Airs sign athletic big man

MURRAY HILLS
Last updated 05:00 18/03/2014
Sam Walker
Fairfax NZ
STRONG ADDITION: Former Bay Hawks forward Sam Walker joins the Taranaki Mountain Airs in time for the Blitz basketball tournament in Porirua at the weekend.

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The Taranaki Mountain Airs' playing ranks have been boosted with the signing of another big man.

Former Bay Hawks forward Sam Walker will join the Mountain Airs this week and play in the Blitz basketball tournament in Porirua at the weekend.

"We desperately needed another big man. He'll fit in well and I'm sure he will do the job," Good Home Mountain Airs coach Daryn Shaw said yesterday.

The news comes a day after American man mountain Suleiman Braimoh was named as a replacement for Gabe Knutson.

Braimoh, who is 2.03m and 104kg, was to have played for the Mountain Airs last year, but his application for a work visa was turned down.

This year, things appear to be sorted and Braimoh is due to arrive in New Plymouth by the end of the month.

The Mountain Airs had to look elsewhere when Knutson's team playing in the Slovakia league made the playoffs and he wouldn't have arrived in New Zealand until May - too late with the National Basketball League starting on April 2.

Taranaki's first game is against the Manawatu Jets at the TSB Stadium in New Plymouth on Sunday, April 6, starting at 3pm.

Steve McKean, who along with Willie Banks is assisting Shaw this season, said Walker was an athlete.

"He went to Church College in Hamilton and the year they won the New Zealand secondary schools' title he was named most valuable player at the tournament," McKean said.

"Since then, I haven't had a lot to do with him, but last year I know he didn't get as much time with Hawke's Bay as he would have liked."

McKean said Walker wanted to have another crack at top-level basketball.

"He trialled with Palmerston North and Waikato. He looked at where he could get more court time. If he's willing to work hard and get in good physical shape, there's a chance with Taranaki to play major minutes," McKean said. "At six foot, five or six, there's no doubt he could help this team.

"His destiny is in his hands. He's certainly got the talent."

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