SOUTHLAND Sharks have taken home the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) victory in their clash against Manawatu Jets at ILT Stadium last night, needing the full four quarters to take home the points. The home team had a see-sawing night which featured different leaders at different breaks, being level at the last change before an impressive final stanza which created separation on the opposition. Three players picked up double-doubles for the Sharks, and five starters hit double-digit points in a real team effort during the 104-97 win.
The Sharks raced out of the blocks in front of their home fans to put on a clinic of 31 points to 17 in the opening term, showing why they are one of the serious title contenders this year. Unexpected was the fact the Jets then took that momentum and completely reversed it to score a massive 35 points to 20 in the second term and hit the front by a point at the main break.
Manawatu managed to hold the lead for the majority of the third term, getting out to as much as a six-point lead early in the quarter, but could not build upon it as the Sharks stuck around. That proved vital for the home team’s chances, as the Jets lead early in he fourth by four points, but once the Sharks hit the front with seven minutes left on the clock, they never looked back, scoring 21 points to 15 from that moment. It was far from a one-sided finish though, with the Jets drawing to within one point with 1:44 on the clock at 96-95, but then the Sharks put up eight of the next 10 points to grab the seven-point victory.
Southland Sharks lead the field goal shooting percentage 52 to 48 per cent, as well as draining 12 triples to 10 in an effective effort from range. Manawatu Jets were better from inside the arc (61 o 55 per cent) and had more steals (5-3), less turnovers (6-7), less personal fouls and more points from turnovers (10-9), as well as more points in the paint (48-46). The Sharks lead the rebounds (42-36) and assists (23-22), as well as second chance points (8-5) and bench points (14-5) in what was a really even game across the board, but there could only be one winner.
Courtney Belger won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) on the night with 22 points and 11 assists in a double-double effort, one of three Sharks to reach the feat in the victory. Belger also hit an impressive four of five from long-range to showcase his accuracy from beyond the arc. Dom Kelman-Poto (22 points, 11 rebounds and four assists) was big once again, as was Josh Cunningham (19 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and two blocks). Brayden Inger (14 points, eight rebounds and two assists) and Alonzo Burton (13 points, two rebounds) both nailed three triples, whilst Sione Helu contributed 11 points in eight minutes off the bench.
Deandre Daniels was the star for the Jets, dropping a game-high five triples from seven attempts on his way to a huge 34 points in 40 minutes, also collecting 11 rebounds – nine defensive – four blocks and two assists. Daishon Knight knocked down 28 points and nine assists, while Shane Temara was also busy with 20 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Jayden Bezzant (10 points, six assists and three rebounds) and Nikau McCullough (five points, two assists) were the other scorers for the Jets in defeat.
Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL