Breakers' future stars arrive at Southland Sharks
Breakers youngsters Reuben Te Rangi and Morgan Natanahira have had one heck of a week enjoying the Auckland-based club's third Australian National Basketball League title in many as years.
While the two squad members weren't required for the finals, the club still flew them to Perth to be with the side when they won game two and the title last Friday.
Fresh from the celebrations yesterday, the pair arrived in Invercargill where they have linked up with the Southland Sharks for the National Basketball League season.
Seven days after they were in Perth popping the champagne corks with the Breakers they will make their Southland debuts when they take on the Super City Rangers in Invercargill tomorrow night .
They both are confident they can quickly pull away from the heights of the Breakers' success to play their part for the Sharks.
"I'm pretty excited," Te Rangi said soon after his arrival yesterday.
"We had limited minutes in the Breakers but, coming down here, hopefully we'll get a few minutes. I'm just really excited to get out there and play."
Te Rangi and Natanahira are regarded as the Breakers' promising talents and Te Rangi in particular highlighted that this season when the 18-year-old racked up 13 points in just 10 minutes during a slick 114-84 win over the Melbourne Tigers in March. The performance drew plenty of praise.
"For his age, he plays with remarkable poise and maturity," said Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis of the 2.01m Te Rangi at the time.
"He's got an unbelievable basketball body, with strength and athleticism. When he started with us I thought the opportunity for him lay as a lockdown defender.
"But what's happened over the course of this year is he's started to feel comfortable with his offensive skills and shows he can knock down shots but also, with his size, get to the rim and rebound."
For Natanahira, much of his time with the Breakers was spent rehabilitating after knee surgery.
Te Rangi last season played for the Harbour Heat in the National Basketball League while Natanahira played for Hawke's Bay under new Sharks coach Paul Henare.
Both were quick to highlight Henare's decision to take on the Sharks head coaching role as the reason why they have decided to link up with Southland this season.
Both said they had a huge amount of respect for the former Tall Black and Breakers legend.
"He's a great coach and a good guy so we're quite lucky that he's given us this opportunity," 22-year-old Natanahira said.
While Te Rangi and Natanahira's inclusion will be a big boost for Friday night's game, the Sharks' third Breakers player, Leon Henry, will not be available until game three against Wellington.
Henry had a heavy workload with the Breakers and will be rested for a fortnight before getting back into action.
Coach Paul Henare is sweating on the availability of American import Brian Conklin for Friday night.
Conklin rolled his ankle at the end of training on Tuesday night and remains in doubt for the match.
The Southland Times