Ballina basketballer on the brink of NBL title


BALLINA-born basketballer Nathan Crosswell is only two games away from realising a lifelong dream after the Melbourne Tigers broke the Brisbane Bullets' 21-game winning streak 105-91 in game two of the National Basketball League final series on Sunday night in Melbourne.

As back-up point guard to NBL legend Daryl McDonald for the defending NBL champions, Crosswell contributed eight points, two rebounds and two blocked shots from his 18-and-a-half minutes of game time in the win.

This followed his two points, one rebound and three assists in 17 minutes in game one last Friday when Brisbane won 98-95.

Over his 195 game NBL career, 27-year-old Crosswell averages 8.5 points, 1.8 rebounds and 3 assists per game.

Crosswell's father Bryan said the family was thrilled with his performances so far and were eagerly awaiting the remaining finals games.

"We'll be going up (to Brisbane for game three) on Wednesday and then to Melbourne on Thursday night for game four on Friday night," he said.

"We're very excited and obviously very, very proud of him.

"It's taken a lot of effort from him to get where he is.

"He's had the knocks but he's kept getting up again. It's pretty hard to break into the NBL when you're a country boy living up here."

After making his NBL debut in 1998 he spent two seasons with the Tigers, before shifting to their cross town ? and now defunct ? rivals the Victorian Giants and Titans.

After the Titans folded in 2004 he was was picked up by the Cairns Taipans, where he spent last season before heading back to the Tigers.

It's Crosswell's first grand final series, after the Victorian Titans and Cairns Taipans were bundled out in the semi-finals in 2002 and 2006, respectively.

Crosswell was born and raised in Ballina and grew up playing in both the Ballina and Lismore basketball associations.

He went to Ballina High School and played in the Northern Junior League and eventually the State League with Lismore teams.

Crosswell blossomed in the State League under Tony Gaze, uncle of famous Australian basketballer Andrew, and was recruited by Melbourne not long after he finished high school.

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