Basketball: Beal ensures spicy ANBL opener

Jermaine Beal playing for the Perth Wildcats. Photo / Getty Images
Jermaine Beal playing for the Perth Wildcats. Photo / Getty Images

Star Brisbane Bullets recruit Jermaine Beal has set the stage for a fiery NBL season opener by refusing to acknowledge his former team the Perth Wildcats.

The Bullets host the Wildcats in their long-awaited return to the competition on October 8, in front of an expected sold-out crowd at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.

Thanks to Beal, who fronted the media for the first time as a Brisbane player on Tuesday, there will be plenty of tension in the air.

The 28-year-old Texan played three years for the Wildcats, won two NBL championships and was their leading scorer last season with 516 points, but was surprisingly not retained by the franchise because they wanted to sign a "different type" of import player.

That decision has clearly rankled Beal, who politely declined to answer any questions about his departure from Perth.

Asked if he was disappointed to have left the Wildcats, he said: "Brisbane's a good city, I like it here a lot."

As for whether Beal is excited about taking on his old teammates in Brisbane's NBL comeback, he said: "Right now I'm trying to focus on practice tomorrow. First game I don't know who we play or when it is, my whole focus right now is on practice."

It was left to fellow American import Torrey Craig, who has joined the Bullets after two seasons with the Cairns Taipans, to illuminate the situation.

"The NBL's a business, teams make moves to build their future," Craig said.

"It is what it is.

"I'm glad he came and signed here in Brisbane, I'm looking forward to playing with him."

Meanwhile, the Bullets aren't concerned over an injury to Boomers forward Cameron Bairstow, who dislocated his shoulder during Australia's Olympic basketball victory over Venezuela.

Bairstow's shoulder popped back in almost immediately but he is in doubt for the remainder of the tournament.

"From what I know it's day-to-day," said Bullets assistant CJ Bruton, who is taking control of pre-season training in the absence of head coach Andrej Lemanis.

"I'm not worried, I hope (Bairstow) will be able to come back just the way Andrew Bogut was able to perform and play at the Olympics."

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