Amongst the 165 teams that will contest the 2017 World Masters Games basketball tournament that tips-off in Auckland tomorrow there will be a good number of former international players taking to the courts.
Players from both sides of the Tasman, who have had the honour of pulling on the black singlet of New Zealand, or the green and gold of Australia, will be lacing their boots.
An elite few of those players have had the distinction of attending multiple Olympics like NZ basketball icon Phill Jones who went to both the 2000 and 2004 Olympics. Australian Slammin Sam Mckinnon is a triple Olympian and Chris Anstey attended two Games as well as playing 155 games in the NBA.
Our Tall Ferns attended the Olympics in 2000, 2004 and 2008. A bunch of players from those campaigns attended two Olympiads including Leanne Walker, Megan Compain, Donna Wilkins plus sisters Gina and Sally Farmer. (More on that story here: http://basketball.org.nz/News/former-manager-of-2004-olympic-tall-ferns-reunites-team-for-world-masters-games).
However not too many basketball players around the globe can claim the distinction of attending four Olympic Games but one such person is Victorian Ray Borner and he is Auckland bound this week.
"We are looking forward to competing next week. The group I am travelling with attended the last World Masters Games in Italy, the camaraderie at these events is special."
The 610" former Boomers centre played for Australia at the Olympics in Los Angeles (1984), Seoul (1988), Barcelona (1992) and Atlanta (1996).
"Seoul and Atlanta were the highlights as we played in the bronze medal game at both," he said.
His outstanding feats at both international level and in the Australian NBL, where he played 518 games in a 22 season career, have been recognised at the highest level in his homeland. In 2006 Borner was inducted into the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame and three years later he was awarded the Order of Australia medal.
Borner has enjoyed his previous trips to New Zealand. "We came on a family holiday a couple of years ago and had a great time. Also, as I was telling some friends recently, Ive never lost a game in New Zealand! I toured with the Australian Under 20s in 1980 when we won all three tests and also beat some provincial teams. We were the first team to leave Australian soil and return without losing a game"
Borner still plays regularly in his home town of Ballarat. "I still play in the Masters grade although we havent played for a couple of weeks as we are between seasons. I also play in the A grade competition for the Ballarat Wildcats with two of my boys Jacob and Samuel. Its great, it really is, to be able to play on the same team as your kids it is not something everyone gets the opportunity to do."
The former international is playing for the Grumpy Old Bears in the Mens 55+ competition with their first game set down for Saturday morning at the AUT Sports Centre. Fellow Australians Myths and Legends will take on the Bears in the opening round game, hopefully they will realise there is a legend in the opposition ranks.
- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Basketball New Zealand