Powerful look to Mid City Magic roster

Every year the target on the Mid City Magic’s back that fires other teams’ ambitions grows ever larger.

Yet, despite determined targeting by aspiring competitors, every year, so far, it has fought off all threats.

That will begin again today as the team starts its quest to claim a sixth consecutive Dunedin men’s club basketball title.

It retains a roster that is very much capable of getting the job done.

Otago Nuggets duo Josh Aitcheson and Joe Ahie headline a team which has also picked up key duo Dallas Hartmann and Nathan Hanna from the Magic Lions.

That should give it plenty of firepower both inside and out, while Tai Porima Flavell adds length and Josh Reeves is among the grade’s best shooters.

The club’s second team, the Lions, has a strong look once again as well.

Aaron Roydhouse moves over from the Magic.

The 2020 league MVP, who missed much of last season through injury, should provide a strong inside presence.

He will be joined by highly touted youngster Patrick Freeman, a long and athletic swingman from Wellington, as well as forward Max Pearce, who debuted for the Otago Nuggets on Thursday.

Last year’s runner-up and perennial power St Kilda Saints will mount a tough challenge.

They return the bulk of their squad from last year, notably classy guard duo James Ross and Michael Ruske, as well as Nuggets big man Jack Andrew.

Former Waitaki Boys’ High School star Danyon Ashcroft joins as their key addition.

The club has also entered a second A grade team, the Bullets, taking the competition to seven teams.

Whether there is enough depth in Dunedin basketball to justify adding a seventh team — creating a bye — from a club already in A grade is questionable.

The Bullets’ results will speak for themselves, although their squad looks to be more of a St Kilda B team, rather than splitting talent, as the Magic has done since the Lions began in 2017.

The City Rise Bombers will likely be the most improved team from last season and could contend for the title, having picked up some serious firepower.

Nuggets forward Robbie Coman, former Varsity star Joseph Euphrat and young duo Maika Shortland and Jordan Perez are all quality additions, while Tom Davison returns from Auckland.

Matthew Bardsley and Olly Smith remain to form what should be a quality lineup, while Southland Sharks guard Tom Cowie could appear later in the season.

The Andy Bay Falcons will look to carry on from last season’s strong finish, in which the Magic was the only team to beat them in their last 11 games — including playoffs.

They will be without key pieces Ihaia Kendrew and Hamish Robertson for the early part of the season, although bring back an impressive young duo in Matt Pyper and Sam Senior.

Varsity has battled in recent years, although it retains a star in swingman Isaac Smiler.

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