Wild ride for ‘Eze’ 

A THIRD Mount Gambier Pioneers player has been signed by a National Basketball League super team for the 2013-14 season.

Following news that Brad Hill and Ben Allen would line-up with the Sydney Kings next summer, comes the announcement that Pioneers’ vice-captain, Erik Burdon has been lured by the Perth Wildcats.

Burdon, who is affectionately known as “Eze” by his Pioneers teammates and fans, is coming to the end of his fourth season with the Mount Gambier based South East Australian Basketball League club.

The 28-year-old Burdon joined the Pioneers at the start of the 2010 SEABL season and earlier this year played his 100th game with the club.

Originally from Adelaide, Burdon played domestic basketball with North Adelaide and in the 2008-09 season, played nine NBL games with the Adelaide 36ers.

Burdon had been wooed by the Perth Wildcats’ scouts earlier this season and recently accepted an invitation to Western Australia where he put through a variety of tests.

Standing 188cm and weighing 82kg, Burdon is recognised as one of the most exciting players in the SEABL and under the NBL points cap system, will be rated as a one-point player.

A second chance at the NBL, is the best news Burdon has received for some time.

“It’s very exciting and it’s great to now be a part of the Perth organisation,” Burdon said.

“It’s something I’ve been working towards for a long time now, I spent time at Adelaide in a development role but I’ve kept working at it and it’s finally happened.”

“My outside shooting is definitely my strength, so if I can help stretch the floor for the big guys and the penetrators, I’ll be able to add plenty of value to this team.”

The Perth Wildcats head coach is Trevor Gleeson, who, like Pioneers coach Richard Hill also has a football coaching background.

Gleeson has enjoyed basketball coaching experience with Portland, Warrnambool and Brisbane Bullets in Australia and overseas with Quad City Thunder, Sioux Falls Skyforce and Keonju KCC Egis.

In more recent years he was the head coach of the Townsville Crocodiles (2006-11) and Melbourne Tigers (2011-12) and in Australian Rules Football was skills coach at AFL club, North Melbourne in 2012 and Hawthorn this year until winning the Perth Wildcats job.

In 2011, he was named NBL Coach-of-the-Year.

Gleeson was full of praise and optimism for his new recruit.

“We need more shooters from the perimeter, we have enough talent to get to the basket, but we need to stretch the defence and Erik is one of the best shooters in the SEABL,” he said.

“I went to Mount Gambier to see him play and his ability to catch and shoot is a piece of the puzzle we need at the Wildcats.”

“He will come off the bench as a pinch-hitter, to break up a zone defence or when we need a three-point shooter on the floor. He’s a little bit older for a first-time NBL player, and we will teach him a lot of things, but one thing we won’t need to teach him is how to shoot.”

Burdon is averaging 17.3 points while shooting at 43.3pc from the field and almost 40pc from the three-point line for the Pioneers this season.

Burdon is the seventh player signed on the Wildcats roster for the new NBL season, alongside Shawn Redhage, Damian Martin, Matt Knight, Jesse Wagstaff, Greg Hire and Mathiang Muo.

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