Southland Sharks are looking the part in NBL

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 21:53 17/05/2013
Reuben Te Rangi
Photosport
CHEERLEADING: Reuben Te Rangi, who had 26 points, reacts from the bench during the garbage-time minutes in the Southland Sharks' 105-83 win over the Taranaki Mountain Airs.

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The 2013 Southland Sharks look very much like the real deal.

The National Basketball League franchise turned in their best performance of the season tonight when they toppled the Taranaki Mountain Airs 105-83 at the Invercargill Velodrome.

The bookies had the two teams at evens heading into the game but the Sharks looked a much better outfield and a team with play-offs written all over them if the momentum continues.

It was impressive American import Brian Conklin who again led the way for the home team.

The St Louis University product racked up 31 points with 22 of those coming in the first half. He shot at 86 per cent from the field and 78 per cent from the free throw line and with each game continues to impress.

It all started in the first quarter for the Sharks when they raced out to a 13 point lead which they maintained throughout, the only blip coming in the third quarter which Taranaki won 28-22.

Some stern words from coach Paul Henare and some impressive three-point shooting from Reuben Te Rangi put the home team back on track.

Taranaki had problems early in the game when key player Kenny Gabriel got himself into trouble and spent the majority of the game on bench.

The Sharks now prepare for their next challenge against competition leaders Otago Nuggets in Dunedin on Sunday.

The Nuggets have five wins from five games and sit top of the table providing the Sharks with an ideal yard stick to see where they're at.

Those in and around Dunedin have certainly made everyone aware of their early season success with many suggesting the Nuggets are real title contenders.

The Otago faithful have every right to be crowing at the moment with the organisation turning itself around from an outfit that held a 33-game losing streak, from 2008 to 2011, to a force.

There has been a strong rivalry developing between Southland and Otago since the Sharks joined the league in 2009 and that isn't expected to change on Sunday.

Former Sharks players Mark Dickel and Brendon Polyblank will line up for the Nuggets while former teammate Leon Henry is now at the Sharks.

Southland Sharks 105 (Brian Conklin 31, Reuben Te Rangi 26, Kevin Braswell 13) Taranaki Mountain Airs 83 (Aaron Bailey-Nowell 22, Link Abrams 19, Brad Anderson 16). 1Q: 25-12, HT: 56-32, 3Q: 78-60

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