The ABSL Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam gets underway on Tuesday October 21st at Auckland University Sports Centre.
The just released line ups are bursting with NBL talent and look to be a notch above the 2013 squads. A total of nine current or former Tall Blacks have been named across the four squads - Lindsay Tait, Dillon Boucher, Hayden Allen, Brooke Ruscoe, Casey Frank, Josh Bloxham, Jarrod Kenny, Jordan Ngatai and Tai Wynyard.
Nearly every NBL franchise has at least one representative in the competition. Inga Solofuti (Canterbury Rams), Morgan Natanahira (Southland Sharks) Brooke Ruscoe and Josh Bloxham (Nelson Giants) are amongst the Auckland based south island players.
Jordan Ngatai (Saints), and Brad Anderson (Taranaki) are with the Breakers. Anamata Haku represents the Bay Hawks and Derone Raukawa the Jets. There are a whole host of Pistons and Rangers players including Tall Blacks trialist Dyson King-Hawea
The Breakers Development squad enter the competition for the first time. Coached by Judd Flavell, a starting five of Brad Anderson, Shea Ili, Jordan Ngatai, Tai Wynyard and Yuat Alok are likely to give the other teams a few headaches, you would certainly want to try and slow that group down.
Team Tait with Lindsay at the point and the likes of Haku, Solofuti, Dillon Boucher and Patrich Bolstad in their line up will challenge the other teams in the paint.
Team Allen have Natanahira, Nick Barrow and the evergreen Robson Tavita in the front court but their strength seems to be at guard with Hayden Allen having four current NBL players to utilise – Matt Lacey (Pistons), Brooke Ruscoe(Giants) and the Rangers pair of Hayden Miller and Chris Fahrensohn.
Team Frank have a nice balance. With Casey at centre and World Cup teammate Jarrod Kenny running the show at point they have plenty of other weapons including Josh Bloxham, Johnny Fesolai, Karl Noyer and King-Hawea.
The teams are designed to create an even competition, it will be interesting to observe how the rivalries pan out over the coming weeks.
Will The Birdmen (Team Frank) fly high and retain their title?