Ben keen to stay a Wildcat

ALTHOUGH he was courtside at the Bendigo Telstra Braves’ latest game, Ben Hunt will be playing basketball in the west again this season.A favourite with many Braves fans since he first played for the club when he was 15, Hunt has gone on to play the past two National Basketball League seasons with the Perth Wildcats.The talented guard was back at the California Gully home of his parents, Peter and Ricki, over Easter, and also caught up with older brother Josh and his wife Caroline, as well as grandparents and friends.Ben Hunt was also a keen spectator at the clash between long-time rivals Bendigo and Ballarat for The Advertiser-Ballarat Courier challenge cup.Hunt played for both clubs throughout his time in the South East Australia Basketball League.This Friday night he will take to the court for the Willetton Tigers in Western Australia’s state league. Playing for the Tigers against the likes of Geraldton, Kalgoorlie and Bunbury will be part of what he aims to be another build-up to another season with the Wildcats.Out of contract at the end of June, Hunt is waiting on a new deal to play on with a club that contested this summer’s semi-finals.‘‘I am really keen on playing with the Wildcats again this season for lots of reasons,’’ Hunt said.The basketball ace and his wife, Erin, have been based in Perth for the past two years.The couple are settled in their employment and live on Scarborough Beach.’ ‘I have moved around a lot because of basketball,’’ Hunt said of a journey that included successful stints in college basketball in the US.On the court, Hunt has worked on having an impact in every match - whether on court for 10 minutes, or just two.At the moment it’s a waiting game for both as the Wildcats search for a coach to replace Scott Fisher, who has returned to the United States.‘‘A lot will depend on who the new coach is,’’ Hunt said of chances of being on Perth’s list.‘‘Hopefully, everything will be sorted out in the next three or four weeks.’ ’There were several highlights in Hunt’s play in the 2007-08 campaign that was ended in the semi-final series showdown with the Sydney Kings.A point guard for his entire career, Hunt took on the challenge of shooting guard last season.He scored 15 points in the home clash with Wollongong, and then later followed up with a career-high 17 against the Singapore Slingers.‘‘There’s pressure on in every match,’’ Hunt said.‘‘As a shooting guard, if you miss the first shot, you definitely want to get the next shot in.’’ Just as importantly was Hunt’s defensive play.‘‘There are changes from week to week. So much depends on the opposition, especially if you are against the Melbourne Tigers who have so many big players.‘‘In some games I played just two or three minutes, others more than 10. It’s a matter of staying positive and doing what you can once you are on court.’’ It’s a mindset that has not altered greatly since he first played with the Braves many years ago.A lot has happened since Hunt lined up for the Braves in 1994.It took more than 10 years to achieve his goal of playing in the NBL. At 28 he was one of the oldest rookies in NBL history. Hunt’s determination to make it never wavered, despite some setbacks.‘‘It’s been a roller-coaster, and Erin has ridden it with me for a lot of the way.’’ Hunt has gained plenty of tips throughout his career. One of the most important were the words of `be ready’ from Boomers and NBA star, Luc Longley.‘‘There are times when you are on the bench just waiting for a chance to do something,’’ Hunt said.‘‘Being ready to have an impact is one of the most important, whether it’s NBL, the Braves, or your junior team.’’

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