Horror night behind Southland guard Braswell

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 22/05/2014
Kevin Braswell
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
BOUNCING BACK: Kevin Braswell has rebounded from one of the worst shooting nights of his career in the NBL opener to twice score 39 points, a Southland Sharks record.

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Game one in the 2014 National Basketball League season is a night Kevin Braswell would rather forget.

In fact at the time he declared it one of his worst showings.

The American guard put up just five points as the Southland Sharks went down to the Otago Nuggets at the ILT Stadium in what was the Sharks' first outing since they won the NBL title in 2013.

Braswell's former Breakers team-mate and now Sharks coach Paul Henare had no doubts the round one game wasn't an indicator as to what might be ahead for Braswell this season.

There was no reaching for the panic button in regard to that performance. Henare was on the mark, with that [Braswell's] five-point showing now a distant memory.

The 35-year-old has delivered a number of standout performances including notching 39 point hauls against Manawatu and Waikato, a Southland NBL record.

Braswell sits second in the NBL standings for points per game this season, which for him is 24.6.

Every time Braswell has got to 24 points or more this season the Zero Fees-sponsored Sharks have won, which highlights his importance in the Southland setup.

"I think that game [against Otago] will be furthest from his mind right now. We had a chat about it after the game and we knew it was a game for him to get the rust out so to speak. I think his record over many years proves that he is a better player than what that first game produced," Henare said.

While Henare agreed Braswell was an important component in the team he pointed to the win over Nelson in Invercargill a fortnight ago to suggest a Sharks win did not just hang on just what Braswell produced.

"I think it was against Nelson when his percentages were pretty low and the guys stepped up. It's important when your main guys aren't going too well [that] other guys step up. He's going well though, and leading from the front, so long may it continue."

The Sharks next outing is in Hamilton tonight against the Waikato Pistons. It comes just six days after Southland beat Waikato 92-88 in Invercargill.

"I kind of like playing a team back-to-back because everything is fresh in your mind," Henare said.

Following tonight's game the Sharks will travel to New Plymouth tomorrow for the game against Taranaki on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, Reuben Te Rangi sent an injury scare into the Sharks camp this week with a twinge to an ankle in training but he has recovered and will front tonight.

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Henare said Leon Henry also has some minor injuries but he will play tonight.

The Sharks coach confirmed Gareth Dawson would not be with the team for the two games in the North Island.

Dawson missed the win over Waikato last Friday night because of personal issues.

Southland Sharks general manager Jill Bolger said out of respect to Dawson they did not want to shed any more light on his sudden unavailability.

"I think what you have to understand is that it is a personal issue and we want to respect our players confidentiality as much as we can, and that is what we are doing."

AT A GLANCE

What: National Basketball League
Who: Southland Sharks vs Waikato Pistons
Where: Hamilton
When: Tonight, 7pm

- The Southland Times

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