Tall Black captain Mika Vukona will return home to play for the Mike Pero Nelson Giants this season. Photo: Barry Whitnall.

Mika Vukona’s back for Mike Pero Nelson Giants

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One of Nelson’s favourite sons is returning home.

The Mike Pero Nelson Giants have secured the signature of Tall Black captain and New Zealand Breakers star Mika Vukona for the 2018 NBL season.

The 35-year-old is a five-time NBL championship winner and is currently leading the Tall Blacks in the Commonwealth Games.

After taking a well-deserved break, Mika will be returning to Nelson from Auckland where he started his career in a Giants jersey in 2000.

Giants general manager Bill Dahlberg says Mika is a fierce competitor, has a wealth of experience and will be a great mentor.

“We have a young talented team and to have Mika wanting to assist the Giants in getting back to being a force in the NBL is brilliant.”

The Giants have also recruited a new head coach for the 2018 season.

Jamie Pearlman, who has spent the last six years in the NBL, will take the reins from Brendon Bailey who stepped in after Alan McAughtry was sacked at the start of last season.

He says the local players have been doing the hard yards for a number of months now and it is showing.

“They have such passion for the club and there is a tremendous culture which is crucial for success.”

Jamie was the assistant coach of the Cairns Taipans for six years.

He also coached in the Queensland State League for five seasons, winning a championship with the Cairns Marlins.

He says when the opportunity came up to coach the Giants, he jumped at it. “The level of talent and professionalism here is great so I was really keen to ply my trade here with the Giants.”

A number of new additions to the roster will see a strong squad to select from.
Jamie has brought the near-seven-foot American Jerry Evans Jnr with him from Cairns.

He says Jerry is a great culture guy, very skilful and has utility value.

“The reason why I bought him here because he exemplifies that team first attitude.”

The squad has a strong look to it, with Tohi Smith-Milner making the move north from the Rams and Tall Black Finn Delany back on board when he returns from the Commonwealth Games.

The Giants will open their campaign against the Super City Rangers at the Trafalgar Centre on April 28.