Vikings out to make amends this year after near perfect 2018
BASKETBALL: The Grafton Vikings had a disappointing end to last year's season after losing just two games all year and they will want to make up for their mistakes starting with a strong opener against the Ballina Breakers on Saturday night.
Senior coach Nathan Martin spoke about their shock exit in last year's finals and his team's desire to make good on past hiccups despite a slow start during the pre-season.
"We lost the last round game and then lost in the semi finals so we were out. The boys were pretty disappointed after that so we'll be working hard all season to make sure that doesn't happen again,” he said.
"Preparations haven't been ideal as far as getting players to training. We've got a squad of 14 but we'll be missing six guys this weekend so it's not an ideal way to start but we're pretty confident with the team we've got this weekend that we can get off to a good start against Ballina.”
The Breakers were one of the weaker teams in the Sunshine Basketball Conference last year but Martin wants to make sure his side are without complacency this year.
"In this competition there's not a lot of difference between the top team and the bottom team so we won't be taking it easy on Saturday,” he said.
"We gave them a bit of a touch up in the pre-season tournament in Lismore last month. We beat them by about 20 points but it's hard to know whether that was their full team or not.”
Martin is looking to utilise a combination of experienced squad members and exciting new players as they make a charge for the title.
"The core of the team will be the same as previous years, we'll look to use Hamish Denshire's size and athleticism. Sammy Wicks, who has been in the all star five for the last three years will lead the side again and no doubt lead the competition,” he said.
"We've got a new guy Diasuke Kinoshita. He's a guard that plays at 100 per cent the whole time and I see some big things from him as a strong defender but also as someone who will score points for us too.”
Lane Dellaforce will also make his return to the squad and his size will be a welcome addition with Mitch Wicks stepping down. Martin also hinted at one or two more signings to come as the squad grows stronger.
The season opener tips off at the Grafton Sports Centre at 6pm on Saturday and the Vikings will hope for a strong start before a two week break allows Martin and his men to regroup ahead of a game against new side Bellinger Valley Braves on August 4.