Magic shapes as favourite again

Denying the Mid City Magic a fifth consecutive title will be a big task.

But it is the one that awaits the other five teams as Dunedin men’s club basketball begins at the Edgar Centre today.

The Magic enters the season on the back of a dominant four years and, if everyone is available, its roster is possibly the strongest it has boasted in that time.

However, that availability will be key.

The return of the Otago Nuggets to a full season could leave it without several stars.

Josh Aitcheson and Richie Rodger return for another season, while big man Akiva McBirney-Griffin joins the team after moving south.

Last year’s league Most Valuable Player Aaron Roydhouse is also back.

All four are contracted Nuggets players, which means they may be away playing in the NBL.

Beneath them though there remains plenty of talent in the likes of Mitchell Hughan, Joe Ahie and Tai Porima-Flavell, which should keep the side competitive either way.

The club’s second A grade team — the Magic Lions — also looks strong and will be out to repeat last year’s performance in which they made the final.

Nuggets duo Sam Timmins and Darcy Knox are back, while Pafe Momoisea has joined the team.

Availability will be a question for that trio as well.

However, with Nathan Hanna and Dallas Hartmann back, alongside new big duo Max Pearce and Ben Robertson, there is plenty of talent remaining.

Perennial contenders St Kilda Saints will likely again be one of their toughest

They retain a settled roster from the one which was edged in a high-quality double overtime thriller in last year’s semifinal.

Guard James Ross will be potentially the league’s most influential player, capable of creating for both himself and others.

He is joined by Nuggets centre Jack Andrew, while guard Michael Ruske is another handy piece in the back court.

The City Rise Bombers have lost a key duo in Josh O’Connell and Tom Davison.

However, they retain Nugget Matt Bardsley, while Olly Smith returns to boost the guard line-up and former Nugget Tony Fisher has also linked with the team.

The Andy Bay Falcons retain a similar squad to last year, although have lost key shooter Logan Dicker.

They have added a quality point guard in Ihaia Kendrew, while Hamish Robertson joins him in a strong backcourt.

Meanwhile Varsity also keep a largely unchanged roster, notably including Isaac Smiler and Kyle Owen.

The Saints face the Falcons on Edgar Centre court four at 12.30pm in the season opener.


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