Capital Swish, the Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) Division 2 winners in 2019, will make a welcome return to the top flight of women’s basketball when they step on to the court at the Sal’s NBL 18IN18.
Amongst those returning from the 2019 campaign are Fijian international Letava Whippy and Maia Jean Watene.
The Swish defeated cross-town rivals, Wellington, in last year's grand final and have wisely recruited several players from their opponents that day.
Leah Mafua, Sariah Penese and Paris Lokotui will be amongst those making the switch for 2020.
Swish Head Coach Deslea Wrathall is naturally looking forward to the commencement of 18IN18.
“Given the issues with COVID-19, it is very exciting to be able to run a league and promote basketball.
“Team preparation has started but we still need to do some work to be ready to play. Although training and game planning had already been completed prior to the start of the season, there's some minor adjustments needed to keep the plan is intact.”
Whilst the 18 games in 18 days programme presents some challenges, Wrathall is confident her girls will cope with the demands presented.
“Women are resilient and in previous years we have played back-to-back games at tournaments, so this is something they have all experienced, the travel distance is not that far and we are staying in the same time zones.”
“Perhaps more challenging will be the ability of players to get time off work and not use all their leave for basketball only. There is a necessity to build mental resilience with a season like this.”
“We have lost key talent to overseas endeavours and some of our players cannot make all the games.
Nevertheless, the former Tall Fern is intent on building a team that will be ambassadors for the Wellington region and appeal to the fans watching on Sky Sport.
“One of the keys we need to work on is ensuring the product we put on the court appeals to the broader community and most importantly to rangatahi.
“Team culture and leadership are important as is knowing your players as people first. A great coach once said: ‘I coach people first’.
“Knowing who my players are, where they come from and where they want to go in life is vitally important.
The Sal’s NBL 18IN18 tips-off on Thursday 19 November when defending champions the Auckland Dream take on the Waikato Wizards at Pulman Arena.
The Swish's campaign gets underway on Saturday 21 November when they take on the Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats.
Check out the Swish's full roster along with all five other 18IN18 teams here.