Manawatu Jets coach Tim McTamney is hoping his team's return to Whanganui's Springvale Stadium is a spectacle for all the right reasons as they get set to face the NBL's pace-setters over the next two weekends.
After the success of 2018 when three Jets games were played in front of a receptive crowd at Springvale, they have brought two more "home" matches up the road, starting with the Southland Sharks on Sunday at 3pm.
Although competitive, it has been a hard start for the young Jets outfit so far with three losses to Super City Rangers (86-75), Southern Huskies (100-99), and last weekend with the Nelson Giants (99-94) in a game they had come back to lead heading into the final quarter.
Their franchise import Daishon Knight had only just arrived back in New Zealand for the away game and was not quite at his best, so after an extra week's training, McTamney hopes he can recapture the form which saw him lead the Jets to an overtime win over the Canterbury Rams on their last finish here, with 36 points and five rebounds.
Around Knight, McTamney has around nine players in his squad of 12 who would be unlikely to start for any of the other eight NBL teams with their smattering of Tall Blacks and imports, but here they get a very quick education with added minutes.
"We're probably still exceeding expectations, if I'm honest," he said.
"We could have won all three games.
"We can't catch [Southland] by surprise, because we beat them last year.
"They won't take us lightly. They've got weapons to throw at us, but we've got a few tricks up our sleeves this week.
"They hold all the cards, but we've got a lot to prove and nothing to lose.
"Our goal is to be better each time and attempt to do it again."
After the Sharks on Sunday come the imposing Wellington Saints next Saturday night – who shot the lights out on the Jets on their previous go-around in Whanganui for a 113-93 win last July.
McTamney has pointed out that under this year's "ridiculous" schedule that with 14 rounds, the arguably lowest team, his Jets, have to play the two power-houses in the Sharks and Saints three times each, the only side to do so.
"It's a hell of an ask, it's all stacked up against us, but we kind of like it like that."
Furthermore, the school teacher has also pointed out that playing against the favouritism comes the burden of expectation from officialdom.
With the referees being familiar with the playing style of the stars in the league compared to the teenagers in his squad, McTamney said they always seem to be on the wrong side of the 50-50 calls.
"I've got two young guys who have come up from the Saints this year and they can't believe it.
"They always thought they should have been getting those calls, but now that they're on the other side of it they're shocked.
"We have to be up by 15 points [to win], based on those calls."
The other standout for the Jets against the Giants was import Wallace Ellenson, who top scored in the game with 27 points.