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Greg Olbrich, gentle giant, gone at 51

THE absolutely awful and jaw-dropping news of Greg Olbrich's sudden death overnight while playing social basketball has rocked and will continue to send shockwaves throughout the basketball community in South Australia and further, this delightful human being's loss to us at just 51 a tragedy of the highest order.

Merely a week ago he was celebrating the 25th anniversary of his marriage to his soulmate Jill and, like most of us, looking forward to what the future held.

To believe he is now gone is almost beyond comprehension.

You recall all of the things you still wanted to say the next time you met, even as the reality sets in that this now can never come to pass.

A beefy tall centre in his basketball heyday, Greg reached his personal career zenith in 1995 when he won the Woollacott Medal as the fairest and most brilliant player in the SA State League, now known as NBL1 Central.

He was in excellent company too, the medal count ending in an inseparable draw between Greg and another notable personality, current Adelaide 36ers NBL coach Scott Ninnis.

While Ninnis at South Adelaide was spectacular with his breakaway dunks and 3-point range, Olbrich at Adelaide Giants turned a workmanlike interior presence into keyway domination and did it at a time the league included some truly prominent monster big men such as 36ers Hall of Famer Mark Davis.

Olbrich and Ninnis forever will remain inexorably linked.

The irony in Ninnis' contract extension to coach the 36ers is one of his major SA targets when he is a free agent will be Illawarra Hawks tyro Lachlan Olbrich, one of Greg's two sons.

Having successfully traversed some tough personal times, Greg's inherent kindness and jovial personality made him an extremely popular person to be around.

Always with a ready smile and a willing ear, he personified the best in a human being, husband, father, brother and friend. To say he will long be remembered, forever missed and our time with him cherished, is still a monumental understatement.

He suffered a cardiac arrest playing the game that he loved, in the Morphett Vale Stadium where he even once worked as Basketball Operations Manager for Southern Tigers Basketball Association and where many of his fondest memories were made.

May his family take comfort in knowing so intimately the man that he was and may he forever rest in peace.

Mar 28

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