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The Southland Sharks have signed American Josh Cunningham for this year’s National Basketball League.
The 2.03m forward replaces Daniel Alexander who will not travel to New Zealand due to family circumstances.
Cunningham (24) played for the University of Dayton, before spending time with the Westchester Knicks in the NBA’s G League.
Sharks general manager Jill Bolger said it was great to find such a quality replacement for Alexander at short notice.
"We are sad Daniel can’t join us but fully support his decision and to get someone of Josh’s calibre and character at short notice is a brilliant result," she said.
"I must admit I am relieved that he is cleared to jump on a plane tomorrow and I’ll be even happier when I see him and Courtney [Belger, the Sharks’ other American import] here in Invercargill in a few weeks after their quarantine."
While the prospect of a 14-day quarantine was not so enticing, Cunningham was excited to play in New Zealand.
"Even before I knew I was coming out, everyone I talked to about New Zealand would always tell me how beautiful a country it is," he said.
"I had a few options on the table but for me this was the best chance to take the next step in my career.
“I’ve talked a few times to Coach [Rob Beveridge] and I’m already learning so much from him.
"I can see how much better he will make me on and off the court. He’s a coach who really gets to know you and really cares about us as human beings.
“We’ve got a very similar mindset. My ultimate goal is always to do what I can to win us a championship.
The Sharks begin their season on April 26, on the road against the Nelson Giants.