2021 NZNBL Round 7 preview: Rams and Nuggets open round as Giants rest up

SIX games played out across four days will provide New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) fans with nine of the 10 teams running out on court this weekend, with Nelson Giants the only side putting their feet up this round. Otago Nuggets, Canterbury Rams and Manawatu Jets will all play a second match over Round 7 as the mid-table logjam is set to get a shake-up.

CANTERBURY RAMS vs. OTAGO NUGGETS
Thursday, June 10 @ 7:30pm
Cowles Stadium

First up in a standalone clash tonight at Cowles Stadium, Canterbury Rams host Otago Nuggets to try and bounce back from their disappointing loss to Wellington Saints last week. They had won three out of four coming into the clash, and will be keen to notch up an important win. For the Nuggets, they went down to Southland Sharks after impressive wins over Franklin Bulls and Auckland Huskies, but will gain some serious breathing space if they can take down the Rams in the match. Deshon Taylor (22.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists) has been the leading player for the Rams, with Jack Salt (17.0 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists and 1.7 steals) and EJ Singler (13.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.1 steals) other key players. Sam Timmins (21.9 points, 14.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.4 steals) will have a huge battle with Salt throughout the night, while Isaiah Moss (21.8 points, 6.2 rebounds) and Gerasimos McKay (12.4 points, 6.2 rebounds) have both been productive off the boards.

SOUTHLAND SHARKS vs. MANAWATU JETS
Friday, June 11 @ 7:30pm
ILT Stadium

The standalone Friday night clash between top of the table Southland Sharks hosting the eighth placed Manawatu Jets at ILT Stadium. Undefeated at home from three matches, the Sharks go in as strong favourites with an overall 8-3 record from 11 matches and a six-game winning streak. The Jets on the other hand had a 3-6 record, but have won three of their past five to be a big improver, though their loss in that time was 12 points to the Sharks at home. The evenness of the Sharks’ team is evident to see in their results, with Dom Kelman-Poto (17.5 points, 8.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists), Brayden Inger (14.4 points, 3.8 rebounds), Alonzo Burton (12.7 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.9 steals) and Courtney Belger (12.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.9 steals) all putting up good numbers to start the season. Daishon Knight (22.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.8 steals) has been influential for the Jets, while Jayden Bezzant (18.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists), Shane Temara (16.8 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists) and DeAndre Daniels (15.1 points, 9.4 rebounds) have all impressed.

HAWKES BAY HAWKS vs. OTAGO NUGGETS
Saturday, June 12 @ 7:30pm
Pettigrew Green Arena

The Nuggets will come in for a 48-hour turnaround for their clash against Hawkes Bay Hawks, with the top four battle having plenty on the line for both teams. The Nuggets have been good on the road with a 3-1 record, while the Hawks are unbeaten at Pettigrew Green Arena, winning all four clashes that have taken place there. Hawkes Bay grabbed back-to-back wins last round to head into the Round 7 contest with form, and they will hope to grab another victory here. Devondrick Walker (19.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.7 steals), Hyrum Harris (14.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.6 steals) and Derone Raukawa (13.4 points, 4.3 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals) are among seven players to average double-figure points for the Hawks this season.

AUCKLAND HUSKIES vs. FRANKLIN BULLS
Saturday, June 12 @ 7:30pm
Eventfinda Stadium

Action also takes place at Eventfinda Stadium on Saturday night, with the ninth placed and wounded Franklin Bulls trying to find something to upset a fifth placed Auckland Huskies. The Huskies head into the game with an even win-loss record of 5-5, and have a better-than-average 3-2 record at home. The Bulls are 1-3 on the road, and their last three matches have been 21, 37 and 32-point losses with the depth really tested, whilst the Huskies’ form has been up and down. Chris Johnson (21.5 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists), Brooke Ruscoe-Taiaroa (14.1 rebounds, 3.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.7 steals) and Dontae Nance (13.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals) have been impressive for the Huskies in 2021. Nicolas Fee (6.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists) and Denhym Brooke (11.5 points, 4.3 rebounds) have been the only two players to have started in all 10 games for the Bulls.

TARANAKI MOUNTAINAIRS vs. CANTERBURY RAMS
Sunday, June 13 @ 3:00pm
TSB Stadium

The Taranaki Mountainairs enter Round 7 with a clash against Canterbury Rams who played on Thursday night, as the Airs hope to double their win tally after grabbing just one victory in the first nine matches. That did come at home, but with 42, 22 and 14-point losses in the past three matches, the Airs will need to bounce back in a strong way to topple the Rams in front of home fans. Marcel Jones (23.9 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.3 steals) has carried the Airs throughout the season, whilst Tai Wynyard (13.7 points, 5.8 rebounds) has been an able support in that time.

WELLINGTON SAINTS vs. MANAWATU JETS
Sunday, June 13 @ 5:00pm
TSB Bank Arena

The second placed Wellington Saints will be looking to notch up another win at home, this time against the Manawatu Jets on Sunday evening. After losing their first match to the Southland Sharks last week, the Saints bounced back to defeat Canterbury Rams by 25 points the game after. No shortage of stars this season, Dion Prewster (22.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.8 steals), Kerwin Roach Jr (17.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.0 steals), Taane Samuel (14.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists) and Tohi Smith-Milner (13.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.3 steals) have all stood up and had some big numbers this year across multiple facets.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

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