Ballina Breakers coach Marty Smith (centre) is flanked by some of his side’s tall timber (from left) Jake King, Jayden Hetherington, Josh Latkovic and Dario Strebl.
Ballina Breakers coach Marty Smith (centre) is flanked by some of his side’s tall timber (from left) Jake King, Jayden Hetherington, Josh Latkovic and Dario Strebl. JAY CRONAN

Ballina Breakers build a wall

BALLINA Breakers have big plans for their re-entry to the NSW State Basketball League in 2010.

And to carry out his big plans coach Marty Smith has enlisted big men.

Smith only needed one look at his 2010 frontcourt to dub them ‘the wall’.

The nickname brings about memories of the all-conquering Perth Wildcats NBL team whose frontline went by the same name and collected four championships in the 1990s.

Ballina’s twin 202cm towers, Jayden Hetherington and Josh Latkovic, have returned to training in great condition as they battle for the starting centre spot and a chance to add the reputation to the nickname, just like the Wildcats did.

Hetherington is reaping the benefits of a gruelling off-season weights program which has seen him return to the court leaner, stronger and quicker than in his 2008 rookie season.

Latkovic, on the other hand, does not possess the same strength, but his speed, shot-blocking and rebounding abilities have him in the frame for a starting spot.

Smith is unsure how to best utilise his big men but is happy to have the problem.

“At the end of the day, with the options I have, it may end up that they play a fair bit of time alongside each other,” Smith said.

“That is a pretty intimidating wall that will confront our opposition.”

And Smith won’t lose much when he goes to his bench, with the emerging raw talent of Tom Budgie and Jacob King hungry for minutes on the court.

“With another couple of seasons under their belts they are going to leave their own massive impression on this basketball team,” Smith said.

Across the court, the 2010 Ballina Breakers are a genuinely tall, long unit.

Point guard options range from the 183cm John Shmeltzer through to 199cm Dario Strebl.

“It’s quite conceivable that we could run a line-up on court this year where all five men are 6-feet plus,” Smith said.

Great size is the first step for any successful basketball team.

And if the 2010 Breakers skill-sets are as long as their shorts, they could be in for a big season.



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