Welcome to our daily Showdown Countdown where we’ll keep you updated daily with all the news and views ahead of the 2019 Sal’s NBL on July 20/21 at Horncastle Arena in Christchurch.
Got your tickets yet? Click HERE.
GRAND FINAL MVP
A seven-person panel has been selected to vote for the Grand Final MVP Award including former star players Dillon Boucher and Casey Frank.
WORLD CUP ON DISPLAY
Not only will the World Cup be on display at Horncastle Arena during the Final 4 (Saturday/Sunday), it's also now been confirmed the prized trophy will be on display at the Sal's NBL Annual Awards Night at Christchurch Casino on Friday evening, July 19.
FAN FREE FRIDAY - open from 11am / court access at 11:15am on Friday July 19 at Horncastle Arena.
Come and see all four teams on court and going through their final preparations before Saturday's Semi Finals. It's free entry and everyone is welcome.
11:15am - 11:45am: Canterbury Rams
12:45pm - 1:15pm: Wellington Saints
2:15pm - 2:45pm: Southland Sharks
3:45pm - 4:15pm: Hawke's Bay Hawks
4:30pm: Media Conference with the four Coaches and Captains
Join Us At The Annual Awards Night - Friday July 19
There are only 50 VIP Weekend Packages remaining, These passes include courtside seats for all five games across the weekend, plus a ticket to the Annual Awards Night at the Christchurch Casino on the Friday night where all the big awards for 2019 will be announced. VIP Weekend Packages from just $142. Click HERE.
SINGLE DAY TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE
Single Day Passes (from $12) and Weekend Passes (from $23) are now on sale HERE.
HAWKS - the Hawks have officially named just 8 players for their trip to Tasmania to play the Huskies this Saturday night, with an injured James Levings expected to coach the team in the absence of both Zico Coronel and Morgan Maskell. The group heading to Launceston is Dominic McGovan, Ryan Laumatia, Darryl Jones, Jamal Mikaio, Nicholas Fee , Clifton Bush III, James Levings , Kerry Rayner, Everard Bartlett. This means the Hawks' entire starting five of Brandon Bowman, EJ Singler, Jarrod Kenny, Ethan Rusbatch and Dion Prewster will stay at home. More details HERE.
In announcing his undermanned squad for Saturday night's game, coach Zico Coronel said;
"Given the circumstances - a semi-final with the Rams locked in - the performances of teams returning from Tasmania throughout the season, and the testimony of multiple coaches throughout the league confirming the difficulty of the task upon return - we deemed it prudent to send a development squad to Launceston, allowing for our heavy minutes players to recover and begin preparations for the Final Four."
"It is a great opportunity for our young players to apply all their hard work and learnings throughout the season. Notably, point guard James Levings will coach the side - a request he made from his hospital bed shortly after dislocating his ankle at a practice. James quite simply wanted to continue to contribute anyway he could, and with a promising future as a coach, he will be of great value in this endeavour," Coronel added.
Sal's NBL GM Justin Nelson said that while the decision of Coronel and the Hawks was far from ideal, it was within the rules and most people understand why they are doing it, however he pointed to new rules that have already been drafted that will help prevent a similar situation going forward.
"I think there are a mixture of things that have led to the Hawks making this decision, such as the schedule, the uneven nature of the competition and the rules that at the moment allow for this sort of thing to occur. They have done nothing wrong whatsoever," said Nelson.
"However, there are also number of things being worked on behind the scenes to help broaden the competitiveness of the competition and avoid what I've constantly referred to as a two-speed league, plus some new rules coming in that will prevent teams from playing away games with less than nine players, for example.
"The Hawks have done nothing outside the rules and I dare say that any other team in their situation would do the same, but that doesn't mean it won't be fixed, because it will. To have the Huskies finish the season with their last two home games being played against extremely understrength opponents is not want we want to see and tighter rules are on the way," added Nelson.
"A situation like this won't happen again."
SAINTS - as expected the Saints won't tinker too much with their squad, having named their best 10 players to travel to Auckland and face the young Rangers. However, coach Paul Henare has given every indication as to his intentions saying "Our approach is to focus on us and how to utilise the minutes wisely." In other words, don't expect too many minutes from their starting unit unless it is absolutely necessary.
SHARKS - the Sharks have named an unchanged team for their final home game of the season and will no doubt look to build on what was an impressive start last week when they went on a 17-3 run over the first 150 seconds of the game against the Huskies. Like the other three Final 4 teams, if the Sharks get on top of the Jets early expect the key players in orange to spend a bit of time watching on.
RAMS - as expected the Rams have named a full-strength team to travel to Hawke's Bay tomorrow night. Coach Mick Downer's pre-game quote just about sums it up perfectly - "What can we expect in the Semi Final preview tonight. Who knows? We can’t predict what our counterparts will do in preparation for this game. We hope it’s their best group but either way we’ll play what’s in front of us and play our style of basketball. We are looking forward to having a few of the guys returning off injury getting more minutes and their rhythm back leading into the F4 weekend. I wish I could inspire the audience with an articulate and inspiring left field thought provoking quote but unfortunately the best I can come up with is Austin Powers “that’s not my bag baby”. Here’s to an entertaining game for the fans."