The Coles Express NBL1 is mourning the sad passing of a Warwick Senators’ & Darwin Salties’ player Alier Riak.
Riak tragically passed away in Melbourne, Victoria on Sunday night.
The 23-year old played for the Warwick Senators in NBL1 West conference last year before signing with the Darwin Salties in NBL1 North conference ahead of the 2022 season.
Riak left his footprint not just on the NBL1, but on the wider basketball community, having also worked diligently with Basketball WA as a Games Controller.
On the court, his talent and work ethic led him to be selected for the Perth Wildcats Academy.
The NBL1 is thinking of Riak’s family, friends and teammates, as well as the wider basketball community at this difficult time.
“The entire NBL1 community expresses its deepest condolences to Ailer Riak’s family, friends and teammates, “NBL1 General Manager Dean Anglin said.
“Alier was loved by the WA basketball community during his time at the Warwick Senators and BWA and had already made an impact at the Darwin Salties after signing with them just last month.
“He was a player with great potential. May he rest in peace.”
Despite only signing with the Darwin Basketball General Manager Kerri Savidge said Riak was already a much-loved member of the team.
“The Darwin Salties would like to offer their sincere condolences to the family and friends of Alier Riak,” Savidge said.
“Whilst he was yet to wear a singlet for the Salties team, his coach, teammates and the Darwin community were excited to commence the basketball journey with Alier on board and will honour his place as an inaugural team member and provide a legacy in his honour.”
Darwin Salties Head Coach Matt Finn added: “When I first heard the news I was in disbelief.
“My immediate thoughts were for his family and friends, this is jut devastating for them and everyone.
“The last thing we spoke about (last Friday) was how excited we both were to start this new journey together.
“He had such a raw passion that shone through every time we spoke about basketball and life.
“I told him to select his flights and get moving and he was pumped. I am still a bit shock to be truthful.
“Alier will always be a part of our program.
“We will honour his legacy that he never got a chance to start….again it is more about his immediate family right now.”
Basketball WA General Manager of Basketball Operations Adam Bowler said: “On behalf of Basketball WA, I would like to express my deepest sympathies to Alier’s family and those closest to him at this difficult time.
“Alier was not only a talented young WA basketballer but also a great character.
“He was a former WA high performance state team athlete who excelled playing in the NBL1 West for the Warwick Senators and was a valued employee with Basketball WA working as a Games Controller.”
Riak’s former Warwick Head Coach Mike Ellis said: “I am always saddened when I hear of young people senselessly cut down in the prime of their life but when it is someone you know and respect it is devastating.
“I can only imagine what Alier’s family are going through and send them my deepest sympathy and thoughts.
“You see a lot of people come and go through sporting clubs when you have been involved for many years but every now and then comes a special one, Alier was one of those.
“I was fortunate to coach Alier for a number of years, firstly when he was about 14 years old and you could see even then there was something about him.
“He played at the Senators throughout his junior years and worked very hard to get a scholarship to university in the US at Winona.
“He was very proud that he made it that far as it did not happen without a lot of work.
“He came home and again played with us at the Senators in our senior team where I coached him again and he was an integral part of the team and the club.
“Alier was a wonderful young man, a great teammate and an even better person.
“He always was respectful to all those around him while still being fiercely competitive.
“To watch him with the younger players around the club you could see how they gravitated to him and he always had time for them and helped them immensely.
“I was extremely proud of the wonderful and caring person Alier had grown up to become and I know his family were too.
“Words cannot describe what we are all feeling right now.
“A tragic loss of a fantastic young man with a bright future ahead of him.
“He was part of the Senator family and will be sorely missed and not forgotten. Rest in peace Alier.”
The Warwick Senators added: “The Warwick Senators are deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Alier.
“Alier was a Senators junior and talented NBL1 player who could always be found on the court working on his game but also a kind and genuine man who will be deeply missed.
“We extend our sincere condolences and sympathy to his family, friends and community. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”