SBL season preview – Geraldton Buccaneers
THE Geraldton Buccaneers did everything right last season except win the SBL championship and now they will be desperate to go one better in 2015 and the majority of the same team is back again to attempt to do that.
The Buccaneers finished on top of the standings at the end of the 2014 regular season with a 19-7 record and then beat the South West Slammers and Lakeside Lightning in two straight games to qualify for the grand final.
That meant Geraldton was on a six-game winning streak heading into the grand final, but they ended up coming up short in the championship decider against the East Perth Eagles.
The Buccaneers have now won just the one championship from six SBL grand final appearances but they built a great culture and chemistry in the group last season in Mark Heron's first season as coach, and now they all want to stick around to try and win the championship in 2015.
And they certainly appear to have the group that can do just that if things go their way and in particular with their intimidating home-court advantage with the sell-out crowds at Active West Stadium.
Former NBL swingman Bennie Lewis is back with the Buccs again in 2015 after another stint in the NBA D-League with Carter Cook also returning as an import joined by new arrival Quincy Hawkins-Cole.
The other significant change from last season is the return of veteran point guard Daniel Thomas after he made the move to the Mandurah Magic, but was struck down with an Achilles injury last season.
With the stars returning, the experience of Thomas back and a potentially exciting second import in Hawkins-Cole on board, added to the pain of losing last year's grand final, and the Buccaneers to appear to enter 2015 as the team in the men's SBL competition to beat.
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY
Return all of most years GF team and add DT. Didn't see the new import at the blitz, but providing he's decent, these guys will maintain the level from last year. Another year of experience for Hez as a head coach will be a big factor as well.
My Prediction: 2nd
Carter Cook and Bennie Lewis return to form an impressive starting five. Daniel Thomas, if fit after his Achilles tendon injury, will be a key ingredient for the Buccaneers to challenge for the title. Geraldton are an incredibly tough team to beat on their home floor in front of the most vocal fan base in the league.
My Prediction: 3rd
I think they are hungry and will be very hard to beat at home this year in front of sell-out crowds at Active West Stadium and can see them finishing top of the table.
My Prediction: 1st