DEDICATED Ipswich Force captain Zarryon “Zee” Fereti could have headed to Wellington to pursue a possible career in the New Zealand National Basketball League.
He was planning to go.
However, after some intensive Crossfit training and with his partner from Ipswich, Fereti decided to stay for another Queensland Basketball League season.
His decision was most welcome as Force opened its 2015 state campaign with a 121-98 victory over Gold Coast on Saturday night.
Fereti contributed 29 points and seven assists, backing up chief scorer James Legan (46) and well supported by vice-captain Jason Ralph (19 points and 13 assists).
“We had a really tough pre-season, probably harder than we’ve all worked ever,” Fereti said praising new coach Mick Conlon for his approach.
“It was good to actually get on court, start the season and have all that hard work pay off.”
Leading the side for a second season, Fereti said Force had unfinished business after making last year’s QBL semi-finals.
“We (my partner and I) made the decision to stay and all the guys are like brothers,” he said.
“We kind of felt like we should have won last year. We spoke about it and decided that we would make another run at it.”
Fereti was confident Ipswich could cover the off-season losses of Martin Iti and Rory Sutton.
“We’ve actually got a lot of young, talented athletic players,” he said.
“We’re able to push the ball a lot faster up the court so we get a lot more possession.
“We’re a lot faster and able to maintain that level.”
Fereti was also eager to have American Kyle Harvey back, hopefully this weekend, after his visa is cleared.
“We definitely missed him on the court. He’s a significant part of our team,” Fereti said.
Legan stepped up as he often does, nailing six three-pointers.
Ralph played an important support role in the season opener.
That typified what Fereti highlighted working with new coach Conlon.
“Mick is really hard on us at training but it’s a tribute to him,” the captain said.
“You look at his resume and he’s been in the NBL for a number of years as an assistant. He’s been around NBL guys, he’s been Australian Olympic players.
“He’s got a lot of knowledge.
“He also offers constructive criticism.
“He’s given everybody a lot of confidence, especially the young guys.”
Keen to lead by example, Fereti did extra work outside the team structure.
“I’ve spent a lot of the last few months really working on my fitness,” he said, having put in the extra effort at Wiser1 Crossfit in Ipswich.
“That really helped me get a lot stronger, a lot more athletic.”
While his immediate focus is on Force, 30-year-old Fereti hasn’t given up on the NBL.
“I’ll keep it open,” he said.
“I’m fitter and more athletic than I’ve probably ever been.”