Igor Hadziomerovic knows he wants the NBL to be his final destination – after all, he has been there before, spending a season with Melbourne United in 2015/16.
The path to get back there, however, remains a rocky road.
A new stepping-stone along that journey may have opened up, with the formation of NBL1 providing players like Hadziomerovic an opportunity to impress in a competition with the NBL’s brand and naming attached.
When signing with Frankston for the first NBL1 campaign, though, Hadziomerovic looked beyond the marketing element of the league and realised the unique situation the Blues are in, as they have a strong connection with South East Melbourne Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell.
Hadziomerovic hopes the formula of being in Frankston, and a string of strong performances, will assist in ultimately regaining a NBL contract.
“That’s the way I am looking at it to be honest,” Hadziomerovic said, when asked if he hopes NBL1 can be a pathway back to the NBL.
“I think in terms of being able to work closely with Frankston and Simon Mitchell, who is going to be coaching the Phoenix, they have quite a close relationship with him.
“The network is there and if we perform as a team and individually, I think the opportunity will be there. I’m definitely looking at it as an opportunity to get back into the NBL.
“It’s just a link, no one has approached me (from the Phoenix).
“I know I have a pretty good relationship with Simon from United and that Frankston connection.”
Don’t just think Hadziomerovic signed with the Blues for individual benefits, though. The 27-year-old has his sights set on winning it all this year, and with a roster that features some other NBL calibre talent, Frankston should prove to be a tough outing from week-to-week.
Along with a preformed relationship with head coach Andrew Harms, joining the Blues became somewhat of an obvious decision.
“Harsmy, the coach at Frankston, we actually know each other from back in the day, we went on a China tour together,” Hadziomerovic said.
“He basically just messaged me and asked me to have a chat. I really liked what they’re doing with their culture down there and also they’ve signed Dan Trist, Majok Majok, and a few other key players.
“It seemed like an exciting opportunity to compete for a championship.”
The announcement of NBL1 has been met with excitement across the basketball community, and Hadziomerovic has echoed those thoughts, praising it as a positive step for the sport.
“What attracted me to the league was obviously the high level competition and seeing a lot of the guys who played in the NBL last season have signed with clubs,” he said.
“I think the competition will be very high level, which is quite exciting to be playing at that competitive level.
“It’s a great marketing tool. The NBL has done a great job the last few years, since Larry Kestelman took over the league, in terms of being able to rebrand and really attract a wide range of fans.
“I think bringing that to the offseason with NBL1 is going to have a similar effect.
“It’s quite exciting, even streaming the games live and being able to watch it on the internet and stuff like that.
“I think it’s going to help the league grow and bring more exposure and maybe more opportunities for guys from NBL1 to get a chance at the NBL.
“It’s a big positive and quite exciting.”