Basketball: Henry enjoying prime of his career

By Mike Lacey

Leon Henry playing for the Townsville Crocodiles. Photo / Getty Images
Leon Henry playing for the Townsville Crocodiles. Photo / Getty Images

It seems a little odd almost disparaging to be referring to Leon Henry as a veteran or a 'senior pro' at this stage of his basketball career. After all the former Breaker now Townsville Crocodiles swingman is only 30 years old and many would argue in his prime.

Yet at the Crocs he is the second eldest player behind Luke Schenscher (33) and with Big Red missing a large chunk of this season's NBL games due to injury Henry has needed to take on a mentoring role within the team.

The Crocodiles have the youngest squad in the competition (six players aged 25 or younger) and Henry uses his experience to help coax the best out of his young teammates. "I just lead by example, I'm not the most outspoken person but I try and lead by the little things that help teams to win. The one percent plays, bringing energy to the group and to push each other with positivity"' he says

Henry played 57 games for the Breakers during the club's NBL three-peat triumphs between 2011 and 2013 and getting a win over his former club is extra special.

The Crocs embarrassed the Breakers with a 23 points demolition of last season's champions in Townsville late last month but couldn't quite repeat that triumph on Friday night at Vector Arena as the Breakers edged home 77-74.

"I still see them (former Breakers teammates) as brothers today and it's always great to come back and play in front of everyone in the Vector environment. However, it's really frustrating we didn't get the win and sneak that one over them"

At the end of the Australian NBL season Henry will return to Wellington, re-joining the Saints, and have a crack at winning his fourth New Zealand title having won championships with the Saints in 2010 and 2011 and also with Southland Sharks in 2013.

"It looks like a lot of teams are going to be tough so really looking forward to getting back and playing with a lot of friends and having fun", said Henry.

Come July the Tall Blacks will be off to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying tournament in Manila and Henry, who played for the Tall Blacks in Europe and China last year but wasn't required for the series against Australia, is still hoping to earn back his spot in the team.

"The drive is still there, I see we drew France and the Philippines in Manila and we are playing against Tab (Baldwin) so who knows what happens."

For now the 'veteran' returns to Townsville for the remaining two rounds of the NBL season.

- NZ Herald

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