Coach backs Bullets’ chemistry in opener

VASTLY-improved team chemistry is the key ingredient that coach Andrej Lemanis believes will shake-up results for the new-look Brisbane Bullets this season.

The Bullets' lack of resilience was embarrassing at times last season and never more so than on the road.

Improving that ugly three-from-14 record away from cosy Brisbane will get a tough first test in Thursday night's National Basketball League opener in Auckland.

Lemanis coached the New Zealand Breakers to three titles in eight seasons but is downplaying the homecoming element.

"The very nature of a new organisation like the Bullets means pretty much everyone plays against their old club so I'm making no big deal of it," Lemanis said.

"I'm excited about players being at this club for all the right reasons and the strength of character here because team chemistry wasn't where it needed to be last season when we hit some adversity."

Hard-edged Kiwi recruit Mika Vukona is a major plus to the team vibe and this opener against his old Breakers club will bring out his best.

"Mika is relentless with his methods and a guy who celebrates his teammate's successes more than his own," Lemanis said.

Mika Vukona will give Brisbane some bite. (AAP Image/Richard Waugh)
Mika Vukona will give Brisbane some bite. (AAP Image/Richard Waugh)

Forward Vukona has found his groove since ripping a finger on a jagged rim while dunking delayed his start in pre-season.

"It's our first game of the season and we'll be going hard against a club I obviously respect," Vukona said.

The NBL's first sighting of American small forward Alonzo Gee, who had his best NBA seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers (2010-14), will hopefully energise Bullets' fans ahead of Saturday's home game against Cairns.

How the Bullets get the best out of Japanese sharpshooter Makoto Hiejima is the game's biggest mystery because they want him to take the outside shots that can change the night's momentum.

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