Judd Flavell says he is 'dead keen' for the third year as Southland Sharks coach in 2018 and is hopeful the majority of the players will return with him.
The Sharks' 2017 National Basketball League season came to an end on Saturday night with they were beaten 108-75 by the Wellington Saints in the final at Tauranga.
Southland had finished the round-robin season in second place and thumped the Super City Rangers in Friday night's semifinal before being knocked over at the final hurdle Saints.
Flavell hasn't yet put pen to paper, and he said he would need to work through the process with Sharks general manager Jill Bolger, but he has declared he does want to return to Southland next year.
He said he had loved his time in Southland and praised the Sharks for helping him develop as a head coach.
The key factor for Flavell, in terms of returning, centred on if it worked for his family and it seems he has the green light.
Flavell is based in Auckland where his wife and two children have remained while he has been in Invercargill for the three months of the NBL season.
"My wife is a huge part of allowing me to head down to Southland and chase my dream. I couldn't do it without her.
"With two young kids it's a huge workload on her while I'm down south with the Sharks."
The nature of professional basketball means the slate gets cleared every year in terms of players as the negotiations start for the next season.
If, as expected, Flavell's position is sorted he would love to be able to work with as many of this year's squad again as possible.
"It's a very young team, apart from Hayden Allen who bumps the average age up a bit.
"These guys are only going to get better, in particular with a organisation like the Sharks."
Flavell praised the environment general manager Jill Bolger had created and said the relationships she built is why he and many of the players thrived in Southland.
"The way that Jill operates and runs the ship is one of the reasons I want to come back.
"I don't know if it is because she is a female, but she has that motherly touch where she makes sure everyone is looked after which is important - especially when you are away from."
As far as Saturday night's final, Flavell said there was a real belief in the Sharks camp that they could topple unbeaten Wellington.
"We were confident and we would back ourselves if we had another go at them. But we had our chances and Wellington were too good on the night."
Much of Southland's scouting before the game was centred around shutting down the threats of Corey Webster and Tai Wesley.
For large chunks of the game they did a good job of that, but it did leave other Wellington players open and they made Southland pay.
Former Shark Shea Ili was one of them as he notched up an impressive 31 points.
AT A GLANCE
Wellington Saints 108 (Ili 31, Webster 27, Ngatai 18) Southland Sharks 75 (Raukawa 15, Kay 14) 1Q: 21-21; HT: 44-37; 3Q: 74-58
Image and article courtesy of The Southland Times / Stuff.co.nz