THE past will meet the present at Newcastle Basketball Stadium on Saturday when the Newcastle Hunters host Waratah Basketball League rivals Hills Hornets on Reunion Night.
Newcastle Basketball officials anticipate one of their biggest crowds of the season as former players, coaches, staff and supporters gather for their annual get-together and cheer for the unbeaten Hunters women's team, chasing a 10th straight victory, and men's team striving for their first win.
Despite being without injured starters Hannah Young (calf) and Jaimee Seebohm (ankle), Newcastle improved their league-leading win-loss record to 9-0 with a 76-64 victory over Bankstown Bruins at Bankstown last Saturday.
Hunters coach Shannon Seebohm said both players would again be watching from the sideline against Hills, who have a 4-5 record and are coached by former Newcastle coach Paul Lyth.
"Reunion Night is a huge game on our home schedule every year and I know our team and the men will be pumped for a big game in front of our past players and coaches," Shannon Seebohm said.
"In saying that, we need to stay focused because we'll be without Hannah and Jaimee again so that means other players need to step up and play their roles at both ends of the floor.
"Hills have won three of their past four games and they've beaten Bankstown and Sutherland, so they're going to test us. They're coming off a tough loss last round against Canberra so we know they will be looking to bounce back against us."
Guard Jacob Foy, a member of Newcastle's championship-winning team last season, will make his first appearance at home since returning from his freshman year at Hawaii Pacific University.
Foy has averaged 16.5 points and 6.5 rebounds a game in Newcastle's road losses to Sutherland and Bankstown in his first two games this season, providing another scoring option alongside imports Sharif Watson (averaging 18.1 points a game) and Lonnie Funderburke (10.7).
Coach Anthony Foy was disappointed the Hunters did not take their chances in their 88-84 overtime loss to Bankstown last Saturday and said they could not afford any lapses against the sixth-placed Hornets (5-4).
Hills are coached by Foy's former Illawarra under-12s team-mate Terry Johnson, who played two seasons for Newcastle Falcons (1998 and 1999) in his nine-year National Basketball League career.
"It was almost a four-quarter performance against Bankstown," Foy said.
"There were signs of improved communication and our defensive effort, but we still need to do a better job of valuing possession. Unfortunately, we missed some shots and free throws down the stretch while Bankstown took their opportunities, and that was the difference.
"Hopefully we do a better job of that against Hills and I know the boys are looking forward to being back at home and playing in front of our loyal fans on Reunion Night.
"It means a lot to them."
The women's game is scheduled for a 5pm tip-off, followed by the men at 7:15pm. All six senior Hunters teams will play against Hills, starting with Youth League division two men at 11am.
AAP reports: Australian WNBA All-Star Liz Cambage has been traded from the Dallas Wings to the Bill Laimbeer-coached Las Vegas Aces.
Cambage, a two-time Olympian, requested a trade in January and in recent days, as talks dragged on, she posted emotional messages on Instagram declaring: "You never cared about me, you just care about owning me".
Cambage transforms the fledgling Aces into a legitimate WNBA title contender and allows the Australian to learn from Laimbeer, the hard-nosed centre of the Detroit Pistons' 1989 and 1990 NBA championship teams.
"Everyone in the Aces family is excited to welcome Liz to Las Vegas," Laimbeer, also the team's president of basketball operations, said.
"She brings an attitude and physical presence that we need.
"There is no doubt about her physical ability, but what we respect most about her is her basketball IQ.
"That is what we are about."