Buccs up against it in title bid

Peter SweeneyGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton Buccaneers players and support staff celebrate the 2019 championship.
Camera IconGeraldton Buccaneers players and support staff celebrate the 2019 championship. Credit: Arctic Moon Photography

Liam Hunt, gone. Marcus Alipate, gone. Brendan Dinardo, gone. Geraldton Buccaneers, gone?

Time will tell on the latter but coach Dayle Joseph admits the reigning kings of the State Basketball League must jump many hurdles to defend their crown in 2020.

Buccs — the big, brilliant, bruising giants of the league last year — go into the new season in mid-March much shorter on skill and strength. At least on paper.

The recent losses of Hunt (over east), Alipate (overseas) and Dinardo (Perth) are the big minuses. However, Joseph sees “opportunities”.

“At least we won’t suffer the post-premiership blues; we’re going to be behind the eight ball,” he said.

“We will get an import or two, but couldn’t do anything before knowing what Liam and Marcus were doing.

“We’re still hoping we may be able to keep Brendan, who’s been transferred in his work. We’re working on an arrangement.”

On the plus side for the Buccs is how the Geraldton Amateur Basketball Association under-19 team went in the State junior titles.

Coached by best mates and Buccs stalwarts Mat Wundenberg and Aaron Ralph, the under-19s were runners-up to Lakeside in the grand final in Perth last weekend.

Joseph is “very keen” on getting Johnny Narkle in a Buccs jersey. “There are two or three others also, but they play football, so it may be hard attracting them,” he said.

Ralph, who will suit up for his 400th game in the SBL in the opening fixture of the 2020 season, said the under-19 side was down to six players in the title play-off.

“We lost some key players; the boys did really well,” Ralph said.

“Can’t remember the last time Geraldton was in the under-19 play-off. As for the Buccs, we’ll be right.”

The draft draw for the 2020 SBL season will be sent to clubs within days before Basketball WA releases the final fixture.

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