The Nelson Giants ended the SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks' unbeaten run at the Sal's NBL Blitz this morning, closing out the game strongly against a short-handed Sharks' lineup to take the win by 55-50.
Head Coach Judd Flavell elected to put Tall Blacks Derone Raukawa and Alex Pledger on ice for today's final game, alongside Reuben Te Rangi and Orlando Coleman who weren't considered for the game due to minor injuries, using a seven-man rotation just four days out from the Sharks' season opener in Hawke's Bay.
The Sharks took a five point lead into half-time, courtesy of a 16-7 second quarter, but in the end the telling run was made by Nelson either side of three quarter time, where the Giants went on a 10-2 stretch to effectively close the game out.
For Flavell, it was mission accomplished, despite today's loss.
"Playing just seven, everyone got big minutes and were able to have a good run. The Giants played pretty much all their guys so it was a good challenge. It was good that we took it down to the wire and we were able to call a couple of time-outs down the stretch and try and execute some plays, so that was pleasing," Flavell said.
"In terms of getting guys on the road, building chemistry with a new look and new players we have this year, the weekend was great. Resting the guys we did, some of our new guys got to play a lot which was great for Lydon (Aoake), Tinashe (Matambanadzo), Tom (Vodanovich) and particularly Connor (Coll), who got a lot of time and showed that he belonged at this level."
"I think every team was holding something back, not wanting to show too much. We certainly were, although are in a slightly different situation because we are coming together quite late. We did get a good look at everybody else in the League and got to see the new players and the new playing style we will come up against, so that was good. We now get to look forward to putting that all together for the Hawks on Thursday," he said.
In the other early game this morning the Canterbury Rams defeated the Taranaki Mountainairs 67-47.
The SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks tip-off the 2018 Sal's NBL this Thursday night against the Bay Hawks in Taradale from 7pm and back up the following night in a rematch of last year's Grand Final against the Wellington Saints on Friday night. Both games will be live-streamed via http://www.nznbl.basketball/.
SHARKS v GIANTS BOXSCORE