Key Brisbane Bullets recruit Travis Trice believes the Bullets can make the NBL finals in just their second season since their return to the league.
Trice, who starred for first round opponent the Cairns Taipans in his first NBL campaign last season, will be asked to spark the Bullets' offence with his shooting and speed but Bullets coach Andrej Lemanis said he will also be called upon to be a leader on the defensive end.
"The challenge that we have set Trav, and that I think he has accepted is that he has got to set the tone for us defensively," he said.
"Defensively, right from the start of the game he needs to be able to work the ball and negotiate ball screens and if he is doing that and the starting five sets a tone defensively then that holds us in good stead.
"I recruited Travis because I thought he was a good player, he helps us in different ways, certainly his pace offensively allows you to get into the key way and keep heat on the rim.
"He's also a good passer and he can find scoring opportunities for his teammates."
Lemanis said the additon of Trice, as well as former Melbourne United import Stephen Holt, to a team already boasting Adam Gibson, Shaun Bruce and Matt Kenyon will allow his side to play up-tempo for longer periods during games.
"If you watched us in preseason we are playing with a bit more pace, and our ability to sustain that over the course of the game is enhanced because of our depth at that position," he said.
Trice, who played with the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Summer League, said while making an NBA roster is still a goal, his desire to contend for a championship with the Bullets this year would not waver.
"The NBA is my ultimate goal but at the same time I'm locked in and focused on the Bullets and our season here," he said.
"I don't want to be a distraction, not to my teammates or myself- that wouldn't be fair to them or myself if I was thinking the NBA and how I am going to get over there and not focusing on every game over here.
"I'm just taking it one day at a time, I'm just trying to get better every day, that's my mindset."
Trice said he was looking forward to striking up a strong combination with Bullets big man Daniel Kickert.
"Just how skilled he is and how consistent he is and playing pick-and-pop with him would always be fun, even looking at that last year I was looking forward to that when I decided I was coming over here," he said.
The Bullets have struggled with slow first quarters in preseason matches against the Illawarra Hawks in Logan and last week against the NBA's Phoenix Suns and Trice said the Bullets must start fast when their season tips off tomorrow night against Cairns at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.
"We have just got to come out and be the aggressors, a lot of times in those games we kind of came laid back and tried to feel the other team out instead of imposing our will. I think it's just come out and be aggressive from the get-go- deliver the first punch, don't take it," he said.
Trice said he feels the Bullets have the right mix of talent to potentially lift the NBL trophy at season's end.
"I'm expecting a good season, I want to make the play-offs, I want the opportunity to play for a championship," he said.
"I feel like we've got all the pieces, now it's just mixing together and getting rolling."
The Brisbane Bullets play Cairns Taipans at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre at Boondall Friday night, October 20, with the tip-off at 6.30pm.