Nuggets excited to at last be facing real competition

Two games this weekend and then the real competition begins.

The Otago Nuggets are set to face the Southland Sharks in two pre-season encounters in Queenstown.

They will meet at 3pm tomorrow, before playing again at 1pm on Sunday. It gives the side a hit out one week out from the National Basketball League opener.

In that, the Nuggets host the Wellington Saints at the Edgar Centre next Saturday.

Coach Brent Matehaere had been happy with how the team had come together and was looking forward to testing its game against a new opponent.

"Our scrimmages have been really intense and I’ve been really happy with that level," he said.

The Nuggets will be without energetic swingman Matt Bardsley, who has picked up an ankle injury. Matehaere said the side was managing that and would see how he progresses.

Meanwhile, import Isaiah Moss, who arrived in Dunedin yesterday afternoon, will probably not play after two weeks in quarantine.

Both would travel with the team and Matehaere said the biggest focus of the trip was gelling off the court.

"For us this weekend its about ensuring we create our culture and our pillars.

"It’ll be the first time we’re all together.

"To be able to play the Sharks is a real bonus for us, to be able to continue that relationship with them.

"Obviously being out of the league for so long, that relationship’s been piecemeal together.

"We’ve had Otago men’s teams, but this is the real thing now, leading into an NBL season."

The Otago Gold Rush will also play an early pre-season game in Queenstown this weekend.

It will face Central Otago at 10am on Sunday.

The team — which plays in the women’s division of the NBL — begins its season in August, three weeks after the men’s season concludes.

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