Article by George Berry
It’s crunch time for the Canterbury Rams. Every game within the next three weeks is crucial if they want to hold the second spot in the NZNBL standings heading into the Final Four in Tauranga.
What’s getting in their way of grabbing 2nd place right now is the Southland Sharks, who the Rams will be playing this Sunday at Cowles Stadium. Last week, the Rams were beaten by the Sharks at home 105-94. They outrebounded the Rams and shot better overall from the field. Despite the disappointing outing, the Canterbury side bounced back and secured a win 19-point against the Hawks just two days later.
The Sharks currently hold an impressive record of 7-3, while the Rams continue to keep it even at 6-6. Coach Mark Dickel will no doubt be putting full trust in the Rams powerhouses Jeremy Kendle, Marcel Jones and Marques Whippy to steer the ship to victory on Sunday night.
Jeremy Kendle was instrumental in the win against the Hawks last Sunday, ending the game with 29 points for the Rams who outscored the home side 31-13 in the fourth. Marcel Jones notched up yet another double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Whippy was just one rebound shy of joining Jones on the double-double list, scoring 15 points and also grabbing 9 rebounds.
The re-addition of Mackenzie Moore and Mike Karena will certainly keep the Sharks on their toes. The duo will add more scoring on the board and more strength on the defensive end. Sharks big man and Breakers veteran Alex Pledger will be a force to be reckoned with. Pledger leads the league in rebounding with 10.5 per game. Rams centre Gareth Dawson will see this game as a massive opportunity to use his strength and size to shut down Pledger before he has the chance to take control of the game.
Reuben Te-Rangi has been shooting efficiently and scoring consistently for the Sharks this season, averaging 16 points on 50% shooting over their 10 games. Jeremy Kendle and Ethan Rusbatch will have to team up on the defensive end to defuse any chance of Te-Rangi catching fire.
The game will be full of passion, the crowd will create an atmosphere like no other, and the players will be ready for the South Island showdown with so much on the line.
Tip-off is at 3pm at Cowles Stadium this Sunday, the 14th of May.
Get your tickets now!