Dillon Boucher is eyeing his Wellington Saints debut tonight with a mixture of excitement and dread.
Excitement, because he believes the Saints have assembled a roster capable of winning the National Basketball League, and dread, because his new coach is old Tall Blacks team-mate Pero Cameron.
"I'm not looking forward to him yelling at me and stuff," laughed Boucher, who will return to his New Plymouth roots to face the Taranaki Mountain Airs.
"But we've got a great friendship off the court. I realise when we're on the court it's a coach-player relationship, it's not friendship and however he needs to get his message across I have to accept it."
Boucher, 37, said Breakers celebrations were still "semi-going" after winning their third successive Australian title last Friday.
But wife Nikki had kindly allowed him "a few sleep-ins" and he was ready for a fresh challenge after retiring from his beloved Breakers.
Boucher has not trained with the Saints this week and he'll join them in New Plymouth for a shoot-around today.
He is about to start work in corporate sales for the Breakers and will commute to Wellington from Auckland for trainings and games.
Boucher will also be Cameron's assistant coach.
"That's the thing I'm most looking forward to, putting our basketball brains together to try and come up with ways of beating teams."
Boucher won the last of his nine NBL rings with the Auckland Pirates last year but both they and Harbour Heat have dropped out of the league for financial reasons.
The Waikato Pistons and Waitakere Rangers return to fill the void and the Saints, runners-up last year, start strong title favourites with the bookmakers.
Boucher did not shy away from that expectation.
"We've definitely got a team that's capable of winning a championship but there's some teams out there that have got some formidable rosters as well and they've probably had a better pre-season than what the Saints have had.
"So for us to be able to win this championship, we're going to have to speed up the process of what we've missed in the pre-season."
Boucher's Breakers team-mate Corey Webster will miss the opening weekend but the Saints expect he and second import Bryant Markson to link with the team next week.
That leaves Lindsay Tait, Casey Frank, Boucher and import Andrew Warren to do the heavy lifting against Taranaki tonight and Waikato in Hamilton tomorrow.
What: National Basketball League, round one
Where: TSB Stadium, New Plymouth
When: 7pm tonight
Taranaki: Kenny Gabriel, Jack Leasure, Aaron Bailey-Nowell, Brad Anderson, Link Abrams, Ethan Rusbatch, Sid Adams, Willie Banks, Eli Paurini, Dane Brooks, Andrew Green, Kurtis Elliot, Ben Crombie, Jackson Stubbins
Saints: Andrew Warren, Casey Frank, Lindsay Tait, Dillon Boucher, Arthur Trousdell, Damien Ekenasio, Mike Homik, Jordan Mills, Jason Thompson, Hemi Pairama-Lewington, Kiki Kiriau
- The Dominion Post
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