The countdown is on to the Final 4 where the Wellington Saints, Hawke's Bay Hawks, Canterbury Rams and Southland Sharks will battle it out for the 2019 Sal's NBL championship.
Each team has a number of players capable of delivering the goods, but it's that one star factor that sets the best apart from the rest. Who is that one player you don't want getting off the leash and taking the game by the scruff of the neck?
Here's a look at who we believe is the key player for each team.
WELLINGTON SAINTS - NICK KAY
Wellington's star import has enjoyed a stellar season that not only earned him 91 votes from coaches to top the TAB MVP leaderboard and take the title as being favourite for the award, but he has proven to be one of, if not the, most efficient players in the competition. Kay's ability to bring others into the game is excellent, his high-low post work with Rob Loe is the best in the league, while his decision-making and passing prowess make him almost impossible to keep quiet over a full game. And when it comes to shooting efficiently, well that's just on another level altogether. If the Saints are to win the 2019 Sal's NBL title you can be assured Kay will be the man leading them.
HAWKE'S BAY HAWKS - BRANDON BOWMAN
The excitement package that is Brandon Bowman will be the key to any Hawks success this weekend. While EJ Singler will be hoping a few weeks out injured won't impact on his return at the Final 4, there will be no such question marks hanging over the fitness of Bowman - the 34-year old is as apt as running the full 40 minutes out as much as his coach Zico Coronel is as being the best dressed leader pacing the sidelines in Christchurch. At both ends of the floor Bowman brings excitement, he is athletic, confident and workmanlike, it is a complete package that the Hawks will want to see thrive this weekend. When it comes to highlights in season 2019 no player has featured more than Bowman, he is the highlight reel the competition just can't get enough of. For the Hawks to win, Bowman needs to do his thing.
CANTERBURY RAMS - CAMERON GLIDDON
It sounds such a strange thing to say, but Cameron Gliddon might be the most unnoticed star of the competition this season. The Australian is all class and is clearly the most important player for the Rams, yet rarely will you hear people mention his name when you ask them to list their top five players across the league. Arguably his name should be one of the first to be read out! Renowned for his exceptional long-rage shooting (one of his triples in Napier last week was probably the best we've seen this season), Gliddon is also an A-grade defender, where his partnership with Isaiah Wilkins could deliver the Rams a title this season. Throw in his passing and decision-making on top of that, the quiet and unassuming star is sure to be a key figure for the Rams.
SOUTHLAND SHARKS - JARRAD WEEKS
What isn't there to say about Agent 97! Weeks can turn it on at the drop of a hat and when he gets going the whole court opens up. Deadly from three if he has his eye in, Weeks is just as good at creating shots for Alex Pledger and Todd Blanchfield in particular. Defensively sound, Weeks is a true competitor, refusing to give an inch and when push comes to shove there is no player you'd love in the trenches with you more than Weeksy! The Saints will need to be very mindful of Agent 97 and in particular his ability to start quickly. His first quarters in particular can be extremely damaging. Look for the Sharks dynamo to get amongst it early in the Semi Final, he is the main man the reigning champs will absolutely need to be up and about if they are any chance of causing an upset against the title favourites.