The SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks have named a powerful four-man squad for the Schick 3X3 Cup to be played at ILT Stadium Southland next month.
The all-star squad features New Zealand 3X3 representatives Hyrum Harris and Alonzo Burton, together with Sharks fan favourite Dom Kelman-Poto and the return of Sharks legend Alex Pledger.
Sharks General Manager Jill Bolger is delighted with the line-up and is itching to see the side take to the court in front of home fans.
“We are so excited to have the Sharks singlet back in action this year and it’s even better that it will be in front of our brilliant Shark Tank fans. We know 2020 hasn’t been a lot of fun for anyone so to be able to put on a show at home is the best way to put a lid on this year and whet the appetite for next year’s NBL season,” Bolger said.
Whilst Harris, Kelman-Poto and Burton have all played their fair share of 3X3, it will be a new experience for 2019 Sharks captain Pledger.
“I am going to have to have a read of the rulebook before I come down. It’s still the same end result, putting the ball through a hoop and not having to run up and down the court sounds good to me,” Pledger said.
The seven-footer is currently in the second week of quarantine in an Auckland hotel after leaving Melbourne last week.
“At its peak Victoria was getting 750 cases a day and the rules they have had to put in place just seemed never-ending. When we saw the roadmap steps they were putting in place to ease restrictions, instead of waiting and hoping, we just thought let’s go somewhere where we can live our life and we can figure the rest out later.”
Harris also felt the effects of the Melbourne COVID-outbreak.
“Zo (Burton) and I were in Melbourne before COVID hit to play 3X3 and we got two trainings in before we woke up to find the Grand Prix we were playing at was shut down and Basketball New Zealand put us on the next plane home,” he said.
After helping the Manawatu Jets qualify for the NBL Showdown Grand Final, Harris is looking forward to putting the orange singlet back on.
“It seems like a long time since I was in orange. It will be a good test on how everyone has looked after their bodies. 3X3 is not easy, there are no stops, no transition and you go straight from offence to defence. We will work our way into it. I think by Day Two you will really see the competition ramp up.”
Kelman-Poto is also looking forward to returning “home” to Invercargill and to getting out on court with the rest of the squad.
“I’m very excited with our team. Lonz (Burton) can hit those 3s, H (Harris) is such an aggressive driver and Chief (Pledger) will finish around the rim. For me being a more physical guy, without the running up and down the court I can be more physical so I have no worries about our team."
10 men’s and 10 women’s teams will contest the inaugural Schick 3X3 Cup over three days at ILT Stadium Southland between November 12-14. Tickets are now on sale at the Stadium or online via Ticketek.