The SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks confirmed the first piece of its 2018 New Zealand National Basketball League roster with today’s announcement of Reuben Te Rangi as its first player signing for next season.
Te Rangi, whose ANBL team, the Brisbane Bullets, is in the United States preparing to face the NBA’s Phoenix Suns this weekend, returned to the Shark’s setup after a two-year absence last season.
He finished the year as one of the Sharks’ top performers, leading the team in per game Points (14.8), Steals (1.1) and Minutes (30.7) and in the top four for rebounds (4.8) and assists (3.4).
That consistency saw him named Tall Blacks captain for the first time for the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon in August.
Southland Sharks’ General Manager Jill Bolger said it was no coincidence Te Rangi was the first to ink a deal for 2018.
“We are all so proud of all that Reuben has achieved over the past 12 months. He is without doubt a leader on our team and to watch him blossom with that extra responsibility as both a player and a man for the Sharks and the Tall Blacks over the last year is a real credit to both him and his family,” Bolger said.
Likewise, Sharks Head Coach Judd Flavell was delighted to confirm Te Rangi for what will be his fourth season in Invercargill.
“I saw a huge step-up in the way Reubs approached games and practice last season and the leadership he brought. You could see he was someone who was very focussed and knew what he wanted which, from a coach’s perspective, is the perfect athlete to take in and work with.”
“He’s a natural leader. You saw him taking that leadership within the Tall Blacks programme and hopefully with the Bullets he can continue to find his grove in his second season there. He brings to the table that new level of professionalism now with the competitiveness that he’s always had,” Flavell said.
2017 was a season to remember for Luke Aston but the 27-year-old shooting guard is already setting his sights on bigger and better things in 2018.
Aston today confirmed he would return for a second season with the SIT Zero Fees-sponsored Southland Sharks in the New Zealand National Basketball League.
Dunedin-born Aston started in all 20 games last season and enjoyed career highs in both minutes (25.5) and points per game (11.25). Always a threat from 3-point range, Aston hit a team high 51 three-pointers during the season, including six from beyond the arc against the Saints in Wellington in May.
Aston impressed Tall Blacks’ coach Paul Henare, earning his first call-up to the National squad, earning four caps at the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon in August, an experience Aston wants to build on next season.
“My first season with the Sharks was great. The organisation is so professional and well run that it was a no brainer to come back for another year. Being part of the Sharks last season helped me to achieve one of my dreams of playing for the Tall Blacks.”
“I would love to go one better and help win an NBL title next season,” Aston said.
Sharks General Manager Jill Bolger believed Aston was a classic example of a player flourishing in the performance environment the Sharks aim to create at ILT Stadium Southland.
“When you have someone with the experience of Judd (Flavell) at the helm, your team system and structures are always going to line up with those at ANBL and national level. Luke really stepped up last year and took advantage of that environment,” Bolger said.
Head Coach Flavell believes that last season is only the start for Aston.
“Luke was someone we were lucky enough to recruit last year. He had some big games for us last season and his game flourished down south in our environment and came out of nowhere to be thrust onto the national scene.”
“He put in a lot of work to get there though. When you are recruiting a team, you want guys who are prepared to work to achieve your team goals. And when they put in the work, like Luke did, I just felt so happy for him and proud of what he did and how he went about achieving those goals,” Flavell said.
The 2018 New Zealand National Basketball League season will commence on April 26 next year.