Six weeks ago, Dave Langrell’s only basketball playing commitments were a social team with a group of dads. On Saturday he nearly led the Wharenui Gators to an unlikely Canterbury Basketball Association title.
The 42-year-old former Canterbury Rams captain recorded a triple double in the final at Cowles Stadium, with 17 points, 20 rebounds and 13 assists. However, it wasn’t enough to stop University of Canterbury winning their first title since 2001 with the 97-92 overtime win.
Langrell played 13 seasons with the Canterbury Rams in the late 1990s and 2000s and was always easily recognised on court by his trademark headband and long curly hair. The look is still the same today barring a greyer hair tone.
Last month Langrell received a phone call from Gators coach Tim Bennetts who found himself in a tricky spot after losing a number of key players, including NBL-quality talents Marquees Whippy, Max Darling and Tom Higgins, to other commitments.
Langrell thought he was joining the team to help fill in a bench role for four weeks plus a potential extra two weeks in the play-offs. However, averaging nearly a triple double since making his premier club return saw him quickly become a key man. “I just went down to fill in but we played surprisingly well and won a semi-final against Pioneer a little unexpectedly,” said Langrell. In Saturday’s final, the Gators held a 21-point advantage early in the third quarter before University of Canterbury fought back to level the scores at full-time and win in overtime.
The trip to overtime mean that Langrell ended up playing 44 of the games 45min.
“I enjoyed it. It was good but I’ll be happy if I don’t get asked to do it again because my knees are still aching,” said Langrell.
“The thing that impressed me the most was his passing ability . . . he’s got years of wisdom on his side and reads the play two steps ahead of other guys,” said Bennetts.
Following the match, Langrell was also named Canterbury Basketball Association coach of the year.
Over the past four years, Langrell has coached the Canterbury under-23 side to three national age group titles.
A number of players from those teams have turned into opposition in recent weeks due to his unexpected return to premier basketball.