Rising with the Phoenix

Ben Moore is ready to launch into life with the South East Melbourne Phoenix. Picture: SUPPLIED

By Lance Jenkinson

Ben Moore relished his taste of life in the NBA and would love nothing more than to get back to basketball’s biggest stage, but right now he is focused solely on driving the South East Melbourne Phoenix in the NBL.

Moore was unveiled as a major signing for the Phoenix recently and made it clear that he wants to make it a successful venture down under.

“I think of the NBA as the highest level of basketball and I’d want to win a championship at that level, but that’s in the future,” he said.

“Right now I’m focused on the season that’s upcoming and winning here.

“I’m not too worried about individual progression – I’m more so on winning and winning as much as we can, and hopefully that’s bringing a championship to the team.”

Moore will bring a wealth of experience to the table for someone who is relatively young at 25 and about to enter the prime of his sporting career.

The Illinois native, who grew up and still lives in Bolingbrook, 30 minutes south-west of Chicago, has spent time with respected NBA organisations the Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs.

Both franchises are known for their strong cultures – something that attracted Moore to the Phoenix.

“I heard the culture is already really good there, so it should be a great fit,” he said.

Moore has learned the tricks of the trade off some of basketball’s best minds.

Legendary coaches Gregg Popovich, Larry Brown and Jeff Van Gundy are just a few of the coaches who have guided him in his career.

Brown, a championship winning coach with the Detroit Pistons, mentored Moore at Southern Methodist University and is still willing to give him time for guidance to this day.

“He taught me a lot on the court about playing style and bringing it every day, but off the court he taught me way more things,” Moore said.

“Just a bunch of things about being a man, being a stand up person and being forgiving as well.

“He taught me a lot and we still talk to this day, he still helps me out with a lot.”

Moore earned the chance to play alongside the elite in the NBA.

Some of those star players, including Australia’s Patty Mills at the Spurs, took him under their wings and taught him the ropes while he was bouncing from the G-League to the NBA.

“Luckily when I played in the NBA and the G-League, I was with two great organisations with the Pacers and the Spurs, who go about things the right way,” Moore said.

“I learned a lot about being a professional right from the jump.”

Moore has vowed to keep his standards at an optimum level with South East Melbourne.

The basis of his game will be hard work and adding a positive energy to the Phoenix group.

“Just a blue collar kind of player, that’s what they can expect,” he said.

Fitting into an established system can be the hardest part of a transition for an import player.

That was central to Moore’s initial discussions with the South East Melbourne coaches and something he sees as integral to his time being a success with the club.

“We talked about where I fit within the system,” he said.

“I’ll take everything as it comes, not try to be forceful or change anything around, but falling into the system where I fit and doing what I can for the team.”

Moore’s best asset is his versatility on the court.

While his traditional position would be power forward, South East Melbourne is likely not going to pigeon-hole him into one position.

“Basically whatever they need me to do on any given night,” he said.

“I’m a pretty versatile guy, I can guard multiple positions – I’m going to play hard every game.

“Defensively I’m going to bring a lot to the team.

“I’m a player that if my shot is not falling, I’m going to make it happen elsewhere.”

It is not only on the court where Moore wants to make an impact in his time in Melbourne.

He is keen to build a connection with the basketball community in the south-east and give something back to the fans.

“Giving back to the community I feel is the most important part about all this,” he said.

“Despite the ball, the relationships that you make, giving back to the people and being able to do that is the perfect thing.

“I’m definitely looking forward to that.”

Moore will depart the United States, bound for Melbourne, on 30 November.

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