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Wildcats sign Bartlett as injury replacement for Martin
Wednesday, November 02, 2011, 06:28:00 PM
The Perth Wildcats have signed New Zealand-native Everard Bartlett as an injury-waiver replacement for point guard Damian Martin as he recovers from toe surgery.

Martin had surgery last Thursday to repair the ligament and tendon damage in the little toe of his right foot, and that has opened the door for the Wildcats to sign Bartlett as a replacement.

The 25-year-old guard spent the 2010/11 season training with the Wildcats after relocating from New Zealand, where he did spend time with the Breakers but didn’t hit the floor in an NBL game.

He had a strong New Zealand NBL season again with the Auckland Pirates after that and has continued to live in Perth with his partner and son, and train hard with the Wildcats so he was ready for the opportunity that has now presented that could see him debut as early as this Saturday night against Wollongong.

Bartlett knows that this situation is exactly why training players are around in case they need to be called upon.

He's excited at the chance that has now presented.

"Obviously it is unfortunate that someone has to get injured for an opportunity to open for me, but that's part of the game.

That's why we are here as training players just in case that happens and it's unpredictable," Bartlett said.

"This is my second year with the team and I am enjoying everything it's about, especially the whole organisation and how they support each other.

I'm loving being part of the team, I fit in well and it's a style of game that I love to play.

" Having been part of the Breakers, playing locally in New Zealand, spending time playing in Iceland and being quite a journeyman, Bartlett has long wanted to get the chance to make his NBL debut, and he's now glad all that hard work has paid off.

He also feels it is a plus for both himself and the team that someone is coming in as a short-term replacement for Martin who has been with the team for two years, and knows what is going on and what is expected.

"Playing in the NBL has been my aim for quite some time.

I was with the Breakers development and then I went over to Europe to play, but Australia is just a great league," Bartlett said.

"The standard is great and I really want to be part of it.

I know that I have developed my basketball a lot since being here and also professionally off the court as well.

"I am feeling much more comfortable here in this second year.

In the first year you are trying to fit in and take everything on board, but this year I do feel much more comfortable.

I know the guys, the systems and it's just about coming in to play basketball.

I feel good, I feel healthy and I feel ready.

" Without Martin in the line-up, Bartlett's main role will be to help out as a ball carrier and that's something he is comfortable with.

"Bevo has had me as a combo one and two guard.

Obviously Damo is a big asset to this team and he is big shoes to fill there, but I'm not looking at filling his shoes," Bartlett said.

"I'm just looking to support the guys and bringing what I can to the table.

Hopefully I can just do everything I can to make this club successful.

" Looking ahead to potentially making his debut this Saturday night inside Challenge Stadium against Wollongong, Bartlett is certainly excited by the prospect after quickly realising just how passionate and loyal the 'Cats fans are in The Jungle.

"I am excited, anxious and I have a lot of emotions.

When I was with the Breakers development they would talk about hating coming to Perth because of the crowd.

I wasn’t expecting it to be how it was," Bartlett said.

"When I came here last season and saw the atmosphere, it was crazy and I was just like wow.

Then the new stadium next year will be even better.

It's definitely exciting thinking about getting the chance to play.

"The fans here are so passionate and support the team 100 per cent.

When we win, it feels good and the crowd loves it.

Even when we lose the crowd still feels that.

They support the team so much.

It's going to be very exciting.

" It was actually quite a good turn of fate that ended up seeing Bartlett come down to train with the Wildcats last season.

He was already moving to Perth to join his partner and son, but when his long-time Bay Hawkes coach in New Zealand Shawn Dennis joined the Wildcats, Bartlett was invited down and hasn’t looked back since.

The benefits he has seen in his game have been enormous as well.

"Actually my partner and my son moved over here about a year before I did.

I was always planning on coming over and just at that same time SD got announced assistant coach.

I came over, SD was here and he told me to come down to a couple of trainings," he said.

"So I did and Bevo asked me to stay.

I haven’t left since I turned up for a couple of those pre-season trainings where I was here for numbers.

I have enjoyed it, it has been a very good experience and it has been great for me to go back to play in the New Zealand as well.

"This past year back in New Zealand I realised I had developed a lot and received a lot of good feedback.

That led me to getting a Tall Blacks trial this year.

I made the reserve squad and just missed the Europe trip and Australian series, but hopefully next year.