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Bruton's delight after 'Aussie' Starling signing

Dan Woods

11 days ago

3 mins read

Adelaide’s signing of 34-year-old Alex Starling is an early contender for the feel-good story of the NBL season.

According to head coach CJ Bruton though, the NBL1 Central star is not being brought in to make up the numbers.

Starling initially arrived in Australia as an international rookie with the Sydney Swans in 2011, but returned to basketball in 2014.

Since then he’s made a name for himself as one of the top players in South Australia, and since becoming a citizen he was eligible to be signed as a local player.

“I know whatever role I give Alex, he’ll give it to the best of his ability,” Adelaide head coach CJ Bruton said.

“If I told him to dive for a loose ball, he’s going to do it, if I ask him to take a charge, he’s going to do that. If I ask him to go in the paint and post up, he’ll go and do that.

“Having someone that’s loyal, disciplined, understands what’s asked of him and can drive that within the group and keep the group together along the way, a commitment to the club is important from the top all the way down.

“We all will have struggles in times and people will waver. How you bring it back together and having more people with voices who have strong character and are able to pass that message on and are able to work together and show the commitment we have for one another and commitment to the club is important.

“I think Alex does that.”

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There are parallels that can be drawn upon the experiences of both Bruton and his father, NBL legend Cal, and Starling.

Cal Bruton arrived in the NBL with the Brisbane Bullets in 1979 and became an Australian citizen in 1983.

CJ – who was born in Kansas – moved to Australia alongside his father and went on to represent Australia at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“I’m a citizen myself,” he said. “My father came from the United States, so speaking to Alex, seeing him go through this and being in that room brings back memories for myself knowing the work I put in along the way.

“The thing that stands out for a person like that is hunger … having that commitment to yourself, the belief in yourself and the people around you.

“I’m ecstatic for Alex, I’m ecstatic for the 36ers, for our fanbase, for our community.

“We’ve gained a leader, we’ve gained a heart, we’ve gained someone special and I’m excited he’s a 36er.”

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