ILLAWARRA forward Nick Kay is planning to use the Boomers’ gold medal-winning Asia Cup campaign as a springboard into his second season with the Hawks.
Hawks teammate Mitch Norton was also part of a youthful Boomers squad that cut a swathe through their opposition, winning all six of their games to claim gold.
It was a maiden national campaign for both men, and Kay said he’s returned for preseason in Wollongong brimming with confidence.
“I loved every minute of it,” Kay said.
“It’s one of those things you always want to do playing basketball, and that’s play for your country. To do it in the manner that we did, it was a bit surreal and I’m so grateful for the experience.
“It was a great group to be a part of. Every guy on the team was very selfless in the way they played and the camaraderie on and off the court really helped us.
“We just wanted to make sure we represented Australia the right way and in doing that, thankfully, we played some good basketball and got some wins along the way.
“It gives you a lot of confidence to go away with that group and do battle with them every day in training and then compete on the court. It really helped my game and hopefully that’ll transfer into this [NBL] season.”
Boomers selection was a fitting reward for a stellar season, his second in the NBL, where he was one of the Hawks most consistent performers,
It built on his debut NBL campaign with Townsville in 2015-16 and the 23-year-old is confident he can take his game up a notch again in his second season under Rob Beveridge.
“My first year with the club was great,” Kay said.
“We had a lot of team success which is really good because it means you play more games and you start playing better and just playing on a new team really helped me develop my game.
“Playing for Bevo’s been great and that’s why guys want to come to the Hawks because it’s a great culture here and some great guys on the court.
“Hopefully having a chance to play with that team again this year, we can build on how we went last year and go one step further.”
The gold medal campaign has taken the edge off, but Kay says only the chance to go one better will ease the pain of last season’s grand final defeat.
The Hawks defied all preseason predictions to win an away semi-final series against minor premiers Adelaide before being swept by Perth in the finals. Eight members of the Hawks 10-man roster will return for the upcoming season and Kay said it’s with fire in the belly.
“Without a doubt it’s something that drives you in that off-season to get better and keep going,” Kay said.
“It’s going to be tough, there’s a lot of good teams in the league, a lot of good players again and I think every team’s going to be better.
“I think we’ve got the team to get back there but it’s going to be about what we do right now here at training. Hopefully that’ll translate.”