Curtis Washington, one of the Mike Pero Nelson Giants’new imports says he can see he made the right choice in coming to Nelson.
The big man and current Guam international says he was in talks with multiple National Basketball League teams, but believes he will fit right in at the top of the South Island.
He, along with fellow American-based import Joe Slocum and coach Alan McAughtry, arrived in Nelson last week and training is already underway with Nelson-based players like captain Sam Dempster, Bronson Berri, Ali Grainger, Riley Bensemann and Tom Ingham.
Curtis, who was recruited by former Nelson Giants coach Tim Fanning before he left to be an assistant coach in Israel, says he knew after two days he made the right decision.
“I was talking to a few (NBL) teams but Tim said I’d really enjoy it.
“Tim got his chance and he had to go – it’s like me making an NBA team or a Europe League team – dude had to go.
“This team has a good family vibe and we seem to be a big deal in the town, which is cool.”
Alan says he wants the relationship between and himself and his players to be “organic”.
“I need to get to know their strengths and the style of play they are used to playing, and then they will be coached.
“I know with New Zealand players that if you come in and say ‘it’s my way or the highway’ that it won’t end well.
“Having said that, I’ve left family back in Melbourne to be here and I have my hard hat on and I’m ready to get back down to work.”
Alan says both American imports could learn from the local players. He also reserved early praise for Bronson Berri.
“He’s an athletic player with a big body who can shoot and I’ve been very impressed.
“I want to send all the players away from this year with a better skill base than what they had coming in.”
The team will have a preseason tournament in Blenheim where Alan is hopeful of getting major minutes into the legs of his imports and local players.
Joe has a turn of pace which is quite good, and he looks poised and is a better three-oint shooter than I thought.
Curtis has mobility and the ability to sheet the mid range and three-point shot and his post moves will be crucial. Most importantly, both guys have turned up fit and ready to go.”
The Giants open their NBL season on the road against the Southland Sharks on March 16.