Giants, Saints challenge Sharks

As the NBL heads into playoff mode, Jeff Cheshire predicts how the final four may play out. 



Wellington Saints v Hawke’s Bay Hawks 

The Saints have not been quite as dominant as last year, but the two-time defending champions enter this one as favourites.

In Shea Ili they have the most dominant player in the league, a fast point guard who gets to the hoop, finds the open man and is a tough on-ball defender.

He is surrounded by plenty of talent in imports LJ Peak and Majok Majok, as well as established Kiwis Jordan Ngatai and Leon Henry.

Former Otago player Matt Brien has also made three appearances for the Saints this season.

The Hawks may have the best person to shut down Ili in fellow Tall Black Jarrod Kenny.

He has led a defensive effort which has made the Hawks the toughest team to score against in the league.

They have a strong presence inside in Angus Brandt, as well as additional scoring threats in Ethan Rusbatch and Dion Prewster.However, it is hard to see them containing a strong Saints outfit.

Nelson Giantsv Southland Sharks

This one is tougher to call, both sides possessing plenty of quality.The Sharks have the best depth in the league and combine Kiwi talent with quality imports.

Alex Pledger and Reuben Te Rangi are the two biggest names of that Kiwi talent, while American Orlando Coleman and Australian Jarrad Weeks have been classy all season.

The team is tough inside, and also provides plenty of scoring on the perimeter.

Rebounding is something they do well, but they will have to be good against a Giants team possessing aggressive forwards Finn Delany and Mika Vukona.

The two Tall Blacks are key men for a Giants side which also has a quality backcourt made up of Australians Kyle Adnam and Damon Heuir.

If those four can play well they are capable of winning, but the range of talent on the Sharks might get them over the line.


If the Saints do play the Sharks on Sunday it will be the fourth year in a row the sides have met in the final.

This is another tough one to pick, although the influence of Ili in the backcourt is hard to ignore.

Majok may have an edge inside as well, and that could be key.If the Sharks cannot contain them, the Saints should complete a three-peat.


Final Four


Semifinals Wellington Saints v Hawke’s Bay Hawks, 5pm

Nelson Giants v Southland Sharks, 7pm


Final, 5pm

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