Nelson Giants captain Sam Dempster cut a forlorn figure post-match, following his team’s potentially season-ending 91-85 defeat to the Southland Sharks at the Trafalgar Centre last Friday.
There were no excuses given by the big centre, it was another case of a fast start and a mid-game slump which had cost the Nelson franchise and left their top four hopes dangling by a thread.
In the background sat injured star Finn Delany, on crutches, clearly in some discomfort but keen to point out his leg injury was “just a sprain, I’ll be back”.
How they could have used him last Friday. The Giants blew a 23-point second quarter lead as they went cold late in the game yet again. “I’m disappointed – it sucks not to hold a lead like that.”
Sam himself took on added responsibility with Finn out, he nailed a few three pointers early, a rare sight but a much-needed one. Then the second half came. Sharks big man Alex Pledger dominated the rebounds and tight exchanges and the Giants attack, which looked so good to begin with, faded.
“I don’t know why we are struggling in the middles of games, it is something we talk about but it keeps happening,” Sam says.
“We stopped moving the ball well on offence and Alex Pledger got too much space and time and he’s a class player, you can’t do that. You can’t fall asleep in this league at any point or you’ll get hurt.”
Sam defiantly says the season is not over.
“We still have two more games and we need to keep battling and putting pressure on those teams above us.”
The Giants will face the winless Hawke’s Bay Hawks on Saturday night at the Trafalgar Centre.