BY BRAD COLE THE ADVOCATE Perth guard Mason Bragg is still pinching himself at thought of being forever known as a NBL premiership player. The 23-year-old, who made his debut in November, picked up a championship ring on Sunday after the Wildcats completed a 3-0 series sweep over Illawarra. After a night of celebrations, Bragg said it was a surreal feeling to think what he has been able to achieve in a short space of time.
Wild times: Mason Bragg (middle row, fourth from left) celebrates Perth’s NBL championship win on Sunday. Picture: Getty Images. “It’s unbelievable (being known as an NBL champion), I never thought I would hear it,” Bragg said on Monday prior to attending a public parade for the team in Perth. “I only said to someone on Sunday night that six months ago I was playing in front of 200 people, and now it’s 14,000.
“It’s been a massive change and six months ago I definitely didn’t think I would be doing this.” Bragg didn’t suit up for the opening two games of the finals series, but gained a berth in the final 12 on Sunday when fellow Burnie product Matt Knight had to ruled out with concussion.
“I was stoked to be a part of the 12 and only found out the day before I was in the team because they weren’t sure about Matty’s concussion,” Bragg said. “He never really made a big deal about not playing (on Sunday), because he didn’t want to distract the team too much. He’s had an up and down season, but had some massive games for us and we wouldn’t have been in the position we were on Sunday without him. But we still had the mentality that we were there to take care of business and there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that we could beat Illawarra in clean sweep.”
Sunday’s game also brought the curtain down on the career of Shawn Redhage, a player Bragg has grown to idolise as he learns the NBL caper, but also someone with another connection to the North-West Coast through the Thunder and Burnie. “Shawn’s a great example on how professional athlete’s should behave on and off the court,” Bragg said. “He takes care of his body and pays so much attention to detail and I’m always making sure at training that I’m standing next to him because he gives me advice on how to go about it.”
“Matty, Shawn and I talk about being from the same place every now and again – it feels quite strange – and we call Shawn a Burnie boy because that was his first home when he came to Australia.”
After the celebrations die down, Bragg will concentrate his efforts on improving his skill set with further training and court time in the Perth State League competition in preparation for the Wildcats attempt at a three-peat.