Centre Daniel Kickert has been deregistered temporarily to accommodate the injection of fellow Australian import big Angus Brandt to play for the Hawks in New Plymouth on Sunday.
Boomer Brandt played for the Taylor Corporation-sponsored Hawke's Bay franchise team last season but decided to ply his trade abroad this year after the Australian National Basketball League campaign.
However, Hawks board chairman Keith Price said the 29-year-old Perth Wildcat had phoned this morning to confirm he would be able to play for the Hawks for a fortnight.
"Angus was heading off to China but that's been delayed for some reason so he's coming to play for us and we'll fly him straight to New Plymouth," said Price of Brandt, who should arrive there at 5.26pm tomorrow for the round 3 NZ NBL match against the Taranaki Mountainairs in a 3pm tip off on Sunday.
Whether he will take the court will be Hawks coach Zico Coronel's decision after the team roll into town about 7pm via the highway today. Kickert is recovering from a back injury he picked up in their opening loss away against the Wellington Saints.
"We're lacking a big and Brandon Bowman doesn't arrive until May 3rd or 4th so, when Kickert returns in two weeks, we'll be back to full strength," said Price of American import Bowman, who is playing in Israel.
He said because teams were only permitted to have three imports it was only a formality to deregister Kickert. Once Brandt left, the former would be registered again.
Pettigrew-Green Arena fans in Napier have yet to see Kickert play and that may happen when the Hawks will the Airs at the PG Arena in round five on Saturday, May 11, in a 7pm tip off.
The Jarrod Kenny-captained Hawks are on the road for their next two matches.
The Hawks face the win-less Mountainairs at the TSB Stadium in a televised (live on Sky TV Channel 59) match. They then travel to Cowles Stadium, Christchurch, to play the Canterbury Rams on Thursday next week.
"This road trip to New Plymouth provides another opportunity to grow as a team on and off the court," says Coronel after his troops beat the Southern Huskies, of Tasmania, 105-95.
"We've made progress developing our offensive fundamentals and have turned our attention to the defensive end," he says. "Taranaki is always an ornery proposition under the umbrella of the mountain."
Even if Kickert wasn't out of the equation, the Hawks consider themselves "small" relative to most other franchises in the NBL.
However, they showed against the Huskies that an up-tempo style can help bring the bigs down to size.
The Huskies, creating history as the first Aussie side to compete in the NZNBL, had to bench their big man, Bradley Simpson, after a shade more than four minutes of play, to match the ruckus the Hawks guards were creating.
Coronel also is employing a three-point plan where players are trying to mutate into clutch shooters from the outside side arc rather than bagging two pointers.
Taranaki are coming off a 33-points flogging at the hands of the Rams on Easter Monday at home.
Newbies Kevin Foster and Derone Raukawa who have contributed 15-plus points each to the collective in their first two outings.
"With the Rams shooting an incredible 74 per cent in the first half we were always behind where we wanted to be and some soft turnovers and a lack of execution meant we were always chasing the game," Airs coach David Bublitz laments.
"Once again, reducing turnovers, controlling tempo and doing a better job in effort areas are things we need to be better at against the Hawks," Bublitz says.
However, former Hawks shooting guard Alonzo Burton, who is the son of former NBL great Will Burton, of Napier, is capable of trading clutch baskets.
The Hawks shot 45 per cent from outside the arc in their first three outings.
Tall Black shooting guard Ethan Rusbatch leads the NBL in MVP votes and was the player of the week in round one. He'll be on another feeding frenzy if Taranaki fail to turn up at TSB Stadium.
■ TARANAKI: 14. Alonzo Burton (guard), 8. Derone Raukawa (guard), 3. Daniel Gomis (centre), 21. Chris Early (forward), 1. Kevin Foster (forward).
Bench: 5. Xavier Shaw (forward), 7. Houston O'Riley (guard), 22. Aaron Bailey-Nowell (forward), 2. Oscar Robertson (guard), 10. Dane Brooks (guard), 6. Latrell Teka-Wall (guard), 20. Thane O'Leary (forward).
Coach: David Bublitz.
Co-ast coaches: Andrew Green, Shay Haira.
Manager: Bevan Seddon.
Physio: Mick McBeth.
■ HAWKS: 6. Jarrod Kenny (c, point guard), 13. Dion Prewster (guard), 12. Ethan Rusbatch (guard), 25. EJ Singler (forward), 21. Shaquille Thomas (forward).
Bench: 3. Nick Fee (guard), 5. Everard Bartlett (guard), 21. Clifton Bush III (forward), 7. Darryl Jones (forward), 27. Jamal Mikaio (forward).
Possibly: 9. James Levings (guard), 10. Mitchell Dance (forward).
Coach: Zico Coronel.
Co-ast coaches: Morgan Maskell, Rob Hartley.
Manager: Jordan Wise.
Physio: Colin Tutchen.