Sharks spurn rest to keep momentum going
The 2013 National basketball League record now sits at seven wins in a row for the Southland Sharks, but they are not content with that; they have their sights on 11 wins on the trot, to round out what would be a fairytale season.
The Sharks banked a playoff spot with a dramatic come-from-behind win over the Manawatu Jets in Palmerston North on Friday, and backed it up with another win yesterday, over the Waikato Pistons in Hamilton.
Coach Paul Henare said that after beating Manawatu the team talked about how to approach the final three games, with a playoff spot already secured.
They could rest some of the players in the final three round-robin games, with an eye on the semifinals and possibly final in Napier in a fortnight.
However, Henare said the consensus within the group was they would continue to put the foot down and try to finish as high in the standings as possible leading into the semifinals.
They did not want to lose their momentum, and instead would look at reducing their training sessions to keep the players fresh.
Southland grabbed a 96-85 win yesterday over Waikato and now face Nelson and Wellington in the final games of the round-robin series next weekend.
Wins over those two top-ranked teams could see the Zero Fees-sponsored Sharks finish at the top of the table at the end of the 16-game regular season.
"The good thing is the results don't meant much [next weekend]. But all season we've been about the process and as a group we've decided to keep going hard at it," Henare said.
"In terms of going into the games, we take each game on its merit. We're going to play Wellington, a very tough team, on their home floor and try and beat them. And then we're going to try do it again the next night in Nelson. It's not an easy task, but that's what we're aiming for."
The Sharks had to deal with an indifferent buildup to the win yesterday, which started with having to leave Gareth Dawson back at the hotel because he woke up ill during the night.
Dawson's absence meant the likes of James Paringatai and Dan Peck were required to take on a bigger workload than usual and both responded.
Then the game was delayed half an hour, with the referees arriving late.
When play did get under way, it was Waikato who started best, to lead 29-26 after the first quarter.
As was the case on Friday night against Manawatu, it was in the fourth quarter that Southland really did the damage.
The scores were locked up after three quarters but the Sharks scored the first eight points of the final period and pushed the lead out to 14 at one stage before eventually winning the game 96-85.
Henare said if there was an area he was disappointed with in yesterday's win it was rebounding.
Southland made just one offensive rebound in the entire game.
- The Southland Times
Who is the most important player for the Tall Blacks at the World Cup?