The Wheelcats victory in last season’s showpiece final ended the Wollongong Roller Hawks hopes of a three-peat and returned the proud club back to the top of the NWBL, claiming their eighth championship in the past 12 seasons.
The 2014 season tip-offs tonight with a three-day cluster round (16-18 May) in Wollongong at Shellharbour City Stadium, with seven rounds to be played, encompassing 45 games, with the regular season finishing on the first weekend of September (6-7 September).
The cluster round has become a feature of the NWBL calendar in recent years and is a showcase for the sport’s elite. This year’s Cluster Round will open the 2014 season and with tip-off just under 48 hours away, here’s what the teams are saying about season 2014:
Thoughts on this weekend’s cluster round?
“Good way to showcase wheelchair basketball, good way to start season by seeing all other teams and great spectacle for the sport” - Troy Sachs, Sydney Wheelkings, Coach
“All the teams will have new people, a bit of a shake-up in the league with players leaving and starting fresh with new teams and to have everyone together on the one weekend will be awesome” - Luke Pople, Wollongong Rollerhawks, Guard
“It is really good, everyone gets to be in the same place and see how everyone is going” - Kim Robins, Be Active Perth Wheelcats, Guard
“Great opportunity to have the premier athletes and teams of Australian wheelchair basketball come together. For players to play in front of National Coaches before World Championships is a great opportunity”- Jeremy Synot, QLD RSL Spinning Bullets, Coach
“I like having games over the weekend against different teams rather than playing same team two or three times, plus it also gives us the chance to see other players from other teams over the weekend and it’s really good for spectators” - Tristan Knowles, Victoria, Forward
Thoughts on Player Movements in the Offseason?
“We picked up Ben (Ettridge) as head coach as well as Adam Deans and Michael Auprince so will have a couple of big guys who will score points. It will be a really competitive season” - Luke Pople, Wollongong Rollerhawks, Guard
“It creates a more even league and makes for a really close season. Legitimately 4-5 team that could end up in the grand final” - Kim Robins, Be Active Perth Wheelcats, Guard
“I think it’s exciting. It gives all the players more opportunity and every team a chance to win the title” - Jeremy Synot, QLD RSL Spinning Bullets, Coach
“All teams will like their chances of being a title shot this season. It makes every regular season game important, not just for players but spectators too” - Tristan Knowles, Victoria, Forward
“A lot of players have moved teams to gain better opportunities, hopefully they can grasp those opportunities and make the most of it. It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds” - Brad Ness, Adelaide Red Dust Healers, Forward
“It’ll make the league more exciting this year. Movement and change is good for players but maybe not so much for the continuing sustainability of the league” - Troy Sachs, Sydney Wheelkings, Coach
What are you most looking forward to in season 2014?
“We have some really exciting guys coming through who will play big minutes and it is exciting to see the impact they will have in one of the toughest competitions in the world” - Jeremy Synot, QLD RSL Spinning Bullets, Coach
“Before I saw the draw it was playing Wollongong in Wollongong but that isn’t going to happen this season. I’m starting with a new NWBL club so that’s exciting, I just hope to have a positive impact on the team here and hopefully I can help develop the club over the next few years” - Tristan Knowles, Victoria, Forward
“It will be an exciting year, the top teams are very balanced and there will be some challenging games. The WheelKings will be the underdogs this year but they may creep up and cause some ruffles” - Brad Ness, Adelaide Red Dust Healers, Forward
“Being an athlete for so many years it is time to give back to the game and hopefully develop players for the Wheelkings. I’m really just looking forward to having some fun and getting some upsets” - Troy Sachs, Sydney Wheelkings, Coach
“Just to be back playing. It has been so long since we have played, we train all the time but nothing better than getting on court and playing for something” - Luke Pople, Wollongong Rollerhawks, Guard
“Mainly, playing in closer games more regularly, there will be a lot of games that come down to the wire compared to previous seasons” - Kim Robins, Be Active Perth Wheelcats, Guard
Cluster Round Draw:
Friday 16 May, 2014:
4pm Victoria v Sydney Uni Wheelkings
6pm Wollongong Rollerhawks v RSL Qld Spinning Bullets
8pm Be Active Perth Wheelcats v Red Dust Heelers Adelaide
Saturday 17 May, 2014:
2pm RSL Qld Spinning Bullets v Victoria
4pm Sydney Uni Wheelkings v Red Dust Heelers Adelaide
6pm Wollongong Rollerhawks v Be Active Perth Wheelcats
Sunday 18 May, 2014
10am Red Dust Heelers Adelaide v RSL Qld Spinning Bullets
12pm Victoria v Be Active Perth Wheelcats
2pm Wollongong Rollerhawks v Sydney Uni Wheelkings
CLICK HERE to view NWBL Fixture.