Last month Alonzo Burton drained the shot that won the SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks the inaugural Schick 3X3 National Cup basketball title at ILT Stadium Southland.
Today he cemented his honorary Southlander status, signing on to play for the Sharks in next year’s Sal’s National Basketball League.
After signing for the Sharks for the cancelled 2020 season, Burton belatedly got to sample the Sharks’ environment for himself during last month’s successful 3X3 campaign.
“I saw for myself what an awesome organisation the Sharks is. As soon as I arrived I could tell the family atmosphere that everyone talks about and I felt a part of it straight away,” Burton said.
The man known as “Zo” is still buzzing about his first appearance in Sharks’ colours last month.
“I was just so excited to get back to playing competitive basketball and to win it in front of the crowd in Invercargill was the icing on the cake. To see that last shot drop was just an unreal feeling which didn’t really hit me until I got back home. We were embarrassed by the way we finished pool play on the Friday and we went back, watched the tape and held each other accountable and it was cool the way it came together,” he said.
After a false start earlier this year, Burton is champing at the bit to play for Head Coach Rob Beveridge.
“I think I got one conversation in with Bevo this year and I was literally at the airport, ready to fly south when Jill (Bolger, Sharks’ General Manager) called to say the League was being postponed. I chatted with Bevo again last week and I’m really excited when I hear about how he wants to play, what he does for the community and everyone I talk to speaks so highly on him.”
“I just want to take in as much of his knowledge as I can and raise my game to the next level,” Burton said.
For Coach Beveridge, the admiration is mutual.
“It is really awesome to have Alonzo chose to come and play with the Sharks. With Zo being one of the best shooters in the NZNBL he has been a highly sought after by a number of clubs and I’m really looking forward to be able to coach him and help him become a better player. Not only is a Zo a very good player, he also is a quality person and will be a great asset to the Southland community that everyone will love,” Beveridge said.
Burton joins fellow 3X3 team mate Dom Kelman-Poto as confirmed signings for the Sharks for next year’s NBL which tips off on April 24.
The moment Burton's title-winning shot dropped, winning the Sharks the inaugural Schick 3X3 National Cup. Photo by Monica Toretto