A WELL-KNOWN figure in Southland basketball circles has provided the biggest tick of approval for one of the Sharks new imports.
The Southland Sharks announced this month it had signed Australian Jarrad Weeks for the 2018 National Basketball League, which for Southland tips-off against Hawke’s Bay in Napier tonight.
Weeks’ arrival in Invercargill on Monday coincided with the announcement he had also signed a two-year contract to play for the New Zealand Breakers in the Australian National Basketball League (ANBL).
His initial plan for a three-month stay in New Zealand has now been extended to a two and a-half year stint now he will also join the Breakers.
The Breakers will next season be coached by Kevin Braswell, who had his singlet number retired by the Sharks after playing for Southland from 2011 to 2015.
Braswell has only just been appointed as the Breakers coach and admitted Weeks had been on his radar for a while.
“I’ve been watching and admiring Jarrad for years. He brings tempo to the floor, he is electrifying,” Braswell said.
Weeks has played five seasons in the ANBL for Sydney, Illawarra, and Cairns, amassing more than 100 games.
Before Weeks does link with Braswell and the Breakers, he has an important job to do for Southland in his first season playing in the New Zealand league.
Weeks isn’t shying away from just what he is in Invercargill to tick off with the Sharks.
“A championship. That is why everyone plays the game – to win that last game of the season, so that’s my goal.”
The 28-year-old’s talks with Southland started during the ANBL season when Weeks, who was playing for the Cairns Taipans, crossed paths with Sharks coach Judd Flavell, who is an assistant coach at the Breakers.
“He laid out what the Southland Sharks are all about and what Invercargill is all about, and it sounded like an awesome new experience,” Weeks said.
Weeks is regarded as a lightning-quick guard who is likely to be a key cog in the Sharks offence this season.
He has had just a handful of training sessions with the Southland Sharks to try to firm up some combinations before tonight’s competition opener against Hawke’s Bay.
The Sharks second overseas import, American Orlando Coleman, had a stalled start to his stint with Southland at the preseason Blitz tournament in Palmerston North last weekend.
He made it to the second quarter of the first game before he was clipped by an elbow from a Taranaki player, which resulted in a cut to his cheek.
Coleman sat out the remainder of the weekend, but he will be ready to go for tonight’s season opener.
The Sharks will play their second game of the season just 24 hours later against the Braswell-coached Wellington team in Wellington.
Meanwhile, it is understood the Sharks are close to announcing a third overseas import for the 2018 season.