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After settling for third at last year’s National Wheelchair Basketball League finals, to go all the way this year, the Wollongong Roller Hawks will look to the man who lead them there before.



Brendan Dowler coached the Roller Hawks to their 2012 championship win and has high expectation for a squad that has consistently played post season basketball over the years.


“Going close but not getting the big prize in recent years has created a desire among the players to go one better. It won't be easy but there is no reason that we can't be in contention at finals time if we consistently play to our potential” says Dowler.


Dowler rejoins the club after a break that included having two kids, the first of whom came just as the Roller Hawks were gearing up for the 2013 Finals Series.


“I was asked if I would like to return. I had to think about it, and discuss it with my wife, as our circumstances have changed dramatically with the kids since the last stint I had coaching the Roller Hawks.


The return of Dowler is a welcome one for captain Brett Stibners.


“He’s really making everyone accountable this year,” says Stibners.


“We’ve underachieved in the last couple of seasons. We’re all disappointed about that. We don’t need to change a lot, we just need to play better in those bigger moments in the game.”


The Roller Hawks campaign spluttered last year after Michael Auprince suffered a wrist injury away from the court, on the eve of the Finals.


The Wollongong big has arrived back in Australia off the back of his second year playing for the University of Alabama in America, in time for the season tip off.


“Last year was absolutely devastating. Just a freak accident that happened to me and it won’t happen again,” says Auprince.


“It’s brought me back with more desire than there probably ever was, to win.”


“Aupie’s the biggest player in the league. We came to rely on him a lot last season. He’s had another season in America and I’m sure he’s going to come back bigger and better this year,” says Stibners.


The entire league will descend on Shellharbour this weekend as the Wollongong Roller Hawks host the opening round of NWBL season.


All seven teams including the the readmitted Adelaide Thunder will play up to 4 games each across three days beginning Friday 12th May through till Sunday 14th.


The Roller Hawks begin their campaign against two time defending champions Kilsyth Cobras at 7pm on Friday night. In the corresponding game last year, the Roller Hawks defeated the Cobras by a single point and the Roller Hawks expect a similar contest to begin 2017.



Friday May 12: ROLLER HAWKS vs KILSYTH COBRAS - 7pm @ Shellharbour City Stadium

Saturday May 13: ROLLER HAWKS vs RED DUST HEELERS - 1pm @ Shellharbour City Stadium

Sunday May 14: ROLLER HAWKS vs ADELAIDE THUNDER - 12pm @ Shellharbour City Stadium