WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club coach Gary Smith will give young and local players a chance to shine for the club in the upcoming EBL Division 1 season.
Thunder finished fourth in their first season back in the EBL after three years in the British Basketball League last season and the veteran playcaller has said that in order to bring back the best days at Worthing again, they have to start fresh.
He said: “For this season, I think going to local guys more, helping them grow and mature as players will not only help them in the long term, but help us as well because their passion for the sport and their drive and hunger to succeed and get better will be a positive.
“No doubt this will be a different season than usual and it is the start of a long road ahead but it’s an exciting challenge and, in a way, it’s a new era and a new chapter for Worthing Thunder Basketball Club.”
The club have been holding open training sessions to sign new players and Smith has seen potential in a lot of the players who have been coming to those open runs.
He said: “Along with the college kids in the States and some who play abroad who are playing to keep fit, we’ve concentrated on the players who come down and our main goal is to find players who can do a job in this league.
“So far, there have been quite a few that I think can do a decent job in the EBL. Players that can keep up with play, that can shoot, play defence, can read the plays. It’s been very positive so far.”
Smith hopes to make signings soon but concedes that this year’s line-up might not include imports: “We’ll see what happens, you never know.
“But, I’m focusing on these open-runs and what local players I can sign for this season. In honesty, I’m not thinking of imports right now because I want the focus to be on the young guys because I’m thinking of them maturing into better players and I’m also thinking long term, the longevity of this basketball club. You might say I’ve been watching the Olympic Games and their message really spoke to me.”
Thunder chairman Frank Gainsbury added: “This is a real opportunity for us to get some of our local players more involved in the club again. The club has a rich heritage of Sussex-based players generating success for the club and we have a healthy junior organisation which identifies and brings through some amazing talent.
“We must ensure that we encourage these players and provide them with every opportunity to play regularly and more often with the senior team, rather than lose them to some of our competitors. I am sure that this approach is in the best long-term interest of the club.”
Thunder begin the new season with a trip to Leicester Warriors in the National Trophy on September 15, with their first home game, in the same competition, on September 22 against Medway Park Crusaders.