Jets ready to face Saints challenge
The Manawatu Jets can welcome back star forward Jeremiah Trueman just as they are heading into their toughest patch of the season against the Wellington Saints tonight.
Trueman has returned from the Perth Wildcats' Australian NBL finals campaign against the New Zealand Breakers which finished on Tuesday.
It is a timely return just as the Jets head into a stretch of five games in eight days, starting with Wellington tonight and competition leaders the Bay Hawks in Napier tomorrow.
After not getting much game time this season with the Wildcats, Trueman was keen to clock up some minutes on the court.
"It [Perth] was a great team to be part of," he said. "The hardest thing was not playing. I was going up against the best bigs in the league every day in practice. Not playing is probably the hardest thing I had to deal with."
During Perth's trainings he had the tough job of guarding the likes of Luke Nevill (2.18m), Matthew Knight (2.04m), Shawn Redhage (2.02m) and Jesse Wagstaff (2.03m).
After the Breakers won the finals series 2-1, Trueman said he was probably the only New Zealander disappointed to see the Wildcats lose the championship.
"It was definitely an empty feeling. It was a great series. Both teams fought really hard but at the end of the day we turned the ball over too many times, missed a few key offensive rebounds and left CJ Bruton open."
Trueman is a handy addition to the side, but after the weekend he is returning to Perth for a week for their end-of-season ball and then would be back.
Jets coach Ryan Weisenberg said Trueman brought a couple of key things to the side.
"Offensively he's another scorer that can go inside out," Weisenberg said. "Being six foot nine is quite a stretch to defend. The last year we've been putting a lot of work on his outside game ... he's a hell of a rebounder. He's got a lot of energy that helps Nick and Dustin on the boards.
"Defensively he's been well coached over in Perth and our systems are similar. He comes in and knows what we're expecting of him."
Forward Dustin Mitchell has been cleared after tearing tendons in his fingers last week and Weisenberg was hopeful Marcel Jones' citizenship would have been approved by today so the American could play as a New Zealand player.
If they play alongside key men like the league's leading rebounder Nick Horvath and Josh Pace, then they should be hard for any team to match.
Weisenberg was waiting on the availability of players like Jones and Mitchell before naming his team. Palmerston North's Tia Temata-Frost won't be playing after injuring his hand last week.
Manawatu Jets: (from) Dustin Mitchell, Jeremiah Trueman, Josh Pace, Kaine Hokianga, Marcel Jones, Matt Te Huna, Mike Homik, Miles Pearce, Nick Fee, Nick Horvath, Ryan Funnell, Steve Hansen, Thomas Bartlett, Zane Meehl, Zeke Meehl.
Wellington Saints: (from) Arthur Trousdell, Casey Frank, Damien Ekenasio, Ernest Scott, Hayden Whelan, Jason Crowe, Jeremy Kench, Jordan Mills, Jordan Ngatai, Martin Iti, Ross Taurima, Tom Vodanovich, Troy Mclean.
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