Teams enter final stretch in NBL Final Four race

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 13/06/2014
Luke Martin
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ
ONE TO WATCH: Luke Martin is going to be an important figure in the Southland Sharks’ quest to make the 2014 National Basketball League play-offs.

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There are just three weeks left in the 2014 National Basketball League regular season, with most of the contenders having four or five games still to play. LOGAN SAVORY takes a look at what each of the teams have in front of them in the quest to qualify for the Final Four in Wellington on July 4 and 5.

BAY HAWKS

Current Points: 24 (12-2)

Maximum Points: 32 (16-2)

Remaining Games: Manawatu (A), Southland (H), Taranaki (A), Otago (H).

The Lowdown: The Bay Hawks are the first and only team to have locked in their play-off spot at this stage of the season. The Tab Baldwin-coached team have been the form side of the competition to date and hold the favourites tag at this stage.

SOUTHLAND SHARKS

Current Points: 18 (9-4)

Maximum Points: 28 (14-4)

Remaining Games: Waitakere (A), Hawke's Bay (A), Canterbury (H), Nelson (A), Canterbury (A).

The Lowdown: Two wins from their final five games would probably be enough to cement another semifinals spot for the defending champ. Even one win against Nelson in the final round could get the Zero Fees-sponsored team across the line.

Southland do have bottom-placed Canterbury to play twice in their final five games but the Rams have proved they are no easy beats after they toppled Waikato last week.

WAIKATO PISTONS

Current Points: 16 (8-6)

Maximum Points: 24 (12-6)

Remaining Games: Canterbury (H), Wellington (A), Manawatu (A), Wellington (H).

The Lowdown: Two wins could be enough for Waikato, three wins probably would be enough and winning all four of their remaining games would certainly be enough to book a place in the semifinals.

With two games against fellow title contender Wellington still to be played, that will make the challenge a little more difficult for the Pero Cameron-coached team.

WELLINGTON SAINTS

Current Points: 16 (8-6)

Maximum Points: 24 (12-6)

Remaining Games: Canterbury (H), Waikato (H), Taranaki (H), Waikato (A).

The Lowdown: Wellington sit in the same position and have the same requirements in front of them as Waikato. With the roster the Shane Heal-coached team has they should be able to step up and topple Canterbury and Taranaki, but it certainly is not a given.

Like Waikato they will have a keen eye on how fifth-placed Nelson go in their remaining three games.

NELSON GIANTS

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Current Points: 16 (8-7)

Maximum Points: 22 (11-7)

Remaining Games: Otago (H), Super City (H), Southland (H).

The Lowdown: Nelson have just three games left compared with the four out of five games which other semifinal contenders have. Nelson could progress to the final four with two wins from their three games but other results would need to go their way as well. What Nelson does have in their favour is their remaining three games are at home.

OTAGO NUGGETS

Current Points: 12 (6-7)

Maximum Points: 22 (11-7)

Remaining Games: Taranaki (A), Nelson (A), Canterbury (H), Manawatu (A), Bay Hawks (A).

The Lowdown: Otago have a difficult assignment in front of them having to win, at the very least, three of their last five games. In reality they probably need to win four of five games to give them a good chance.

They will need other results to also go their way.

SUPER CITY RANGERS

Current Points: 12 (6-9)

Maximum Points: 18 (9-9)

Remaining Games: Southland (H), Nelson (A), Manawatu (H)

The Lowdown: The Rangers have been a form team of late in the competition and if they had started the competition like they are playing at the moment they would have certainly been a semi-final prospect. They have left themselves too much work to do it would seem.

TARANAKI MOUNTAIN AIRS

Current Points: 10 (5-9)

Maximum Points: 18 (9-9)

Remaining Games: Otago (H), Manawatu (A), Bay Hawks (H), Wellington (A)

The Lowdown: Taranaki won't be part of the 2014 National basketball League play-offs it seems. The Mountain Airs however won't be completely disappointed with their campaign to date given many had predicted them as wooden-spooners at the start of the season. They will want to finish strong in their final four games.

MANAWATU JETS

Current Points: 8 (4-9)

Maximum Points: 18 (9-9)

Remaining Games: Bay Hawks (H), Taranaki (H), Waikato (H), Otago (H), Super City (A).

The Lowdown: Manawatu's hopes are dashed, but could play an important role in the make-up of the playoffs if they were to topple Waikato in one of their remaining four games.

CANTERBURY RAMS

Current Points: 6 (3-10)

Maximum Points: 16 (8-10)

Remaining Games: Wellington (A), Waikato (A), Southland (A), Otago (A), Southland (H).

The Lowdown: Canterbury are also out of contention despite having five games to play. However, given every one of those games are against semifinal contenders the Rams still have a big part to play in the competition.

- The Southland Times

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