Sharks fans bite back after post-match snub

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 24/06/2013
Sharks
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ

ONE SIDED CEREMONY: The Southland Sharks team with the ILT Challenge Shield, which they claimed when they beat the Otago Nuggets in the National Basketball League game in Invercargill on Friday night.

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A trophy presentation snub by the Otago Nuggets has fired up Southland basketball followers, with one fan going as far as saying he had witnessed the most unsportsmanlike conduct he had ever seen.

The Southland Sharks turned in the best performance of their 64-game history on Friday night when they beat competition leaders the Otago Nuggets 114-67.

The win also meant Southland won the ILT Challenge Shield.

The Shield is contested every time the Sharks and Nuggets meet and Otago held it after beating the Sharks earlier in the season.

Soon after the game, the shield was presented by ILT board member Mike Mika to Sharks captain James Paringatai, but the Otago team were nowhere to be found - they had already left the building.

Passionate Sharks' supporter Dion Cameron has sent a letter to the Otago Daily Times newspaper voicing his disgust at the snub by the Dunedin-based organisation.

"I have just witnessed one of the most, if not the most, unsportsmanlike behaviour in modern day sport," Mr Cameron wrote.

"I was lucky enough to cram into the Southland velodrome tonight and witness the Southland Sharks dish out a good old fashioned 47-point hiding of your beloved Otago Nuggets. I am not here to rub it in any Otago person's faces, however I am here to voice my concern at the manner in which your Otago Nuggets accepted the loss."

Southland Sharks general manager Jill Bolger said they had been advised beforehand that the Nuggets would not attend the traditional aftermatch function later in the evening in town.

But she admitted she was disappointed that the Otago players did not stay for the presentation after the final whistle.

"I was a bit disappointed by the way they sort of walked out, left the changing room in a mess, and basically left town.

"The thing is, there are players in the Otago team like Mark Dickel and B J Anthony that our fans would like to see as well."

The Nuggets also declined to talk to local media, which frustrated Bolger.

"That's very disappointing, it doesn't matter who . . . every coach so far has taken their time to talk to our media.

"Teams in the league, no matter what the result, need to take responsibility for what they need to do for the good of the league. We've been thumped by them by 29 and we didn't walk out of the stadium doing that sort of thing," Bolger said.

Otago Nuggets general manager Markham Brown apologised yesterday when approached by The Southland Times, saying the team wanted to get on the road back to Dunedin as quickly as they could after the game. However, he acknowledged they should have stayed for the trophy presentation.

"I would like to apologise for that. The guys weren't trying to cause any offence. I'll make sure we don't do anything like that again."

The two teams could potentially meet again this season in the playoffs in Napier next month.  

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- The Southland Times

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