Seasoned campaigners boost Magic’s arsenal
For the first time in her three-year tenure, Splice Construction Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic coach Amigene Metcalfe believes she has put together a team highly capable of winning a first ANZ Premiership title.
On the back of impressive off-season signings in the form of prolific Australian shooter Caitlin Bassett, well-performed midcourter Grace Kara and dynamic defender Temalisi Fakahokotau, both former Silver Ferns, there is a confident feeling the missing ingredients to a more consistent Magic have been found.
With three other newcomers in the team, including NZU21 squad member Georgie Edgecombe, midcourter Tori Kolose and shooter Chiara Semple, the Magic have the equal-most number of changes along with the Stars for this season.
“I think we haven’t been able to confidently say that we’ve had a team that could win it previously because of the unknowns,” Metcalfe said.
“But we’ve now got people who have been in winning championship teams, who know how to win and know how to compete. Then when you add the excitement and enthusiasm of the young ones, we think we can win it.
“We identified we were lacking some experience in key areas, so really happy that in each area of court we’ve added some experience with Caitlin, Grace and Temalisi.”
There’s also experienced campaigners in midcourter Sam Winders and long-limbed defender Erena Mikaere while up-and-comers Khiarna Williams (shooter) and Georgia Tong (defender), who showed plenty of promise last year, will benefit hugely from the personnel around them.
“Those additions to our team will just allow our younger ones to not have that pressure and having to lead in their areas of court,” Metcalfe said.
“They can just do their job and learn off the ones who have been there.
“Last year when we put those young ones on court, they were really expected to do a big job in their first season. When you’ve got experience around, you can allow those ones to learn as they go.”
With the key feature of experience adding to the depth of talent on hand, Metcalfe is excited with the Magic’s prospects and what this group can deliver.
“There’s a few more knowns this year because we have some seasoned campaigners and you know what you’re going to get with them and they’re pretty consistent with what they deliver,” she said.
“So, that’s quite reassuring and that’s probably the biggest difference with this year, we are unknown as a team but there are lots of known factors within.
“It becomes easier when you’ve got seasoned campaigners in there, they know what the environment’s about which means you’re trying to mould them on court as opposed to trying to get them up to speed with the whole environment that is high performance and the pressures and expectations that come with that.”
Ahead of the season start, Metcalfe thought those with stable rosters, such as the Mystics and Tactix would be ones to watch but also that those with personnel changes had recruited well.
“It’s going to be exciting but it’s all about three rounds of playing each team and consistently doing the right thing. Traditionally, it seems that teams who have started well tend to go all the way, so every round will count” she said.
“Every team has got the ability and talent, it’s those that can turn up every week and do the job who will be the ones there at the end.”