part of.

He played A-Grade for the Ma­reeba Glad­i­a­tors and soccer for the Ma­reeba Bulls.

“The num­ber of coaches and teach­ers I have had over the last 10 years have played a huge part in my suc­cess,” he said.

“I re­mem­ber my mates and I use to play basketball un­til 10pm at night un­til they switched the lights off at the basketball courts in Ma­reeba.

“We would then go home and con­tinue to play.”

Al­bert said he has al­ways put in 110 per cent to ev­ery­thing he did.

“I made a lot of mis­takes over the years and I have learnt from them,” he said.

“By do­ing that I was able to perfect my trade.

“Mis­takes for me have been a bless­ing and be­ing able to fig­ure it out.”

He said that com­ing from a small town never stopped him think­ing he could have a ca­reer in basketball.

“To the young kids, you have to work hard and be­lieve that you can get there,” he said.

“Don’t let any­one tell you dif­fer­ently.

“Don’t let any­one stop you. Have con­fi­dence and be around peo­ple that build your courage and make you a bet­ter per­son. “Be­lieve in your­self.” Al­bert said he is proud of where he has come from and Ma­reeba is part of the path that has led him to where he is to­day.

He is widely re­garded as the hard­est work­ing Boomer at this year’s Com­mon­wealth Games.

He will never pull in a re­bound or sink a game-win­ning bas­ket, but he may be the most clutch per­former of them all.

Al­bert has been work fever­ishly into the small hours of the morn­ing af­ter ev­ery game this tour­na­ment, wash­ing laun­dry, ful­fill­ing spe­cial re­quests and pre­par­ing in­di­vid­ual game­day itin­er­ar­ies, en­sur­ing he gets the most out of his team.

Al­bert’s eye for de­tail and thor­ough ap­proach is no dif­fer­ent when he’s work­ing his reg­u­lar job as team man­ager for the Bris­bane Bul­lets in the NBL. The for­mer Fi­jian rugby league star knows ex­actly how many Star­burst lol­lies vet­eran An­thony Petrie needs to shine each night on the hard­wood.

And dis­creetly pass­ing a ba­nana to im­port Travis Trice dur­ing a time­out with­out in­ter­rupt­ing the coach’s mes­sage has be­come so sub­tle, it goes al­most un­no­ticed.

“What he does is above and be­yond what any man­ager should do for a club,” says Bul­lets as­sis­tant coach CJ Bru­ton, rais­ing his eye­brows to em­pha­sise the point.

“I think ev­ery player that knows Ju­nior in the NBL or over­seas knows that he gives 100 per­cent.

“He cares like he’s your fam­ily mem­ber.

“He’ll sup­port you at the drop of a dime and makes sure the guys can com­pete to the best of their abil­ity, to the point where the team needs to do more for him.

“He’s part of the fam­ily. He makes sure meals, tow­els, laun­dry and ev­ery­thing is pre­pared and when we get back to the hotel he’s get­ting ready for the next day.

“He’s about as big as it gets in terms of our suc­cess.”

The Boomers play in the semi-fi­nals to­mor­row at 12.30pm at the Gold Coast Con­ven­tion and Exhibition Cen­tre.

Pic­ture: Justin Bri­erty

Aus­tralian Boomers as­sis­tant coach CJ Bru­ton and Ju­nior Al­bert along with Izzy Rowan are ready for this year’s 2018 Com­mon­wealth Games.

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