The SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks have confirmed a place in the Final 4 and, in the process, ended the Canterbury Rams' final hopes with a gritty 88-79 victory tonight at ILT Stadium Southland.
The Sharks gave up a ten-point halftime lead with another slow start to the third quarter and had to ride a strong finish from Orlando Coleman to put away a feisty Rams line-up by a somewhat flattering nine point margin.
The Sharks led 47-37 at the main break but Canterbury went on a 17-5 run out of the break to take back the lead as the Sharks couldn't get shots to drop and their Achilles heel of turnovers punctuated a sloppy 10-minutes.
Coleman led all scorers with a 25-point, 14-rebounds effort, including some splashy plays down the stretch, which saw his side bank their 12th win of the Sal's NBL and confirm a place alongside Wellington, Nelson and Hawke's Bay in the Final 4 to be played in Wellington over the 4th and 5th of August.
Reuben Te Rangi produced at key moments, dropping 13 while Alex Pledger (10 points) and Jarrad Weeks (12 assists and 7 points) were also key contributors.
The Sharks travel to take on Taranaki before returning home to face likely semifinal opponent the Nelson Giants in Invercargill in the final game of the regular season next Sunday at 3pm.