US player joins Sharks

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Southland Sharks' American import Orlando Coleman. Photo: Logan Savory

ORLANDO Coleman is in Invercargill to win a championship, but the added bonus to life as a professional basketball player is he gets to see parts of the world he never thought he would visit.

The 26-year-old American has linked with the Southland Sharks this season to play in the New Zealand National Basketball League.

The product of Birmingham, Alabama, impressed during his high school and college playing days before he got his shot to play professionally in Canada, Mexico, Serbia and now New Zealand.

Coleman was grateful for the opportunities basketball is providing him.

“Playing ‘ball overseas is really about getting out and seeing stuff you never thought you would get to see,” Coleman said.

“I’ve only been [in New Zealand] for two or three weeks, but I think it is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen. Everywhere we go I’ve been taking pictures.

“The guys have been telling me about Queenstown and I’ve heard Bluff is the end of the world, so I’m keen to go there.

“If it wasn’t for ‘ball I wouldn’t be here, or anywhere. Basketball takes you places and I’m looking forward to where it takes me next – I don’t know where that will be.”

The Sharks have a two-win, two-loss record through their first four games of the NBL and Coleman has provided glimpses of just what he is capable of.

Coleman has picked up a thigh injury, but the Southland public will be hopeful they get their first look at him playing at ILT Stadium Southland tonight.

After four games on the road, the Sharks will lift the curtain on their home season against the Manawatu Jets with tip-off at 7pm.

It will start a run of seven straight home games for the Sharks.

While the Sharks have had limited time together, Coleman likes the make up of the squad and believes it can be a championship contender this year.

“We can score, we’ve got a lot of guys on the team that can score 20 a night. I think the big thing for us is defence. If we play defence, I don’t think anyone can play with us because we have got so many offensive weapons.”

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