NBL great Larry Sengstock.
NBL great Larry Sengstock.

Sengstock backs Bullet’s NBL title credentials

AUSTRALIAN basketball legend Larry Sengstock says if Brisbane can find some consistency to go with their character, they can give the NBL title a shake.

And the former Bullets captain knows what he is talking about.

The Maryborough-born Sengstock won five NBL championships in his stellar career that included four Olympics and four world championship appearances with the Boomers.

He led Brisbane to the 1985 and 1987 NBL crowns after being an integral part of St Kilda's back-to-back championships in 1979 and 1980.

He also captured a title with North Melbourne in 1994.

The NBL's MVP medal for the grand final is named after Sengstock, who 12 months ago preached patience with the Bullets who were about to collect consecutive wooden spoons.

A year on, Brisbane is gearing up for the best-of-three semi-final series against Perth starting Thursday in Perth. Game 2 is at Boondall on Saturday, March 2.

Larry Sengstock in action for the Boomers.
Larry Sengstock in action for the Boomers.

Sengstock said if Brisbane bring their best basketball and hang tough against the Wildcats, they could deliver an upset.

"They have been a bit up and down with their results over the season but it certainly looks like they've got great character within the group. The guys in the team are committed,'' he said.

"It's hard to know how they will go because they have been a little inconsistent but they have beaten Perth this year so they should be confident they can do it.''

Sengstock said Bullets veteran and fellow five-time NBL champion Mika Vukona would be a crucial piece in the playoff puzzle for Brisbane.

Like Sengstock in his playing career, Vukona is a highly respected, tough and undersized power forward who has enjoyed great success because he does whatever is required, whenever it is required for his team with statistics not always showing his true value.

Mika Vukona takes on the Illawarra defence.
Mika Vukona takes on the Illawarra defence.

"Guys like Mika step-up in the big games. They change the game when they step on court so it's a big bonus for Brisbane to get him across from New Zealand this season,'' he said.

"It seems like he has been around for a long, long time but he is still going very well. He's done a great job for Brisbane and they need him to keep doing that stuff that doesn't get on the stat sheet but changes the course of the game.

"He's important for them.''

Sengstock always had faith that Brisbane would come good after two tough campaigns following their reintroduction to the NBL.

"It's an indictment on the league if a new team can step straight in and win. The Bullets did their apprenticeship, they tinkered with the team and got better,'' he said.

"If they win it this year, great. If they don't, they've made a significant step forward. You have to be patient and keep looking to make yourself better. They are on the right track.''

Bullets head coach Andrej Lemanis will return home early from his Boomers commitments to start preparing for Brisbane's semi-final series.

After Friday's win over Kazakhstan, Lemanis will miss Australia's final FIBA World Cup qualifier against Iran with Boomers assistant Adam Caporn taking the reins of the national side who have already qualified for this year's World Cup in China.