SHANE Heal knows his Ipswich Force team will be underdogs this season and he wouldn't have it any other way.
Fresh from a four-week stint coaching the Sydney Kings in the National Basketball League, Heal is determined to mould a QBL championship team with attitude and commitment rather than raw talent.
Heal recently completed the final big signing for the Force's 2012 campaign by securing six-foot 10 inch (2.08m) Townsville Crocs centre Ben Allen.
Allen joins other fringe NBL players Ryan Jefferies and Shaun Gleeson as the Force's big guns.
With Ipswich junior star Jason Ralph and veteran forward Ryan Stolberg also on board, Heal plans complete his roster with journeymen players with something to prove.
The four-time Olympian was excited about coaching a team laden with players possessing a burning desire to improve.
"We are not going to be as talented as the Gold Coast or Rockhampton, Cairns or Mackay but I think if everyone accepts that we will give ourselves a chance to compete," Heal said.
"They have six times the budget we do so they are going to be a lot more talented but that doesn't mean they are going to win."
Heal will decide in the next few weeks which of the 7-10 players who have been training with the Force since Christmas will make up his final squad positions.
"In the six weeks I spent with the team I was really impressed with those guys and their ability to play defence and play a role," Heal said.
"The main thing for me is they are coming and putting their hand up to get court time.
"We'll put them in an environment where we can succeed as a team. We'll be better prepared than our opponents."
Heal has rejoined the Force squad after completing his Kings coaching commitments.
The new NBL coach said he would soon finalise his roster and begin working on offensive and defensive planning.
"Most of the guys who have been training with us are QBL and D League players so they already know the standard expected of them," he said.
"Offensively, we are going to have two main scorers (Allen and Gleeson) and Jefferies fitting into that next spot plus a whole lot of role players.
"I am comfortable with the guys we've got so whether we win the whole thing or make the top four who knows, but I know we'll certainly be having a crack."
The Ipswich Force men open their 2012 state league campaign away to Toowoomba on May 12.