Southland Sharks' new recruit makes an impact

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 13/05/2014
Shea Ili
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
AIMING HIGH: Shea Ili in action during his debut game for the Southland Sharks against the Otago Nuggets.

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Shea Ili's teammates jokingly call him Bruce Lee.

The 21-year-old is the only new face in the Southland Sharks playing roster for the 2014 National Basketball League season and he has quickly stamped his mark in the team.

What has been the eyecatcher has been Ili's freakish athleticism and the energy he has brought to his new team.

That athleticism has prompted his team-mates to liken him to the former martial arts star Bruce Lee.

"The guys call him Bruce Lee because athletically he can do some amazing things. He's an amazing athlete," Sharks coach Paul Henare said of Ili.

"Sometimes you wonder how does he do these things?

"The thing I love about Shea is the things he does on the floorare very infectious for the group, the hustle plays when dives, he gets a steel and goes and lays it up or gets an offensive rebound at a really crucial time. I love the kid, I couldn't speak more highly of him, I'm really enjoying coaching him and he's doing a great job for us."

Ili played a crucial role in sparking his team to their latest win against the Nelson Giants in Invercargill on Saturday night.

The Sharks had started slow dropping the first quarter 29-23 and Ili - who has moved south from Auckland - was the spark they needed in the second quarter.

He scored 10 second quarter points in 4 minutes 34 seconds on the court as the Sharks went from 29-23 down to lead 52-39 at halftime.

Henare said Ili was developing into an important part of the Sharks setup and expects as the season wears on he will continue to improve.

"He's lucky to have that ability but I think what will be good for him down here is learning the ins and outs of the game and the reads during the game.

"Learning off Luke Martin and Kevin Braswell and picking his times when to attack and when not to. I think his energy and enthusiasm can get him in trouble every now and again but I think that's becoming less and less which is really good."

The Sharks next game is against the Waikato Pistons in Invercargill on Friday night.

AT A GLANCE

Team Played Won Lost Points

Hawke's Bay 11 9 2 18

Wellington 10 7 3 14

Nelson 10 7 3 14

Otago 8 5 3 10

Waikato 7 4 3 8

Southland 7 4 3 8

Taranaki 8 3 5 6

Manawatu 8 2 6 4

Canterbury 8 1 7 2

Waitakere 8 1 7 2

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