The Southland Sharks face a must-win match this Saturday night in Invercargill against new Australian franchise the Southern Huskies as they continue their quest for backto-back NBL championships.
The Sharks currently sit fourth on the NBL ladder, a game clear of the Tasmanian based Huskies, with both teams having six games remaining.
They will play each other twice in the remaining six games, both at ILT Stadium in Invercargill, including the game this Saturday night.
Sharks coach Judd Flavell said Saturday’s match is vital towards the makeup of the final four.
“When you look at that top four the Huskies are a real threat there. I guess it’s an important game on that front but we just want to be able to back up what we did tonight (on Saturday against the Rangers) and put in another good week. We get to do that again and then repeat it. We just can’t afford to really take a foot off at this time of the season so everything is about building momentum and hopefully we can put together another good solid week of training and repeat this.”
Last month the Sharks defeated the Huskies in Tasmania in a strong come from behind win. Both sides, however, have faced differing fortunes since that match, with the Huskies going 4-2 and the Sharks going 2-3 to set up Saturday’s mouth watering clash.
The Nelson Giants remain a mathematical chance to knock both sides out and make the playoffs, but sit three games behind the Sharks and two behind the Huskies.
Last Saturday night the Sharks thrashed the Supercity Rangers 115-83 in Invercargill.
The Sharks led by as many as 45 points during the match, with Todd Blanchfield and Jarred Weeks both dominant in the win.
Blanchfield top scored for the Sharks with 27 points and nine rebounds, while Weeks put in 24 points and three assists and Dominique Kelman-Poto, who played off the bench, scoring 20 points, 14 rebounds and two assists.
Tip off this Saturday is 7pm at ILT Stadium.
This article was originally written for The Advocate. You can read the published version here