Jets stronger as Homik joins for NBL

BIG BOPPER: Mike Homik will add much-needed grunt to the Manawatu Jets next season.
BIG BOPPER: Mike Homik will add much-needed grunt to the Manawatu Jets next season.

Mike Homik has never lost a National Basketball League finals series he has played in and that record prompted the Manawatu Jets to sign him for next year.

The 2.03m power forward has been lured to Palmerston North from the Waikato Pistons after an injury-plagued season saw him barely play last year, as the Hamilton-based franchise lost in the finals to Wellington, without Homik.

He has won four NBL titles, two with the Auckland Stars and a brace of them with Waikato, and wants to add to his collection.

"That's a goal of mine," he said. "It sounds like they've got a good team together [in Manawatu] and I'm used to American coaches.

"It's a good change of energy for me, too."

The former Tall Black is expected to move to Palmerston North early in the new year, but nothing has been confirmed yet.

What is confirmed though is Homik will fill a hole in the Jets' roster bringing important bulk, something they lacked last season.

The 32-year-old, who played in the Continental Basketball League in the United States for the Idaho Stampede, is also a keen amateur boxer, kickboxer and mixed martial artist.

He said despite his injury woes last season, he was back in shape and recently tipped the scales at 120kg.

Jets coach Ryan Weisenberg was excited about the acquisition of Homik and had clear designs on what he would bring.

"Everything we needed last year. We needed rebounding and screen setting," Weisenberg said.

"But I think the most important thing he brings to the team is championship experience.

"We are going to unleash the beast ... We were looking for that type of player.

"He is going to fit in really nicely with the team that we have."

The Jets' roster has filled out to eight players and Weisenberg said they would carry about 15 in their squad, with 12 suiting up at home games and 10 to travel to away fixtures.

American Darryl Hudson has been playing regularly for the Gold Coast Blaze in the Australian National Basketball League, while new recruit Jeremiah Trueman has been getting court time with the Perth Wildcats. Jets assistant coach Dave Craig said they weren't turning off Manawatu youngsters by bringing in players from out of the area.

"I think we've got to be realistic too," he said.

"If we had a town full of talent, they'd be on the Jets right now; but we don't."

Craig said they wanted to carry a few development players in their extended squad with an eye to pushing them into the top 12 in the next two or three years.

Jets coaches Weisenberg and Craig want to see next year's home crowds boosted and have teamed up with website to sell season tickets on special.

From tomorrow, fans can log on to the website and buy season passes for only $25, which gives them entry to 10 home games next year.

The NBL season starts in April.

Manawatu Standard