CONSIDERING when he was in Rockingham Daniel Forlano thought he might never be a regular SBL player, to now be captain at the Goldfields Giants, reach 150 games in the league and be the leader on a team in tremendous form means the world to him.
Forlano came through at the Rockingham Flames as a young point guard who might have lacked some faith in his own ability and what he could accomplish, and he might have also not received the opportunity to fully show what he was capable of if backed in.
He played 39 games across the 2013 and 2014 seasons at Rockingham, but opportunities were limited and across those two years did he not manage to get up the number of shots, or make as many, nor dish out as many assists as he has since in each individual season in Kalgoorlie.
It was to further his teaching his career that was behind the move for Forlano in the first place back in 2015. The fact that he gave playing at the Giants a shot once he got to Kalgoorlie was a bonus, but one that couldn’t have worked out better for player and club alike.
Forlano has played at least 22 games in each of the past four seasons at the Giants and now this Saturday night with Goldfields hosting the Lakeside Lightning at Niels Hansen Basketball Centre, he reaches 150 SBL games.
To play 150 games and be captain of a Giants team that is in hot form having won three straight games to sit at 8-4 now nearing the midway point of the season are tremendous achievements for Forlano.
“I’m very humbled really to be a captain,” Forlano said.
“I always say that I look at the other captains around the SBL and they are just such fantastic players and people, and I know that being a bench player as a captain is a little bit different.
“But I see my leadership a lot during trainings and during the week, and off the court. I know that my role has always been just to come on and play hard defence, and try to facilitate a little bit and run the team.”
Forlano might not always see himself at the same level of other captains throughout the SBL, but the reality is that he is the perfect leader for this young and emerging Giants group.
He provides the cool and calm, and experienced head that the Giants need and is the ideal captain.
Now that he is settled as an experienced SBL player, captain of his team and about to reach 150 games, Forlano has the chance to reflect and while he might not be the headline grabber of some of teammates like Jay Bowie, Patrick Burke and David Humphries, he is more than content with his role.
Even if it means coming off the bench, Forlano knows that the role he is playing is what the Giants need from him as a leader. Considering where he was when he left Rockingham and didn’t even know if basketball was in his future, he couldn’t be prouder of what the last five years have provided.
“It means a lot that I am where I am now. Everyone knows that I don’t put up huge numbers every week but that’s not what I’m about. I want to be in a team where we are great mates and we just strive to win together,” he said.
“I initially came up to Kalgoorlie because I’m a school teacher and it was a great opportunity for my teaching career.
“I was playing under Mark Utley at Rockingham and he said to me that I should go and that it would be a great opportunity for my teaching, and then there would be a basketball chance there too if I wanted it.
“Basketball sort of came second because I came up here wanting to work and further my teaching. But the Giants got in touch and asked me to come down, and under Michael Haney I barely played in that first year but I loved everything about the Giants.
“I became really good friends with Brandon and Jerome who have been here the whole time with me, and we always say that we’ll all come back together the next year at the end of each season.”
The combination at the point guard spot that Forlano has with vice-captain Brandon Holloway might also be underappreciated throughout the league opposed to some of the superstar point guards that exist at other clubs.
But the reality is with talent like Burke, Bowie, Humphries and Mayo Malek to feed, what Forlano and Holloway both provide is what the Giants require.
Having said that, Holloway is a more than capable scorer when need be and Forlano has no trouble rating him highly throughout SBL’s point guards.
“I know that if I’m not playing intense defence in this sort of backcourt where my whole team can see me then I’m not doing my job so I try to make sure my approach can flow onto them. I try to pride myself on playing really hard defence so that the rest of the team see that and can match that,” Forlano said.
“Brandon did have a patch there with a few quiet weeks but he also knows that he can score the ball when needed, and I think he is one of the best point guards in the league.
“The beauty of us is that we’ve been around long enough to know what our roles are in the team and what’s expected of us, and what we can and can’t do. I think that goes a long way to helping make sure the team all gels together.”
Considering it’s a vastly new-look Giants group in 2019 with a new coach in Wayne Creek along with the two new imports Burke and Bowie, and the arrivals of Malek and Humphries, it has been an impressive start to the season for Goldfields.
They have only lost once at home which was to an imposing Rockingham Flames team and then the other three losses on the road have come against Rockingham, the Joondalup Wolves and Geraldton Buccaneers.
To be 8-4 with a new group is about as good as the Giants could have hoped to start the quest for a first playoff appearance since 2015, and Forlano is looking forward to seeing how much further improvement they can make.
“We are pretty happy with our start even though we know we still have a lot of work to do. We are sort of satisfied with our progress but we know we can get a lot better,” Forlano said.
“Like most years with Kalgoorlie, you bring in a whole new group of guys and to try to gel in such a short amount of time during pre-season is always tough. But I really like the guys we’ve got, we get along really well and it’s different being here in Kalgoorlie.
“You hang out with your basketball team almost all the time whereas in Perth you go to your Tuesday and Thursday training, then play your game and sometimes you might also have a beer together afterwards, but that’s about it. The camaraderie and mateship that we have here is awesome.”
While there’s no questioning the talent and production of Burke, Bowie, Humphries and Malek so far this season at the Giants with them combining for 68.5 points, 32.1 rebounds and 10.9 assists a game.
But for Forlano and the Giants it’s about a lot more than just their numbers. They wanted people and players of high character to come into the program and that’s something Forlano learned in his time at the Flames from Cooper Land.
The fact that all four of them are proving great people and tremendous players is a big reason why Goldfields has started the season so well.
“With these recruits, we know that a lot of it comes down to the character of the bloke and if you can bring in really good character guys, then that’s more important than their resume which tells us obviously they can play basketball,” he said.
“It’s about the things that they do off the court that makes them fit into our team. I spoke with Cooper Land about Patrick and whenever I talk to Cooper about bringing anyone in from America, he always talks more about their off-court than on-court.
“You always know imports are going to be able to play, but it’s about how they conduct themselves off the court and he and Jay are just great to have around the club. That then brings the rest of us all together.”
This is Forlano’s fifth season in Kalgoorlie working as a teacher and playing with the Giants. While both are working out so well, he sees no reason to look to change things up on either front any time soon.
“I initially planned to come for two years but now I’m in my fifth year, I really like it here. I am taking it year by year, so I get to the end of each year and make the decision based on work mainly,” Forlano said.
“The teaching out here is going great and I love it. I really enjoy my job and until that stops happening I can’t see myself getting out of here in a hurry.”