THE official start to Bendigo Braves pre-season training might still be a week away, but Matt Andronicos is ready to hit the ground running.
In a sign of his commitment to returning the Braves as a playoff force, Andronicos chose to remain behind in Bendigo during the SEABL off-season instead of returning to Queensland as he did at the end of the club’s 2016 championship season.
The 208cm centre is confident the move will pay dividends.
“I didn’t really train much last summer when I went back up and it was hard to find work and something flexible enough to fit in with training,” Andronicos said.
“I already had a job down here and I was pretty much able to train full-time.
“I did a bit of cross-training, some of the Spartan races as well, a half marathon, the Bendigo Bank Fun Run, so I got to do a lot of non-basketball fitness things which I really enjoyed.”
Andronicos added the decision to remain behind in Bendigo had left him feeling relaxed and refreshed heading into his third season.
It will be a partly-new look Braves squad which hits the floor in 2018 following the return of star guard Jeremy Kendle and addition of new import Ray Turner.
While Braves players and supporters are already well versed in what Kendle can do on-court after his incredible 2016 league most valuable player award winning season, Andronicos said the club had latched on to a seriously good player in Turner, who has played professionally in Australia, Cyprus, Hungary and Japan.
“I’ve actually played against him in Queensland … put it this way, I was very glad playing his team the season after he left,” he said.
“He’s a very good player, very athletic and a good guy as well.
“I’m very keen to play with him.”
A former NBL development player with Cairns Taipans, 25-year-old Andronicos is hoping to find greater consistency this season.
His 2017 season in many ways reflected that of the team as a whole, with patches of strong and indifferent form, sprinkled with a few stand-out performances.
“Stats-wise I did a little bit better (than in 2016), but the season just gone was a little bit of a roller-coaster,” he said.
“I started well, hit a bit of a form slump and just roller-coasted up and down from there.
“It happens … we all have bad seasons, bad patches of seasons, but you need to ride them out.
“Falling short of finals last season really hurt – we definitely want to bounce back hard.”
Andronicos has spent the summer in a mentor role with the Braves’ Country Basketball League team and has relished the leadership role.
He nominated Tanner Rayner, who is averaging a team-high 19.29 points per game through nine CBL games, as a player capable of stepping-up to play more SEABL minutes this season for the Braves.