Craig Randall II’s first game for the Adelaide 36ers raised some eyebrows throughout the NBL.
The total scorer missed 15 of his 17 shots in a pre-season clash with Perth and went 1-13 in the deep.
But there may have been a simple answer to his early struggles. He didn’t speak Swedish.
Fish-shaped chewy candies are a popular snack in the United States but rare in Australia, so he always objected when shopping in WA Town Eaton.
Randall II said it was more than that. He was rusting away when he first made it into the league.
However, he says he eats sweets before every competition as part of a pre-match ritual. The Sixers now don’t miss a chance and make sure they have enough supplies available on match day.
“I eat two bags before every game. Always eat. I’ve been doing this since I was really young,” Randall II told News Corp.
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“But I stay true to my routine because it is not a superstition for me, but a part of my daily routine.
“If you want, you can eat all five bags a day. That’s not good for your teeth, but you eat a lot.”
So how do you make Swedish your favorite food?
It dates back to 5-year-old Randall II, who was at basketball camp with his father and much-loved coach.
“I stay at camp, my brothers go to camp, I was too young to be at the canteen, and my father’s college coach always told me to eat whatever I wanted. I will always take it,” he said.
“I’ve been eating since then.”
After that overwhelming first game, the 26-year-old flamethrower made a lasting impression in America, igniting the NBL and leading the league with 23.33 points per game.
The Sixers made history against the Phoenix Suns and had as many as 10 NBA teams to score 30 points in a row against Oklahoma City.
However, Randall II said he would only listen to serious offers from teams he truly believes could help him win. He is focused on becoming an Adelaide 36er.
“I tell agents that I’m not very interested in hearing about it,” Randall said.
“They know we’ll talk about it if it’s something we deserve to hear and really take seriously.
“The NBA is always my goal, but I like my situation. I play for a really good coach, and I have a really good team. I am trying to help win the championship and bring it back to this club.
“Mentally, some people can become obsessed with (the NBA dream) and focus on it and forget what you are doing. I just don’t want to do that, I don’t want to be grateful and I don’t want to take my place for granted.
“NBA stuff will take care of it.”
The Sixers host New Zealand Friday night and Randall II is on the lookout. His team is still building an identity on the defensive side.
“A lot of people may not think about it, but they are a really good team,” he said.
“They have great imports, they have players who can shoot and players who can defend, so it’s going to be a fun and exciting game.”
“Our offense will work itself out, but if we don’t defend in the fourth quarter they are one of the teams that can beat you badly.
“First of all, we want to be a defensive team. We’re going to score, and stopping is our main focus because there are players who can put the ball in the basket.”
The Phoenix flies to the Wildcats cauldron.
New South East Melbourne signing Alan Williams has been commented on by his teammates on how menacing the crowd can come from Perth.
But he said the winning all-around Phoenix will thrive against the Wildcats at the RAC Arena cauldron on Friday night.
“It’s a long trip, but there’s a great group of veterinarians that tell us it’s a pretty hostile place,” Williams said.
“I think we will be successful in that field.
“We are looking forward to the opportunity to go out and play against one of the better teams in the league.”
Phoenix went off the block losing three of their first four games, but then squared the ledger with victories over New Zealand and Brisbane.
Manager Simon Mitchell will face all 11 charges at Perth, while import Trey Kell brings in a few practicers on Wednesday after defeating star forward Mitch Creek, who is managing painful problems with foot and plantar fascia.
“It’s just Mitch’s management issue,” Mitchell said.
“It was not the initial problem that stopped him during pre-season, it was the problem caused by that injury.
“He’s fine, we’re taking care of him and keeping him fresh.”
After several preseason fouls, former NBA bigman Williams is fourth in the league with 7.5 rebounds per game.
“In my career preseason has always been called a little tighter (by the referees), so generally during the season both the referee and the players have adapted and that’s what’s happening now.” preseason time.
“I found physical comfort and I am taking advantage of it.
“I try to be the best I can be. They knew what they got when they got me and I try to live up to my name.”
Originally published as NBL News: How Craig Randall II Sticks to Swedish Fish Ritual at Adelaide 36ers