Shane Douglas Heal is an Australian former professional basketball player and coach. Heal's international career highlights include representing the Australian Boomers at the 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympic Games, captaining the team in 2004 in Athens. Heal Also represented Australia at numerous FIBA World Championships. Many consider Heal's best international game came against the USA "Dream Team" in a warm up match for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta; the game, played at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, was won 118-77 by the US, though Heal topped all scorers with 28 points including hitting 8 of 12 three pointers. Heal had a running battle with NBA superstar Charles Barkley during the game with the two coming to blows at one point, though they hugged in mutual respect on-court after the game. Heal had two stints in the NBA, firstly in the 1996–97 season with the Minnesota Timberwolves and secondly in the 2003–04 season with the San Antonio Spurs. Heal won the 2002–03 NBL championship with the Sydney Kings.
Heal retired from basketball after his stint at the Kings. He continued his career, coming out of retirement to play for the newly formed South Dragons as a player; this changed after the coaching position became vacant and he was offered the job as the clubs player/coach, which he accepted. He was sacked from his job at the Dragons during his second season at the club, after multiple poor performances. Heal was signed in May 2008 as a player for the formed Gold Coast Blaze. Heal retired the second and last time, on 14 February 2009, playing the last of his 440 NBL matches for the Gold Coast Blaze and finished on a winning note, the Blaze completing a three-game winning streak despite an otherwise modest season. 2nd on three-pointers made 2nd on assists 4th on free-throw percentage 7th on points scored 7th on field goals made 7th on free-throws made 8th on steals 6th on turnovers First in assists per game in 1990 First in assists per game in 2002 Third in most points in a game Third in most assists in a game Second and third in most three-pointers made in a game He held an Australian Institute of Sport basketball scholarship from 1987 to 1988.
On 3 March 2006, it was reported in Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper that Heal was considering coming out of retirement to captain the South Dragons, a new Melbourne-based NBL franchise to enter the league in the 2006/07 season. He signed with the team on 6 April as the Dragons' inaugural captain. On 23 October 2006, Dragons coach Mark Price resigned his position after the Dragons lost their first five NBL championship season games, citing family reasons. Price was replaced by Heal, appointed as player and interim coach for the remainder of the season. After multiple successful performances, his contract was extended to the end of the 2008/2009 season. However, on 1 February 2008, Heal was sacked from his job as player/coach at the Dragons after a poor season left the club struggling at the bottom of the table and himself battling fitness issues. On 24 February 2012, Shane Heal became the coach of the Sydney Kings after former coach Ian Robilliard stood down. Robilliard took the post of Sydney Kings CEO after Stephen Dunn's departure as Executive Director.
Dunn had been fulfilling the role of Executive Director in an unpaid capacity for nine months to assist the club. Heal began his Sydney Kings coaching career with a 71-69 win against the Townsville Crocodiles on 26 February 2012. On 10 October 2013, Heal was named in the Sydney Kings 25th Anniversary Team. On 4 February 2014, Heal was named the Coach of the Month for January. On 21 March 2014, Heal announced that he would not be re-applying for the Sydney Kings' head coaching job for the 2014–15 season, his announcement was made following the Kings' loss to the Wollongong Hawks, ending the Kings' hopes of making the 2013–14 playoffs. On 5 February 2014, Heal signed with the Wellington Saints to be the club's head coach for the 2014 New Zealand NBL season. After guiding the Saints to the 2014 championship, he announced on November 27, 2014 that he would not be returning to the club in 2015. In March 2015, Heal was named the head coach of South East Queensland Stars; the club left the league after just one season.
Heal coached the Sutherland Sharks Waratah Championship League women's team in 2018. The team fell 90-70 to Norths to finish as runners-up. Heal has decided to coach the sharks women’s championship team for 2019; the team contains Australian Emu, Shyla Heal and his eldest daughter, Ashleigh Heal. Profile at Basketball-Reference.com NBL stats
Derek Alan Rucker is an American-Australian former professional basketball player who starred in the Australian National Basketball League for 15 seasons. Prior to the commencement of his professional career, Rucker attended and graduated from the exclusive University School in Hunting Valley, Ohio, he accepted a basketball scholarship to attend Davidson College and established himself as a player and leader by starting from his freshman year onwards. Rucker led the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament his sophomore season and finished at Davidson as the 3rd all-time leading scorer and all-time assists and steals leader. In addition to being first team All-Southern Conference three years in a row and the Southern Conference Tournament MVP, Rucker was a two-time Academic All-American. Davidson College retired inducted Rucker into the Davidson Hall of Fame. Rucker was one of the most dynamic and exciting players in the history of the NBL and won the league's coveted Most Valuable Player award with the Brisbane Bullets in 1990.
Rucker began his career with Brisbane and played for the Newcastle Falcons, Townsville Suns and West Sydney Razorbacks before returning to the Bullets to finish his career. Rucker finished his NBL career in the top ten all-time in several statistical categories: scoring, assists and three-point field goals made, he finished in the top five in MVP voting four times in a six-year span. Rucker appeared in two championship series and was a two-time All-Star Game MVP. Rucker played professionally in England and the Philippines. Rucker played an aggressive, attacking offensive game using a combination of skilled moves with the ball. Rucker was a match-winning point guard who scored while amassing high assist totals throughout his career. An excellent athlete with superb quickness and excellent jumping ability, he raided the keyway and rim despite his size of 184 cm and 80 kg. Combined with outstanding long range shooting ability, Rucker was a tough player to defend, it was Rucker's exciting style of play during the boom years of the NBL in Australia that thrust him into celebrity status in the new millennium.
Rucker is the son of former NFL standout Reggie Rucker and Carole Gooch, has two younger brothers. He and his former partner, Kim Skelton, have two children. Rucker worked for numerous media entities in Australia during and after his playing career including Fox Sports, Channel 9, Radio 2UE Sydney, B105FM Brisbane and Brisbane's Courier Mail, he co-hosted the national NBL weekly recap show in with Stephanie Brantz on Australia's Channel 9 network. After retiring, Rucker became the Sydney Kings' Executive Director of Corporate Basketball Services, he appeared in the feature film Living Color. Rucker ran a high-end sports tour in the United States called D-Ruck's Dream USA Sports Getaway; the first tour was completed in September 2013. On May 23, 2014, Rucker joined the Gladstone Port City Power of the Queensland Basketball League for a one-game stint. In just over 27 minutes of action, he recorded 5 points, 2 assists and 2 steals in a loss to the Mackay Meteors. In 2015, he was appointed the Gladstone Port City Power head coach of the men's team.
In November 2015, he was appointed head coach of the Logan Thunder for the 2016 QBL season. 51 points in a game 24 assists in a game – NBL Record Averaged 30+ points per game three times 25 games of 40+ points 10.6 assists per game – NBL Record 2x Grand Finalist 3x All-NBL first team 2x All-Star Game MVP Eurobasket.com Profile NBL stats Razorbacks profile NBL profile
National Basketball League (Australia)
The National Basketball League is the pre-eminent professional men's basketball league in Australia and New Zealand. The league was founded in 1979 and is contested by nine teams. In August 1979, the inaugural season of the NBL commenced, playing in the winter season which it did so until the completion of the 1998 season, the league's twentieth season; the 1998–99 season, which began only months was the first to be played during the summer season. The shift, used by the league, was an attempt to avoid competing directly against Australia's various winter season football codes; the NBL experienced its "golden age" in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but its popularity, media attention and corporate support deteriorated and plateaued in the decade afterward. A second Melbourne club, the South Dragons, entered the league in the 2006–07 season, but was short lived, soon folding 3 years after the 2008–09 season in which they were premiers. In the 2006–07 season, the NBL became the first Australasian sporting league to field a team from Asia with the Singapore Slingers playing.
The Gold Coast Blaze joined the competition in the 2007–08 season. In 2007, Australian NBA player Andrew Bogut suggested the NBL try to adopt a model similar to the Australian Football League whereby there are the same 10 or 15 teams over a 10-year period. A turbulent period during 2008 and 2009 saw the league lose teams from Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore; the 2009–10 season earmarked as the season in which the NBL would begin its revamping, much like the old National Soccer League which became the eight team A-League. The NBL returned to free-to-air television in Australia for the first time in three years with One broadcasting 2–3 games a week; the 2010–11 season saw the return of the Sydney Kings after the club was purchased for A$20,000 on 31 July 2008. In 2013, the NBL had a de-merger from Basketball Australia. Crowds improved for the 2013–14 NBL season, recording the highest cumulative crowd attendance figures for the past five years. After numerous teams folding and a plummeting public profile property developer Larry Kestelman purchased a 51% portion of the league.
Since game attendance, TV viewership, website visitors and app downloads have been on the increase. In April 2016 the Townsville Crocodiles folded as they had become too financially unsustainable to continue; however the Cairns Taipans may play some games out of the Townsville Entertainment Centre in the future. Larry Kestelman has stated on the Aussie Hoopla podcast that no NBL club will fold again as long as he is in control of the league. Allowing for clubs to recruit the best Australian players not in the NBA became easier with the marquee rule which saw the return from Europe and the US of players such as Brad Newley, David Andersen and Andrew Bogut. In addition the Asian/Oceania born player rule, introduced for the 2016–17 season, allows for clubs to recruit players born in countries such as India and Japan who would not count as imports under NBL rules; the growth of Basketball in Asia over recent years and the overall strength and standard of Australian Basketball should ensure the sustainability of the league for many years provided Asian players continue to strive to compete in the NBL and Asian basketball fans are able to follow the league.
Current trends should see the NBL as the third highest attended basketball league in the world, after the NBA and EuroLeague. From 2016 to 2018, saw a renewed interest in the sport, with it being described as being the national basketball league's greatest period. 2016/17 set a new attendance record for the league, with the figure being matched the following year, as well as the grand final series for the 2017/18 season, being the highest attended. Since the 2009–10 NBL season, each team has played 28 games during the regular season, 14 home and 14 away; the regular season ends in late March. The top four teams at the end of the regular season advances to the Finals; the team finishing in the first and second position at the completion of the regular season receives home advantages in their best-of-three first round matchup against the team finishing in fourth and third position. The winner of each of the three matches advances to the Grand Final; the winner of Series 1 plays the winner of Series 2 in the best-of-five Grand Final series, with home advantage being awarded to the highest remaining seed.
The winner of this series is crowned as NBL champion. The National Basketball League was founded in 1979 with nine teams. Due to club expansions and relocations, many of the teams either changed or ceased to exist. There are eight teams; the teams are located in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Wollongong. The Illawarra Hawks are the oldest club in the competition, having participated in every season since 1979; the salary cap for each team is $AU1.1 million as a'soft cap' with marquee players able to be paid amounts that will exceed that amount for the team. Whilst NBL salaries are not disclosed by clubs, it is understood some players will earn in excess of $AU500,000.00 per season including endorsement deals. There has been significant support for the NBL to expand into Asia by many NBL players as well as from ex-Australian Boomers head coach Brian Goorjian, be it differently to how it was done with the now-defunct Singapore Slingers which had 14-hour round-trip flights to the Australian East Coast.
Locating a team in the city of Darwin would make an Asian-based road-trip less drawn-out, although Darwin does not have the support for a national domestic