• Video: Young Hawks Team Ready To Take Flight

Video: Young Hawks Team Ready To Take Flight

The Taylor Hawke's Bay Hawks are hoping to set their season off with a bang when they go up against Tauranga Whai on Thursday night.

With a new coach and a young team, the Hawks are feeling confident about what they can achieve in this NZNBL season.

Coach Sam Gruggen is starting the season with enthusiastic optimism.

"I think the sky's the limit. We have a young group, I feel like we're energetic, we're passionate, we play defence. So it's just getting that synergy amongst the group and once we do that then, yeah, I feel like we can do great things," Gruggen says. Gruggen joins the Hawks after spending the last two decades working as an assistant coach for the Sydney Kings and the Cairns Taipans in the NBL.

When asked about what Gruggen would like to see from his players this season he replied: "Obviously the intent to play defence. Effort consistantly for all four quarters and make sure that that translates to the community in the Hawke's Bay Region and they can see that we do that. Once that is apparent, then we get that fan base and that grows and, yeah, I think first and foremost just playing with defensive intensity, some effort and then on the other offensive end, sharing the ball and just playing with some synergy and teamwork."

Adelade 36ers import guard Keanu Rasmussen shares his coaches condifence.

"I think we've got a young group that are fast. We're going to go out and play fast, so I think we can achieve [sic] great things," says Rasmussen. "I think we can finish a top tier team. Just with the group of guys we have, like it's a great group of guys, yeah. Like we're young and ready to go [sic] compete."

So, are the Hawks a contender for the championship? Rasmussen believes so. "I think a championship is always possible. Its early times but [sic] with this group that we have, I think it's definitely possible."

Joining Rasmussen on the Hawks' roster this season will be Tall Black Jordan Ngatai, American imports Isiah Moore and Josh Roberts, Canterbury import Tanae Lavery, plus loads of local young talent with the likes of Jackson Ball, Tommy Fergusson, Kobe Kara, Jacob Murphy, Zoram Smiler, and plenty of others ready to show the world what they've got.

This Hawks team looks impressive and deep on paper and could be a title contender. Will 2024 be the year the Hawks hold aloft the NBL championship after 18 long years? It is a possibility.

Catch the Hawks in action against Tauranga's Whai on Thursday 28 March at 7:30pm on Sky Sport 2.