They helped cook up something special at the Olympics, and Duop Reath believes his relationship with coach Brian Goorjian can lead to more success in Wollongong.
Inspired by Patty Mills, the Boomers created history in Tokyo, becoming the first Australian men's basketball team to claim bronze.
Standing on the podium, with medal hanging around his neck, was a moment that filled Reath with pride. As he looked across at his coach, having already inked a deal with the Hawks, he thought about what the pair could achieve next.
"It was an unreal experience, especially being able to see the older guys like 'Delly' (Matthew Dellavedova), Joe (Ingles) and Patty get rewarded with that medal. It was a huge honour to be part of the team, to be able to represent my country and my family, and bring that medal back here was surreal and a very blessed feeling," Reath told the Mercury.
"And 'Goorj' has had a very big impact on me. I feel like he's really helped me as a player and a person to grow - that's the biggest thing. The past few months that I've been around him, I feel like I've grown as a man and a basketball player. and I'm very grateful for that. We have a lot of conversations that have helped me grow."
Reath arrives in Wollongong with big raps on him. One of the Australia's best ever basketballers, Andrew Gaze, described the 25-year-old "as the one that could tip the Hawks over the edge to make improvements on what they did last season".
"He's got some good size and clearly that experience of playing for Brian will give Duop an understanding of him as a coach," Gaze told the Mercury in October.
After moving from South Sudan as an eight-year-old, the Perth-raised talent only took up the sport in high school, but quickly started showing promising signs.
Reath spent his freshman and sophomore seasons at Lee College in Texas before switching to Louisiana State University as a junior, averaging 12 points and five rebounds over two seasons.
After going undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft, Reath joined the Mavericks for the NBA Summer League, before signing a three-year deal with KK FMP in Serbia. During this period, he had a stint with Brooklyn for their 2019 Summer League, before moving to Serbian team KK Crvena Zvezda.
But Reath always dreamed of playing on home soil and, fortunately for him, Goorjian had similar ideas. In July, the master coach and Hawks president Dorry Kordahi approached the guard about moving to the Illawarra.
"I learned a lot from my time in Europe. But it was all about timing. I felt like it was the right time to come back home and try to get better as a player. I could see the trajectory that the NBL was on and it's only going to get better. It's a really strong league, and a respected league throughout the world," Reath said.
"My biggest goal this season is to win (the NBL championship), and for us try to be the best team we can be. If we can maximise our potential, I think we're a good chance to win it."
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