Phoenix dream big in second NBL season
It will be finals or bust for South East Melbourne Phoenix in NBL21.
The Phoenix have been boosted by a strong off-season recruiting campaign for their second season in the competition.
Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell has gradually introduced key components to his team in recent months and all the ingredients that have come together seem to be pointing to a finals berth.
The Phoenix have a nice balance of local stars and imports.
Mitch Creek, who only last year broke into the NBA, is a perfect player for the Phoenix to build around.
Creek is one of the best forwards in the NBL and a fixture in the Australian Boomers team.
Cam Gliddon, one of the premier shooters in the league, has crossed to the Phoenix after a stint with Brisbane Bullets.
Gliddon is also an Australian Boomers representative.
Expect point guard Kyle Adnam to be one of the team’s big improvers.
Adnam, who is likely to start the season as the back-up point guard, drew glowing praise for his preseason form.
Two-time NBL champion Adam Gibson has returned. So, too, has centre Dane Pineau.
Speaking of experience, New Zealander Reuben Te Rangi, also a two-time NBL champion, will provide that in spades.
Te Rangi arrives at the Phoenix still in his prime at 26.
Another Kiwi, Yanni Wetzell, will be striving to lock down the starting centre position.
Wetzell, 24, had an illustrious college career, including a starting role on a San Diego State team that went 30-2 in a season.
The sharpshooting Kendall Stephens will give the Phoenix serious potency from long range.
Stephens broke the single season record for three-pointers made for the University of Nevada.
While Stephens grew up in the US, he was born in Geelong and is considered a local player, which is an added bonus for the Phoenix.
South East Melbourne’s local and Kiwi contingent is strong without even factoring in the acquisition of two new imports expected to be members of the starting five.
Keifer Sykes will likely be given the keys to the car as the Phoenix’s on-court general.
Sykes has G League experience in the US and has played EuroLeague in Europe.
While he only stands at 180cm, Sykes is known for his big hops, making highlight-reel dunks look routine. He is an elite scorer from all areas of the court.
The other new import, Ben Moore, is also a frequent flyer.
The power forward/centre has been on the NBA rosters of San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers.
When you look at the South East Melbourne’s depth chart, it has no glaring holes.
All the pieces seem to have fallen into place for the Phoenix to rise into finals contention.