Roy Ward, August 1, 2016 | Original Article

In a season of frustration for Kilsyth Cobras, Joel Naburgs can take a few positives.

Coming into 2016, Naburgs was still fighting to regain confidence in his right knee after losing almost half a season to an injury in 2015.

Early in this campaign, Naburgs admits he was settling for jump shots instead of driving to the basket and testing out his knee but as the season has drawn on he’s regained that belief in his own legs.

“I have to admit at the start of the year it was still a bit unstable and I was still trying to find my feet,” Naburgs said.

“Get that quick first step and a bit of athleticism back.

“But as the season has gone on I’ve felt a bit more comfortable with it and I feel like I have got back to being physically stable.

“Pushing off that right knee on my first step, it was kind of in the back of my mind so I wasn’t too sure how it would hold up in game situations.

“But as the season went on I got more confidence in it.”

Last week, he had a season-high 31 points against Ballarat and in the Cobras’ close loss to Nunawading Spectres on Saturday night he had 13 points and 12 rebounds in a low scoring contest.

“Throughout the year I was testing it more when driving in and started realising I would be all right and it wasn’t going to give out on me,” Naburgs said.

“It was just a progression thing and the more games I played the more confidence I got.

“It was lingering in the back of my mind but it isn’t there anymore.”

The Cobras have battled all season to find their rhythm and late in the season they lost star point guard Kyle Adnam when NBL club Melbourne United recalled their players for their preseason training with Dandenong Rangers also losing forward Owen Odigie.

Adnam’s absence for the final few games hurt especially in the 69-63 loss to the Spectres which all but ends Kilsyth’s finals hopes.

“We couldn’t drop any more games but I don’t doubt our effort,” Naburgs said.

“We were great, we were competitive and even though we are low on our numbers and our line up is altered it just comes down to execution and making those big shots which we haven’t been making.

“I don’t doubt our effort and I’m really proud with how the boys have carried out this year.”

Naburgs said the Cobras had faced challenges all season but would fight out their season.

“We will still take those last two games as seriously as we can and we have a lot to play for to end the year on a positive note,” he said.

“Coach [Rod Popp] has told us a few times that we could tick almost every factor that you can check off on a checklist of what can go wrong with your team.

“It’s been a frustrating year, we know what we are capable of and have done that in the past in making the finals so everyone in the locker room is frustrated.”

The Cobras are Naburgs’ junior club and he said Popp was instrumental in helping him go to Stetson University where he had a successful college career.

In the past few years there have been opportunities for Naburgs to try out or train with NBL clubs like Illawarra Hawks, Sydney Kings and Townsville Crocs but each time he missed out on a contract.

This year he started working as a greens keeper at Yarra Yarra Golf Club in Melbourne’s south-east and says he loves his work.

“I haven’t had any NBL scouts or anything and I’m not pursuing that anymore,” Naburgs said.

“In the offseason I’ll just stay fit, I’ll take a holiday, that’s for sure, and see what happens.

“I can still hold my head high and I don’t hold any grudges – it’s their decisions and it is what it is.”