Blaze ready to light it up

THE Gold Coast Blaze will officially launch its 2011-12 season at Jupiters Hotel and Casino this Thursday night, a week out from the eve of their first home game on October 7.

A very similar playing outfit will take to the stage to be presented their new jerseys, branded with the exciting addition of the club's new naming rights sponsor, Meriton Serviced Apartments.

Eight players return for the club, with just two new additions, imports, Will Hudson and Mike English.

The mystery of the 2011-12 captain will remain hush-hush until the launch night, with the announcement of the new team leader - voted by the players this week - to round out the first official club event for the season.

Head coach Joey Wright's decision to retain the majority of the playing squad has proven fruitful, following the club's successful pre-season campaign.

A third-place finish in the NBL Sunshine State Challenge, held on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane at the weekend, capped off the team's preparation leading into the new season.

Three games in three days proved a challenge for the team, who recorded a comprehensive win in game one against the Adelaide 36ers (94-78) but looked fatigued in game two in which they were defeated by a strong Townsville Crocodiles side 76-70, despite a comeback late in the fourth.

Individual performances from Boomers, Adam Gibson and Mark Worthington, across the three games proved invaluable, with Gibson averaging 18 points and Worthington recording two double-doubles and averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds across the tournament.

The 22-year-old Will Hudson lived up to the hype surrounding his decorated US college basketball career, almost equalling NBL veteran Worthington's effort with an average of 17 points and 10 rebounds over the three games, again including two double-doubles.

He additionally put up 10 offensive boards against the Breakers, a stat almost unheard of in professional basketball.

The combination of Hudson and fellow import, English, provided home crowds with a variety of theatrical alley-oops and dunks across the three games, something which Gold Coast fans can undoubtedly get excited about.

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