THE Breakers’ arrival in Invercargill today coincides with confirmation of a marquee Southland Sharks signing for the 2019 New Zealand National Basketball League.
The Breakers will take on Melbourne United at ILT Stadium Southland tomorrow night in what will be the first Australian National Basketball League (ANBL) game played in Invercargill.
Included in the Breakers’ line-up is Jarrad Weeks, who starred this year for the Southland Sharks in their march towards the club’s third national title.
To add to tomorrow night’s occasion, the Sharks will officially confirm today that Weeks will be back in Southland next year with wife Michelle to play for the Sharks for a second season.
“It is a great place… We loved it, obviously, that is why we are coming back,” Weeks said.
“It is a cool little spot and we get to explore the lower part of New Zealand.
“Southland is a great place to play basketball. The facilities we have, the coaches, and all the support we get is great.”
While Weeks was a key figure in pushing the Southland Sharks towards a playoff spot this year, he played little part in the finals series because of injury.
There was a touch of unfinished business attached to him signing on for a another season.
“Only being able to play six or seven minutes, or whatever it was in the final, it is not what I had planned coming into the season.
“So I want to be there again and play a few more minutes and also get the same result as we did last year.”
Naturally Sharks coach Judd Flavell, who is also in Invercargill this week as the Breakers’ assistant coach, was delighted to lock in Weeks for another season.
“He made such an impression with us last season. He is a huge part of the team, on and off the court. From his skills with what he can do on the floor, to the leadership and professionalism off the floor.”
First, though, Weeks has an ANBL campaign to get through with the Breakers as he eyes tomorrow night’s showdown against second-placed Melbourne United in Invercargill.
Weeks was excited about the opportunity to get back out on to the ILT Stadium Southland court, this time with the Breakers.
“We’ll get to see a lot of familiar faces I’m sure. Hopefully, we can get a packed crowd and get that same Sharks’ support for the Breakers.”
ILT Stadium Southland general manager Nigel Skelt said there had been an encouraging boost in ticket sales this week and with a good walk-up crowd was hopeful of a good turnout.
The venue has a two-year agreement in place with the Breakers and as part of the funding package it needed a crowd of about 2000 tomorrow night.
“With the Breakers winning those back-to-back games at the weekend, we’ve seen an uplift in ticket sales,” Skelt said.
“It is really good trans-Tasman rivalry and it is going to be a really competitive game, both on the court and off the court as well with the coaches.”
The Breakers will run a session with junior basketballers between 4pm and 5pm today and from 5pm the players will be available to sign autographs for the public in the foyer at ILT Stadium Southland.