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Raukawa auditioning for ANBL spot

For New Zealand's leading basketballers the National Basketball League is about notching up a title to add to the CV.

But for a group of players, there's another important element attached to New Zealand's domestic competition. It provides the ideal audition for those chasing Australian National Basketball League contracts.

Derone Raukawa falls into that category.

The 22-year-old livewire Southland Sharks guard has been part of the Breakers setup as a development player and is eager for another shot come the 2016/17 season.

"That's my plan but I'm not booked in with that or anything yet, I'm definitely trying for that.

"Hopefully I can make an impression and get a development spot or roster spot, we'll just see how it goes.

"[The NZNBL] is where we get to come out and show our skills because we get to play a bit more in this league. Every game is a chance to showcase yourself and let teams in the ANBL know what you can do."

"It's what I want to do is cement myself a spot in the ANBL and hopefully finish my career there, or if any other options open up from that."

Last year Raukawa was one of the big movers in New Zealand basketball making an immediate impression in his first season with the Sharks.

As a result he was called into the Tall Blacks setup - an experience he loved.

"Representing your country is always what you want to do, that is the highest really. So hopefully I can stay in that mix and keep progressing."

Raukawa brings bucket loads of energy and athleticism to the Sharks setup.

He concedes his key work-on is at the defensive end of the court; certainly a challenge given his smaller stature than most in the league.

"I'm probably a bit more defensive-minded this year, hounding the ball and getting up the court and being the bulldog that distracts their point guard.

Raukawa's 2017 NZNBL campaign has been interrupted by a hip injury as he missed a road trip with the Sharks to Nelson and Taranaki.

However, he has declared himself fully fit and is looking forward to the Sharks next showdown against the Nelson Giants in Invercargill on Saturday night.

The Sharks have already played Nelson twice this year winning the first game 96-58 in Invercargill, before then winning 100-94 in Nelson in an overtime thriller.

"They've got a new import and it will be a different team from when we first played them, it will be a much tougher challenge."

Sharks officials are celebrating a big Saturday of sport in Invercargill with the Highlanders also playing the Sunwolves in the city at 5.15pm before the Sharks tip-off across town at the ILT Stadium Southland.

Southland Sharks general manager Jill Bolger said fans who attend the rugby earlier in the evening can show their rugby ticket at ILT Stadium Southland to get a discounted price of $12 (plus booking fee) for adults and $6 for children.

"It's a big game for the Sharks and we'd love to see a noisy Highlanders contingent make the after-match trip to the Stadium and get in behind our boys."

"It's outstanding value for money and it could be a good contest between the Highlanders and Sharks as to who scores the most points," Bolger joked.

At a glance

What: National Basketball League

Who: Southland Sharks v Nelson Giants

Where: ILT Stadium Southland, Invercargill

When: Saturday, 7pm

Article and image courtesy of The Southland Times

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