Geraldton Buccaneers get early rewards for another strong season at NBL1 West awards night

Jake Santa MariaGeraldton Guardian
For a second straight year Dayle Joseph was men's coach of the year.
Camera IconFor a second straight year Dayle Joseph was men's coach of the year. Credit: Sports Imagery

As the team celebrated securing a home final, there were also individual successes as several Buccs took home several awards at the annual NBL1 West awards night.

After finishing in top spot last season, the Buccs have backed it up with another impressive campaign so far, securing second spot in the final round with back-to-back wins on the road.

This is despite the fact they lost runner-up MVP Cameron Coleman in the off-season and also saw big man Mathiang Muo depart for the Wolves.

In their place Zac Gattorna was flown in from the Sydney Kings, but it was the improvement of Malik Meunier which got heads talking.

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Meunier’s impressive season earned him a place on the NBL1 West All-Star team. He has played all 22 games this season and leads the team in points, averaging 18.64 and assists at 5.82 per game while also grabbing 4.09 rebounds.

While Meunier was a good player last year he has reached another level since Coleman’s departure and admitted as much after his hot start earlier this year.

“I’ve become a heaps better player,” he said.

“I’m a lot more confident now individually and I wanted that bigger role, and the fact that my coach could offer me that and has the confidence in me to do that, and so do my teammates so that really gives me a lot of confidence.

“It’s just been a really good move for me individually as a player.”

Speaking of his coach, for the second straight year Dayle Joseph was named NBL1 West Men’s Coach of the Year after securing back-to-back top-two finishes.

Johny Narkle also won back-to-back awards winning the NBL1 West Sixth Man for the second straight year.

After a quiet start to the season, Narkle is coming good at the right time, averaging 11.41 points and 5.27 rebounds per game.

In his last seven matches, only once has Narkle scored fewer than 10 points from the bench and has shown vast improvement in his skill set inside the paint after primarily being a shooter last season.

Young star Robert Griechen also received a nod, named as WA Basketball’s High Performance Athlete of the Year.

While his playing time with the Buccs has been limited, he has been dominant in the WABL, averaging 25.7 points per game (the second-best in the league), while he also impressed in representing WA averaging 17 points, nine rebounds, two steals and two assists per game at the U18 Nationals.

The U20s WA team, which young Bucc Tom Dobson was a part of, was named High Performance Team of the Year for their drought-breaking title in Geelong, its first title in 22 years.

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