Southland Sharks vs Hawke's Bay Hawks - Thursday May 23 @ 7:35pm
A massive home game for the Sharks as they attempt to bounce back from last Sunday’s 45pt hammering at the hands of the Saints. A lot of egos and pride will have been severely dented in that whitewash and no doubt the review process was a thorough one. With that poor showing now behind them the Sharks have a shot at immediate redemption here when the in-form Hawks pay them a visit. With the battle for the top four heating up, the home team needs to quickly regroup and find a win to hold off the likes of the Huskies and Giants, however not for a second will the Hawks roll over for the Sharks. Expect a fierce response by the Sharks, but given the current form of both teams you can’t help but feel the Hawks may keep soaring for the moment. The visitors have won three straight (by plenty) and are averaging 119pts per game since Brandon Bowman joined them over that stretch. The Sharks have become renowned for holding down their fortress so all the pressure is on them in our next instalment of Thursday Night Lights.
Broadcast - live on SKY Sports and Prime TV at 7:30pm
35. Alex Pledger (centre)
97. Jarrad Weeks (guard)
22. Hyrum Harris (guard/forward)
24 . Todd Blanchfield (guard)
15. Tom Vodanovich (forward)
4. Roberto Nelson (guard)
11. Dom Kelman-Poto (forward)
14. Tai Wynyard (centre)
25. Andrew Wheeler (guard)
34. Connor Coll (forward)
2. Tom Cowie (guard)
45. Tinashe Matambanadzo (guard)
Coach: Judd Flavell
Assistant: Leyton Haddleton
Manager: Troy Paulin
Physio: Hayden Sproat
From The Coach - Judd Flavell
This game v the Hawks is very important to getting ourselves back in some consistent form . The Hawks are performing very well so far and we are aware that they have multiple threats throughout their roster . Defensively we need to be better and offensively we need to get our confidence back.
6. Jarrod Kenny (guard)
15. Brandon Bowman (forward)
12. Ethan Rusbatch (guard)
25. EJ Singler (forward)
14. Daniel Kickert (forward)
3. Nick Fee (guard)
5. Everard Bartlett (guard)
13. Dion Prewster (guard)
7. Darryl Jones (forward)
11. Jamal Mikaio (forward)
9. James Levings (guard) *Questionable
21. Geoff Heather (forward) *Questionable
Coach: Zico Coronel
Assistant: Morgan Maskell
Assistant: Rob Hartley
Manager: Jordan Wise
Physio: Colin Tutchen
From The Coach – Zico Coronel
Every possession we strive to play better collective basketball than we ever have before. We treat the two imposters, triumph and disaster, just the same. Stick with our processes. We made significant strides in these areas last week. This week is another chance for us to improve.
THURSDAY NIGHT LIGHTS - 10 TALKING POINTS
1. Sharks Pride - make no mistake, the Sharks were humbled last week. A 14pt loss at Rams wasn’t great, but the follow-up on Sunday night at home to the Saints was a massive slap. All eyes will be on the Sharks and with the Thursday Night Lights shining brightly the home team will want to come out breathing fire.
2. Todd Blanchfield - across two games last week the star import was held to a total of just 10pts, There has been no word of an injury, so Blanchfield should be right to go. Expect a bounce-back game from him, you simply cannot keep star players down for too long and last weekend was not a great reflection on his capabilities.
3. Soaring Hawks - while the Sharks struggled last week, the Hawks just rolled on with two big wins over the Giants and Jets. At full strength the Hawks have gone to another level and right now they look an ominous proposition.
4. Raining Threes - if the Hawks shoot well from beyond the arc then you can almost certainly write this game off for the Sharks. No team is shooting the 3-ball ore than the Hawks and most of the time the treys are dropping at a very high clip.
5. Roster Depth - the Hawks arguably have the Sharks covered here, but it’s a close call. While both teams have outstanding starting units, don’t be surprised if the sixth man aspect figures prominently at times.
6. The Road Ahead - this is a crucial clash and both teams know it. Both teams have very winnable games against lower teams over the next couple of rounds, so a win here will hopefully set them up nicely.
7. Brandon Bowman - the addition of the experienced forward cannot be underestimated. Since joining the fray, the Hawks have beaten Taranaki (37pts), Nelson (20pts) and Manawatu (27pts), while averaging 119pts per game at the offensive end. For his part, Bowman is averaging 23.7pts @ 65%, 8.7rbs and 2.7ast across those three games.
8. Final 4 - both of these teams are well and truly locked in a battle for a spot at this year’s Final 4, which makes games like this so much more important. The Sharks in particular will be out for redemption after last week’s dual losses. If the Sharks win both teams will be on 12 points, but if the Hawks win they will skip clear of the Sharks by 4pts (two wins).
9. In The Paint - while the Hawks love landing blows from deep, the Sharks are often at their best when they are perfecting their inside-outside game. Alex Pledger can very quickly hurt teams if he starts to dominate the paint and that has to be the first option for the Sharks this week. Pound the ball inside, clear the congestion and let the big guy go to work.
10. Raw Pace - if both teams decide to open up and play with a bit of reckless abandon we could see a fast-paced encounter, especially with the likes of Weeks (Sharks) and Kenny (Hawks) upping the tempo. Fast or slow, offence or defence …. what will we see?