Perfect start for Gippsland United

Star: Gippsland United import Brandon Armstrong has added some profile to the new team. photograsph supplied


GIPPSLAND United didn’t have to wait long to get its first Big V win on the board, saluting on
debut last Saturday night.
The men proved too strong for Maccabi, winning 99-64, while the women made an emphatic
statement, annihilating Collingwood 103-30 at the Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium.
Gippsland United has been established as the region’s club to participate in the Big V and Victorian Junior Basketball League.
Years of lobbying and consultation culminated in the creation of Gippsland United, which is a
joint project between the Traralgon Amateur Basketball Association and the Combined Gippsland Basketball Association (also known as Latrobe City Energy).
With a now truly all-encompassing team flying the Gippsland flag in the sport of basketball at
an elite level, it is hoped Gippsland United will provide a pathway for players to make their way to the National Basketball League, or even to the United States and the NBA.
In the immediate however, Gippsland United is focused on moving through the Big V Division 2 competition.
Great guns: Sienna Privitera in action for Gippsland United during their Big V debut.
Men’s coach Scott McKenzie said it was pleasing to start the season off on a positive note.
“It was a bit of an unknown being our first game and not knowing anything about the opposition so it was more of a relief than anything,” he said.
“We got off to a reasonably good start and we built on each quarter, we extended the lead each quarter.
“In front of a home crowd, first game, new club, it was perfect to be able to put a win on the board.”
United led 25-14 at quarter time and took that out to an 18-point margin by the main break.
With Gippsland United drawing from such a large area, McKenzie said this unique dynamic added to the sense of excitement for what the new team was about.
“This team is representing the whole of Gippsland, that is Phillip Island to Lakes Entrance, whereas I think in the past it has more been Latrobe Valley,” he said.
“We have 14 players in our squad and nine of them represent different CBL (Country Basketball League) associations throughout the league, so to put our first real game together as a whole group, to have a win like that was very pleasing.”
With the win now confined to the record books, McKenzie said the team was under no illusions as to what was on the horizon.
“We definitely aren’t getting carried away, we know that there is three or four really talented
sides out there,” he said.
“Div 2 is a really interesting level of basketball, you get a lot of retired NBL, NBL1 players coming back into Div 2 who are still more than capable of playing the game so the competition is quite strong.”
Gippsland United women got off to a dream start, winning by 73 points.
Despite the one-nature of their victory, coach Gail Macfarlane said it was pleasing to see the
side maintain winning habits all the way through rather than just run the game out once the result was beyond doubt.
“It was very positive to get some cobwebs and wrinkles out of the way, bit of a nervous start for most of the team, they just stuck to the plan and kept grinding away and eventually everything locked into place,” she said.
“Really great to get everyone involved in the scoreboard, really happy with the culture in the
team as well.
“We didn’t really know what to expect, you never know until they turn up and start to play, we’re not going to take anything for granted any week.”
Gippsland United men are back home this Saturday, playing Sherbrooke from 8pm.
The women have a double-header, and will play Wallan on Saturday at home from 6pm and then travel to Mullum Mullum Stadium to take on Blackburn the following day.