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The Daily Telegraph - Home

Good news for Sydney Spirit - finally

Article from: The Daily Telegraph

By James Dampney

December 17, 2008 12:00am

Finally, some encouraging news for the Sydney Spirit.

While the Spirit continue to search for investors and sponsors to prop up their ailing NBL club, they have at least been able to sign some help in their unlikely quest for a playoff berth.

Written off as wooden spoon certainties at the start of the season, Sydney have surprised all during their tumultuous campaign to currently sit in the sixth and final playoff spot with an 8-9 record.

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While their off-court troubles are well known, with remaining players agreeing to more than a 50 per cent pay cut to see out the season, they have managed to recruit some more help on the hardwood.

Blagoj Janev, a member of the Singapore Slingers who played alongside NBA stand-out Andrew Bogut and under Spirit coach Rob Beveridge on Australia's gold medal-winning junior team at the 2003 world championships, has agreed to terms with the Spirit.

With an imposing six-foot-eight frame, Janev is just what the Spirit need having already lost centre Julian Khazzouh, swingman Liam Rush and guard Derrick Low to overseas clubs.

"It is great to have Blagoj on board for the remainder of this season," Beveridge said.

"He is a tough, no-nonsense type of player who will not be afraid to mix it up with his opponents.

"He has been playing with the Slingers so is in good game shape. He is also a Sydney boy, so it is great to have another local product playing for the Spirit."

Sydney had won four straight games prior to their last-start loss to the Crocs in Townsville, which included the scalps of competition front-runners the South Dragons.

Next up are the second-placed New Zealand Breakers across the Tasman on Thursday.

Rather than dwell on their predicament, Beveridge is taking positives that they are still alive and kicking in the 2008-09 season.

"I think we've just got to keep things in perspective, I've been harping on the guys that we're actually very lucky in what we do and there's people that are in a lot worse situations than us," he said.

"We've been given a lifeline, although we've taken that significant cut financially, but there's other people out there that are getting absolutely nothing.

"We've got to also thank our lucky stars that we've been given a second opportunity to see the season out."


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