Wednesday, 1 July 2015

NBL final four - Semi final 1 - Sharks v Rangers

To open up the final four in Wellington we have the Southland Sharks facing off against the Super City Rangers. As I've mentioned quite a bit during the season I havent seen many games in person since they are not shown on TV nor are they live streamed like last season! But I'm pretty famaiar with the league and most of the players in it so I think what you read below is pretty accurate despite not having stats to back everything up. Here is a look at the two teams.


SHARKS



After a controversial season last year in the deep south the Sharks have bounced back in a big way this season. Recruiting NBL most improved player Todd Blanchfield, last seasons outstanding NZ forward Duane Bailey and Adrian Majstrovich, a former NBL MVP. As well as retaining club legend Kevin Braswell, Shea Ili and find of the century big man Tai Wesley...After a disappointing 1-3 start the Sharks havent lost a game since, going on a massive 14 game winning streak!! Winning 14 in a row is impressive no matter how long the season but with the NBL being just 18 games long, its a pretty remarkable streak! Kiwis know what to expect from players like Kevin Braswell, Duane Bailey and Adrian Majstrovich and they all produced at a high level, new recruit Todd Blanchfield, fresh of his breakout season with the Townsville Crocs, provided a consistent scoring threat finishing 5th in the league at 22ppg. Tai Wesley has been phenomenal and is a top candidate for league MVP! Averaging 18 and 9.5 he has been a model of consistency and efficiency, shooting a ridiculous 66% from the field for the season...on top of that he is the anchor of the leagues best defence and despite not being an amazing athlete (Sorry Tai lol) he blocks 2 shots a game and uses veteran savvy and smarts to make up for the few inches he gives up to most of the players he matches up against. If there is one thing against this team depth might be it, all 5 starters average over 30 mins and Shea Ili is the only player who consistently gets extended playing time off the bench...But that obviously didn't cause to many issues over the course of the season and probably won't be over the final four.


Rangers


A team many thought would be a definite championship contender at the start of the season, they perhaps weren't quite as dominant as some might have thought and struggled for consistency, but they did enough to make the final 4. The Rangers like to run and gun and put a lot of points on the board. They have three guys who average over 20 a game. Jason Cadee has continued his form from last season and is the leagues second leading scorer, Tom Garlepp and Rueben TeRangi average 20.7 and 20.5 respectively. Casey Frank provided great all around play with 10,8 and 3 assists a game, his 3 point %age was down compared to previous years but outside of that had a pretty tidy season. Plus Hayden Allen also had a pretty useful season after coming out of retirement. When I heard that Jeff Green was going to be coaching I wondered if they would press full court and try to create havoc defensively the way his teams did back in the day and that they did (based off the one game I saw in person). The Rangers may not have been quite as dominant as a lot had anticipated before the season started but they are a very good team and if they catch fire from deep (they shoot quite a few of them) they can be a handful for any team.

Prediction

The Rangers are a talented team, but I think the Sharks will be too good! The Rangers have a lot of championship winning experience with Dillion Boucher, Casey Frank and Hayden Allen who between them probably have about 15 championships...But with Kevin Braswell retiring after this season and coach Paul Henare moving on after this year they will definitely want to send them out the right way and will use that as a little extra motivation... The Sharks won both games against the Rangers this season and I think the Sharks will get up for this one as well.

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