NEW Bendigo Braves coach David Hogan says he is excited by the make-up of his new-look squad as the inaugural NBL1 season edges closer to a start.
The Braves will have no fewer than five fresh faces when they take to the court for their opening match against Melbourne Tigers on Sunday in Melbourne.
Latest signing Matt Johnston and teenager Dyson Daniels will be joined by three players returning to the Braves after absences - Jake Cowling, Matt Bartlett and Jordan Mangan - as newcomers in 2019.
It is hoped a sixth newcomer and the Braves newest import alongside returning American Ray Turner, will become available after the weekend.
Hogan confirmed the import, who cannot be identified at this point, was still involved in finals with his NBL G League team.
"It's a little disappointing, but at the same time it gives these younger guys Dyson Daniels, Tanner Rayner and Matt Bartlett more of an opportunity to prove themselves for what is going to be a long, tough season," he said.
The Braves have bid farewell to veteran Taylor Bell, import and 2016 SEABL most valuable player Jeremy Kendle, point guard Indiana Faithful and 2016 championship player Chris Adkins and Jack White from last year's squad, equating to a loss of nearly 700 games of experience.
Hogan, who has taken over the reins from long-serving coach Ben Harvey, expects the transition from old to new to be a smooth one.
"Obviously we will be a bit younger and a bit more inexperienced, but we're definitely a talented and excited group going forward," he said.
There will be plenty of unknowns regarding the Braves' first opponent.
The Tigers have a new coach and only one player still on the roster from last season, a predicament that has made scouting their rivals an intriguing proposition for Hogan.
"They're a new-look team in a new-look league, but they have a couple of good quality NBL players in Dane Pineau and Nic Pozoglou and should be a very competitive team," he said.
For the Braves, 2018 team MVP Turner becomes the first import to play consecutive seasons since Ivan McFarlin in 2010-11.
The 29-year-old rejoins the squad after an NBL finals campaign with Sydney Kings, under departed coach and Australian basketball legend Andrew Gaze.
Announced on Monday, shooting guard Johnston joins the Braves after a stellar CBL season with Maryborough Blazers, averaging 14.67 points.
A premiership footballer with Strathfieldsaye in 2014, Johnston switched back to his former club Maryborough in 2017, but has again turned his attention to basketball, after previously playing two seasons in the SEABL with Ballarat Miners in 2009-10.
Braves squad: Matt Andronicos, Matt Bartlett, Jake Cowling, Dyson Daniels, Daniel Hansen, Chris Hogan, Matt Johnston, Jake Lloyd, Jordan Mangan, Tanner Rayner, Ray Turner. A second import will be announced shortly.
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