Not only did the Brisbane Bullets snap a three-game losing run over Melbourne United on Saturday night, but celebrated Anthony Petrie’s 250th NBL game in style and the plan is to do it all again on Monday against the Illawarra Hawks.
Following losses at the hands of the Cairns Taipans, New Zealand Breakers and the Hawks, the Bullets returned to the Brisbane Entertainment Centre to tackle a red hot Melbourne team who had been flourishing since the arrival of point guard Casper Ware.
But Brisbane was able to limit him to 12 points and deny him a three-point make while Jermaine Beal hit 20 points, Cam Bairstow 16 and milestone man Petrie 15 on the way to the 100-90 victory.
That improves the Bullets to an 8-8 record on the season and the winner of Monday night’s clash with the Hawks also at Brisbane Entertainment Centre will enter Christmas in third position on the NBL ladder.
As important and impressive as the win was for the Bullets, Saturday night also served as a celebration for the career of Petrie as he notched 250 games in the NBL.
He didn’t get his NBL start until the 2007/08 season after some strong and consistent form for the Canberra Gunners in the SEABL.
But once he got his chance he grabbed it and has played strong, uncompromising basketball in the NBL since with the West Sydney Razorbacks, Wollongong Hawks, Gold Coast Blaze and then the Adelaide 36ers the past four seasons before arriving in Brisbane.
Petrie did originally sign with the Bullets ahead of the 2008/09 season that never eventuated and now has revelled in the chance to return relatively close to his hometown of Tenterfield.
For his coach Andrej Lemanis, he can’t speak any more highly of the admiration he has for Petrie.
“The 250 games speaks to Peach’s ability to evolve over the course of his career. He got his opportunity in the NBL late by many standards and to still be able to find a way to impact and be useful for teams, and evolve over the course of his career, speaks to who he is,” Lemanis said.
“For me one of the most delightful things about coaching Peach is that he’s all about team. He’s a no-nonsense guy and is all about team, and when you get people like that in your group it gives you a chance to be successful, and ride the highs and lows because they sacrifice for the good of the group.”
While Lemanis is enjoying coaching Petrie in the NBL for the first time, he will never forget giving him an opportunity to represent his country with the Boomers and now hopes to create many more memorable moments with him.
“I had a wonderful moment with Peach in 2013. There are wins and losses in coaching that everyone puts so much on, but for me it’s about personal moments,” Lemanis said.
“When I told Peach in 2013 that he had made the Boomers team to play in the Oceania Series, the reaction that I got was priceless and one of those things that I will remember for the rest of my life.
“That just spoke to what it meant for him to play for his country and the pride that was associated with that, and how much he loves the game. I’m really pleased for him that he’s got to this milestone and hopefully he’s got a few more games left in him.”
Petrie himself enjoyed the milestone on Saturday night and especially to celebrate the win with family and friends on hand, but the victory was the most important aspect of the occasion.
“One of the great things about moving back here and playing is that my family gets to watch me again. This was 250 but it’s always special to play at this level in front of your family and friends,” Petrie said.
“It’s a good personal milestone but we just really wanted to win as a team, especially at home where we haven’t been great. We wanted to get back on the horse again really.
“We had a really good week at home with a full week on the track and I’m just real pleased as a group that we rewarded ourselves for the energy and effort we put in during the week.”
Petrie never doubted that the Bullets would be able to stop their three-game losing slide and that confidence stems from having an experienced playing group, and from what he saw at practice throughout the week in preparation.
“It starts with Dre and the coaching staff about not getting too high or low on wins and losses. We are fortunate to have a few guys in our group who have been around the block a few times so it’s about staying the course,” Petrie said.
“Dre preaches every day to be better tomorrow than you were today, and that’s all we try to do as a group by staying pretty even. I’m just happy we rewarded ourselves for the effort we put in during the week and we have to do that in a couple of days’ time.”