By TIM HOWARD
FORMER Grafton Vikings basketball star Brad Davidson joins the Australian Boomers squad this weekend, becoming at once the team's oldest player and also its rookie.
Davidson, 31, currently a point-guard with his third National Basketball League (NBL) club, the Hunter Pirates, had not rated himself a chance of national team selection until a surprise phone call a month ago.
"I got the call on Friday to be in camp with the squad in Melbourne on Saturday," he said.
"There had been some injuries in the squad, which gave me an opening.
"Once I got there I performed pretty well and thought I was a good chance of selection."
Davidson will be the Boomers' reserve point guard for the upcoming four-nation series for the Gaze Trophy played in Perth and Sydney in the coming week.
He will also be part of the Boomers' New Zealand campaign soon after as the Australians take on the Tall Blacks for a chance to take part in next year's World Championships.
The livewire Davidson is realistic about his role with the Boomers.
"I'm a good three-point shooter and bring a lot of energy onto the court," he said.
"As the back-up point guard I will have to do the things that got me into the team, but in shorter bursts.
"I have to find a role for myself in the team and hold up an end while I'm on court.
Davidson, a North Coast product hailing from Mullumbimby, joined the Vikings as a 17-year-old in the early 1990s.
He credits his time at the Vikings for giving him the basics of his high-energy game.
"As a 17-year-old it gave me a chance to play senior basketball," he said.
"(Vikings coach) Bruce Leonard showed a lot of faith in me.
"At the time I never thought I would play in the NBL, let alone for the Boomers. He instilled a good work ethic in me."
Davidson has brought success to all three of his NBL clubs.
He took the Townsville Crocodiles to a grand final, stepping into the breach left by an injured Sam Mackinnon.
With his next club, the Cairns Taipans, he captained them to the finals in 2003 and last year he joined the struggling Hunter Pirates club, which also reached the play-offs.
Davidson expects the Pirates to improve on their 2004 efforts this year.
The club has recruited two new guards from the USA, Odell Bradley and Mike Helms, whom he describes as 'athletic' and 'good scorers'.
"Also the guys who played last year will have been together for another year.
"Russell Hinder is also back with the squad after he was left out of the Boomers after the Japan and Asian tour."