One more win. That’s all the Southland Sharks need to secure their place in the 2019 NBL playoffs.
And with four opportunities to do so, the statistics are definitely in the defending champions’ favour.
In their 10 years of existence, the Sharks have only missed the playoffs once. That came after a disappointing 2012, and only a year later they bounced back to claim their first ever NBL title.
They also enter their final four games on the back of a four-game winning streak, after completely obliterating the Taranaki Mountain Airs 118-74 last weekend in Invercargill.
The Sharks score tied the record for most points by them at ILT Stadium Southland, and was also their second best defensive performance of the year.
It came a week after their best defensive performance of the year against the Australian-based franchise the Southern Huskies. And it is the Huskies who the Sharks find themselves battling for the final playoff spot.
Currently the Sharks sit three games clear of the Tasmanian side, and will play them once more next weekend in Invercargill in what could shape up as an elimination final if results go the Huskies way this weekend.
Sharks captain Alex Pledger, however, said the team was finding momentum at the right time of the season, which should help them secure the solitary win they need to secure their spot at the Final 4 in Christchurch next month.
“We’ve gained a bit of momentum over the last four games. We’ve really made some good improvements defensively from the first half of the season and we just have to keep it going… momentum is massive. As we have all season we’ve had injuries but we’ve brought other guys in and they continue to step up.”
The Sharks must now focus on a tricky double header this weekend against two teams they have already lost to this season – the Manawatu Jets in Palmerston North tonight (Thursday) and the Hawke’s Bay Hawks in Napier on Saturday.
The task will be made even trickier without star Australian import Jarrad Weeks who will miss both games due to a family commitment this weekend.
If they can’t find that win and the Huskies defeat the Mountain Airs in Launceston on Saturday, next Friday will be the biggest game for the Sharks all season.
This article was originally written for The Advocate. You can read the published version here