Professional players yearning to represent their countries during the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games will lift the intensity of the National Basketball League when it tips off in late April this season, according to Hawks coach Zico Coronel.
"Because of that you'll find we'll have a very strong New Zealand NBL this year," says Coronel, after signing Australian import Angus Brandt for the Taylor Corporation-sponsored Hawke's Bay franchise team.
Players such as Brandt, a Boomer, tend to ply their trade in Europe but the continent's loss will be the NBL's gain as players opt for proximity to fulfil their national team obligations.
Coronel, although he doesn't wish to speak on behalf of other Kiwi teams, anticipates the number of Tall Blacks competing in the NBL will be tenfold.
For Brandt, he suspects, the challenge will be to retain his Boomer berth when the NBA-calibre and high-level European Australian players return for the Commonwealth Games from April 4-15.
"I imagine all of those players, including Angus, will be keen to pursue that," he says, emphasising court time will be vital to maintain their constitutions.
"We have a lot of people who are hungry to play at the higher level here so Angus will fit right in with them," he says of the 28-year-old who he classifies as a "pure" No 5.
Coronel says they had identified Brandt who Hawks co-skipper Jarrod Kenny had endorsed as a Wildcats teammate. So did Brandt's former Sydney teammate and 2018 Hawk, Dion Prewster.
While it was a long process to negotiate a contract through his agent, Coronel says Brandt is someone who fits the mould as a team player who others enjoy playing alongside. He will not only grow as an athlete but also add value to others' template.
Hawks veteran centre Kareem Johnson will be in direct competition for a starting five role with the Sydney-born Aussie.
"They will play in the same position and will share minutes quite often so only one of them will be on the court at the same time."
Brandt, a former ANBL Rookie of the Year when he started as a Sydney Kings basketballer, will have the head start between the pair.
"Kareem was arguably one of the best centres in our league in his time but he's ageing. I think one thing Kareem deserves a lot of credit for is his humility to be willing to adapt so that's what still makes him such a viable player."
Having Brandt and Johnson will promote depth and more intensity at training as well.
"Players have told me that they want to have great teammates so they can have great trainings."
The Hawks, who have recruited an "outstanding cast of New Zealand perimeter players", intend to buy another import power forward (No 4).
Brandt has also had short stints playing alongside his brother Louis with the Penrith Panthers in the Waratah League (Australian second-tier league).
Coronel, who has resigned as health and PE teacher at Rongotai College in Wellington to settle here in his rookie stint as fulltime coach after 13 years of remarkable success as an NBL assistant, is now based in Napier to fulfil his contractual obligations.
He thanks franchise general manager Kevin Wagg for toiling to secure Brandt's signature.
The Hawks season will begin their campaign at Pettigrew-Green Arena, Taradale, against the Southland Sharks, on April 26.