Win and loss for Otago in season openers

Southland Sharks guard Tinashe Matambanadzo attacks in transition as Otago forwards Tai Porima...
Southland Sharks guard Tinashe Matambanadzo attacks in transition as Otago forwards Tai Porima-Flavell (14) and Nathan Hanna play defence at the Edgar Centre on Saturday. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O'CONNOR
It took a while to get going, but Otago eventually fired to win one of its two season-opening games.

After trailing by 17 early in the second quarter, it clawed back to beat a Southland Sharks selection 89-83 at the Edgar Centre on Saturday.

It was unable to repeat that two hours later, going down 108-81 to the Canterbury Knights.

Otago started slowly against Southland.

It was disjointed and looked like a team that had little time together.

In comparison, Southland was slick and shot well to
build a lead.

It made use of the space Otago was giving its array of shooters, and did damage from deep.

Guard Tinashe Matambanadzo (27 points) used his speed to get to the hoop, while Connor Coll (15 points) was a presence inside.

Foul trouble was hurting Otago, as was its inability to limit the Sharks' easy looks at the hoop.

At the other end it struggled to create offensively.

Experienced guard Matt Stevenson (17 points) helped keep the score ticking over, although it trailed 49-34 at halftime.

A more cohesive team emerged in the second half and Southland began to tire, having already played a game.

Matt Bardsley (19 points) took control of the third quarter, while defensively Otago started to prevent Southland's easy looks.

It tied the score at 64-64 late in the quarter, although trailed by one heading into the fourth.

But Otago finished stronger.

Olly Smith's ability from both deep and mid-range was key.

He dropped 13 of his team-high 25 points in the final quarter.

That helped open a double-digit lead, which proved too much for the Sharks to pull in.

In the late game a big second quarter allowed a strong Canterbury Knights team to claim victory.

It was a weakened Otago team with Bardsley, Aaron Roydhouse and Nathan Hanna unavailable, as well as an injured Smith leaving the game early.

Otago trailed 24-21 at the first break, before Canterbury guard Matt Michewski took over.

He hit six of his eight three-pointers in the second quarter, on the way to 30 points on 11/16 from the field.

Alongside predictably classy performances from Mike Karena (20 points) and Taylor Britt (17 points), that helped the Knights open a 57-31 lead.

It was the only period Otago let get away, but it was always chasing the game from then.

The hosts found their scoring touch around the hoop once more.

They battled back to win the third quarter and dropped the fourth by just two.

On Friday night Canterbury trailed Dunedin club side Andy Bay Falcons 27-15 early, but came back to win 96-62.

In Saturday's early game Canterbury beat Southland 99-62.

Missing from the Otago team was key trio Josh Aitcheson, Darcy Knox and Samson Aruwa.

They were in Auckland, where they finished second at the national 33 championships, being edged by defending champion Precision Movement in the final.

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