Basketball: Pre-season top priority for coach
Basketball: Pre-season top priority for coach

Greg Worthington admits that he has taken on a significant challenge.

But he would not have it any other way.

An intensive two-month search came to an end last week, when Worthington was announced as the man to lead the Collie Crane Hire South West Slammers out of the State Basketball League wilderness.

His first assignment is a two-match series against Indonesia, which begins at the Eaton Recreation Centre tomorrow night and continues in Busselton on Saturday.

Worthington, a life member of Basketball South West who also coached the Slammers in 2007, was signed on a two-year deal.

He heads a new-look team which will include former women’s boss Russell Upton and Nathan Walmsley as assistants, and Charlie Nix as a development coach.

Among Worthington’s priorities for the 2012 SBL campaign are investigating the practicality of resigning star American swingman Nick Freer, who is currently playing in Germany.

Worthington said he was in negotiations with three Australian-based recruits and planned to source and ink a deal with another international import.

He also said that he would put significant emphasis on the squad’s preseason.

"The first seven weeks (of games) are going to be so important for us," Worthington said.

"My mindset is that we have to get a proper pre-season with everybody on board.

"The local players are where we have to have a huge focus on the gym — we’ve got to get people bigger, stronger and fitter.

"Our main focus next year will be to have a huge pre-season. Everything is going to be basketball-based and gym-based."

Worthington, the father of 2010 Slammers’ co-captain Trent and current Australian Boomer Mark, said that he thought the side was better placed now than they were when he last took over.

He applied for the position in 2010 when David Petroziello was appointed.

The Slammers’ squad will this weekend be boosted by four handy SBL inclusions for the series against Indonesia.

Perry Lakes’ centre Mike Exall and guard Rory Pekin will line-up for South West as will Mandurah’s Ben Smith.

Perth Wildcats’ development squad member Ben Percer, who also plays for Perry Lakes, will also slip on a Slammers jersey for the two-match series.

"We’re going to give a few of our juniors a bit of a crack and see how they go against international competition," Worthington said.

"Over the two nights we’ll shuffle the squad around and we’ll just see how we come up against a team that played against the Wildcats and a big Chinese team last weekend."

The Indonesian national side’s visit to Australia began amid controversy last Friday, after heavy dew forced the playing surface of the outdoor court in Broome to come under the microscope.

They were in the north west city last week to compete in a tri-series against the Perth Wildcats and Chinese Basketball Association team Shanghai Sharks.

Slammers squad: Trent Worthington, Wade Hitchcock, Nat Van Dijk, Cory Richardson, Anton Fimmano, Dylan Ness, Josh Branchi, Mike Exall, Rory Pekin, Ben Smith, Ben Percer.

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