Youthful Nuggets out to make most of opportunities

Brent Matehaere
Brent Matehaere
The uniforms are in the mail.

Some of the players are yet to meet each other.

And planning has been very limited.

But Otago Nuggets coach Brent Matehaere is looking
forward to seeing what some of his younger players are capable of when the National Basketball League tips off next week.

"Our strengths are basically youthful exuberance," he said.

The Nuggets have a wily veteran in Jarrod Kenny and Jordan Ngatai will carry a heavy scoring load.

But the bulk of the squad are younger guys who do not necessarily have a lot of experience in the league.

For guard Darcy Knox, it will be his first run at the top level.

He has been a standout performer at club level but has not had an opportunity to play for Otago.

"You can tell at training that he is just champing at the bit for this opportunity. He has been waiting for this and made a point of training really well after the draft the other night.

"He is kind of like ‘I want to prove a point and I want game time’."

The Nuggets pulled out of the league in 2014 and the latest attempt to resuscitate the team had been focused on next season.

But Covid-19 forced the league into a rethink. The revamped tournament was much more accessible for the Nuggets and the side will make its return on June 24 when it plays the Manawatu Jets.

All 56 games are being staged in Auckland and the tournament will be wrapped up in six weeks.

The Nuggets did not get a lot of time to do any planning given they were focused on 2021. They will not meet as a complete squad until tomorrow night and will train together for the first time the next day.

Hopefully, their uniforms will have arrived by then. They are understood to be in transit from China.

Their strip, like the team, will have come a long way in a short time.

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