Wundenberg poised to join Buccs' 300-gamer club

Ryan Hadji, GERALDTON GUARDIANGeraldton Guardian

S&K Electrical Contracting Geraldton Buccaneers captain Mat Wundenberg will become only the fifth club player to rack up 300 State Basketball League matches tomorrow night.

Wundenberg will join Buccs legends Greg Brown (423), Ray Evans (412), Jason Bunter (411) and Dan Hunt (382) in the Buccs’ exclusive 300 club.

The Buccs captain does not have the usual basketball player’s pedigree.

Wundenberg played polocrosse as a junior, representing WA twice at the national championships and going on a number of tours.

He did not start playing basketball until he was 18, but he proved a natural, debuting for the Buccs three years later.

He started playing in division three with his beloved Chapman Valley and quickly rose through the ranks.

After a couple of attempts at Buccs pre-season try-outs, Wundenberg first became part of the Buccs roster in 2004.

He said tomorrow night’s occasion would be surreal.

“I definitely never thought in a million years I would play 300 games for the Geraldton Buccaneers, ” he said.

“I remember sitting up in the crowd watching them.

“I never thought I would be able to run out there.”

The 32-year-old spent three of his first four years doing the bench apprenticeship before getting his first big chance in 2006.

He said he remembered he was given major game time when now Buccs general manager Andrew Horstman was on holidays, against Lakeside in Perth in 2006.

Wundenberg broke into the starting five two years later.

“I’ve never really been a shooter, ” he admitted.

“I was playing behind two important centres then.

“The likes of Andrew Horstman, Jason Bunter and Darren Winterbine were still playing.”

Wundenberg said Buccs legends Greg Brown, Dan Hunt and Jason Bunter were the biggest influences on him.

“Greg is one of the first people to text me congratulating me and the boys after games,” he said.

“I was lucky enough to play with Greg and Dan at the end of their careers. To sit in a locker room with Dan Hunt and hear what he had to say, it gave me goosebumps — it gives me goosebumps talking about it now.”

Geraldton basketball legend Ben Pepper congratulated Wundenberg and said he was one of Geraldton’s great basketball products.

“It’s a hell of an achievement,” he said.

“There could be plenty more to come, he is as fit as he has been and he looks like he could go another couple of hundred.

“He’s just a workhorse.”

Aaron Ducas, who has been a Buccs assistant coach for 14 years, said Wundenberg was the heart and soul of the team.

“How Mat runs is how we run,” he said.

“If he contributes on the court, the guys follow his lead.”

Wundenberg said he loved playing for the Buccs and there was one thing he was still determined to achieve.

“I just really want to get this championship,” he said.

“I definitely want to win a championship before it’s all done and dusted.”

The Buccs host the 10th-placed Kalamunda Eastern Suns tomorrow night at Activewest Stadium.

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