Big game looms for Sharks in final home fixture

KEY MAN: Southland Sharks coach Paul Henare has helped the team to be a force at home.
KEY MAN: Southland Sharks coach Paul Henare has helped the team to be a force at home.

The Southland Sharks have played 41 National Basketball League games in Invercargill since their introduction to the competition in 2010 and it seems game number 42 on Friday night will be the most important one of them all.

The Sharks will take on the Canterbury Rams in their final home game of the NBL season. A win could hold the key to their 2014 play-off hopes.

The Zero Fees-sponsored Sharks have three round-robin games to play which include away games against Canterbury and Nelson in the final week on top of Friday night's fixture in Invercargill.

Two wins will see Southland into this year's semi-finals in Wellington on July 4 while one win will still be enough if other results go their way.

As well as a semi-final spot on the line the Sharks also have an impressive home record to protect .

Under coach Paul Henare, Southland turned the Velodrome last year, and now the rebuilt Stadium Southland, into a fortress.

In 16 games under Henare in Invercargill the Sharks have lost just three.

The biggest home crowds in 2014 were game one against the Otago Nuggets where 2330 turned up and round nine against Taranaki where they had a similar crowd.

Southland Sharks general manager Jill Bolger hoped the Southland public would take this last opportunity to see the Sharks in their last home game this season.

"We have had big crowds in the past for the last home game of the season and add to that the importance of what this game means for the team - in terms of getting into the top four - I'm hopeful fans will come out in their droves and bring us home."

The Sharks game will clash with the Highlanders-Barbarians match in Invercargill on Friday night.

Canterbury will be without one of their frontline players for Friday night's game with Richie Edwards suspended for a week following a verbal incident with an official last weekend.

The Southland Times