Sharks hunting for win in season opener

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2013

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The Southland Sharks will open their 2013 National Basketball League season against new team Waitakere, in Invercargill in April.

Waitakere (West Auckland) will give New Zealand's largest city a presence in the NBL after defending champions the Auckland Stars were removed from the competition because of concerns over their financial model, and North Harbour Heat also withdrew.

The showdown with Waitakere on April 19 will be the first of eight home games for the Sharks this season.

While the draw is yet to be released, the Sharks are expected to have a better draw than last season, when they had to play seven of their eight away games before returning to Invercargill for their first home game.

After losing five of those seven away games it made for a hard sell for the Sharks organisation as they tried to pull crowds.

General manager Jill Bolger said there had already been an encouraging amount of interest around season membership for this year.

"With Auckland in, then out, and North Harbour pulling out, and being replaced by Waitakere, there has been a bit of uncertainty over the draw, but we're pretty close to getting it finished off . . . and our aim is to begin the renewing process for current season ticket holders in the first week of February, with new members able to purchase following that," Ms Bolger said.

Meanwhile, the Sharks will hold a function tonight at the Kelvin Hotel as part of New Zealand basketball legend Pero Cameron's visit.

Cameron is in Invercargill to help run Southland Basketball Association age-group camps, but will also tonight take part in the Sharks promotion.

It is being dubbed The Paul and Pero Show, where former Tall Blacks Cameron and Paul Henare will lead teams in a quiz styled on TV programme Game of Two Halves.

Tickets are on sale for $20 from Southland Basketball or at the Kelvin Hotel. Southland Basketball will also honour coach Richard Dickel, who is soon to leave the organisation to take up a job in Australia.

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- The Southland Times

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