News Article

From the grandstands to the hardwood

22 May
5 mins read

Written By

Dale Fletcher

“This was the dream since I sat up there in those last rows, to come out here and play for the 36ers.”

New Adelaide 36ers signing Ben Griscti always dreamt of playing in the NBL for his home town, and now he gets his chance.

The 211cm centre, who signed a three-year deal on Wednesday, said he can vividly recall being one of the avid fans in the stands.

“I’ve been in this stadium (Adelaide 36ers Arena), and the Entertainment Centre, in the last row in the stands, watching these guys go to work,” Griscti said.

“It’s why I played basketball, because I wanted to be in this position, to one day be a 36er, and why I went to America so I could get in this position for myself and play for this city.”

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Griscti, who had one year left of NCAA eligibility after transferring to UC Riverside last year from the University of Word Athletics, said he’s thrilled to call Adelaide home once again.

“It’s a great feeling knowing I’m going to be here for good now,” he said.

“It’s great to come back, who I am coming back to and who I am going to be around.

“I had one year of eligibility left and me and Scott (Ninnis, head coach), have had a great relationship throughout my basketball journey.

“We have always kept in contact, he has been a great support for me through my basketball career.

“Once he said there was an opportunity to get on board, we went from there and when the contract was offered, it was a no brainer for me.”

Having the opportunity to play with Isaac Humphries, who also signed a three-year deal earlier this year, was a big influence in Griscti’s decision.

“Having your mentor who is the best centre in the NBL is something not many NBL players get to say,” he said.


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“I’m going to build a great relationship with him, use him as a mentor, ask about his career and what challenges he overcame and how he has got to where he is at right now.”

Adelaide was always on the radar for the 21-year-old, who attended the inaugural Development Player camp in 2023.

“There’s a bit of stability, I have been in America for three years, so to now know I’ll be in Adelaide for three years is going to be a great experience,” Griscti said.

“Mum and dad are loving it, they let their son go to America for three years was quite a challenge for them, as I’m sure it is for any other parent, they are very happy that I’m back.

“This was something I was always looking at, that’s why I went to the Development Camp.

“I was there with Jacob Rigoni, who is also now on the team, so I knew this was part of the culture I wanted to be with.”

Griscti joins Rigoni and Lat Mayen on the 36ers NBL25 roster, who all have a tight bond from their junior days at Sturt Sabres.

“Me, Jacob and Lat all grew up playing at Sturt and we are very close,” Griscti said.

“To be able to come back and play with Sturt in the NBL1 with Jacob and hopefully win the title, it’s going to be special.”

Griscti will be back in the Sabres colours this Saturday night when Sturt host North Adelaide Rockets at Springbank and he said 36ers fans can expect toughness every time he steps out on the court.

“I love to shoot the ball, I’m going to be one of the tallest shooters in the league, and I bring it every night,” he said.

“I’m going to play with a lot of passion and a lot of aggression, because winning makes your life better.”

After starting 19 of 33 games at centre for the Highlanders last season, averaging 7.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, while connecting on 38 per cent of his shots from beyond the three-point line, Griscti gained AFL interest as a potential rookie list player.

“I want to thank Adelaide and Port Adelaide (for their interest), but I chose basketball because at the end of the day this is what I put the work in, this is the dream, to play for the Adelaide 36ers,” Griscti said.

“I gave footy up when I was about 15, when basketball became serious, I had some great mentors in basketball telling me what I could do in the college scene, so I went down that route,

“When footy came back, I addressed it, but I knew basketball was going to be the long-term option for me.

“I love football, and I am Australian as anyone else, but this was the dream since I sat up there in those last rows, to come out here and play for the 36ers.”


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