Southland Sharks coach Judd Flavell has labelled Stadium Southland the home of New Zealand's National Basketball League as he reflected on another stellar home campaign.
The Southland Sharks beat Hawke's Bay 89-86 on Sunday in Invercargill in their final round-robin fixture of the 2017 season.
The win took Southland's home record to eight wins and one loss. The only loss was against the high-flying Wellington Saints in a fixture which went down to the last possession.
Looking back on the regular season, as the focus now starts to switch to the playoffs in Tauranga this weekend, Flavell said Invercargill was yet again their fortress and a place which added a spark to the team when needed this season.
"I said it to the team before the game, I said it throughout the week to the boys, this is the home of basketball I think in this country.
"When you get to play in this facility with this fan base behind us, this crowd, the atmosphere, it is exactly what players want to play in.
"As a coach you want that because it is an exciting environment to be a part of.
'We just played the Rangers up there [in Auckland] last weekend and they are struggling to get crowd numbers there, anytime you have this as your home venue and crowd it is a big boost.
"Just as a basketball enthusiast I love it, but the fact it is our home it's awesome.
"It's been a great home record this season. We went through a patch where we lost a few away games on the road, but then we got to come back home and it was timely to get us going again."
Because of the Southland Sharks' impressive record at home, Invercargill's community funders put together a strong bid to again host the NBL finals at ILT Stadium Southland this year.
However, the NBL officials opted to provide Tauranga with the opportunity instead.
The Sharks will train in Invercargill this week before they leave on Thursday morning to head to Tauranga for the playoffs.
They will take on the Super City Rangers on Friday night in one semifinal with the hope to progress through to the next day's final.
The other semifinal will be between the Wellington Saints and Canterbury Rams.
Flavell was wary of the threat the Rangers possessed and said they are a team that are hard to stop when they get momentum.
However, Flavell also said there was plenty of belief Southland could have a good shot at winning the organisation's third title in the nine season history.
"I'm looking forward to it and the whole group are looking forward to it. We've been pretty good at the defensive end this season and that's where we will be hanging our hat again coming into the finals.
"As a coach or player, just as a competitor, these are the times you live for and you just want to go in there and soak up the experience and enjoy it.
"I'm backing us come this do or die basketball and I really like our chances."
AT A GLANCE (Sharks regular season) v Nelson, 96-58 win v Wellington, 88-86 loss v Nelson, 100-94 win v Taranaki, 64-61 loss v Super City, 100-73 win v Wellington, 111-93 loss v Hawke's Bay, 101-87 win v Nelson, 95-83 win v Taranaki, 97-67 win v Canterbury, 105-94 win v Hawke's Bay, 86-81 win v Canterbury, 93-79 win v Wellington, 109-94 loss v Super City, 112-82 loss v Canterbury, 79-71 loss v Taranaki, 91- 70 win v Rangers, 101-83 win v Hawke's Bay, 89-86 win Season record: 12 wins, six losses
Article and story coutesy of The Southland TImes