What started as bad luck works out for Hayman

Most champions need a little luck along the way.

For Otago Nuggets guard Benoit Hayman, that luck just happened to be bad.

The 23-year-old tried about eight times to get back to Switzerland — where he plays professionally for BBC Nyon and is completing a master’s degree.

But his flight was cancelled every time. It forced him to change his plans.

A new opportunity arose and he took it.

That ended with an NBL championship, the Nuggets beating the Manawatu Jets 79-77 in Saturday’s final in Auckland.

"It feels like a weird story of my life," he said.

"I came back from Switzerland to quickly visit the family. I had about eight flight cancellations, just cancellation after cancellation.

"I spoke with [Nuggets coach] Brent [Matehaere] and he said ‘well if you’re still here when the Nuggets season starts we’d love to have you on board’.

"It was just making the best out of that opportunity."

After a breakout season in the Swiss top league last year, Hayman was a handy option off the bench for the Nuggets.

He said the win was still sinking in.

It had been special to come back and do it with several mates he had grown up with and played with, some since the under-13s.

"The fact I got to play for Brent [Matehaere] again — my old high school coach — play with Darcy [Knox], Josh [Aitcheson] and Richie [Rodger] who I’ve played 10 or 15 years with, then to finish it all with a national title, it was just the cherry on the top.

"It was a pretty special few weeks."

He will not be hanging around though. Tomorrow — all things going well — he will fly back to Switzerland to rejoin his Nyon team and resume his studies.

The Covid-19 situation had flared up slightly there since lockdown measures were lifted. The country was recording about 200 new cases a day, he said.

He was not concerned by that, though.

His team would start playing in October and would be straight into training camp, although he hoped to get a couple of weeks’ rest.

Despite, that, he admitted it was tempting to stay on.

"I think that’s the first question everyone asked me after we won — you’ll have to come back next year now.

"It is [tempting]. When I was in Switzerland it was always I’d never rule the Nuggets out in my mind.

"For me it goes both ways. Winning a championship can be a bittersweet ending or you can look at it as the start of something new.

"Not next year, but I’m definitely keeping my eye on it for the future."

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