HORSHAM Hornets are back on the court on Saturday night for the Country Basketball League South West opener.
Assistant coach Steve Bruce admitted it would be a depleted Hornets side for their clash with defending champions Mount Gambier at Horsham Amateur Basketball Stadium.
Playing-coach Tim Pickert, on holiday, and young guns Darcy Tucker, wrist, Keegan Mason and Ben Lakin, school commitments, are also unavailable.
Bruce said the Lakers, coached by SEABL legend Dallas Jeffree, would be a tough assignment first up but his side was up for the challenge.
The likely starting five for the Hornets will be Jake Hobbs, Stuart Robinson, Tim Friend, Cam Bruce and Matt Lovel.
Lovel returns to his former club after a two-year absence.
The 30-year-old played his last of four Big V seasons for the Hornets in 2011 while living in Melbourne.
He’s now back in the Wimmera to help out at his father Bill Lovel’s Natimuk Pub and can’t wait for tip off.
“We’ve got quite a good squad together and I’m looking forward to getting back out there,” Lovel said.
Bruce has high hopes for Lovel and fellow former Big V player Jay Gasparini, who haven’t missed a training session.
“They’ve both been as keen as mustard,” he said.
Brothers Simon and Matt Berkefeld were outstanding last time the Hornets and Lakers met, as was centre Mitchell Mott.
The match starts at 7pm, with an under-14s 3-on-3 competition at 5.45pm.
Stawell Wildcats’ 2013-14 CBL campaign also gets under way at the weekend. The Wildcats face the Lakers at Stawell Leisure Complex on Sunday, tipping off at 1pm.
It will be a Wimmera derby when Stawell hosts Horsham’s women’s side on November 9.
Hornets side for Saturday night: Cam Bruce, Stuart Robinson, Jon Schwarz, Tim Friend, Matt Lovel, Lachie Coller, Jake Hobbs, Jay Gasparini, Brenton O’Bryan.