‘Basketball great’ Greg Olbrich’s death shock on-court death rocks South Australia

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Tributes have flowed after the sudden death of South Australian basketball great Greg Olbrich after he suffered a cardiac arrest during a senior men’s district basketball match on Wednesday night.

Reports emerged on Thursday that Olbrich had suffered the medical episode during the social match at Morphett Vale Stadium on Wednesday night.

While Olbrich isn’t a household name in most of the country, he was a big figure in South Australian basketball.

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The father of 20-year-old Illawarra Hawks centre Lachlan, Olbrich was a former winner of the Woollacot Medal for the most valuable player in the South Australian State League, which has become known as the NBL1 Central.

Olbrich shared the award in 1995 with current Adelaide 36ers NBL coach Scott Ninnis.

Ninnis told The Advertiser it was hard to believe his friend was gone after seeing him over the weekend.

“I go back with Greg from my play days – we played against each other for many years,” Ninnis said.

“Every time we’d see each other at a function or somewhere, one of my smart alec mates would get us to take a picture together – so that became a running joke.

“I spoke to him last year about it and said, no one can ever take this away from you.

“We beat Mark Davis, we beat the two great heads at 36ers, so no one could ever take that away. We’ve been linked for many, many years because of that.”

Ninnis added Olbrich was “a big bear” who was “warm hearted, good natured, and just a fair dinkum guy who was great to be around”.

The Illawarra Hawks also shared their condolences for the Olbrich family.

“The thoughts and best wishes of everybody within the Illawarra Hawks community are with Lachlan and the Olbrich family,” the club said.

Adelaide 36ers star Mitch McCarron shared his shock on X.

“Still can’t believe I’m reading this. As you mentioned, always had a great positive energy whenever you ran into him. Could just hear how proud he was of Lachie doing what he loves too. Such a tragedy,” he tweeted.

Southern Tigers Basketball Association president Gavin Miller shared a tribute to Olbrich via social media, remembering the Basketball South Australia life member as a “basketball great, a Woollacott medallist, a loving and committed husband, father and friend”.

“Greg was not only a dedicated member of our association but also a cherished friend to many of us,” the message read.

“His commitment, passion, and positive spirit have left an indelible mark on all who had the privilege of knowing him.

“Greg demonstrated unwavering dedication and positivity, serving as an inspiration to us all.

“Whether on the court or within our community, Greg, exemplified the values of sportsmanship, camaraderie, and leadership, bringing the energy into every space.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the Olbrich family and loved ones during this incredibly difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with them as they navigate through this profound loss.”

Former News Corp basketball reporter Boti Nagy also paid tribute, saying the loss “will continue to send shockwaves throughout the basketball community in South Australia”, adding his “loss to us at just 51 a tragedy of the highest order”.

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