November 1986 when a touch of NBL came to Whyalla.
By 1986 the National Basketball League was becoming established in Australia. Having started in 1979 with District level clubs from all over Australia such as Glenelg, West Adelaide, Geelong and St Kilda teams were starting to drop out or amalgamate as their budgets went up. At this time two Whyalla clubs who strongly opposed each other on the court, Spartans (who later amalgamated with Robinettes to form Titans) and Brorowa Bears(who late amalgamated with Nomads to form Wildcats), got together and organised a “Super Challenge” where, like the NBL, each teams was allowed two import players for a two match series.
The planning and organising work was done by Ray Williamson and Graeme Baker from Spartans with Dean and Sandra Plane and Trevor and Vickie Castle from Brorowa.
Spartans signed Ricky Simpson (an American Guard playing with Noarlunga Tigers) and John Wesley (an American Forward playing with Forestville). Brorowa signed Dr Dunkenstein aka Al Green (the American guard who was taking the NBL by storm with West Adelaide then the Adelaide 36ers) and Donnie Gibson ( an American forward / centre playing with Woodville).
The idea was to play two games Friday night then again Saturday night with a junior coaching clinic in between. The accumulative score would decide the winner. Major sponsorship was found with the Spencer Hotel (so all players uniforms had to carry the Spencer Hotel name on the back of their uniform) and individual player sponsors were found with other local businesses paying to have their name on the front on players uniform. This generous support ensured the event was a financial
success for both clubs.
Brorowa Bears teams included locals Greg Turner, Greg Fuller, Ross Thompson, Greg Hayes, John Matthews, Trevor Castle, Brenton Williamson and Phil Twiggs. Brorowa were coached by former Brorowa player and first 36ers coach Mike Osborne.
Spartans included local players Peter Dawson, Shane Atkinson, Ray Williamson, Michael Reese, John Katsiavos, Steve Discombe and David Watson.
Tickets were presold, seeing bumper crowds on both nights. At was a first attempt at full on game night presentation and had everyone really excited. Local players playing with superstars and feeling like superstars!
For the record Spartans won the first game by 4, Brorowa won the second game by 6 at least that how I remember it. Brorowa won the game but the real winner was Whyalla Basketball.
By Trever Castle
Pictures to be added soon