If you were hoping to read about Daniel Kickert's take on why it was all riot between the Boomers and the Philippines during a World Cup qualifier in July last year then you're just plain out of luck.

"Yeah, I won't be discussing that," says Kickert from Napier before the Taylor Corporation Hawks host their first game against 2 Cheap Cars Supercity Rangers (Auckland) in the second leg of the opening round of the Sal's Pizza National Basketball League (NBL) double header in Napier tonight.

If the Australian import centre's verbal fend is anything to go by, fans should be frothing at the mouth at the prospect of a Hawks outfit raising the physicality stakes in the NBL courts of contention this winter.

"You expect that in every league, I guess," says Kickert, mindful that's a mantra he's become accustomed to on his global missions.

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"There's always going to be guys out there who'll throw their bodies around ... so it's nothing I haven't seen before, I'm sure."

Melbourne-born Kickert, who is serving a five-match World Cup-qualifying match suspension for his role in the brawl, arrived here with wife Erica and their 2-year-old daughter, Riley, last Saturday. He should be in coach Zico Coronel's starting five when they tip off at 7pm at the Pettigrew-Green Arena, Taradale.

Franchise chairman Keith Price says adults will be charged $5 and children $2 to watch games this winter.

Price says the franchise is indebted to Taylor Corp heavily subsidising the entry fees when compared to fans who have to fork out between $15 to $20 in other regions.

"They don't sell any apples in New Zealand," says the Napier City councillor. "All their stuff is exported and they want all the kids to be able to watch the Hawks' games this season."

The Jarrod Kenny-captained Hawks, who played Cigna Wellington Saints away last night, have not lost at home to the Rangers since 2017 but will be wary of a cagey coach in Jeff Green and what he's done with his roster, after they beat the Manawatu Jets 86-75 in the NBL opener in Palmerston North on Thursday.

The Rangers imports are American point guard Tim Quarterman, Australian power forward Venky Jois and Brisbane Bullets centre Nnanna Egwu, a Nigerian American. Jois scored 24 points, Quarterman 23 and Egwu pulled off nine rebounds and three blocks.

Kickert comes into the Hawks' equation after some endorsement from Boomer Angus Brandt who represented the province in the NBL last season but has embarked on a European career this year after his stint with the Perth Wildcats.

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The 35-year-old Sydney Kings player says the family loves "the beautiful weather" in Napier and its cafe culture.

Having "bounced around" Europe for almost a decade, the Kickerts have developed a penchant for smaller cities so it isn't a shock to their system as they relish experiencing other cultures.

"We actually like how quiet it is and it's a lot less in your face than Sydney," he says after one ANBL season there although their daughter may not be aware of it but will fondly look back at her three months in New Zealand when she's older.

Hawke's Bay basketball franchise board chairman Keith Price says naming sponsors Taylor Corporation want to see youngsters see the Hawks play the NBL this winter. Photo/file
Hawke's Bay basketball franchise board chairman Keith Price says naming sponsors Taylor Corporation want to see youngsters see the Hawks play the NBL this winter. Photo/file

Kickert finds the Hawks environment inspiring and, like others, is trying to embrace Coronel's systems amid a "highly skilled" group of blokes who are able to spread the floor to put up some good shots.

He feels basketball is a universal game, thanks to media platforms, so there's enough material to do one's homework.

"Every coach has a unique style and I really enjoy what Zico's running," he says. "It's really fast-paced, up-and-down system which is really a fun way to play and for the fans watching."

Nailing as many high-percentage shots as possible is on the agenda for the Hawks who have only one NBL crown to their credit — under former Aussie coach Shawn Dennis in 2006.

Kickert says the squad hasn't addressed too much of the past but the intention is to help the team to go all the way so fans can rejoice as well.

"I don't focus too much on the past and prefer to see what's ahead of us and, obviously, the goal is to go out there to win a championship."

The 2.08m player arrives with an illustrious record. He became the first player in ANBL history to join the 50-40-90 club in 2016-17, averaging 12.8 points a game and shooting 54.4 per cent from the field, 45.9 per cent from three and 95 per cent from the line for the Bullets. He reloaded with another 50-40-90 for the team the following season.

However, the two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist didn't make the cut for the Olympics with the Boomers.

"I've been in Olympics squads and got in as an emergency one year but haven't actually played at the Olympics."

Kickert rates himself as "an inside, outside guy" who gravitates to the inside post but can stretch to No 4 in the quest to find a niche on court to fulfil his portfolio for the collective.

Former Boomer Daniel Kickert comes with an illustrious record with the Brisbane Bullets in making his debut for the Hawks in the NBL this season. Photo/Photosport
Former Boomer Daniel Kickert comes with an illustrious record with the Brisbane Bullets in making his debut for the Hawks in the NBL this season. Photo/Photosport

BOTH TEAMS


HAWKS, starting 5: 6. Jarrod Kenny (c, point guard), 13. Dion Prewster (guard), 12. Ethan Rusbatch (guard), 25. EJ Singler (power forward), 14. Daniel Kickert (centre).

Bench: 3. Nick Fee (guard), 5. Everard Bartlett (guard), 27. Shaquille Thomas (forward), 21. Clifton Bush III (forward), 7. Darryl Jones (forward), 11. Jamal Mikaio (forward), 9. James Levings (guard).

Coach: Zico Coronel.
Ast coaches: Morgan Maskell, Rob Hartley.
Manager: Jordan Wise.
Physiotherapist: Colin Tutchen.

RANGERS, starting 5: 1. Tim Quarterman (point guard), 9. Lesae Coe (guard), 5. Randall Bishop (guard), 55. Venky Jois (power forward), 32. Nnanna Egwu (centre).

Bench: 8. Nicholas Brophy (guard), 20. Scott Telfer (forward), 6. Jaylen Gerrand (guard), 46. Reuben Fitzgerald (guard), 21. Samuel Aruwa (forward)
66. Karl Margon (guard), 2. Hyrum Hippolite (guard).

Coach: Jeff Green.
Ast coach: Anthony Keung.
Manager: Auatua Pamatatau.