For the first time in 20 years the Sal's NBL Final 4 is headed to Christchurch and given the rise of the Rams this season League GM Justin Nelson said the timing is perfect for the city's basketball fans to unite and flood Horncastle Arena and turn it into a Canterbury Rams fortress.
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"The stars have aligned so to speak, the Final 4 is headed to Christchurch and the Rams are a legitimate contender to take out the Sal's NBL championship," said Nelson.
The Final 4 is set to be played at the 6,000-seat arena on July 20/21 and within the next 24 hours the four combatants could be locked-in. The Wellington Saints, Canterbury Rams and Hawke's Bay Hawks have already booked their tickets, and now all eyes are on the Southland Sharks, the reigning champions, who need just one more win to clinch their place.
Nelson believes the Rams will carry a distinct advantage if the sports-mad city and basketball fans across Christchurch unite and fill the bulk of the seats at Horncastle Arena.
"There is no doubt the Rams have a real chance to win it all this season and right now they have the added x-factor if their fans turn up in big numbers and take over Horncastle Arena at the Final 4."
The Saints, who lost last year's final by two points against the Sharks, will start warm favourites to take this year's title by virtue of their current 15-game unbeaten win streak and a roster that boasts a seemingly endless supply of Tall Blacks and Australians the ilk of Nick Kay and Sunday Dech, however it could be the defensive-minded Rams who surprise everyone.
Last week just four points separated the Saints and Rams, the latter going down 80-84 without Isaiah Wilkins or Luke Aston in action.
"When it comes down to those last few plays in big games you want the crowd on your side and the Rams have that advantage this time around if their faithful army of supporters fill Horncastle. I have no doubt the other three teams heading to the Final 4 will know the advantage that comes with thousands of fans cheering on the local team."
In other Final 4 news, the League is set to announce a number of exciting extra events set to take place across the weekend.
"We have some really exciting things to add to the Final 4 schedule, which we will announce during the broadcast of the Giants versus Rams game on SKY Sports and Prime TV tonight," said Nelson, adding "We will also share the details through our normal channels as well."