The shooting guard for the New Zealand Breakers was honored with the award in the tightest MVP vote in NBL history, with only 6 votes separating the top five vote-getters.
Penney narrowly beat out Matthew Knight of the Sydney Spirit, by just two votes, 92-90. The Melbourne Tigers’ Nigerian import Ebi Ere placed third with 89 votes, Mark Worthington of the South Dragons received 87 votes, and Shawn Redhage of the Perth Wildcats (86) rounded out the top five.
“This is just such a great honour and a humbling moment, something I never thought would happen,” said Penney at the awards ceremony.
“This is a team award though, it is thanks to my team-mates for giving me the open looks, for their work in the team offense that can often lead to me shooting the ball, I am often just the guy on the end of a play.”
“I will accept this award on behalf of the club. It is a huge personal honor, all the more so being a proud Kiwi playing for a New Zealand team in an Australian league.” Penny finished, in a heartfelt speech.
Playing for his hometown team, Penney led his club to their best season ever with an 18-10 record, helping the Breakers to the Semi-Finals for the first time in team history. Penney averaged 24.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 28 regular season games. He shot 45.6% from the field, 37.3% from three, and 80.4% from the free-throw line.
Penney also won the Breakers’ team awards for Club MVP and MVP’s MVP (as voted by season-ticket holders).
The ANBL MVP trophy has been awarded to either an Australian-born or an American-born player since it’s inception in 1979 – that is thirty straight years of awards before Penney was honored with the award this year. The trophy was named after Melbourne Tigers great and Australian basketball legend Andrew Gaze, whom won the award for an unprecedented five consecutive seasons (and a grand total of six).
Penney played at American college, the University of Wisconsin from 1999-2003, and would go on to play sparingly for the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA. He returned to the 10-team National Basketball League of Australia in June of 2007 after spending time with Maccabi Rishon LeZion and German club ALBA Berlin.