Paringatai wins tipoff for Southland captaincy

LEADING ROLE: New Southland Sharks captain James Paringatai relaxes at home with son Cooper-James.
LEADING ROLE: New Southland Sharks captain James Paringatai relaxes at home with son Cooper-James.

Foundation Southland Shark James Paringatai has been handed the captaincy duties for next year's National Basketball League.

Paringatai, who is the only player to have appeared in all 52 games in the franchise's three-year history, re-signed with the Sharks yesterday, along with shooting guard Dan Peck.

Sharks coach Paul Henare said he had been extremely impressed by Paringatai's attitude and work ethic at training and was a deserving choice.

"James is the most experienced member of the squad, in terms of their New Zealand NBL experience," Henare said.

"He's shown some good vocal leadership in preseason, has the respect of the players, and he's here right now.

"He ticked a lot of boxes. It will also help James develop as a person, a player, and leader on the basketball court."

Paringatai has made a home for himself in Southland after shifting to Invercargill when the Sharks gained NBL entry in 2010.

He previously played for Wellington, Manawatu and Taranaki in the league.

The 2.01m power forward averaged 5.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per game this season.

He will be chasing extended court time next year and seeking to be more consistent with his all-round play.

Early in his career, Paringatai was dubbed a mini Pero Cameron and was touted as a player who had the skills to wear the Tall Blacks singlet. Conditioning issues have hindered his play and prevented him from living up to those expectations.

Paringatai lost 11kg in the last off-season and was in the best shape of his career for the Sharks in 2012.

Henare believed the NBL had yet to see the best of Paringatai.

He was excited about what he could offer next year, if he kept working hard on his game and fitness over the summer.

"James has got some great basketball tools. He shoots the ball really well and moves well for a big guy. Why we haven't seen the best of him, who knows? One thing he's mentioned to me, is his shots are becoming a lot more consistent, because he's become fitter.

"It's about maintaining that fitness level and keeping on top of his weight."

Timaru-raised Peck, who has been a Sharks player for the past two years, was one of the few bright spots to come out of an awful 2012 season, with Southland winning only five of their 16 games. Peck had the best season of his five-year NBL career, averaging 8.4 points per game, and winning the Sharks' starting shooting guard spot. He had a memorable game against Hawke's Bay, who were coached by Henare this season, scoring 21 points and grabbing six rebounds.

Henare, who was excited by the potential of the 24-year-old, said he would help provide depth in the Sharks' back court.

"The kid can play. He's a real talent," Henare said.

"He can shoot the ball well. He handles the ball well and he's got good quickness and athleticism," he said. "He's on the very start of where he can be in the New Zealand league and even further, if he has aspirations."

Meanwhile, the Zero Fees-sponsored Sharks appear unlikely to secure Tall Blacks star and New Zealand Breakers centre Alex Pledger.

Henare had spoken to Pledger about the possibility of playing for the Sharks.

However, the coach said the player had indicated he was leaning towards sitting out the New Zealand league after a long campaign with the Breakers.

"I think it's quite a smart move [by Pledger]," Henare said.

The Southland Sharks will now target an American big man to bolster their stocks in the power forward and centre positions next season.

Next year's NBL is set to tipoff in early April.

The Southland Times