Giants hunger behind them securing a return to playoffs
THE Silver Lake Resources Goldfields Giants have confirmed their first SBL playoff appearance in three years as one of the form teams of the competition heading towards the post-season, and coach Michael Haney puts it down to his talented group learning how to play together.
The Giants won just a combined 10 games the past two SBL seasons and haven’t made the playoffs since 2012, but this 2015 team might be the best unit they have put together since 2009 when they finished the regular season with a 21-5 record in second position.
Goldfields started the season slowly losing its first eight matches before a win over East Perth and since then the Giants have won 12 of 16 games including seven of the last eight to have locked in a playoff spot following wins over the Rockingham Flames and Perth Redbacks last weekend.
Jay Bowie, Jacob Holmen and Mathiang Muo have been the keys behind the Giants' resurgence and have become one of the very best trios in the entire SBL but Russell Hurst, Brandon Hewitt-Holloway, Edin Zunic and Shamus Ballantyne are certainly making strong contributions as well.
Haney is in his first season as coach of the Giants and is proud to now see his team playing with the hard edge that he always had as a player.
"I think it's just been a matter of gelling. We had a whole new squad and a whole new coaching staff, but we are now coming together and the guys have bought into the work ethic that I want and that I played with as a player," Haney told SBL Slam on SonshineFM 98five.
"I want that relentless attitude of not giving in and we have some really good players. If they are playing well and our guys around them are contributing, we're hard to beat."
Having that hunger to keep winning to ensure they make up for the 0-8 start and needing to keep winning to make the playoffs is something that Haney has helped his Giants team perform how they have been, including last weekend against both the Flames and Redbacks.
"We are a gritty team and we have been playing a lot of games where we were hungrier than our opponents, and on Saturday night we were hungrier than Rockingham," Haney said.
"They didn’t have to win that game and we kind of did, and that made a big difference. Then on Sunday we were the hunted against because Perth needed to win, but we have shown a lot of toughness and grit, and I think we are still growing as a team."
While Holmen and Muo are having outstanding seasons as well for the Giants, Haney can't speak highly enough of what Bowie has been able to bring this year with him averaging 25.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists a game while shooting 51.7 per cent from the field, 37.2 per cent from three-point range and 82.4 per cent from the foul line.
"Jay is a phenomenal player," Haney said.
"He's a great kid as well who works his tail off every day and all that hard work that he puts in, mean that he will make shots and we are doing a good job of giving him the ball in the right spots and he performs."
Article by Chris Pike
Photo by Mick Cronin