ILLAWARRA veteran Dave Andersen says Thursday’s clash with the Breakers in New Zealand will not be a career swansong, stating his intention to continue his storied career next season.
Andersen’s return to Wollongong 20 year after making his professional debut for the Hawks in the 1998 has been one of the more compelling NBL narratives this season.
Many viewed it as one more season for the road but it was not the four-time Olympian’s mentality on arrival at the Hawks, and it’s certainly not his thinking days out from season’s end.
“I’ll definitely lace the boots up for another season, I’m just talking about where it’ll be and what’ll happen,” Andersen said.
“It’s never a question of do you want to play or not? I love playing this sport and going up against the best and facing that challenge.
“It’s been fun, I’ve told a lot of people I feel rejuvenated, I’ve got more energy and it’s been really fun being around Wollongong.
“I didn’t know how I’d go but I’ve surprised myself and hopefully shown a few people I can keep going as a young fella.”
The self-belief has always been high for one of Australian basketball’s all-time greats, but he admits there were doubts over whether he still had enough to offer the NBL after his last season with Melbourne United.
It netted him a 12th championship as a player but niggling injuries restricted his time on court and ultimately saw him part ways with the club and link with Illawarra.
He’s brought more than just a steady head, playing all 27 games and forcing his way into Rob Beveridge’s starting unit at the five spot – averaging eight points and 17 minutes a game.
It’s enough to convince him the shelve any retirement plans.
“It’s flicked the switch for me that I can keep going,” he said.
“There were a lot of doubts after last season’s efforts and the injuries that I copped.
“Now I’m hopefully going to come out of it healthy and happy and working hard.
“I’ve played legit minutes and I feel like I’ve got a good base there now that I can build on that in the off-season, get better and stronger and come back even better.”
He gave an emphatic answer when asked if he’d be willing to return to Wollongong next season.
“Definitely. Wollongong’s a great city, I’ve started to remember all the good spots and where to go and what to do,” he said.
“If it’s on the cards I’ll definitely come back and play in Wollongong. We’ll just see what happens over the off-season.”
Thursday’s clash is a dead rubber as far as finals go but Andersen said it’s important his side give a good account of themselves – particularly the big men after Shawn Long and Tai Wesley combined for 48 points and 18 boards in their last meeting.
“As bigs we’ve got our hands full trying to shut down [Shawn] Long and Tai Wesley,” he said.
“It’s a big task but we’ve got to embrace that challenge and hopefully we can come away with a good victory.”