Basketball: Import impresses in debut

Lance Allred
Lance Allred
American centre Lance Allred made a positive impression on his new team on Saturday night.

The Otago Nuggets were beaten 95-84 by the Southland Sharks in the pre-season game at the ILT Velodrome.

Losses are nothing new for the Nuggets - they will take a streak of 27 consecutive defeats into the season - but this one will hardly be seen as catastrophic.

For coach Alf Arlidge, it was his first real opportunity to see Allred and fellow American Scott O'Gallagher in action.

He also used the game to give a bunch of his young players more minutes than they can expect to see once the league begins.

"I think it was a pretty good performance. We didn't run a lot of our sets and we were definitely a bit rusty," Arlidge said yesterday.

"A couple of our guys were just coming back from injury. In the third quarter, we played a lot of our young guys and Southland got away from us a bit.

"We turned the ball over 11 times in the first half, so we're going to have to work on that.

"Other than that, it was pretty pleasing for a first hitout."

Allred, the intriguing big newcomer, paced the Nuggets with 27 points and also grabbed a dozen rebounds.

Point guard O'Gallagher, who has been a prolific scorer most places he has played, was held to just four points.

"I think Scott was pretty jetlagged and tired. But he looks quick and he goes to the hole. He'll grow and settle in fine, once he gets some energy," Arlidge said.

Sam King, who has worked hard in the off-season and shed some weight, added 13 points for the Nuggets. Riki Buckrell had 11 and Tom Rowe, after early foul trouble, had eight.

Former Tall Black Brendon Polyblank led the Sharks with 25 points, backed up by Gareth Dawson (22) and Jordan Lawley (21).

The Nuggets won the first quarter 25-24 but the Sharks were ahead 45-41 at halftime and 76-63 after three quarters.

Star recruit Craig Bradshaw missed the game with a hamstring injury, and the Nuggets were also without Christchurch signing Mark Morrison.

Arlidge is trying to arrange another pre-season game against a Canterbury team including players from the Cougars, who have pulled out of the league this year. But if that is not possible, the Nuggets will play a couple of internal games this weekend.


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