Just 36 days until Nuggets back on court

The return is almost in sight.

It is just 36 days until the Otago Nuggets are back on court.

The side will play the Southland Sharks in double-headers at the Edgar Centre on March 28-29.

A week later, it heads to Nelson for the National Basketball League’s Pre-season Southern Slam where it it will play the Nelson Giants and Wellington Saints.

That makes four games in nine days — not insignificant given it will be 2099 days without one.

Head coach Brent Matehaere said the squad was "ticking along" well and would hold an open trial at 5.30pm on Wednesday at Otago Boys’ High School.

However, it had a group that had been working out over the past three months.

In Josh Aitcheson, Matt Bardsley and Darcy Knox it had the past three Dunedin club league most valuable players.

Nathan Hanna, Tai Porima-Flavell and Aaron Roydhouse all added size to the group.

Former Nuggets guard Olly Smith brought experience, while Hamish Robertson, Joe Aihe and Andy Armstrong rounded out the group.

Others had been unable to commit, although the door was not closed should they have a change of heart.

The focus had been skill development, while also understanding the type of game the Nuggets would play.

Matehaere said being in that group was not a guarantee of making the roster.

There was the possibility of finding someone at the trial, such as a new university student.

Likewise, if those with Otago links wanted to come back for the games they would be considered.

However, the focus there was more keeping communication channels open for next year when the side entered the NBL properly.

"That’s the key, to have a competitive team that goes on the floor in 2021," Matehaere said.

"If we can get a team of local players with real strength in terms of skill set, strength, physical ability, there’s less need to go out searching and dragging n a whole roster from out of town.

"So that’s where we’re at.

"You want to look after your local guys who are putting in the hard work, I’m a firm believer of that.

"In saying that we also want to bring in players with the right attitude and want to make themselves better."

The team would also play at the NBL’s mid-season 3x3 tournament.

It was still on the hunt for more sponsors as it looked ahead to next year.


 

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