Heal signs two-year deal
FOUR-TIME Olympian Shane Heal has confirmed his commitment to the Ipswich Force for this season despite signing a two-year deal to coach to the Sydney Kings in the NBL.
Heal took over coaching duties at the struggling Kings with six games remaining in the current NBL season, finishing his short stint with a three-win-three-loss record.
The Gold Coast-based coach told the Queensland Times he was excited about the chance to return to the NBL full-time but wouldn't be reneging on his QBL commitment with the Force.
"It's really exciting and I'm really looking forward to it," Heal said about his signing with the Kings.
"I'm looking at putting the team together now; it's a pretty crucial time the next month."
Heal said he would split his time and energy between his off-court duties, building the Kings' roster for next season, and Force coaching duties for the QBL season which starts next month.
The former championship-winning player with the Kings said he and his family would live on the Gold Coast until August before relocating to the harbour city.
"I'm going to have to commute back after then to coach Ipswich for the last few weeks," he said.
"It will be good, I'm still really focused to get some wins with Ipswich."
Heal's increased NBL profile will be an added bonus for the Force this season as it aims to win the region's first state basketball title.
Heal's new job will also be music to the ears of Force players who harbour ambitions of an NBL career.
Ryan Jefferies, Shaun Gleeson, who played one season on the Gold Coast Blaze roster, and new signing Robbie Manson will all have an opportunity to learn from and impress a current NBL coach.
"With the team we are trying to recruit there is going to be at least one spot that is going to go to a young up-and-coming player from somewhere around Australia," Heal said of his plans for the Kings' playing roster.
"If any of the guys from Ipswich are keen on that spot they have an inside-running to at least get an opportunity to compete against the best kids around.
"I'll get a chance to see them two trainings a week and games as well then I'll start to get an understanding as to what makes them tick, how they are under pressure, work ethic, the whole mind set. It's certainly a good opportunity for some of them."
Guard Ryan Jefferies, 24, is one of the players that made a beeline for Ipswich as soon as he heard Heal would coach the Force.
The news that Heal will offer a Kings spot to an untried player has given him even more motivation than ever to impress the former NBA player.
"Shaun (Gleeson) and myself are both gunning for a spot in the NBL," he said.
"When we heard Shane was coaching Ipswich it was a big drawcard for us to come back.
"Now that he's Kings coach, it definitely provides more motivation for us to get there."
Heal will continue the Force's QBL preparation with a Good Friday scrimmage at Ipswich Basketball Stadium tomorrow.
'I'm going to have to commute back after then to coach Ipswich for the last few weeks'