IN the basketball world, Shoalhaven is constantly seen as the little brother to Illawarra.
That's why the Tigers and especially their Waratah League two men's coach Ian Ozolins, enjoy nothing more than getting one up on their South Coast rivals.
So when Ozolins' troops take to the Snakepit court on Saturday against the Hawks, they intend to make the most of that opportunity.
"The games between us two clubs are always quite intense and I expect this Saturday to be no different," Ozolins said.
"A win over the Hawks, who will no doubt be one of the top teams again this year, would be the perfect start to our 2020 campaign."
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The Kennedy's Tours Tigers, who have added Sam Balfour as well as youth league players Brayden Morris and Trent Hilaire to their squad, have been training hard since November to prepare for the season.
"It's been a long and interrupted pre-season, so all the boys are ready to start playing games," Ozolins, who's been in charge of the side since 2015, said.
"Sam, Brayden and Trent have all brought plenty to the group and will be assets to the side this season.
"In particular, Brayden's unselfishness, energy of defence and desire to get better each time he steps on the court, have him primed for his best year yet."
These three new additions will add to a Tigers returning core of Ozolins brothers William, Tom, Bruce, as well as Tim Hanlon, Billy Campbell, Dane Jensen and Nick Bizjak - with only Alex Brown and Brent Nemeth moving on.
"We have pretty much the same core as the past few years, which should bode well for cohesion - it'll allow us to pick up where we left off last year," coach Ozolins said.
"The past couple of seasons have seen us finish just outside the finals, so we all feel there is some unfinished business out there on the court to attend to."
The final placing of Ozolins' side was largely due to late season injuries to key players William (achilles and calf) and Bruce Ozolins (meniscus) but both are back on the court and ready to shine.
"Bruce is moving up and down the court as well as ever and is primed for a big year in our small ball system," coach Ozolins said.
"We originally didn't think we would have William this season but he's put in plenty of rehabilitation work and is now back on the court - once he figured out he could dunk again, he got his confidence back."
Another veteran who will be back on the court for the black and golds in 2020 in spiritual leader and father of Brayden, Ben Morris.
"After Ben's heart attack late last year, which most the boys were present on the court for, the whole group has rallied around him," Ozolins said.
"Ben is now 15kg lighter and training great.
"There's a real sense in the group that they want to be successful for Ben."
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A successful season on the hardwood all starts at from 6pm this Saturday against the Hawks.
"With no real inside presence, we need to play to our strengths, not just this week but all season," Ozolins said.
"We have to get up and down the court as much as we can while cutting out the errors at both ends.
"With a mobile side, we will rely a lot on penetration on the hoop, finding our open teammates and knocking down shots.
"We all know what works for us and it's now up to us to show it.
"And with the Waratah League finals weekend on our home court, the Shoalhaven Indoor Basketball Stadium, there's even more motivation to make it to the post-season.
"We know our destiny is in our own hands and a win on Saturday would create great momentum for us moving forward."