By R.L. Bynum
Brady Manek has been in Australia for a few weeks and made his National Basketball League debut Sunday in a preseason game.
Manek scored 15 points and pulled down five rebounds in 21 minutes of his Perth Wildcats’ 97–91 victory over the Adelaide 36ers. He was 6 of 15 from the floor but couldn’t find the range from the perimeter, missing all seven 3-point field-goal attempts.
“It was OK,” said Manek, who didn’t play in the Wildcats’ 98–87 Friday win over the 36ers. “I left some out there, but just playing hard. Good to get back into the swing of things again, playing again. It was just good to get that game out of the way so, coming up, we can get rolling and, for me, it was good to get my feet wet and just have a good time and play hard.”
Playing in the far western part of Australia, he’s joined the most storied team in the 10-team league. The Wildcats have won a record 10 championships, including titles in 2019 and 2020.
Manek played five games for the Charlotte Hornets’ Summer League team in July, averaging seven points and four rebounds, then signed last month to play for Perth.
After five years as a college student, he’s adjusting to all his free time and not having to study or go to class.
“The craziest thing is sometimes I’ll be sitting around, and I’m thinking I’ve got to turn something in, but I really don’t,” said Manek, who wears jersey No. 45 just like last season. “I have free time. It’s very, very cool. But for basketball, it’s a shorter shot clock; that’s really it. Got a lot of good players, a lot of good athletes. Guys are a little bit older, but overall it’s very competitive, and I got to see a little bit of that this weekend, and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
It’s his third team in three seasons, after playing for Oklahoma two seasons ago and helping UNC make the NCAA championship game with a breakout performance last season.
His new coach John Rillie is in his first year at Perth. An Australian native, he was an assistant coach at UC Santa Barbara the previous five seasons after earlier coaching on the Boise State staff for five seasons.
“I like him,” Manek says of Rillie. “He’s a player’s coach; he’s got our backs. He wants us to play hard; he’s going to push us. He’s never going to come at us individually and attack us. He’s going to come at us from a coaching standpoint and try to make us better, and that’s what I really liked about him. And I just like his energy and how he wants to play.”
There are three more preseason games, starting with Saturday’s exhibition with the Cairns Taipans. Perth’s season opener is at home on Sunday, Oct. 2, against the Brisbane Bullets.