After one full round the Sharks' Summer League Semifinal are set. Southland Basketball Development Officer and former Shark Dan Peck casts his eye over the two match-ups.
SEMIFINAL 1 - ORANGE (3-0) v WHITE (1-2)
6:00pm, ILT Stadium Southland – Court 1
LAST WEEK: Orange 85 def White 60
Orange has been the form side of the league. They are the more experienced group and while teams have challenged them at times, they have pulled through in all three rounds and are looking like the strongest team. Their players have good experience and are really talented and that’s been showing through over the three weeks.
For me, Lydon Aoake, who has come down from Auckland, has been very handy. Tom Cowie has shown good ability to get guys involved and create for his team and Rhys Smolenski has been a standout in terms of scoring the ball, shooting and getting to the basket and finishing. Those three have been tough for the rest of the league to deal with.
Watching Team White last week, the energy and effort was not where it needed to be to compete with Orange. That will be our focus this week and we’ll be concentrating on energy, effort, competing and I think White has the ability to be able to do that, otherwise Orange will continue that dominance. They are very capable of getting out to a big lead if White doesn’t come ready to play.
It will be another really good challenge for White. I’m pleased that they get another crack at Orange again after last week, straight away. Sometimes after a tough loss you just want to play that team again and get straight back on the horse. I’m excited to see how Team White responds after last week.
For White, Matty Maginn really stepped up and showed us something last week so if he’s able to continue that energy and drive the team that will be huge. They have some talented guys. Luka Williams has played well and can score the ball. Nathan Walker is a really solid player at this level. Sole Tipu is back in the line-up now and is just getting his feet underneath him. He can really do some things. And Jason Collett has shown a lot of ability defensively and on the offensive end. He can do a lot of things on offence.
So, I think the talent is there but again, there needs to be a belief and an energy from them to compete with Orange.
SEMIFINAL 2 - BLACK (1-2) v BLUE (1-2)
7:30pm, ILT Stadium Southland – Court 1
LAST WEEK: Black 89 def Blue 83
I thought Black, under-manned last week, played really well and were able to grind out a really good win which was good to see. They’ve got some nice pieces and are a young side and with losing Connor Coll (to injury) that’s a huge loss for them as one of their anchors.
Blue has Paratene McLeod coming back into the line up from last week along with Connor Ballantyne so that will be two big pieces that will make it tougher on Black, but if they are able to rise to the challenge and repeat the energy and effort we saw last week, Black has a chance to get another W.
To me, Team Blacks’ Keegan Irwin and Mac Stodart have been two of the stand-outs in the league. They have shown they can be as good as anybody. They’d carried a big load last week, but they did it comfortably and will need to do the same tomorrow night. It’s going to be up to those under-17 guys to step up and make the big plays and score the ball and defend. Those will be the guys who determine how well they compete on the night, but Black are capable of it.
For Team Blue, it all runs through Andrew Wheeler. Last week we were able to sit Wheels a bit and allow the younger guys to have a crack at running the game, which was really cool for them. Certainly this week, we will play that experienced core more minutes. I know this Blue team will be hunting to get into next week’s final. It will be good for Wheels to step up again as he builds towards another campaign for the Sharks next year.
Seeing experienced guys like Wheels and Hoani MacDonald working with the young guys on their team is one of the things I like to see. It’s one of the great things about having Hoani involved and having him in our culture and basketball family with his coaching experience and passion for the game of basketball and his ability to mentor younger guys like Sam Hodges.
That was one of the things I was looking at when I put these teams together, those experienced guys who could help the younger guys on Blue. We do have the youngest players in this Blue squad at the bottom of the roster and those guys need guidance and teaching. Seeing that across all four teams has been awesome.
Guys are buying into that and understanding that we need to teach and grow our younger players. They are the future of our teams. As a coach, when you see the players start to coach themselves, that is one of the coolest parts of coaching, so it has been good to see.
Entry for both games is free.