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Aston finds home in Sharks' set-up

Luke Aston has taken the long route from a kid learning the basketball ropes in Queenstown to lining up for Southland in the National Basketball League.

The 26-year-old has developed into a handy addition to the Southland Sharks this season and his promising season has led to selection in a New Zealand Select team to play in China next month.

The team is effectively a Tall Blacks development team as coach Paul Henare takes a look at some of New Zealand's promising talent.

For Aston, the selection has come from nowhere.

A fortnight ago he wasn't even aware of the tour to China and now is bracing himself for the unique opportunity.

His move south to play for Southland has turned out to be a golden one.

Aston spent some time under Sharks coach Judd Flavell's tutelage in 2009 as part of the Breakers Academy in Auckland and remained in contact with Flavell.

He had shown some interest in linking with the Sharks last season but nothing eventuated.

The opportunity arose again this year and he was delighted to be able to pull on the Sharks' orange singlet.

Aston is a southern boy at heart after growing up in Queenstown before shifting to Dunedin where he went to Otago Boys' High School.

After school he spent two years at college in California before another four years studying and playing in Hawaii where he finished with a degree in sport and exercise science.

At the moment he is mixing his basketball commitments in with more online study where he is aiming for a masters degree in sports administration.

When Aston returned to New Zealand he lined up for Hawke's Bay in 2015 and 2016 before returning to the deep south.

"You watch the Southland teams over the past few years, they are always competitive and the environment is great.

"Coming from Queenstown, I've spent a lot of time down here and the people are great. So [the Southland Sharks] is one of those places where you just say, 'when can I go there'."

The 2m shooting guard's arrival in Southland has helped boost the playing depth on the Sharks roster this season.

With the Sharks having some injury troubles, all that depth has been called on and Aston has played a vital role averaging 25 minutes per game to date this season.

Southland have won nine of their 12 games to date this season and sit second in the competition standings.

Aston was encouraged as to just where they are at at the moment.

"I think we are getting better every game and we are continuing to win games and are in a great position for the end of the season.

"It's all you can hope for and if we can stay away from injuries we will be in with a good shot."

The Sharks have a tricky double-header on the road this weekend where they will play the Wellington Saints in Wellington on Friday night before travelling further north to take on the Super City Rangers in Te Awamutu.

Aston was looking forward to getting another gauge as to just how they are shaping up as the playoffs inch closer.

"[This weekend] will be a good opportunity to see how we've progressed throughout the season. We are playing two of the better teams this weekend back to back so it'll be good to get out there and give it our all."

Two of Southland's three losess this season have been to Wellington who at the moment have recorded 12 wins from 12 games.


v Wellington Saints, Friday 7pm, in Wellington.

v Super City Rangers, Saturday 7pm, in Te Awamutu

Article and image courtesy of The Southland Times

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