Sharks embrace underdog tag in final four match

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The Southland Sharks will play the Hawke's Bay Hawks tonight after beating the Canterbury Rams 100-87.

ROB Beveridge is happy to admit the Southland Sharks are underdogs.

It is a tag the team’s head coach is embracing ahead of the National Basketball League Final Four.

The Sharks face a talent-laden Hawke’s Bay Hawks team in Porirua tonight.

If they win, they will play the winner of the Wellington Saints and Auckland Huskies in Friday’s final.

The Sharks had an ugly last meeting against the Hawks when it was thrashed by a rampant team in Invercargill.

There is no shortage of threats on the Hawks’ roster, with the likes of Ethan Rusbatch, Devondrick Walker and Hyrum Harris all capable of taking over a game.

However, Beveridge said the last loss provided some insight for the Sharks this time around.

“They’re a prolific scoring team,” he said.

“When they get going, they get going and they’re very deep.

“It’s one of those things that you’ve got to pick your poison. What are you really going to concentrate on?

“I guess the themes this week are that we can’t allow them to run the way they do and then shoot the ball from the three-point line.

“So we’re trying to slow the game down as much as we can and keep it a close contest and see if we can stay with them.”

The Sharks will be without guard Alonzo Burton, who broke his hand in training last week.

However, the team’s identity all year has been one of multiple players stepping up.

Forward Dominique Kelman-Poto has been exceptional, while young wings Toby Gillooly and Brayden Inger have also taken strides.

Beveridge said recovery had been a big focus this week to get everyone’s bodies as rested as possible.

Preparing for the Hawks was the other main focus and the team would look to Friday’s final if it got that far.

“We can’t get ahead of ourselves,” Beveridge said.

“We know we’re playing a team that is very, very good. It’s all focused just on the Hawks.

“Once that game is over, hopefully we win, and then it’s prep straight away.

“It’s get the bodies right, great recovery, get some sleep, get some food.

“[Assistant coach] Leyton [Haddleton] and I will probably have a very late night. We are doing scouting reports there’s no question we’ve prepped for it.

“But we’ll start focusing on that next game late on Thursday night, if we do get through.”

Tip-off is at 8pm tonight.

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