The Mike Pero Nelson Giants enter the 2019 Sal’s NBL season with a desire to go one step better than last year. The men from the top of South Island finished second place in the regular season with a 14-4 record, but could not emulate that same form in the Final 4 and would go down to eventual champions the SIT Zerofees Sharks in 98-93 semi-final loss.
The Giants have over half of last year’s squad returning for the upcoming Sal’s NBL season and will use last year’s shortcomings as motivation to push forward in the postseason. The first step in this progression was the appointment of new Head Coach Mike Fitchett. The assistant coach for both the NZ Breakers and NZ Tall Blacks takes over on court operations in what is meant to his offseason, but Fitchett says his desire to be around the hardwood never dwindles.
“I’m hopeful I can go on to be the Head Coach of the Tall Blacks one day and to do that you’ve got to be a head coach and gain some experience.
“Getting the opportunity to coach the team in my hometown was something I didn’t want to pass up and I’m really excited for this year and our fans should be as well with the talent we have.
“We’ve picked up some great young players and with our more experienced guys like Sam Dempster and Tom Ingham plus our imports, I’m confident we have the means to put together a winning formula.”
Notable losses for the boys in blue are guard Kyle Adnam and Damon Heuir, both of whom carried the bulk of the Giant’s scoring and setting up of points. They will also be without star forward Finn Delaney for the first half of the season due to playing commitments in Serbia. This means the keys to the offence will fall into someone else’s lap and they aren’t without options.
New recruits Tyrell Harrison and Kruz Perrott-Hunt join the fray as players with huge potential. Harrison arrives after a two-year stint with Brisbane Bullets in the ANBL and provides a 7ft lob threat with capable post scoring and rim protection. Perrott-Hunt, however, is a silky guard out of secondary school powerhouse, Rosmini College. The 6’3” playmaker was named the best defensive player at a Nike Asia Camp in China last year and will act as a ball stopper in the team’s backcourt.
Some other big-name additions are the signings of Australian youngsters Daniel Grida and Rhys Vague, both of whom have crossed the ditch off the back time in the ANBL. The team has also retained world renown glass cleaner and legend Mika Vukona, but it is unconfirmed as to when he will suit up this season as he is still recovering from an achilles injury. Nonetheless, Vukona will provide veteran leadership to a relatively young Giants roster.
The Giants open their Sal’s NBL season against the Taranaki Steelformers Mountainairs on Saturday April 13, where they will look to protect home-court and continue their dominance at the Trafalgar Centre.
Season tickets are available now from the Trafalgar Centre. For more information visit www.giants.nz/buy-tickets.