Garry Gallimore, the defensive specialist, was a natural fit with Les Berry, the defensive tactician.
“Like two pieces of a puzzle,” joked Gallimore.
The Halifax Rainmen, coached by Berry, are one of the stingiest defensive teams in the Premier Basketball League this season, and Gallimore, a two-time Atlantic University Sport defensive player of the year, has helped lead the effort.
Berry, a former Acadia Axemen bench boss, was all too familiar with Gallimore from their days in the AUS. Gallimore, a six-foot-two guard, stymied Berry’s Axemen regularly en route to three championships with the X-Men.
“Les knows me very well — I’ve been the guy who’s been smacking his teams around in the AUS,” Gallimore laughed. “Everybody told me I’d like playing for Les Berry because he’s very defensive-minded and I’ve always loved playing for coaches who put an emphasis on defence.”
Gallimore, an Ottawa native, spent the 2007-’08 season in Belgium before taking last year off. But he stayed in shape and made the Rainmen as a walk-on at training camp.
He averages 13:26 of floor time per game, but Berry relies heavily on his former nemesis in the closing moments of games. In the final 17 minutes, the well-built, fierce competitor averages eight minutes, 17 seconds and he’s been on the floor for the final minute of all but two of nine games so far.
“That’s the most crucial part of the game,” he said. “That’s when you need to close the game out, at the end of the third and into the fourth. That’s when the game is won.”
Gallimore, who averages 4.4 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, said he thrives in those situations.
“Most definitely, man,” he said. “I’m a gamer.”
The 25-year-old is a former member of Canada’s under-21 national team and is thrilled to be continuing his career with the Rainmen. He doesn’t plan on quitting anytime soon.
“I’m working to get to the highest level I can before I retire,” he said. “Whether that’s with the national team or staying here with the Rainmen, that’s what I’m aiming for.”
The second-place Halifax Rainmen (7-2) host the second-to-last Manchester Millrats (2-7) in Premier Basketball League action at the Metro Centre on Sunday. Game time is 4 p.m.