Wheelchair Braves ready to roll at Bendigo tournament; Jontee Brown looking forward to NWBL season

Jontee Brown and his Bendigo Wheelchair Braves team-mates will take on teams from across Victoria on January 20. Picture: DARREN HOWE
Jontee Brown and his Bendigo Wheelchair Braves team-mates will take on teams from across Victoria on January 20. Picture: DARREN HOWE

JONTEE Brown plays in the National Wheelchair Basketball League (NWBL) and has previously represented the Australian Under-23 Spinners.

But for the 20-year-old there’s still something special about playing on his home court at Bendigo Stadium for his beloved Bendigo Wheelchair Braves.

Later this month, Brown and his Braves team-mates will get an opportunity to do just that on January 20 when the association hosts the Bendigo Wheelchair Classic.

The tournament will bring together teams from across Victoria.

Brown said since their inception the Wheelchair Braves had developed into a formidable team.

“It’s always fun to come back and play on the local courts and help out the locals,” said Brown, who again this season will line-up for NWBL side Kilsyth Cobras.

The national season starts in April.

“We (Kilsyth) will be looking to improve on our last season, which was my first season with the boys,” he said.

“We finished second at the end of the regular season, but bombed out in the finals and ended in fourth place.

“We’ll rebuild and work hard. Tristan Knowles is going around again and will be our most influential player.

“He’s a four-time Paralympian and we have a few other boys who have gone to the Olympics, so it’s a good team to be around and a good chance for me to learn and improve.”

The seven-team NWBL competition includes two New South Wales teams (Sydney and Wollongong) and one each in Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Northern Territory.

Australia will send a team to this year’s Wheelchair Basketball World Championships, to be staged in Germany in August.

While he won’t be a part of the team, Brown said representing the Australian senior team was a definite aim of his down the track.

“Especially after the world under 23 championships in June last year, it’s really opened my eyes to how unreal it is to play at those championships,” he said.

Brown, who turned 20 on Christmas Eve, is a regular fixture at Bendigo Stadium.

He trains there six days a week, often for two hours at a time.

“In-between I try and get in a gym session here and there,” he said.

“But it’s all good fun. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love it.”​