The SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks have added another large piece to its 2019 roster with confirmation that Tall Black and Melbourne United centre Alex Pledger will return for his fourth year with the southern franchise.
Pledger, who last year joined a select group of eight players who have played 50 or more games for the Sharks, has been in dominant form off the bench for his Melbourne side in the Australian NBL Finals and has played a key role in the Tall Blacks’ qualification for the FIBA World Cup.
“I’m really looking forward to coming back. Being the defending champions there was no way I wasn’t going to come back to try and defend it and hopefully with the way the team is shaping up, we’ll be able to do it again,” Pledger said.
The league has a new look about it in 2019 with the addition of the Southern Huskies from Tasmania, a fresh challenge that Pledger is looking forward to.
“It’ll be interesting to see how it works having an Australian team in the league but looking at the names they look like they have a solid roster. We’re shaping up well, Wellington are always good and a lot of Australian NBL players who are having really good seasons have signed for various teams around the league so I think the talent level overall is going to be very high, so it will be a decent challenge for us to go back-to-back,” he said.
Head coach Judd Flavell was delighted to have all seven-feet of the man known as Chief at his disposal again this year.
“I’ve won two NBL championships and Chief has been the backbone for both the Auckland Pirates and Southland Sharks’ wins. When I first got the job here in Southland, Alex was the first guy I reached out to and he’s always been the number one guy each season, so we are so excited to have him on board,” Flavell said.
“His role in the team is going to be even more important, off the court from a leadership perspective and on the court, with the way he is playing now and can dominate games.”
The 2019 Sal’s NBL begins on Thursday 11 April with the Sharks opening their title defence on Sunday 14 April against the Canterbury Rams.
Season tickets, including a special 10-year Anniversary VIP pass, are available now from ILT Stadium Southland. For more information visit www.sharksbasketball.co.nz/tickets.