The SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks’ 2018 Pre-season has kicked up a gear with the arrival of the Head Coach and the first intake of contracted players this week.
With the opening tip-off in the 2018 National Basketball League now less than three weeks away, preparations are in full swing on and off the court.
Coach Judd Flavell joined returning Sharks James Hunter and Luke Aston, along with 2018 recruit Tom Vodanovich at this week’s training. They joined a core local training squad of 14 who have been working together over the last three months, following the successful debut Sharks’ Summer league pre-Christmas.
The squad will take its first steps on court next Saturday in Gore with the Sharks taking on an Otago selection at the MLT Events Centre from 4:30pm.
The game will serve as an early building block for the Sharks squad but will have a little more riding on the it, with the decision to put the Invercargill Licensing Trust Challenge Trophy on the line.
The trophy was traditionally played between the SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks and the Otago Nuggets when the two southern rivals faced off in the NBL.
Since the Nuggets have not been in the league it has been uncontested, but it has been decided to put it on the line this pre-season to re-generate interest.
Each squad has it's name on the Challenge Shield on five occasions with the head-to-head records locked together while the Otago selection did claim bragging rights in the corresponding fixture in 2017.
The Tall Black trio of Derone Raukawa, Alex Pledger and Reuben Te Rangi and imports Jarrad Weeks and Orlando Coleman will then join the squad the following week, ahead of the NBL Blitz scheduled for Central Energy Trust Arena in Palmerston North from Friday 20th April to Sunday 22nd April.
All eight NBL franchises will attend the Blitz and each will play two games over the three day tournament.
The Sharks then face a short week, as the squad leaves Invercargill on ANZAC Day bound for Hawke’s Bay and the 2018 NBL season-opener against the Bay Hawks, followed by a Grand Final rematch against defending champion the Wellington Saints the following evening.
The Sharks open their home season against the Manawatu Jets on Thursday May 10th at ILT Stadium Southland.
Season tickets are on sale from Stadium reception, while individual game tickets go on sale this Monday. For more visit www.sharksbasketball.co.nz/tickets.