Impressive big man Suleiman Braimoh snubs Mountain Airs for Bay Hawks

Suleiman Braimoh scores for the Taranaki Mountain Airs in a match last year.
Andy Jackson/Fairfax NZ

Suleiman Braimoh scores for the Taranaki Mountain Airs in a match last year.

Suleiman Braimoh is back in the country playing basketball.

But he won't be suiting up for the Taranaki Mountain Airs in this year's National Basketball League starting on Thursday.

Instead the big man will be playing for the Bay Hawks after signing with them last week.

"We wanted him back and we tried hard to get him here," said Augusta Taranaki coach Daryn Shaw. "We put together a good package by our standards, one that we thought was very competitive.

"But he wasn't able to commit back then and we moved on."

Shaw admitted he was surprised Braimoh had signed with the Hawks.

"It's surprising. But I've got no hard feeling. I wish him all the best," he said.

"We were disappointed at the time when he told us he couldn't commit to playing here but we got over that. He's a great guy and was great for us. It will be interesting when we play the Hawks."

Braimoh was an instant hit in the New Zealand league last year.

He averaged 24.9 points and 12.2 rebounds per game for the Mountain Airs in 2014 and was the winner of the most outstanding forward at the end-of-year awards.

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He was also named in the All Star Five and won four straight player of the week awards.

The good news for the Mountain Airs days before their first NBL match of the season - against the Wellington Saints in New Plymouth on Thursday - is that their two imports have arrived.

Shooting point guard Chris Hagan has had experience in the New Zealand league with the Manawatu Jets, while forward Aaron Fuller has played professionally in Portugal and Canada.

"We've also got two new young players in Ashton McQueen and Dyson King-Hawea, along with players like Aaron Bailey-Nowell and Brad Anderson," said Shaw.

"We're loaded at the guard spot but lacking a little in size. We'll be viewed as a small team but I like to think our bigs are pretty flexible, quite mobile. We'll be a fast team.

"We'll play defence at a high intensity level and play hard man-on-man basketball."

Missing from last year's squad are import Adrian Oliver who is in Mexico, Nash Oh (Korea), Kaye McKee (studying in the United States) and Aled Jones (at university in Christchurch).

Mountain Airs squad: Chris Hagan, Aaron Fuller, Aaron Bailey-Nowell, Brad Anderson, Ashton McQueen, Dyson King-Hawea, Derek Albertsen, Dane Brooks, Xavier Shaw, Todd Fisher, Lachie Fenwick, Jackson Stubbins, Trent Harper, Quintin Bailey; coach, Daryn Shaw, assistant, Willie Banks.

 - Taranaki Daily News

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