Discussions are continuing between the Taranaki Mountain Airs and star import Suleiman Braimoh about his return to the franchise next season.
Mountain Airs coach Daryn Shaw said securing the signature of Braimoh would be a priority after the side wrapped up their National Basketball League season away to the Saints on Friday.
"We want him desperately and we'll be talking to him as soon as the season is over. He's a real key to the future and we'll be looking at another import."
The Mountain Airs parted ways with fellow import Adrian Oliver earlier this month after the two sides came to a mutual agreement about his lack of match fitness and his ability to complete the NBL league programme.
While Shaw called it unfortunate, he said the franchise would need a similar player to Oliver, someone who could average a high number of points.
If they could find someone, as well as getting Braimoh to return, then it would only help continue the progress his young squad of largely local players had made through a development year.
Although there was progress made by a number of young players, including the likes of Brad Anderson and Dane Brooks, Braimoh's return would be needed if the Mountain Airs are to improve their winning percentage above the 31.25 they had achieved so far in 2014.
His influence is clear in the season-to-date statistics which show him averaging the fourth-highest number of points scored for players who have turned out more than 10 times.
Braimoh's average of 23.9 points per match has him only behind Super City Rangers' Jason Cadee (26.9), the Saints Corey Webster (26.4) and Sharks player Kevin Braswell (24.7).
However, Braimoh's true influence can be found in his rebound statistics where he was the only player in the top eight scorers who averages in double figures with 12.1.
"We definitely want someone like him [Braimoh], who is hungry and wants to buy in with what we do because he has really helped the young guys," Shaw said.
"Saying that, he is a young import also. For him, he's been able to work on parts of his game that he might not have been able to do on another team. They might have made him strictly a rebounder, so this year has helped him develop his game more."
Speaking after the Mountain Airs' last home game on Sunday, Shaw said he felt his squad had not embarrassed themselves through the campaign.
"I think we've come out and played together. We're not the biggest side going around but the boys have got big hearts."
Shaw said they would also be working hard on trying to find another quality New Zealand player.
"He would have to fit into what we are trying to do, not the other way around. We showed with Adrian [Oliver] that you have to fit in with our culture because we think it's a big thing."
- Taranaki Daily News
Is Ma'a Nonu returning to the Hurricanes ...Related story: Ma'a Nonu's return to Hurricanes confirmed