Ararat Redbacks are set to get their season underway this Saturday as they prepare to face Portland Coasters in the first round of the Country Basketball League South West Men's division.
The Redbacks pre-season has been limited by COVID-19. Coach Marcus Jenkins said they had initially planned to play a practice match against Bacchus Marsh, but due to the tight schedule had settled for an intra-squad warm-up game on Tuesday (January 5).
Co-captain Jason Cameron said he was nevertheless glad to get the extra training in before Saturday.
"We were trying to get on the outdoor courts before we could get in here, just so we could get together," he said.
"But there's nothing like actually getting on the court and being able to play properly."
Cameron's fellow co-captain Baydn Cosgriff agreed what little training they had managed to arrange had been invaluable.
"We haven't trained as much as we would have liked, but I think the training sessions that we have gotten in have been really helpful," he said.
This season will see just six rounds proceeding finals.
Jenkins said it is subsequently crucial the team starts strong.
"Everything we strive for now is for Saturday," he said.
"We play the first game against Portland, and that's our measuring stick.
"We've got to go down there with an attitude of 'we must get this'."
Cameron said judging by previous matches between the two sides, there will be little room for error against Portland.
"We've had some really good games with them every time, it's always really close."
In the 2018/19 season, the sides played twice, with Portland winning 79-63 in Ararat, before Ararat travelled to Portland and won 78-74.
The following season the Redbacks then narrowly lost to Portland 88-98.
Cameron said after the tumult of 2020, competitors will be happy to be playing basketball once more.
"Everyone will be in the same boat and will just be happy to get out there and get back into it."
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