Basketball didn't interest Paul McHaffie and Tom Hewitson until they went to a Southland Sharks' game.
The Gore builders were hooked after one game.
One of the Sharks' sponsors, Placemakers, invited McHaffie and Hewitson to their corporate table at a home game against Wellington Saints in March. The Saints won 88-86 at ILT Stadium Southland.
All the invitees at the table were Gore builders.
It was Hewitson's first Sharks game, while McHaffie had been to three others.
"The local crowd gets right into it," Hewitson said.
"The music's blasting . . . and the coaches are doing their prunes screaming at the referee."
McHaffie agreed the atmosphere at Sharks' games was a big attraction.
"It's a good fast game to watch," he said.
A trip to Invercargill to watch the Sharks play, followed by an hour or two of socialising in the city made for a great night out, Hewitson said.
His eight years in the building trade have been spent with Ajax Building.
He is a flanker for Waikaka in division one club rugby this year.
"I don't have aspirations of playing for the Southland Stags," Hewitson quipped.
McHaffie, a trail bike rider in his spare time, owns McHaffie Building Ltd.
He was part of a team who built houses for All Blacks Taine Randell and Ben Smith.
Randell's house was built in Dunedin, while Smith's was a holiday home in Wanaka.
McHaffie did his apprenticeship in Wanaka before working on Brisbane building sites. He returned to Southland 10 years ago.
The most expensive house he had built was constructed in Wanaka at a cost of $2 million.
Meanwhile, the Southland Sharks' latest two games were in the North Island. They beat the Hawke's Bay Hawks 101-87 in Napier on Friday night after losing 111-93 to the Wellington Saints in Wellington the night before.
The Sharks joined the National Basketball League in 2010. They won the league final in 2013 and 2015.
Their seven games this season have resulted in four wins and three losses.
The Sharks' remaining home games this season are against: Nelson Giants, Saturday, April 22; Taranaki Mountainairs, Friday, April 28; Canterbury Rams, Friday, May 5; Taylor Hawks, Thursday, May 11; Taranaki Mountainairs, Friday, June 2; Taylor Hawks, Sunday, June 11.
Article and image courtesy of The Southland Times