Dru-Leo Leusogi-Ape missed out on preseason with the Taranaki Steelformers Airs in 2021, joining the team three games into the season, but he's confident that a full training camp with a brand-new team will help him elevate his game in 2022.
The Southland Sharks lured Leusogi-Ape down to the Shark Tank during free agency and are undoubtedly excited about what the 20-year-old brings to the table. Leusogi-Ape suited up in 14 games for the Airs last season, recording averages of 6.6 points, 1.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.4 steals in 17.1 minutes per game.
Leusogi-Ape said that joining the Airs late made it challenging to settle in, but he felt he performed well and made an impact when given minutes.
“Jumping straight into a season without trainings I feel like I played okay with the minutes I got given but I know I could’ve done a lot more to contribute to the team.
“The areas of my game that were most effective was my ability to play-make, making the right decision when necessary and giving better opportunities for my teammates to score. Attacking the rim with the athleticism and quickness I have was very effective for me last year too.”
One of the main focuses for Leusogi-Ape during the offseason has been his perimeter game, and he’s confident that the work he’s put in will translate to on-court success in 2022.
“The areas that I feel need improvement is mainly shooting from the perimeter. I have been working all offseason developing my jumpshot and being more confident to let it fly make or miss.”
The Sharks have often found themselves near the top of the Sal’s NBL ladder and with an experienced head coach like Rob Beveridge at the helm, Leusogi-Ape couldn’t be happier to be a part of the Southland franchise and learn all he can from Beveridge.
“I’ve heard a lot about the Sharks organisation and how well they treat their players and so far, I have not been dissatisfied with how I’ve been treated down south.
“Head coach Rob Beveridge has already taken me under his wing, developing me as a player and it’s been great. Learning from a very accomplished basketball coach like him is what was needed for me coming into this 2022 Sal’s NBL season.
“The experience and high-level knowledge coach Beveridge has will develop my game; I’ve been soaking in everything he’s told me to make me better as a basketball player. Playing this season for coach Bevo is exciting. I’m looking forward to him pushing me through obstacles to get to that next level.”
Leusogi-Ape strongly believes that this will be a breakout season for him, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to help the Sharks secure their fourth Sal’s NBL title.
“I’m mostly effective when getting my teammates involved in almost every possession, making the right passes, and getting players into rhythm which will help the flow of the team moving forward.
“I strongly feel this season will be a breakout season for me to move to the next level. Being more efficient and consistent with everything I put forward this season and having my teammates more involved. And of course, taking out the chip for the 2022 NBL season!”
You can catch Dru-Leo Leusogi-Ape and the Southland Sharks when they tip-off their season against the Wellington Saints on April 29. You can find the full 2022 schedule HERE.
Check out Dru-Leo Leusogi-Ape’s 2021 Sal’s NBL highlights: