McLeod keen to coach Saints again

01:43, Jan 31 2009

Gordon McLeod is back and there is growing optimism that he may coach the Wellington Saints in next year's National Basketball League.

The Australian Boomers assistant coach arrived in Wellington last week and has begun coaching an extended Saints development squad at Porirua's new Te Rauparaha Arena.

Though there is no guarantee he will sign up to coach the Saints, McLeod is clearly enthusiastic about a second stint in New Zealand's NBL.

"I came over and I wanted to be coaching and working, so we will see how it evolves," he said. As far as coaching the Saints went, "if things work out then yes, that's certainly a possibility".

McLeod, who is passionate about developing raw talent, clearly has unfinished business in Wellington.

He coached the Saints to the semifinals in 2006 after signing a three-year contract, but was released early to take up the reins of the new Singapore Slingers franchise in the Australian league. With the collapse of the Slingers this season, he has become available again and, having stayed in touch with Saints owner Nick Mills, jumped at the chance to return to Wellington.

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"This is fantastic. I'm loving working with the young blokes," he said. "The timing was really good.

"I came back from Singapore looking to do something and Nick said he wanted to start the pre-season development programme. We'd talked about a shared vision last time I was here and it's just a great opportunity for the region."

The Saints have identified a group of 16 young players from Porirua, Hutt Valley, and Wellington as "potential future Saints" and McLeod has been charged with improving their skills both individually and in a team framework.

The squad, which includes seven junior Tall Blacks, is training two days on, one day off up to Christmas with senior Saints players also involved.

American Doug Marty coached the club last season, but has been ruled out due to the falling New Zealand dollar, and McLeod's return would be a major boost.

Saints training squad: Arthur Trousdell, Troy Mclean, Matt Te Huna, Cory Vessey, David Hopoi, Jordan Mills, Hugh Quinlivan, Boyd Scirkovich, Brook Ruscoe, Tipene Friday, Micaah Lepaio, Jake Ashby, David Beck, Thomas Webb, Hemi Pairama-Lewington, Riki Buckrell, Tom du Chatenier, Steve Adams, Josh Williams.

The Dominion Post