WITH the National Basketball League (NBL) less than a couple of months away, nine of the competition’s teams will be gearing up to back up or improve on last season’s performance, with plenty of experience and knowledge of what’s required to succeed at this level.
However, the circumstances are vastly different for one side, with the Tasmania JackJumpers entering the league for their debut season, with much more of a challenge to face than the other sides. They will be taking the court for the first time in the club’s history, and this presents both a tough task and an exciting opportunity.
The JackJumpers will be hitting the NBL for the first time, and have brought in some veteran experience to try and outbalance the potential problems that may come with too much youth. The team has added Clint Steindl, who will bring 229 games worth of NBL experience, which will likely prove invaluable when the team enters its first year of action. Also acquired were Jarrad Weeks (193 games), Jack McVeigh (99 games) and Fabijan Krslovic (81 games), and with such a young inaugural side, it will be vital for the young players to lean on the team’s vets throughout the season.
The JackJumpers will also benefit from having an experienced coach at the helm, with Scott Roth well-equipped to take this young team into their first season of action. Roth brings NBA experience both at a playing and coaching level, and this knowledge will be likely relied on throughout the year, particularly in their opening months.
The JackJumpers are the second expansion side to enter the league in the past three years, with the South East Melbourne Phoenix about to embark on their third campaign. The Phoenix entered the league prior to the 2019-20 season, as the second team in their city. The team’s preseason was boosted by the signing of star Mitchell Creek, who was able to provide valuable experience, which is what the JackJumpers will be hoping to receive from the players mentioned above.
The Phoenix kicked off their club history with a terrific start to the 2019-20 season, defeating their cross-town rivals in Melbourne United, and were able to sit in second place after seven games. Despite this strong start, the Phoenix delivered a disappointing finish to the season and were unable to make finals, due to a lack of consistency that comes with experience in the league.
This may seem negative for the aspirations of the JackJumpers, but the Phoenix showed shortly after, that it may not take new sides too long to make an impact in the league. The Phoenix were able to turn this around in their second season, making the finals series after a fourth place regular season finish. This is a clear demonstration of how fast expansion sides can find their feet in the league.
With the state of Tasmania behind them, the JackJumpers will have plenty of excitement and expectation behind them heading into the upcoming season. However, history shows they may not need to wait too long to find their mojo and get some runs on the board.
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