Wellington Saints fancied as strongest NBL team

MURRAY HILLS
Last updated 05:00 17/04/2013

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The Wellington Saints look the team to beat in this year's NBL starting on Friday.

Stacked with talent after some smart recruiting in the off-season, the Saints will be aiming for their fifth final in the past six seasons. In last year's final, they lost 89-83 to the Auckland Pirates who aren't in the league this year.

Off-season signings include Lindsay Tait, Corey Webster and Dillon Boucher. Experienced players Mike Homik and Arthur Trousdell join former Cairns Taipan player Andrew Warren, who fills one of the import roles.

The Bay Hawks, coached this year by Tab Baldwin, should also soar high. They have opted for a European import in Darko Cohaderevic, along with American Brian Greene, who is a versatile guard-forward. Everard Bartlett returns to the side after a season with the Perth Wildcats.

The Manawatu Jets finished fourth last year, with the import roles taken by Marcel Jones and Chris Hagan. Last year's MVP Nick Horvath is always a handful, as is veteran guard Troy McLean and former Taranaki player Jeremiah Trueman.

The Taranaki Mountain Airs finished fifth last year. Veteran Willie Banks returns to the league after last playing in 2005, with import Jack Leasure back for a fourth season. The side's other import is big man Kenny Gabriel.

The Nelson Giants' line-up is led by Phill Jones and Mika Vukona strengthened by Josh Pace and Erron Maxey.

The Southland Sharks have picked up rookie of the year Reuben Te Rangi and Morgan Natanahira. Their imports are Kevin Braswell and Brian Conklin.

Hayden Allen and Brendon Polybank are with the Otago Nuggets this year. With Mark Dickel returning for a second season, the Nuggets could surprise if the likes of B J Anthony fire.

Super City Rangers return a West Auckland team to the league after a long break. They will rely on import Carl Buck. Also back, after a one-year absence, are the Waikato Pistons. Former Harbour Heat centre Zack Atkinson and Vernon Hamilton are the side's imports.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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