Dunedin champion Magic to play Southland’s best

Mid City Magic guard Benoit Hayman takes the ball to the hoop as St Kilda Saints players James...
Mid City Magic guard Benoit Hayman takes the ball to the hoop as St Kilda Saints players James Ross (left) and Matt Gillan play defence in the Dunedin club basketball final last month. Photo: Gregor Richardson
The Dunedin club champion is set to test itself against the best from Southland.

The Mid City Magic will play the Thundercats in Invercargill tomorrow,  tip-off set for 2pm at Stadium Southland.

Having beaten the St Kilda Saints 82-63 late last month to claim the Dunedin crown, the Magic is hoping to complete a dominant season with an 18th win from 19 games.

Standing in its way is a Thundercats team which upset the South City Spurs 84-74 to claim a second consecutive Southland title.

The Magic is not quite at full-strength, although it is still taking an impressive roster.

Forward Adam van Heezik is unavailable due to a prior commitment, while big man James Scobie has withdrawn with illness.

The other seven players from the final will play, while Otago Boys’ High School big man Nathan Hanna will join the team after a standout South Island secondary schools tournament.

That leaves it with plenty of talent and it will probably look to push the pace as it did all season, often using a small ball line-up.

It has several threats to the hoop and the majority of its players shoot well from the outside as well.

The team has not trained together since the Dunedin final, although the players feel it will have little impact.

The young squad — its oldest player is 23 — have grown up playing together and that familiarity will be key.

In Richie Rodger, Darcy Knox, Benoit Hayman and Matt Dukes it has a skilful backcourt, while athletic swingmen Josh Aitcheson, Brent Cheshire and Hamish Fitchett fit well into its small ball line-up.

The Thundercats — the team of Southland Shark Andrew Wheeler — are likely to have several fill-ins bolstering their roster due to player unavailability.

Basketball Otago general manager Justin Ludlow said the game had been organised as a way to continue to strengthen the relationship between the associations.

It acted as a chance for the Dunedin players to get some variety in competition, while also giving them an opportunity to play in front of people involved with the Sharks.

All going well, the game could become a regular fixture, although ideally the week after the Dunedin club season finished.

Getting the Christchurch champion involved was also a possibility.

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