Instead the former University of Massachusetts stand-out was rewarded with a plane ticket home and 'thanks for coming' as the defending NBL champions decided to replace him for the remainder of the season. In comes former Saint Ernest Scott (201-F-82, agency: VVG Sports, college: Valdosta St.), out goes the NBL's reigning Player of the Week.
Welcome to the world of professional basketball - where the highs and lows often follow each other in close succession.
In Gurley's case it was a mere matter of minutes. He was still soaking in a 33-point, six-rebound effort in the Saints' 121-84 victory over the Harbour Heat last Thursday night when coach Pero Cameron tapped him on the shoulder.
The 23-year-old who'd just knocked in 10 of his 15 shots, and five of his seven three-pointers, was told that the Saints needed to upsize in the import spot, and that as happy as they were with his play, he was the one to make way.
It was like a slap in the face for a young man who was feeling rather good about himself.
Saints General Manager Nick Mills Jnr said it was the toughest thing he's had to do in the job. He described Gurley as a 'good kid' and 'model professional' but coach Pero Cameron had simply come to the realisation that he had to beef up his front line which had hitherto consisted of Casey Frank, Arthur Trousdell and not much else.
'Over the past month or so we've been out-rebounded by everyone. We'd been monstered on the boards and we needed some more big guys,' said Mills.
When Scott became available, Cameron pondered the situation long and hard. The 6'7' forward had been a standout for the Saints in 2008 when they lost to Cameron's Waikato Pistons in the final series. Scott averaged 21.3 points and 6.7 rebounds and shot 53.8 percent from the field and 47.1 from deep. Good numbers in anyone's book.
'We decided if we were going to compete with the Auckland Pirates and the Hawks and so forth we needed size to match up,' added Mills.
'Pero made the decision we needed a small forward who could play the four spot and could shoot. Ernest fitted that bill and he was available.
'But [letting Gurley go] has been one of the toughest weeks I've had. He's a great kid, he had a great attitude, it was his first pro gig and he stepped up to the plate.'
Circumstances also didn't play out in Gurley's favour. The Saints had been hoping to add a Kiwi small forward from the US collegiate system - understood to be former Junior Tall Black Richie Edwards - but had not been able to get that over the line.
Mills said Gurley took the news well and understood the Saints' predicament.
'He knows it's business and even said he would be willing to come back if an injury happened to one of our imports. That's a mark of the young man.'
Mills said it was hoped Scott, who has been playing most recently in the NBA's D-League and in Greece, would provide a better balance in the squad.
'He made the All-Star Five in 2008 and we think he's going to help us out a lot.'
Also joining the Saints this week is 2.13m big man Martin Iti (213-C-83, college: N.Mexico St.) from the Sydney Kings to further beef up the front line.
Suddenly the Wellington club's height problems have vanished in a flash. Mills just hopes the pain of letting a good young player go will prove worth it.
NBL Pre-Season: Breakers vs. Bullets - 20 hours ago
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The SKYCITY Breakers are once again taking their pre-season on the road, confirming today that the club will host the Brisbane Bullets in a three-city tour of New Zealand in September. In what looms as a mouth-watering three game series for last season's beaten Grand Finalists, the Breakers welcome a host of familiar faces in a tour that visits Tauranga (September 13), Napier (September 15) and Invercargill (September 17). The Bullets have assembled a championship contending roster under... [read more]
The SKYCITY Breakers are once again taking their pre-season on the road, confirming today that the club will host the Brisbane Bullets in a three-city tour of New Zealand in September. In what looms as a mouth-watering three game series for last season's beaten Grand Finalists, the Breakers welcome a host of familiar faces in a tour that visits Tauranga (September 13), Napier (September 15) and Invercargill (September 17). The Bullets have assembled a championship contending roster under the coaching of former Breakers mentor Andrej Lemanis , as he returns to club coaching post his Australian national team commitments at the Rio Olympic Games. SKYCITY Breakers General Manager Dillon Boucher says the series will give fans plenty to enjoy, as well as meet the needs of both teams in the lead up to what promises to be one of the best seasons yet. 'We are delighted to be taking our show on the road and to be visiting Tauranga, Napier and Invercargill. All three regions have shown a real commitment to showcase the game of basketball and I know will put on great shows for the fans in those cities. 'Brisbane might be newly returned to the competition, but they are already being talked about as being among the favourites with the roster they have assembled. With Andrej in the driving seat you know they are going to be a well prepared, well drilled and professional team in all respects. 'And of course we are delighted with our own roster, we have been able to attract a great group of players and with two more still to sign to the fulltime roster including an import player, we are anticipating an exciting season under new coach Paul Henare.' As well as Lemanis, the Bullets will feature former Breakers player Reuben Te Rangi (198-F/G-94) and include club legend CJ Bruton (188-G-75, college: Indian Hills CC) (one of only three players to have their numbers retired at the club) and Life Member Richard Clarke (former CEO) amongst their number on the support staff. The Bullets roster is loaded, with former or current Boomer players in Adam Gibson (188-G-86), Mitch Young, Tom Jervis (211-C-87, college: Troy), Cameron Bairstow (206-F-90, college: N.Mexico) and Daniel Kickert (208-C/F-83, college: St.Mary's, CA), plus exciting American Torrey Craig and a yet to be signed second American import. And for the Breakers it will be a chance before the NBL Pre-Season Blitz in Brisbane a week later to play the entire roster for the first time, with new American import Ben Woodside, returning club favourite and New Zealand basketball legend Kirk Penney and 6'11' Tall Black Robert Loe (211-F-91, college: St.Louis) amongst the club's new signings. The Breakers will have signed their second American import and final New Zealand players in time for the tour and will showcase their entire roster (injury permitting) in the three games, with club favourites Mika Vukona (197-F-82), Tom Abercrombie, Corey Webster (188-G-88, college: Lambuth) and Alex Pledger all raring to go in another NBL season. Each of the venues is delighted to be bringing world class basketball to their regions. 'The Tauranga City Basketball Association is very excited to be bring the Breakers back to Tauranga,' said Mark Rogers, General Manager of TCBA. 'This will be a great opportunity for our passionate basketball community to see the best players in Australasia live. I'm sure the community is in for a great night's entertainment and basketball.' 'We are rapt to secure the SKYCITY Breakers to Hawkes Bay,' said Dan Rodden, General Manager of Pettigrew Green Arena. 'To be able to do this for the community of Hawkes Bay is a great achievement. With the community engagement programme including a game it will mean everyone in the community can get to experience the Breakers while in Hawkes Bay.' 'We are very excited to have the SKYCITY Breakers returning to Invercargill this year,' says Laura Morrison, Business Development Manager of ILT Stadium Southland. 'The Southland public have shown us how passionate they are to see top quality basketball here at home and we want to give them that. The Brisbane Bullets are an excellent opponent with the Australia, New Zealand rivalry strong and being the only South Island venue, we are expecting tickets to sell quickly. The crowd was amazing last year and we are hopeful for the same.'
SKYCITY Breakers Pre-Season Tour v Brisbane Bullets 13 September, Tauranga ASB Arena (Truman Lane)
15 September, Napier Pettigrew Green Arena Taradale
17 September, Invercargill ILT Stadium Southland Surrey Park Sports Centre, Invercargill Courtesy of: nbl.com.au
FIBA QT in Manila: Canada outlast New Zealand to reach Final - 21 days ago
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Canada - New Zealand 78:72 Canada stepped closer to the Olympic Games birth. They beat New Zealand in the Qualifying Tournament semifinal in Manila to reach the decisive game. Cory Joseph (190-PG-91, college: Texas) topscored with 20 points for the winners. The Tall Blacks got to a slightly better start. They sank 25 points in the opening quarter to gain a 2-point lead. Canada denied the deficit in the second frame. The teams went into the locker rooms tied at 42. Canada stiffened defen... [read more]
Canada - New Zealand 78:72
Canada stepped closer to the Olympic Games birth. They beat New Zealand in the Qualifying Tournament semifinal in Manila to reach the decisive game. Cory Joseph (190-PG-91, college: Texas) topscored with 20 points for the winners. The Tall Blacks got to a slightly better start. They sank 25 points in the opening quarter to gain a 2-point lead. Canada denied the deficit in the second frame. The teams went into the locker rooms tied at 42. Canada stiffened defensively in the third term. They held New Zealand to just 12 points in the period and opened a 4-point lead. The teams traded baskets throughout the bigger part of the fourth term but then Canada sank six points in a row to secure a 77:71 lead with 20 seconds left in regulation. They held on to the lead in the reminder of the contest and clinched a vital victory. Melvin Ejim (198-F-91, college: Iowa St.) and Tristan Thompson (206-F-91, college: Texas) finished with 13 points each for the winners. Corey Webster (188-G-88, college: Lambuth) responded with 21 points for New Zealand. Thomas Abercrombie (198-F/G-87, college: Washington St., agency: Priority Sports) netted 16 points in the loss.
For three whole periods, France seemed but shells of their true selves, but they finally righted the ship in the fourth quarter to defeat New Zealand, 66-59, on the third day of the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila. Turning Point: New Zealand seemed to gain full control after a Corey Webster basket gave them a 50-38 lead early in the fourth quarter, but France had other plans. Les Bleus uncorked a searing 22-2 blast that obliterated the Tall Blacks' lead and permanently... [read more]
For three whole periods, France seemed but shells of their true selves, but they finally righted the ship in the fourth quarter to defeat New Zealand, 66-59, on the third day of the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila. Turning Point: New Zealand seemed to gain full control after a Corey Webster basket gave them a 50-38 lead early in the fourth quarter, but France had other plans. Les Bleus uncorked a searing 22-2 blast that obliterated the Tall Blacks' lead and permanently swung the momentum in the French's favor. By the time New Zealand scored again, France was in control, 60-54.
Stats Don't Lie: France struggled with their shooting for much of the game, but they caught fire just in time. In the final ten minutes of the game, coach Vincent Collet (agency: Comsport )'s boys finally found their shooting touch, making 9-of-15 field goals, including going 3-of-3 from downtown. In the end, France outshot the Kiwis from the floor, 42% to 30%. Game Hero: In a game where France's biggest stars found it tough, it was a member of the supporting cast who made things happen in crunch time. Mickael Gelabale (202-SF-83, agency: BeoBasket) dropped 7 of his 11 points in the fourh period, helping France overhaul their sizeable deficit and complete their stirring comeback. Gelabale ended up with 11 points, 5 rebounds and 1 steal while shooting 4-of-7 from the field.
The Bottom Line: This result enabled France to avoid a Semi-Final encounter with Group A top seed Canada. This means France will be tested by Turkey, who beat Senegal earlier in the day. The Tall Blacks still advanced, but they will have a tall task trying to get past Canada.
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