Sport

Javaan Mumtaz profile

By Aydin Payne

New Zealand journeyman Javaan Mumtaz has hit the ground running in his debut season on Australian soil.

The former American College and Wellington Saints basketballer has been lured across the Tasman Sea and onto the court for the Shepparton Gators for the 2019 season.

The change of scenery is yet to affect the 25-year-old playmaker so far in his first three games at the Gators, with the versatile guard lighting up the floor.

Mumtaz revealed he was ready for a shift this year and once head coach Leigh Bathman contacted him, he was on the next plane to Australia.

‘‘I’d been back in New Zealand for a few years and I just thought I’d try something new, spread my wings a little bit and once Leigh contacted me I was all aboard,’’ Mumtaz said.

‘‘Last year I played for the Wellington Saints and before that I was over in the United States for a few years playing college ball at the University of New Mexico.

‘‘I’m really excited for the year ahead, the first three games have gone pretty well so far since we’ve only been together for a few weeks.

‘‘Last week’s win over Keysborough was unreal for us as a team, to be able to get the result in the position we were in during the lead-up says a lot about the team.’’

Last weekend the shooting guard slotted in at the point position and dropped 32 points, four rebounds and three assists in a superb showing of skill, which also involved four buckets from downtown in the Gators’ tense two-point win against the Cougars.

Mumtaz was pleased to be able to put in an all-round performance after the shock absence of import Jerron Jamerson in the days leading into the Keysborough clash.

‘‘I felt like the team needed me to step up on Saturday night and I had the confidence to hit some clutch shots,’’ he said.

‘‘Getting into a rhythm and finding my range is something I pride myself on and I’m averaging just over 50 per cent in field goal accuracy, the ball is definitely feeling good in my hands.

‘‘Coach Leigh wanted me to fill the PG role last week and I felt pretty comfortable leading the play, it also helped me enter the flow of the game heaps better.’’

Mumtaz has overcome a lingering injury that hampered his first round, but his blistering round three performance should have Gators’ fans excited to see him in top flight.

And what does the in-form guard think about the Big V and the competition as a whole?

‘‘I’ve really enjoyed the competitiveness, it’s heaps different over here and it’s really fast paced,’’ he said.

‘‘I definitely think this league will test me and I can’t wait for the year ahead.’’