Tournament will provide yardstick for Otago

If a return to the national basketball league is being considered, today could be a key stepping stone.

Otago will host a three-way men's tournament with teams from Southland and Canterbury, at the Edgar Centre.

It will be the first time the Otago men's side has played in Dunedin in two years.

Southland will bring a team of Sharks wider squad players, while Canterbury will bring its Knights squad - the team beneath the Rams.

That will provide Otago with quality opposition.

The Knights had an impressive tour to Australia and have brought several Rams players including Mike Karena and Taylor Britt.

Otago has had a more limited preparation and for many of its players it will be their first competitive games of the year.

In Olly Smith and Matt Stevenson it has two players with NBL experience.

That is complemented by the likes of last year's club MVP Matt Bardsley and talented youngsters Nathan Hanna and Tai Porima-Flavell.

Missing are key players Josh Aitcheson, Darcy Knox and Samson Aruwa, who are at the 3x3 national finals.

Coach Alf Arlidge said many of the players had played together before, although would keep things simple.

"It's going to be good for our guys to play against national league players.

"Obviously, a lot of [the Knights] other guys are in the Rams wider squad, so I think they'll be very tough.

"They've had a trip to Melbourne and already had a couple of games, so they'll be better drilled than us, let's put it that way."

While it may seem a step up from club competition, Arlidge was confidence the players would adapt.

"It'll just be like another game.

"I don't think they need to step up, I think they're all capable of doing it, I have no qualms about that."

Canterbury and Southland will play the day's first game at 12.30pm.

Otago's match against Southland follows at 3.30pm, before it plays the Knights at 7pm.

That represents a tight turnaround, although Arlidge was philosophical about it.

The side would focus on the Southland game and then shift its attention to Canterbury.

It will be the first of five games this year for Otago.

A game against a stronger Southland Sharks side looms before the NBL season.

In October, Otago will travel to Christchurch to face the Knights and also the Nelson Suns.

Men’s tournament
Edgar Centre, today
Southland v Canterbury Knights, 12.30pm
Otago v Southland, 3.30pm
Otago v Canterbury Knights, 7.30pm
Otago team: Tai Porima-Flavell, Nathan Hanna, Andy Anderson, Brent Cheshire, Matt Bardsley, Hamish Robertson, Aaron Roydhouse, Olly Smith, Isaac Smiler, Ben Reeves, Matt Stevenson, James Scobie, Michael Ruske.

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