You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
The Southland Sharks delivered a hard-fought 84-65 win against the Nelson Giants last night to start their NBL campaign.
In a physical encounter, the travelling Sharks used a 43-28 second half to take victory, helped largely by a 47% shooting effort compared with the Giants' frustrating 31% effort.
Played in front of a packed crowd at the Trafalgar Centre, the match was tough early, as both teams tried to find their feet, leading to lots of opportunities and highlights and very little separating the pair.
Though scrappy at times, the defensive pressure was enormous, which will please both coaches, leading to a collective 29 turnovers for the game and a number of shot-clock violations.
After the teams were separated by just four points at the half, Sharks coach Rob Beveridge asked his team to lift its work rate in the second half, especially off the offensive boards, where the Giants had the upper hand.
An arm-wrestle during the third period (13-9) was broken when the Sharks landed two late baskets, opening an eight-point margin going into-the final period.
From there the Sharks found some form and created extra space, helped largely by Courtney Belger's ability to bring his teammates into the game. A 30-19 final quarter ensued and six Sharks ended with double-digit scoring.
In contrast, only Donte Ingram (20pts) reached double figures for the Giants, with the next best being Tom Ingham, with nine points.
Next up for the Sharks is a game against the Taranaki Mountainairs in Invercargill on Thursday.
The Giants will take a small break before heading north to take on the Franklin Bulls, on May 8 and the Auckland Huskies the following night.