SBL season preview – Goldfields Giants

THE Goldfields Giants will be looking to make the SBL playoffs for the first time in three years in 2015 and with a new coach, and two exciting imports they might just be capable of giving it a real shake.

The Giants have only managed to win 10 of 52 matches the past two SBL seasons finishing on 5-21 records both times, which meant a 13th place finish in 2013 and ending up in last position in 2014, but they do look capable of a vast improvement in 2015.

Michael Haney replaces Marcus Taylor as coach of the Goldfields and the Giants have been used to success over their time in the SBL, or at least since a tough first three seasons, and they will not want to miss the playoffs for a third straight season.

The only time the Giants have missed post-season action for three consecutive years was the first three seasons of the competition in 1989, 90 and 91.

Along the way, they have made six grand final appearances and won two championships so it is a proud SBL franchise and one that desperately wants to be back at the pointy end of the standings.

And in helping that cause for the Giants is the return of Shamus Ballantyne after he originally played 153 matches with the club and captained the back-to-back championships in 2007 and 2008.

Since then, he had stints with the Willetton Tigers and Geraldton Buccaneers, including being a key part of the Buccs' run to the grand final last season, but now he is back to the Giants and to help them become a force again.

Helping his case will be two exciting imports in Jacob Holmen and Jay Bowie.

Holmen is in his first year out of college after a successful four-year stint with his hometown North Texas University and now the power forward looks capable of having a powerful impact for the Giants.

Bowie will switch between the two and three spots for the Giants this season with him coming off a strong college career and then gaining experience over the past 12 months firstly in the NBA D-League with the Delaware 87ers before heading overseas.

He had an outstanding career with the Marist Red Foxes with the swingman finishing off his college career in the 2013/14 season where he started all 31 games averaging 12.1 points and 5.2 rebounds a game while shooting 42 per cent from the field, 43 per cent from three-point range and 81 per cent from the line.

With Ballantyne's experience, and the potential production of Holmen and Bowie, the Giants should again be able to compete for a playoff spot in 2015.

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY

STEPHEN CHARLTON

My old mate Coach Haney will have these guys playing hard, or they will have to deal with him. And no one wants that!!! With their imports looking nice at the Blitz, and some added depth from interstate they will be improved on 2014. The old club has had it tough the last few years, but I truly see this starting to turn this year. Depth and experience will make these guys much more competitive. And will be great to see Shamus back in Giants colours.

My Prediction: 12th

MATT CECINS
Michael Haney will start his head-coaching career where he starred as a player. Ballantyne returning to the Giants will provide stability and leadership that was clearly lacking last year. Holmen and Bowie look to be valuable import additions. The latter may have to play a lot of minutes at the shooting guard position, as there is a clear deficiency there, however he has a smooth shooting stroke and will provide teams with plenty of headaches this year. They may pinch the odd game at home, but will struggle on the road this season.

My Prediction: 12th

CHRIS PIKE
Looked good at the pre-season Blitz, two new imports Jacob Holmen and Jay Bowie looked impressive and we will definitely see improvement this year.

My Prediction: 12th




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