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. Today we take a look at the unsung hero from each team, that one player who from the outside looking in is just going about their job, but internally they are so important to their team and often the coach's go-to man when they are looking for their team to lift.
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WELLINGTON SAINTS - SUNDAY DECH
The Australian has played a reserve role all season for the Saints and arguably if there was a Sixth Man Award in the Sal's NBL it would be Dech at the pointy end of the key contenders. Time and time again this season Dech has brought a defensive edge to the Saints and lifted those around him with his sheer tenacity and ability to apply pressure on the opposition. At the offensive end Dech has also enjoyed plenty of ups, particularly from range where he has the ability to get on a hot streak. While everyone looks to the starting unit at the Saints and the class of Tom Abercrombie as the key man off the pine, keep an eye on Dech, as he could be the unsung hero the title favourites need when the going gets tough.
HAWKE'S BAY HAWKS - DION PREWSTER
The sharp-shooting guard spent much of the season as the perfect sixth man for the Hawks, but with Daniel Kickert sidelined it is Prewster who has now become a regular starter and done so with great returns for the Hawks. Prewster brings a unique change of speed that allows his to attack the hoop hard, but just as reliable is his outside shooting, especially from the corners. More than capable of guarding key guards back the other way, Prewster flies under the radar and adds another dimension to a quality Hawks team. If Zico Coronel's team is to go all the way at the Final 4 it will need some of the gold Prewster is capable of producing.
CANTERBURY RAMS - ALEX TALMA
The Rams have this season proven to be the ultimate team, their ability to share the load is fantastic. One of the biggest unsung heroes in the entire league is Rams big man, Alex Talma. The forward plays a back-up role to Mike Karena and in his no-fuss style he steps on the court and does his job with little to no fanfare or dramatics. He's strong under the basket and capable of unleashing an effective, although unorthodox, hook-shot. When the second unit needs to power up, look for Talma to break the game open.
SOUTHLAND SHARKS - DOM KELMAN-POTO
We already know DKP is a crowd favourite, but the versatile forward is arguably the best double-double machine in the competition. His ability to rack-up point sand rebounds in such a short amount of time make him a coach's dream, though the same can't be said for the opposition coach. Kelman-Poto's rim running is exceptional, while his thirst for offensive rebounds helps to make him one of the very best second unit players in the Sal's NBL. When the Sharks are looking for a spark, more often than not it is DKP delivering the goods.