window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || []; function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);} gtag('js', new Date()); gtag('config', 'G-C0NEPLQW4Z');

New Cougar Armour celebrates 300 on former home floor

Share this article

Saturday night will be the seventh appearance of Kyle Armour in Cockburn Cougars colours but it will be a special occasion for one of the league’s all-time great point guards as he reaches 300 SBL/NBL1 West games.

Not only will Armour celebrate his 300-game milestone on Saturday night in his first season since joining the Cougars, it just happens to be on the former home court as Cockburn takes on the Willetton Tigers at Willetton Basketball Stadium.

That’s a venue that Armour remembers growing up playing at from when he was old enough to bounce a basketball, where he started his SBL career as a 16-year-old in 2006 and it’s a club he has played 152 of his current 298 games in the league heading into this weekend’s double-header.

Settling in for first season at Cockburn

When you have achieved what you have in your basketball career and played for as long as Armour has, it’s hard to find new experiences but that’s exactly what he has found by joining the Cougars in 2024 for the first time.

There’s plenty of familiar faces there for him, though, especially Gavin Field and Seva Chan while he knows the coaching staff, Mark Clayden, Sheldon McIntyre and Grant Davey well too.

He is enjoying everything about his new club including the fact it’s just down the road from his Fremantle home, but now wants to see the team start to click a bit better and build on the 2-3 start.

“The club has been super welcoming, the boys have opened their arms up and been great to me so from that aspect it has been awesome,” Armour said.

“Culturally it’s definitely a good fit for me just with the camaraderie with the guys, and I’ve known the coaching staff forever and played against Sheldon and Grant for a lot of my early career.

“I guess the sentiment and friendship with Claydo speaks for itself and the history I’ve got with him so it’s all been pretty seamless from that aspect. But on court, we’re 2-3 and are still trying to figure things out given there’s so many new players with a new coaching staff.

“I’m confident that as the season evolves we will figure it out and it’s more so for the month of May we have ahead. We have four double-headers in-a-row so this is the month for us to figure it out and try to get some momentum and win some games.”

Feeling to reach 300-game milestone

Not only has Armour played 152 games at Willetton, 87 at Lakeside, 31 including a championship at the East Perth Eagles, 23 with Mandurah and now the last six with Cockburn, but his basketball journey has taken him beyond Western Australia.

He had stints in the NBL at both the Perth Wildcats and Sydney Kings, he played five seasons in the Waratah League (now NBL1 East), played a season in the SEABL (NBL1 South) and also in college at Augusta State University.

He also represented Australia at junior level and went to the Australian Institute of Sport, so it’s been quite the remarkable ride as he now prepares for his 300th NBL1 West game this Saturday night – and it’s only fitting it’s against the Tigers at Willetton Basketball Stadium.

Armour has always been able to provide whatever any of his teams need, and despite having played at a number of clubs, has never left any on bad terms or with anyone having a bad word to say about him.

That’s quite the achievement and as he approaches game 300 this weekend, he is proud of the commitment he has given over the last 20 years.

“It’s a massive commitment to play at this level for that long. I feel like the basketball season takes over your life and your week is planned around who you’re playing against, getting your body right and learning the scout, and doing all that mental and physical prep,” Armour said.

“So there’s a lot of commitment and thought that goes into it, but I go back to the Willetton days in 2006 and I remember that first game like it was yesterday. I suited up with Clint Read, Wayne Biddle, Greg Regan, Paul Rogers and played for Angelo Tatulli and Simon Parker.

“It just takes me back to where it started and then fast forward 19 seasons and it will be cool to celebrate that but it will mean a lot more if we’re able to get the win.

“The fact that I’m doing it on the same night Taryn (Priestly) plays her 200th to get life membership for Cockburn makes it even more special as well. She’s been my best mate since I was about nine or 10 so that will just make it an extra special night.”

Fate intervenes for the milestone night

It’s amazing how often fate works to set up memorable occasions and that’s exactly the case now for Armour’s 300th game this Saturday for him to be playing at Willetton against the Tigers.

He is looking forward to catching up with former teammates and good friends like Damien Scott and Michael Vigor, but once tip-off happens, it’s all business and he knows like any milestone occasion, it will become a lot more memorable if he gets to celebrate with a win.

“It is pretty amazing how it works out. I was having a conversation with Mike Vigor and Scotty about it, and it’s just a perfect night because I get to catch up with them after for a beer and especially because I grew up playing at Willo,” Armour said.

“Given the history I have there and I’m assuming there’ll be a lot of people there that I know so it’s going to be good to have the milestone there. But what will make it better will be getting the win so that’s the focus and that’s what would really top it off.”

Reflecting on career with plenty of different stops

Even if you don’t include Armour’s time in the AIS, time at college, stints in the NBL and time playing in the Waratah League and the SEABL, and what he’s done firstly in the SBL and now NBL1 West has been enough to be proud of.

It started as a teenager before the AIS and college at Willetton in 2006 and then he had a year at Lakeside in 2011 before he returned for two seasons at the Tigers, and then joined East Perth in 2014.

It might have been only one year with the Eagles, but it was quite the memorable one with Armour playing at a high level to be a key part of what is so far his lone SBL/NBL1 championship.

It was back to Willetton in 2015 and in each of those four seasons the Tigers had strong teams and put themselves in the championship hunt but couldn’t quite break through, and then 2019 was a season of mixed emotions at Lakeside.

The Lightning were ever so close to at least getting to the Grand Final but in Game 2 of the semi finals against Geraldton and Armour destroyed his knee and required a full reconstruction.

He was back by 2021 and two of the last three seasons have been at the Lightning with a season with Mandurah in between.

“The thing I’ve always valued the most is the relationships so it would be great to play at one club and be loyal to that one club, but life has taken me on different directions and presented different opportunities I’ve made the choice to take,” Armour said.

“But if I tried to sum it all up, I guess it’s a story of resilience and persistence, and I value most is the relationships and friendships that I’ve been able to build regardless of where I am in the country or the world, or what team I’m playing for.

“It’s the people that have made that such a successful journey when I look back at it. That’s probably the thing that I hold closest.”

Driving motivation to keep on going

Winning another championship and what would be his first in 10 years is a driving motivation to Armour to keep playing, but so is the fact that he just loves playing the game and everything that goes with that.

“I kind of break up the year into a small, medium and long-term goal. The goal every year is to win the championship obviously and I don’t go through that gruelling pre-season of running until I throw up without that being what you are striving for,” Armour said.

“But then the short-term goals are breaking the season up into the first bracket of games so you can get a rhythm of how you are playing, what your style is and figuring out your strategy to win.

“Then the medium term is the rest of the regular season, and then you focus on the post-season and you hope it ends with the championship. Given the season is such a long one, just getting humming at the right time of the year is your focus and then it’s all cards in the air.

“Once playoffs start, it can be anyone’s game and you laser focus and look at the big picture. I love practices and I love getting out there on Tuesday and Thursday, and competing and playing and scrimmaging, and seeing us evolve as a team.

“Then onto game night you just want to win and play well so you can’t play for 19 or 20 years without enjoying the grind of everything but of course, a championship is your ultimate goal. You have to love everything that goes into it along the way too.”

Getting so close so often since 2014

Since that 2014 championship that Armour was part of at East Perth on a star-studded team including Tom Jervis, Drew Williamson, Mathiang Muo, Sunday Dech and Joe-Alan Tupaea, there has been a series of close calls.

The majority of Armour’s seasons since especially at Willetton and Lakeside have seen him part of teams contending for a championships, and it was the 2016 and 2017 seasons at the Tigers, and then 2019 at the Lightning that he feels were all genuine title chances.

It was that 2019 season with Lakeside that Armour still calls his most enjoyable to get to play alongside Rowan Mackenzie, Jobi Wall, Jarrad Prue, Jack Isenbarger, Michael Vigor and Josh Davey.

They won 12 of 13 games heading into semi-final battle with the Geraldton Buccaneers where they had home court advantage, and won Game 2 at home leading into the decider on Sunday.

However, Armour ruptured his ACL and did more damage than that to his knee in that win only to then see the Buccs win Game 3 and go on to win the championship six days later.

“There’s probably three that really stick out where we had a great job. Two of them were under Steve at Willo, the first when we had Jay Bowie, Scotty, Josh Johnson, Nic Cody and then the second year we added in Ray (Turner) and we finished on top,” Armour said.

“We ended up falling short to the Redbacks who ended up winning it with a stacked team so credit to them. But the No. 1 year missed chance would be the favourite year I’ve had playing and that was in 2019 at Lakeside under Dave Daniels.

“We had Jack, Jobi, Mike Vigor, Prue and we were absolutely humming. Then doing my ACL, MCL and meniscus in Game 2 of those semis, and then ending up losing to Geraldton who ended up winning it all.

“But we had beaten them a few weeks before by almost 30 so that was definitely a sweet but bitter year.”

Life away from basketball

What’s making Armour continue to embrace playing basketball and enjoy it is because of how well the rest of his life going.

He is now engaged to Gioia and the pair are planning to get married in Sicily next year while they are building a house together in East Fremantle while currently enjoying the lifestyle of living in the heart of Fremantle.

Career-wise, Armour pushes himself hard in a relatively new role with Nokia as Enterprise Account Manager but the juggling act of it all is creating just the life he wants to be living.

“That’s why I want to continue playing because you’re a long time retired, but away from basketball I’ve also never been happier,” Armour said.

“My partner, Gioia, loves how much I love playing basketball and wants me to do it for as long as I can and wish to. So having that support is massive and I couldn’t make that commitment to play without her being on board with it.

“Then there’s also the family support and seeing my family and friends in the stands knowing that every season could be my last makes me not take any of that for granted. Then work wise, it can be tough juggling having to work 50 hours a week and dealing with the travel interstate and overseas.

“It’s not easy, but it’s definitely worthwhile and people have their vice or hobbies, and for me that’s basketball and my whole life balance is working quite well around that now.”

Major Partner - Dentistry Plus