The Auckland Huskies have moved swiftly to replace the injured Taine Murray.
The youth of Murray has been superseded by the experience of forward Aaron Bailey-Nowell.
In an ironic twist Bailey-Nowell’s first game for the Huskies will be against Nelson Giants and old adversary Mika Vukona.
“I’m definitely looking forward to that. Anytime I can get to take the court against the legend that is Mika Vukona has got to be good.
Bailey-Nowell arrived in Auckland on Sunday morning, headed straight to the Huskies shoot around and then will begin preparation for the encounter against the Giants that tip’s-off at 5.30pm.
The call from the Huskies came as something of a surprise for the Taranaki native.
“I saw messages on my phone from Leon Henry and thought I’d better answer them.
“It came out of the blue but everything fell into place pretty quickly, I’m looking forward to the opportunity that’s for sure.
With confirmation of Murray’s injury on Friday morning, the Huskies staff had to move quickly to find a replacement player.
“To be able to bring someone of Aaron’s caliber in this late in the season is a huge positive for us,” said Huskies General Manager Matt Lacey.
“He has a huge amount of experience and will fill a void that the coaching staff identified as we get to the play-off stage of the season,” added Lacey.
Originally Bailey-Nowell was intending to be a spectator at Trusts Arena.
“I was intending to bring my daughter up for the NBL Final and the Tall Ferns Showcase game. Kahsia, is just getting into basketball, and she turns 12 on the Sunday (August 2nd). Now she will be meeting me in Auckland,” he mused.
Bailey-Nowell describes his fitness as “not too bad.”
“I’ve been playing regularly for the last few weeks and I’ve got an eye on the NBL Schick 3×3 Cup in September. You can’t ever replicate game fitness but I’m looking forward to blowing the lungs out and pushing towards finals weekend.
A fierce competitor Bailey-Nowell believes his style of play can help his new team.
“I pride myself on giving that effort. I suppose I’ve made a name for myself over the years playing hard.
“I’m looking forward to working with some up and comers and some Tall Blacks as well like Leon (Henry), Izayah and Tohi (Smith-Milner). I’m excited to get the opportunity.”
Aaron was on an early flight north from New Plymouth on Sunday morning. He is hopeful that wife Melissa will be able to bring their three children to Auckland for finals weekend but for now it’s down to business as he gets ready to embark on his 19thNBL season.