SHOOTING UP THE REINKINGS

Stretching his elongated elastic bands, sprinting between every lay-up in the warm-up, honing that quickfire release, Nate Reinking was immediately back in the old routine on Sunday.

Great Britain’s shooting guard may turn 37 next month but he has always taken pride in keeping himself in shape, the lack of major injuries in his professional career a testament to the way he has kept himself in tune.

Five-and-a-half-years after he left Sheffield Sharks – and the British Basketball League – for pastures new, the Ohio-born veteran made his return after agreeing a deal to join Mersey Tigers until the end of the current campaign following the collapse of a move to Turkey.

Before the game, one Glasgow Rocks player asked: ‘who’s he?’ Only one of the best pure shooters in Europe, as recent Eurobasket campaigns have underlined.

Reinking, coming off the bench in his second BBL debut, took until the fourth minute of the second quarter to get off the mark with a pair of free-throws. Eventually scoring 13 points on atypical 3-for-11 shooting in the Tigers’ Cup win, there were glimpses of what his new club have acquired.

Reinking played 31 minutes in his Tigers debut

“I was just knocking the rust off,” he said. “I’m glad to be playing again. I’m glad to be at Mersey. I’m glad we got the win and hopefully we can keep this going.”

While awaiting the resolution of his abortive Turkish spell, Reinking had spent three weeks training with his prospective new team-mates on Merseyside, picking up the system of coach Tony Garbelotto.

Practice does not make perfect, he declared. “It’s always different in the game than training,” he acknowledged. “But this is a great team to work with. Everybody is unselfish. We try and work as a team. It’s hard to integrate until you actually play but hopefully we’ll get better and better.”

Mersey’s all-British line-up has already impressed, heading the league standings, advancing to the Cup and Trophy semi-finals, laying down a marker by destroying Newcastle.

Garbelotto will now attempt to fully integrate Reinking. It is likely Perry Lawson, who has flourished as the starting point guard, will come off the bench with the newcomer taking over the playmaking duties.

It is a role he played, on occasion, at Sheffield but little since. No worries, he states. “I don’t mind what position. It will be a new challenge. I’ve done a little here and there for the past five years and if that’s what he wants me to do, then that’s OK by me.”

Once Tafari Toney recovers from the knee injury which sidelined him in Glasgow, Garbelotto knows he has a potent mix. Talk of a clean sweep has already begun, especially with the addition of a shooting star.

“That’s why I came here,” Reinking underlined. “I knew most of the guys. I’ve played with them. I know Tony and I know it’s his goal to win trophies. It’s mine too.”

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