BASKETBALL: Hill and Hawks come to impasse

By ANENDRA SINGH sports editor

NBL basketball

Veteran forward Ben Hill and the Hawke's Bay basketball franchise are at an impasse over his involvement this season.

New HBS Bank Hawks coach Tab Baldwin says multiple NBL title-winning Hill is out of the equation, having failed to contact him or the franchise.

"Look, Ben is welcome to return but I understand he is carrying some weight and needs to be in top physical shape," Baldwin says.

However, Hill says it's more to do with the franchise's perception of his worth, rather than his weight.

"My weight's always been an issue. I've played 15 years in the league and it's a no brainer," says the 33-year-old son of Tall Black legend Stan Hill.

"[The franchise] offered an amount of money and I declined and pretty much left it at that."

He says the offer is almost 30 per cent less than what he was offered last season.

'They've got my number and email so they know where to find me if they want me."

Hill, a clutch-shot three-point specialist who former coaches Paul Henare and Shawn Dennis often used to ruffle the feathers of other big boys in the NBL, says two other franchises have approached him but he's unsure what he'll do.

Retirement has crossed his mind for the past two years "so it doesn't bother me if I do".

Last May he became a father after his partner, Toni McGregor, gave birth to Stan Hill jnr the Fifth in Napier.

Hill has started a clinic for juniors aspiring to be forwards. His first big stint is in Palmerston North on April 13-14 because "the venues here aren't big enough".

Baldwin says the Hawks are in the process of tying a few loose ends on another import who arrives next week.

Young forward Morgan Natanahira has predictably followed Henare to Southland Sharks.

The 22-year-old, who came to the Hawks two seasons ago with the blessing of Henare from Auckland, was carried off the court in the semifinal loss last year with a knee injury.

"Morgan felt his loyalty lay with Paulie so he's headed in that direction," Baldwin says of the player who made his intentions clear early.

"He's a very good player and I would have loved to have had him back but he's made that choice," says Baldwin, giving Natanahira his blessing but hoping someday he will return to Hawke's Bay to roost with the Hawks again.

Guard Damon Davies is also not returning because of commitment to work as a police officer.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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