The Southland Sharks have stunned the Wellington Saints to win the Sal’s NBL title on Sunday evening, winning 98-96 at the TSB Bank Arena.
The Sharks had a comfortable double-digit lead through halftime, but the Saints made a push over the final two quarters to give them a scare. It came down to the final few seconds, as the Saints had multiple attempts to either win or tie the game but they just couldn’t get anything to fall.
Southland’s victory snaps the Saints’ streak of two consecutive championships.
Reuben Te Rangi was superb for the Sharks, posting a team-high 26 points, six rebounds, six assists and one block on 9-of-16 shooting from the field and 5-of-7 from three.
Imports Orlando Coleman and Conor Morgan were great, too. Coleman managed 17 points, four rebounds, one assist and one steal on 6-of-14 shooting, while Morgan had 13 points, five rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block on 5-of-11 shooting and 3-of-7 from three before fouling out late in the game.
Derone Raukawa received extended minutes again tonight with Jarrad Weeks (hamstring) ailing and he was productive, dropping 16 points, four rebounds and four assists in 30 minutes off the bench. He shot 5-of-12 overall.
Big man Alex Pledger contributed 10 points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes of work, too.
The Saints fell behind early in the contest and, while they were able to recover somewhat, they just didn’t have enough gas in the tank to get it done down the stretch.
Shea Ili led the way with a game-high 27 points, adding three rebounds, five assists and two steals in 40 minutes. He shot 9-of-20 from the field and 2-of-6 from three.
American L.J. Peak had a great game with 23 points, two rebounds, three assists and two blocks on 7-of-15 shooting and 2-of-4 from distance, but he fouled out in the final minutes.
Jordan Ngatai scored an efficient 21 points (9-of-15 FG), and Majok Majok narrowly missed a double-double with 11 points, nine rebounds, two assists, one steal and two blocks on 5-of-5 shooting.
Sal’s NBL season awards:
MVP: Shea Ili (Wellington Saints)
NZ MVP: Shea Ili (Wellington Saints)
Final Four MVP: Reuben Te Rangi (Southland Sharks)
Coach of the Year: Jamie Pearlman (Nelson Giants)
Most Outstanding Guard: Shea Ili (Wellington Saints)
Most Outstanding NZ Guard: Shea Ili: (Wellington Saints)
Most Outstanding Forward: Finn Delaney (Nelson Giants)
Most Outstanding NZ Forward: Finn Delaney (Nelson Giants)
All-Star Five: Jarrad Weeks (Southland Sharks), Shea Ili (Wellington Saints), Winston Shepard (Canterbury Rams), Finn Delaney (Nelson Giants) and Angus Brandt (Bay Hawks)