EXPERIENCED CAMPAIGNERS Mildura Heat Veterans Brent Symons and Dave Meyer believe 2020 can be the season their side brings home a Big V Basketball championship. Photo: PAUL MENSCH
By MITCH RODD
DAVE Meyer and Brent Symons were in their early 20s and making their way with the Mildura Heat when they won their last Big V Basketball Championship in 2012.
In the first season of the new decade, the 30-year-olds are veterans of the side aiming for the same success.
The Heat looked poised to go all the way in the Division 2 Men’s competition 2019, following 12 consecutive wins to start the season under first-year coach Mahaela Jackson.
Unfortunately they fell at the penultimate hurdle, losing their best-of-three game semi-final series to the Camberwell Dragons
The stars may have aligned, however, for 2020. With some strong additions to the squad and a gut-busting pre-season under their belts, Symons and Meyer feel the time is now to strike.
“Every year you play for championships,” Symons said.
“The development stage has come and gone. We’re now in the best position we can be to bring home a title.”
“We’ve come pretty close the last few years and it’s been frustrating falling short,” Meyer added.
“With other teams going up to Division 1 and us having great depth in our squad, it is a great opportunity to break that drought.
“Even having Maheala sign on for another year is a great sign. We’ve gone through a few coaches in recent years so to have that stability is fantastic.
“She’s pretty straight forward, we’re aiming for a championship and for her it’s all about the team, not individual success.
“The competition will be strong again this year, though. Altona will be tough as they have Lanard Copeland (an Australian Basketball Hall of Fame inductee) from the Melbourne Tigers coming in as coach. He’ll definitely attract a lot of good players.”
Meyer and Symons are the only remaining members of the 2012 championship team that defeated the Geelong Supercats. The former captains will provide leadership and experience on the court, alongside import-turned local star, Calvin Henry, and recruit Josh Smith, who played over 250 games for Warrandyte in Big V Division 1.
Aaron Lucchesi has also joined the squad out of the Mildura Basketball Association (MBA) program, while athletic youngster Zane Luth has returned to Sunraysia from Adelaide.
“We’ve had good numbers, maybe 16 or 17 or so at each session,” Meyer said. “We’ve got a few former squad players back and a few young kids coming through.
“Maybe 98 percent of the team are playing in the local competition as well.
“Anyone can really take a place in the starting five. Even former squad players like Kyle Newey and Craig Baker, who missed on making the squad last year, are part of it once again.”
Following injuries and a hiatus to like in the UK, Symons said it is the first pre-season he has completed in about five years.
“A lot of us weren’t around last pre-season, where as this time we’ve been training together since November,” he said.
“A lot of the guys are playing in the CBL (Country Basketball League) together too, so they’re training for that twice a week and playing as well.”
It’s not just on the court where Meyer and Symons have been working up a sweat. They have also regularly donned the boxing gloves and given the boxing bags a working over under Warren Sparkes at Sparkes Gym.
An image even surfaced on social media of Symons standing victorious over a prone heavy bag, apparently having broken it from it’s moorings.
“I’m going to claim it!” Symons laughed. “I think one of the kickboxers may have loosened it up a bit, but I knocked it down so I’ll take the credit!”