The next phase in the 2020 Sal’s NBL pre-season tips of this afternoon with the first round of the newly developed SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks Summer League.
Entering its fourth season, the Summer league has been enhanced this year and will be played over seven weeks with the four teams, (two from Southland, one from Dunedin & one from Central Otago) contesting two full rounds followed by a finals day on 7 March.
Southland Sharks Assistant Coach and Southland Basketball Development Officer Leyton Haddleton has worked hard to further develop the league to raise the overall standard and, consequently, the opportunity for local and regional players.
“We are so delighted to have had support for our Dunedin and Central mates. It’s a big commitment to travel to Invercargill for seven weeks but I think it’s really important that we look to create the highest level of competition possible.”
“That will be great for some of the young talent we have in all four teams and for those wanting to put their name in front of Bevo (Sharks’ Head Coach Rob Beveridge) for an NBL roster spot,” Haddleton said.
He will guide the local Mako Sharks who face off against the Dunedin Barbarians at 4pm this afternoon, while the league opens with the Mark Bell-coached Tiger Sharks against Central Otago Basketball.
Bell is also looking forward to the opportunity ahead of his squad.
“We’ve got a nice mix of players. There are kids just starting out in their careers, some guys who have been in the Sharks’ set-up, right through to Morgan (Waihiriri) who is 35.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing how guys like Tom (Cowie), Jordan (Murphy), Matt (Maginn) & Sam (Hodges) take a lead and it’s been great to see some of the younger guys I’ve worked with over the last six months especially come on the way they have. You can see a real lift in their basketball IQ so I’m really excited to see how it develops over the next seven weeks,” Bell said.
The full Southland squads are:
Tiger Sharks - Cam Archer (s), Ethan Mitchell (s), Gemar Atena, Jayson Collett, Joel Lamont, Jordan Murphy, Josh Kingsbury, Kalani Grimwood (s), Matt Maginn, Morgan Waihirere, Quake Webster (s), Tom Cowie, Coach: Mark Bell, Asst: Mark Lieshout.
Mako Sharks - Alex Wright, Andrew Wheeler, Anton Pahl, Connor Coll, Izaac Williams, Jacob Mika (s), Joel Fleck (s), Miguel De Luna (s), Ric Wang, Sam Hodges, Tamati Taylor-Taia, Coach: Leyton Haddleton,Asst: Mike Collett, Alister Johnston
(s) denotes still at school
The Dunedin Barbarians loom as a squad to watch with coach Greg Brockbank bringing a talent-laden list of names south.
“We’ll be a little light on numbers for the first week or two with some guys still away but it’s such a great opportunity for our guys to play some high-quality hoops and it’s great for our relationship with Southland,” Brockbank said.
“Since the announcement around the Nuggets NBL return, we’ve really seen a change in mentality from our guys. It’s had a huge positive impact on our local players in terms of them putting in the work and wanting extra workouts. Most of the guys we’ll be bringing south have the chance to be involved with the Nuggets so this will be a great campaign for us,” Brockbank said.
We’ve got Darcy Knox who was our Club League MVP last year and made the NZ Tertiary Games team so I’m really excited to bring him south. Josh Aitcheson is a guy you’ll know down south as a former Sharks player and was with the Rams the last season or two. There’s a couple of fringe Junior Tall Blacks in Nathan Hanna and Tai Porima-Flavell who are great talents so it’s fantastic to get these guys in front of Leytz (Haddleton).”
The full Dunedin Barbarians squad is: Darcy Knox, Brent Cheshire, Aaron Roydhouse, Matt Bardsley, Josh Aitchison, Hamish Robertson, Tai Porima-Flavell, Nathan Hanna, Mitch Hughan, Paden Kennedy
Likewise, Central Otago jumped at the chance to strengthen ties with Southland and bring a team south each Saturday.
Jackie Kukutai is one of the driving forces for Central Otago Basketball and is also thankful for the oppoprtunity.
Oded Nathan has worked with all of the squad members and will coach a squad which also contains a nice mix of experienced heads and young, raw talent.
Former Manawatu Jet Christian Alberton has settled in Central Otago and the two metre-tall former age group representative in his native Brazil will be a handful under the hoop.
Former Otago Nugget Sam King will be another to keep an eye on, having recently relocated to Queenstown to take a PE teaching role at Wakatipu High while Kukutai is also looking forward to watching Frenchman Pierre Poyet in action who is tipped tro bring a big presence as a shooting guard.
Callum and Laine O’Connell will be well known to Southland supporters with the brothers having played for Southland at age group level while Dominic Hamilton, Riley Jones, Michael Rewi and Hunter Fremantle round out the squad.
Due to the resurfacing of ILT Stadium Southland’s main courts, today’s opening week will be played on Court 6.
The full SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks Summer League schedule is:
2pm Tiger Sharks vs Central Otago
4pm Mako Sharks vs Otago
2pm Mako Sharks vs Central Otago
4pm Tiger Sharks vs Otago
2pm Tiger Sharks vs Mako Sharks
4pm Otago vs Central Otago
2pm Otago vs Mako Sharks
4pm Central Otago vs Tiger Sharks
2pm Otago vs Tiger Sharks
4pm Central Otago vs Mako Sharks
2pm Central Otago vs Otago
4pm Mako Sharks vs Tiger Sharks
2pm 3rd vs 4th
4pm 1st vs 2nd