The stars have aligned for the Southland Sharks as they head into the National Basketball League playoffs with the injury list clear.
The Sharks have had a difficult season with a host of players being in and out because of different injuries.
Derone Raukawa, Hayden Allen, Alex Pledger, and Duane Bailey have all spent time on the sideline nursing injury.
There has been few times coach Judd Flavell has been able to operate with a full rotation.
However, come Friday's semifinal showdown against the Super City Rangers in Tauranga everything is pointing to the Sharks being able to roll out their premier lineup.
"It has been a roller coaster ride [with injury] and it is always normally the case, no one goes through the season with no injuries," Flavell said.
"Look, if you were to tell me at the start of the season I would have all the horses ready to go, and in a good place physically for the finals weekend, that is what it is all about. The timing is great."
Flavell knows having his team healthy won't push his team to success.
The Sharks beat Hawke's Bay on Sunday 89-86 in their final round-robin outing with a full roster to work with.
However, Flavell said they would need to be much better if they were to progress past the Rangers and to the final.
"Absolutely we need to be better. With this playoff format, funny things can happen, the Rangers are very dangerous.
"We have to be on top of the possession game and whoever wins that will go a long way to winning the game.
"So for us, it is about controlling the boards, not just controlling the boards but smashing the glass and getting physical.
We've got a good rebounding team across the board."
The Sharks have played the Rangers on three occasions this season. The first was a 100-73 win at home, before the Sharks were well beaten in Te Awamutu 112-82.
The two teams met for a third time just over a week ago in Auckland where Southland won 101-83.
Before Southland and the Super City Rangers meet on Friday night at 7pm, the Wellington Saints and Canterbury Rams will clash in the other semifinal starting at 5pm.
Wellington is regarded as hot favorites to go back-to-back and take out the 2017 title after they went through the regular season with an 18-0 record.
Article and image courtesy of The Southland Times