Sharks looking to next season

The celebration continues for the Southland Sharks management, but their thoughts have already started to drift towards their title defence in 2019.

The Sharks etched their name on New Zealand's National Basketball League trophy for the third time last Sunday night with a dramatic 98-96 grand final victory over the Wellington Saints.

The 2018 banner will join the 2013 and 2015 NBL banners at ILT Stadium Southland.

In between cleaning departed Sharks players' rental accommodation and the cars they used during their time in Invercargill, Sharks general manager Jill Bolger talked the Otago Daily Times through what they had achieved and the plans ahead.

''The job is very broad,'' Bolger joked about this week's cleaning duties.

Bolger said the magnitude of what had been achieved did not sink in until she was able to take the NBL trophy into ILT Stadium Southland this week and perch it on the reception desk.

But what next? Just how many of the champion 2018 squad can Bolger and coach Judd Flavell lure back next year?

At this stage the sheet is completely clean in terms of players signed for the 2019 season. The Sharks do not have any players signed on multi-year contracts, which means they have to start the recruiting process from scratch.

Bolger said many of the championship-winning players had indicated they would like to return, but she added a lot could happen in the world of basketball in a matter of months.

''With the trophy sitting on the table and a few beers in them, they were all saying, 'let's come back and do it again'. But you never know what opportunities might come up for them.''

Conor Morgan is heading to Spain to play, fellow import Jarrad Weeks will join the New Zealand Breakers in the ANBL, and Bolger said American Orlando Coleman had contract offers in front of him but was not sure where he was now heading.

Bolger highlighted the focus was very much on retention and hoped the Sharks could start to lock in some of the current squad from next month.

She felt it was the well set-out off-season scouting and recruitment process which put them in a position to win this year's title.

''The paramount thing is to recruit good people. That is number one.

''If they can play basketball well, that gives them double the chance to sign with the Sharks,'' she said.

''We had three new imports this year. You can do all your scouting and checks to make sure they are good people, but until you get them to their first training you don't know for sure.

''We were lucky this year - we recruited very good people who are also good players.''

-By Logan Savory

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