The Sal's NBL men's season is fast approaching and as pre-season gathers pace the player signings are coming through thick and fast. Amongst the names being confirmed by teams is a host of players switching teams, which of course will make for some rousing battles during the season.
Based on player signings to Thursday March 12, here's our top five games to look for if you want to see a player, or players, going up against their former team.
1. Thursday April 9 - Hawks vs Saints
What a way to open the season! Not only will we get to see the two 2019 Grand Finalists do battle first-up, but we'll also get to see Zico Coronel (coach) and Dion Prewster in Wellington Saints singlets, and that number of former Taylor Hawke's Bay Hawks could increase yet given Coronel's intimate knowledge and connection to his former Hawks outfit.
2. Friday May 15 - Airs vs Sharks
Two former Steelformers Taranaki Mountainairs guards have headed to the deep south to join the SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks during the off-season and this game will be their first time back in New Plymouth, however this time they'll be in orange instead of black and yellow. Alonzo Burton and Dane Brooks were two of Taranaki's very best players last season, so this game is sure to come with a level of appreciation from the locals, but no doubt a desire to also beat the former Airs duo.
3. Friday May 8 - Bulls vs Saints
Did someone say Leon Henry won't be in a Saints singlet this season? Has the basketball world gone mad? One of the league's most recognised stars has headed north and was unveiled as the EnviroNZ Franklin Bulls first ever signing, and there's a strong sense he may also be the team's first ever captain. It will be odd seeing Henry in different colours, but be assured he'll be going all out to upset his former team in this clash.
4. Thursday May 14 - Giants vs Saints
These two clash in Wellington on April 24, but it's their second clash we have slotted in as our 4th pick because that's when a much-loved Aussie returns to Nelson. The Saints have successfully scooped up a prized import in Kyle Adnam, who of course has played in the League before when he suited up for the Giants a couple of years ago. Despite the Giants fans hoping for a home-town victory, the stands will be filled with lots of Adnam admirers keen to see one of their favourites back at the Trafalgar Centre.
Now, read everything above and then insert the name Finn Delany instead of Kyle Adnam! Even though Delany didn't play last season, you can take the boy out of Nelson, but you can't take Nelson out of the boy! It will feel weird for Giants fans when they go along and see Delany in opposition colours, especially for the all-conquering Saints, but it's going to happen on May 14.
5. Saturday May 9 - Rams vs Hawks
Guess who'll be waiting for the Hawks when they come to visit the Wheeler Motor Company Canterbury Rams on May 9? None other than EJ Singler, who we must remember made last year's Sal's NBL All-Star 5. Singler was a star for the Hawks in 2019, and then backed it up with a season in the ANBL with Brisbane. Now, complete with his headband / headgear / bandana (we're actually not too sure what it is), Singler has been snapped up by the Rams and will call Canterbury home in 2020.