By Kasey Cornwell
Pete Hooley returns to the Minerdome this weekend, after his well-deserved trip with NBL club, Sydney Kings to the Atlas Basketball Challenge in Suzhou, China.
Hooley returned with a heavy addition to his trophy cabinet, the MVP of the tournament.
Getting the call up to play with Sydney was a great reward for Pete, “I think I’ve worked pretty hard, trying to get to this next level” Hooley knew where he wanted to get to at the beginning of this season, and knows he had to work hard to get there.
Hooley’s 2017 SEABL season has been nothing short of extraordinary, but humble Pete said, he didn’t really come in expecting to have the year he’s had. “That just comes with the hard work, and what I’ve been doing and having some fun and I want to thank the coaches for what they’ve done for me – I’m pretty ecstatic”, said Hooley.
Going from his tight knit group at Ballarat, to a completely new Sydney team, was a challenge for Hooley. “We played against a bunch of guys and teams that have been together for years, so it is hard to try get on the same wavelength in such a short space of time, but somehow managed to work” said Hooley.
Hooley appreciated experiencing a different game style, and said “I think that’s something that you definitely don’t take for granted”. He spoke about the talent in the teams from USA, Lithuania and Ukraine, teams that have been together for a long time and play a strong physical game. To come away with the championship was a huge reward for Hooley’s side and said “that is testament to the players and coaching staff, as we were expected from what I heard, to go over there and get blown out most games” to be able to go over there for the experience and exposure and to be able to showcase what we can do, and get some wins, was huge, said Hooley.
It’s an honor to play under Andrew Gaze – everyone knows who Andrew Gaze is, it’s no secret, said Pete. It was pretty awesome to go out there and play for the Sydney Kings, “I think everyone relished that opportunity and that’s what helped us” noted Hooley.
Spending time within an NBL club, Hooley noted the main difference, was what is asked of you. He was thrown into the point guard position and expected to control a team that had never played together, Pete said this was a huge challenge, but he managed to and really enjoyed playing with the Sydney Kings team.
I think there are plenty of opportunities still left in the NBL and what I’ve been able to produce should put me up in some context for somewhere, said Pete. He is hopeful that something comes up but knows he has to keep working harder. “I think what I’ve managed to do this season has exceeded my own expectations and others but I can’t stop there.”
Pete was quick to deflect from his personal successes and to focus on the team, he noted “I think just because I’ve had a good tournament, I think I’ve got to keep pushing and try and lead this team to a championship here, because I think team goals hold more weight than personal achievement”
I’m always thinking Ballarat, said Pete, since I’ve came here, I’ve loved it here. Hooley’s career landed him back in Australia after, a difficult situation in England where he was ready to give up basketball for good. Pete sat down with Nathan Cooper-Brown and said “I’m excited about what I can do here but I don’t really like playing basketball anymore, and I’d really like to find that back”. Within the first couple of months, Pete said he started enjoying the game again, and that’s when he thinks he started to play some good basketball. “So I owe that to everyone here, for getting me out of there and put a smile on my face on the court, and I know I am having more fun and playing better basketball” said Pete.
Ballarat Basketball really reignited Pete Hooley’s love for the game and he has put that down to the coaches and the playing group and just everyone around the club. Hooley said he was looking to love the game again, and “thought it would take the whole season, but it came pretty early, it’s pretty special.”
After a loss to Bendigo last round without Hooley, the Miners dropped to third spot on the ladder. “We need to take care of business, we have to make sure of one game at a time we do what we can. We want to play our finals here, we don’t want to go on the road.” Said Hooley. But on the road, starts against Frankston on Saturday night, noted Pete.
Facing North West Tasmania on Sunday, who sit level on ladder with Ballarat, “its huge, I think, they’ve already beat us once and we want to go out there and get some revenge and protect our home court,” said Hooley, and then once we get to finals we will have that momentum going our way, we know we can beat any team, threatened Pete.
Ballarat has been a great fit for Pete, “it’s been awesome in the fact that I am finally in a place where my family can be close”, having his girlfriend in Ballarat and being well looked after by the club, “is enough to keep me happy which I haven’t been able to say for a few years” said Hooley.