NBL21: South East Melbourne Phoenix inspired by Anzac spirit ahead of Brisbane Bullets clash

South East Melbourne Phoenix’s clash with Brisbane Bullets on Anzac Day will take on added significance with the club’s mix of Australian and New Zealand players.

The club is somewhat of a microcosm of the Anzac spirit of working together, with four Kiwis on the roster, along with assistant coach Judd Flavell.

“We have a diverse team of both Kiwis and Australians. It means a lot to us,” injured star Ryan Broekhoff said as the Phoenix visited the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, midweek.

Broekhoff said he experienced an Anzac Day in Gallipoli while he was playing in Turkey.

“It was a such a surreal experience, walking through that area, and a lot of it is still pretty untouched — you can see where the trenches were and how close the soldiers were together,” Broekhoff said.

Ryan Broekhoff has been to Gallipoli on Anzac Day. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“It was eerie but it was a huge thing for us as Australians, just to get a feel of what they went through and the harshness of it and the sacrifices that were made.”

Kiwi big man Yanni Wetzell said the Anzac connection was “massive”.

“I used to go to Dawn Service as a kid every Anzac Day, so I remember paying those respects,” Wetzell said.

The Phoenix will need to find some spirit of their own if they to snap a three-game losing streak against the Bullets.

“Every team’s going to face some difficulties during the course of the year and right now we are having ours and we are not backing up on game day,” coach Simon Mitchell said after the Phoenix were whacked by 20 points by Sydney Thursday night.

“We’ve got Brisbane, quick turnaround, we’ve got to snap out of it quickly.

“The first thing you go back on and you’ve got to assess yourself on your physicality. We got absolutely manhandled out there (against the Kings).

“We’ll start from there, defensively we’ve got to be accountable. These are the things that we’ll start with and worry about the offence after that.”

Mitchell said Broekhoff (groin) and import point guard Keifer Sykes (back) would miss Sunday’s game, but he expected to have them back in training on Monday.

A young Adam Gibson at Brisbane Bullets training in 2005. Picture: Darren EnglandSource:News Limited

Gibson plays his 450th NBL game this weekend. Picture: Zak SimmondsSource:News Corp Australia

In a bright spot for the Phoenix, veteran point guard Adam Gibson chalks up a remarkable 450th NBL game.

“(It’s) incredible for any player in a lot of different sports,” Phoenix captain Kyle Adnam said of Gibson’s achievement.

“I’ve watched him over the years and had the opportunity to play with him when I was younger and obviously throughout the Phoenix.

“He’s had a tremendous impact on me as a player, always communicating, and you see that leadership throughout our group.”

Gibson’s career began in 2005 with the Brisbane Bullets and he has played for six franchises in a stellar career that includes Australian representation.

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