TIP off for the Echuca Pirates' defence of their title is only hours away.
On Saturday night, both the Lady and Senior Pirates will take to the court in Kyneton in CBL North West action.
For the Senior Pirates, the hunt is on for back-to-back conference championships.
The Pirates stunned the competition by claiming its first title just 12 months after a two-win season in one of the best turnarounds in country sport.
But coach Leo Tenace said it will be a whole new ball game for his side.
“You just don't know what the season is going to come up with,” he said.
“You can't tell what the opposition sides are going to be like. We've added a team in Bacchus Marsh to the conference who made a final last year in their conference.
“Bendigo and Mildura will no doubt come back stronger than they were last season, so we expect that it will be a tough season for the side.”
The Pirates are dealing with the loss of Luke Rosendale, who has departed to play at a higher level and is highly unlikely to appear with the Pirates this season, while Glenn Hopson has retired.
Dylan Payne has boarded the ship as a guard from Terang, while a number of under 18s have been added to the squad.
Thoguh there have been some personnel changes, Tenace said his team will rely on what has worked in the past.
“We trust our system,” he said.
“We've had some really good preparation, our training has gone well and we are looking forward to a great year."
For the Lady Pirates, a breakthrough season is the goal after struggling to get the results on the board in years past.
While the squad broke through in round seven to get a win against Shepparton, it would be their sole victory of the year.
New coach Lisa Baker harbors higher aspirations for the new season.
“We'd like to make finals,” she said.
“I think that's a realistic goal for us for the year. We've got a conference of five, we will have to play a few teams three times, including Bendigo, so it will be a tough ask but we are ready for the challenge.”
With Jane Chalmers taking a key role in the team's off-court structure and former college basketballer Georgie Eishold returning to the squad, the Lady Pirates
“We're also going to have Zara Pearson and Maddi Higgins, so hopefully they will be able to get some court time and make a big contribution to the team.”
Baker said her team was tracking well since the completion of the netball season.
“We had to wait until netball was finished in order to get everyone on the court,” she said.
“Now that we've got everyone available, we have been able to make a lot of progress in getting our play and system right, and we think its going to lead us to some success this season.”
Action starts Saturday night at 6pm in Kyneton.