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