Southland basketball supporters received an early Christmas present today with Alex Pledger confirming his return to the SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks for a fifth New Zealand NBL season.
The man known as Chief is a dominant force in the paint at both ends and brings a wealth of experience and leadership to the Sharks, having captained the squad to a finals appearance in 2019.
And after the challenges of 2020, he is fully fired up for another tilt at a Sal’s NBL title next year.
“Outside of the 3X3 last month I really played no basketball this year. Southland is always a place I’ve enjoyed going to. I love the place and the organisation so it was a no-brainer. I’ve never played for Bevo (Sharks’ Head Coach Rob Beveridge) but I played against a lot of his Perth teams in the Australian NBL and I have a huge amount of respect for him and really like the way his teams play.”
“We are still in the early stages of putting the team together, but from what we already have I know we will mesh really well with his style and the way he wants to play,” Pledger said.
Beveridge is delighted to confirm Pledger, a key piece in his plans for the upcoming Sharks’ season.
“Figuratively speaking, the signing of Alex is enormous for the club! I personally am really excited to have the opportunity to coach him. I have no doubt that Alex will again be a dominant player in the NBL and I am sure that like me, Sharks’ supporters are looking forward to having Alex back again,” Beveridge said.
Pledger’s on-going commitment to the club is also something that has impressed Shark' General Manager Jill Bolger.
“Alex’s signing has shown once again his loyalty to our franchise and 2021 will be his fifth year in orange. His popularity in our community is huge and he brings great leadership and experience to our team alongside his obvious playing ability,” Bolger said.
Pledger will also be heavily involved in the sport off the NBL court this season, assisting with Southland Basketball’s young talent in a coaching and mentor role.
“As a professional player we have done a lot in the community and with youngsters and I’ve always enjoyed it. I feel like I’ve still got a few year’s left in the legs but to get the chance to work with Southland Basketball while I’m down is something I’m really looking forward to and it’s an area I will look to more as I get closer to hanging the boots up,” Pledger said.
He will be joined by Sharks’ team mate Dom Kelman-Poto at Southland Basketball’s School Holiday Programme from January 26-28. Details are at basketballsouthland.co.nz/holiday.
The Sal’s NBL tips off on April 24 with the Sharks opening their season on the road in Nelson on Monday 26 April before its first home game at ILT Stadium Southland against the Taranaki Mountainairs on Thursday 29 April at 7:30pm.