The Southland Sharks have pulled off a big upset in the opening round of the 2018 Sal’s NBL, taking down the Wellington Saints 113-108 on Friday night.
The Saints were on a 24-game win streak, dating back to last season, coming into tonight’s contest, but that has now been snapped at the hands of a resilient Sharks squad.
After a loss to the Bay Hawks last night, the Sharks managed to bounce back in a big way. Australian import Jarrad Weeks led the way for Southland, totaling 29 points and six assists with four 3-pointers.
Orlando Coleman chipped in 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting, while Reuben Te Rangi added 14 points in 32 minutes.
Both teams shot over 50 per cent from the field, but the Sharks had an advantage from beyond the arc and at the free throw line. Southland finished with six 3-pointers to the Saints’ three, and shot 31-of-40 from the line to the Saints’ 19-of-26.
Tall Black Shea Ili’s monster night wasn’t enough to get the Saints the victory, dropping 32 points, 10 assists and three steals on 10-of-22 shooting in 39 minutes. Jordan Ngatai, who recently re-signed with the New Zealand Breakers, posted 26 points and seven rebounds in 35 minutes for the Saints, and American L.J. Peak canned 15 points in just 22 minutes.
This loss isn’t the end of the world for the defending champs, but it does point towards the fact that repeating as champions again this season won’t be an easy task.
Multiple teams will be in the running, and the Sharks were the first to signal their intentions tonight.
The full box score can be found HERE.