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Sharks bite back with home win over Giants

Agent 97 Jarrad Weeks will struggle to go undercover again after this red-hot shooting display. The Southland Sharks' Australian point guard delivered a stunning showing, exploding for 44 points, which included nine of 12 three pointers, as they toppled the Nelson Giants 112-102 in Invercargill on Friday night. Stung by Sunday's upset loss to the Manawatū Jets, the defending National Basketball League champion Sharks bounced back with a morale-boosting victory. Through their opening five games, the Sharks have been underwhelming for the most part, as they showed in a 104-100 boilover by the previously winless Jets last Sunday. Southland practices during the week would have been characterised by intensity and honesty and it translated onto the Stadium Southland court with an improving showing, albeit lacking polish. Weeks, a member of the New Zealand Breakers in the Australian NBL, set the tone, scoring 22 first half points (on 7-12 shooting) as the Sharks opened up a 63-46 halftime lead. Weeks, who wears No.97 and goes by the nickname 'Agent 97' delivered the most eye-catching individual performance of the NBL season. Aside from his 44 points and three point clinic, he added six assists and five rebounds. With experienced centre Alex Pledger back in the Sharks' lineup after missing the Jets loss with an eye injury, the Sharks looked a different team. Pledger was a force inside and caused the Giants problems in the paint, collecting 21 points and 12 rebounds. Southland shot 22 from 37 (63 per cent) in the first half and seven of 13 from three point range (53 per cent) in the opening 20 minutes, while also dominating Nelson on the glass 27-15. The Giants, who suffered a late 69-67 loss to the Canterbury Rams in Christchurch the night before, matched it with the Sharks early on, before a late flurry to finish the quarter saw Southland lead 30-21 after the first term. Nelson closed Southland's lead to 85-77 at three quarter time and stuck with the Sharks in the final term, refusing to allow them to break clear on the scoreboard in front of their adoring home fans. American point guard Jordair Jett led the way for Nelson with a team-high 32 points on 12-19 shooting. Standout Australian forward Rhys Vague was busy again with 20 points and nine rebounds, while young Kiwis Tyrell Harrison (11 points, seven rebounds) and Kruz Perrott-Hunt (10 points, seven rebounds, and five assists) both turned in strong showings.

Southland improve to 4-2 with the win, joining the Rams in second place on the table. Nelson fall to 3-3 after dropping both games on their southern doubleheader. The Sharks face a quick turnaround, travelling to Tasmania on Saturday for a Sunday night showdown with the Southern Huskies in Launceston. AT A GLANCE: Southland Sharks 112 (Jarrad Weeks 44, Alex Pledger 21, Tom Vodanovich 18, Dom Kelman-Poto 10) Nelson Giants 102 (Jordair Jett 32, Rhys Vague 20, Daniel Grida 13, Tyrell Harrison 11, Kruz Perrott-Hunt 10) 1Q: 30-21, HT: 63-46, 3Q: 85-77. 

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