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Sharks smash their way into NBL Final

The Southland Sharks are one win away from another National Basketball League title.

The Sharks have progressed to Saturday night's 2017 NBL decider after delivering a remarkable 106-67 win over the Super City Rangers in Tauranga on Friday night.

Pasting, walloping, hiding, one-sided - call it what you like, the Rangers were no match for a red hot Sharks in their semifinal showdown.

Southland now eyes the challenge of the nineteen and zero Wellington Saints who also progressed to the final on the back of a 94-73 win over the Canterbury Rams in the earlier semifinal.

For Southland they delivered their best showing of the season to blitz the Rangers on the way to the final.

The Rangers went up 5-0 in the game before the Sharks took over for the remainder of the night.

They shot at 59 per cent from the field in the first quarter to go up 31-20.

Some nice touches from Reuben Te Rangi sprung Southland in action, while the bench, in particular Hayden Allen, was a key figure in the momentum in the first quarter.

Allen contributed seven first quarter points in an unblemished shooting record.

Southland's dominance continued into the second quarter as the continued to make their shots to push out to a 54-32 halftime lead.

While Southland shot at 57 per cent through the first half the Rangers could get hot sitting at 32 percent.

The Sharks were not about to let the Rangers into the game and when they won the third quarter 29-9 to lead 85-41 the focus started to turn to Saturday night's final.

Alex Pledger posted massive numbers in the win with 24 points and 12 rebounds, while Te Rangi, Allen, James Hunter and Nick Kay all reached double figures.

It was a former Shark in Tai Wesley who starred at both ends of the court as the Wellington Saints remained unbeaten in the other semifinal against the Canterbury Rams.

The Saints withstood a ferocious first half effort from the fourth seeded Canterbury Rams to win their semi-final 94-73 at a sparsely populated BayPark Arena.

Big man Wesley, the reigning two-time NBL finals MVP, again delivered with an imposing stat line of 36 points and nine rebounds to make it 19 straight wins for the season.

Wellington outscored Canterbury 50-30 in the second half, shooting a red-hot 21-34 (62 per cent) from the floor after halftime.

Basketball New Zealand's decision to take the Final Four to a city without an NBL team looks to have badly backfired with about 350 in attendance for the first semi-final, including Oklahoma City's Kiwi NBA centre Steven Adams.

Tauranga are attempting to enter the league next season for the first time, but didn't create a great impression with their support.

Saints' point guard Shea Ili added 18 points and five assists, while star guard Corey Webster was held to 12 points on 5-14 shooting, but was still effective with six rebounds and nine assists.

Underdogs Canterbury made a tremendous start to the game, hitting nine threes in the first quarter to lead 29-18.

The Rams led 51-48 on a putback basket by McKenzie Moore late in the third quarter, but then the class of the Saints shone through.

Wellington surged ahead late in the term with turnovers starting to hurt the Rams. Wesley cashed in inside as the Saints went on a 10-0 run to take a 65-58 advantage into the final quarter.


Southland Sharks 106 (Alex Pledger 24, Reuben Te Rangi 19, Hayden Allen 13, Nick Kay 11, James Hunter 11), Super City Rangers 67 (Mitch McCarron 14, Earnest Ross 10).

1stQ: 31-20, HT: 54-32, 3rdQ: 81-41.

Wellington Saints 94 (Tai Wesley 36, Shea Ili 18, Corey Webster 12, Josh Duinker 11), Canterbury Rams 73 (Jeremy Kendle 25, McKenzie Moore 21, Marcel Jones 10) 1Q: 18-29, HT: 44-43, 3Q: 65-58.

Photo and article courtesy of The Southland Times /

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