THE 2020 hoops season is expected to be one full of excitement in the Shoalhaven.
Thanks largely to the opening Shoalhaven Indoor Sports Centre.
And although two of the region's top basketball identities, Scott Balsar and Gavin Costain, won't be using the new facility on a weekly basis, they have plans to make next season one the remember at the new facility.
"Our goal going into next season is to play in the Waratah League finals at the new Shoalhaven Indoor Sports Centre next August," Balsar said.
"Obviously we won't get to play here on a weekly basis but if we make the final four and get a chance to play finals here in the Shoalhaven, it'll be really special.
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"More so, if we are able to go all the way and win it - something all the boys have spoken about and are locked in on."
Balsar, who won a gold medal at 2005 under 18 women's nationals in Perth, will coach the Illawarra Hawks youth league men's side, with Costain and fellow Tiger Ziad El Tobgy (Milton-Ulladulla) in the squad - with James Hurley in the division two side.
"I took on the job as it's a new challenge for me," Balsar, who had a stint with the Canberra Capitals, said.
"I've been involved with the Tigers for more than 40 years and coached them for close to 25 years - winning numerous banners (four) in my time - but I got to the point where I needed a change.
"So I put my hand up to coach at Illawarra - a side with tremendous depth and talent, most of which I've coached through the NSW Country ranks.
"Although I've long considered Illawarra as the arch-rivals, I'm really looking forward to getting to work with these young men."
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Balsar, who will have Jason Funnell and his father Stumpy on the staff, and his squad of 14 have been training already for six weeks and will continue to do so - apart from a break over Christmas - ahead of the Waratah League tip-off in March.
"The strengths of our group is our size and our ability to get up and down the court, with everyone being athletic and able to shoot the ball," he said.
"Once we can secure that rebound on the defensive end, it's going to be fun to watch us push the pace.
"I have no doubt with the calibre of players in our squad, we can achieve great things on the court - it's all about working hard, as one unit, towards a common goal.
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"During their junior careers, nearly every one of our players won a country or state title but that hasn't been the case since they've transitioned into seniors - they all want to make amends for that next season.
"Not to mention it's been a long time between drinks for Illawarra hanging a senior championship banner (Championships Women in 2013 and Championship Men in 2011)."
While next year marks Balsar's first at the Snakepit in the red and white, Costain will be returning the the club where he spent six years - the most recent being in under 18s in 2018.
"The main reason I wanted to go back up to Illawarra was to play with such as Will Farrar, Patty Lancaster and Tom Cranney," Costain said.
"They are all guys I've always looked up to and spent a lot of time through the NSW Country systems but never actually played with.
"It'll also be good to play alongside guys such as Riley O'Brien, who I played juniors with up there."
Much like his mentor Balsar, Costain has a firm goal in mind going into next season.
"Scotty's system of playing tough defence and then getting out on the break suits my game, so I'm looking forward to playing for him again - we have a great understanding," he said.
"It was good to come back and play for the Tigers once again last year but I'm really excited to pull on that Hawks jersey once again - I've had a lot of success on the red and white and plan on adding to that next year.
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"Obviously I missed out on hanging that banner for the Tigers in 2018 (as he was still playing at the Hawks) but I'm confident we have the squad that can make some serious noise next season.
"The Hawks have a proud history on the hardwood and I'm excited to have the chance to add to that.
"To win a banner would be very special, especially on my home Shoalhaven court."
Balsar's team is also planning on holding a pre-season camp at the Shoalhaven Indoor Sports Centre, as well as hosting a pre-season tournament at the Snakepit.
Other Shoalhaven products and former Tigers to line-up for the Hawks next season include Sean Quinn, Kieren Corbyn, Jackson Weeks (all division one men), Chelsea Hogg, Jaymee McPherson (both division one women), Maddison Blewitt (youth women), Asha Phillips (under 18 girls), Remy Martin (under 16 boys), Tori Martin and Indiana Hayburn (both under 14 girls).