Otago Daily Times

Changed squad aims high

- JEFF CHESHIRE Sports · Otago Region · National Basketball League (Australasien) · Dunedin

THE squad is rel­a­tively new.

Ex­pec­ta­tions are very much the same from the Otago Gold Rush, though.

Plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence is gone and seven of its 13­player squad were not there last year.

But as it be­gins its NBL sea­son on Mon­day, against the Har­bour Breeze in Auck­land, it is not low­er­ing its stan­dards.

Each team has just five games in the re­vamped league.

To make the semi­fi­nals it needs to make the top four.

That leaves lit­tle room for er­ror and putting on a strong show­ing straight away was go­ing to be its fo­cus.

‘‘You’ve got five games and then you’re into play­offs,’’ coach Gavin Briggs said.

‘‘We want to go out there and be com­pet­i­tive in every sin­gle game and we’re ab­so­lutely striv­ing to make the play­offs.

‘‘There will be de­vel­op­ment, there al­ways is when you’ve got new faces coming in with ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers.

‘‘But it’s a sprint, one game is done and into the next one, it’s done.’’

Its most po­tent threats are in its for­ward line­up and that is where it boasts most of its ex­pe­ri­ence.

Zoe Richards will be piv­otal, the Tall Fern be­ing the side’s pri­mary scor­ing threat both inside and outside.

For­mer Tall Fern Lisa Wall­but­ton is classy inside, while Bron­wyn Kjestrup also brings a use­ful all­round game at both ends.

How the guard line­up goes will be im­por­tant.

It is a young group, al­though there is plenty of po­ten­tial.

Tara Clement and Te Araroa Sopoaga both join the side for the first time, both coming off stand­out sea­sons in the Dunedin club sea­son, while Olivia O’Neill will be key as well.

 ??  ?? Gavin Briggs
Gavin Briggs

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