Author: Taylah Melki

2020 NZ NBL: End of season stats leaders

WITH the NZNBL season done and dusted Draft Central takes a look at some of the top performers throughout the season. Taranaki Mountainairs, Manawatu Jets and Otago Nuggets have quite a few players that feature within the top five areas in focus given their impressive 2020 campaign.

AVERAGE POINTS:
Taranaki Mountainairs star, Derone Raukawa leads all comers when it comes to points with an average of 23.7 a game. Raukawa was a commanding presence for the Airs and was a key reason his side got as far as they did with his ability to find the basket and score. Hot on his heels was teammate Marcel Jones who also impressed throughout the season averaging an impressive 22.8 points thanks to his tenacity and drive to the rim. MVP winner Thomas Vodanovich also had a commanding influence on the scoreboard with the Manawatu Jets bigman leading the way for his side and hitting the scoreboard regularly to register an average 22.4 points. Although the Auckland Huskies had a challenging year it did not seem to faze Izayah Mauriohooho Le’Afa who proved to be the go to when it came to posting a decent tally single handedly influencing the outcome of games with his average of 20.7 points a game. Rounding out the top five is Jordan Hunt who managed 19.6 points a game for premiers Otago Nuggets.

AVERAGE ASSISTS:
Topping the table for points, Raukawa also took out top spot for assists with the Airs playmaker amassing an average of 7.4. Classy with ball in hand, Raukawa was both a threat on the scoreboard and in transition constantly dishing off dimes to his teammates to create attacking forays. Jets player Hyrum Harris also impressed throughout the season racking up 6.4 assists a game thanks to his vision and execution while Mauriohooho Le’Afa showcased his strength with ball in hand to record 5.4 a game. There is no denying that premiership player Jarrod Kenny was electric with ball in hand, able to slice through the full court press and release the rock with confidence racking up 5.2 assists a game as Taylor Britt closed out the top five with 4.6 assists for the Canterbury Rams.

AVERAGE REBOUNDS:
Frequently hitting the scoreboard, Jones also showcased his firepower and strength off the backboard with a whopping 13.1 rebounds a game. Jones was an integral member for the Airs with his ability to gobble up anything that came his way. Not far behind him was Harris with the Manawatu Jets representative proving to be a menace for opposition teams with his rebounding position to pick up an average of 11.6. Coming in at third on the leaderboard, Leon Henry had a solid season for the Huskies dragging down 10.9 rebounds while Vodanovich showcased why he was MVP featuring in the top five for rebounds with an average of 10.2 thanks to his commanding frame and read of the play. Although he did not get as much court time as his counterparts Alexander Talma secured fifth spot on the tally with a season average of eight rebounds.

AVERAGE BLOCKS:
When it came to defensive pressure and blocks Samuel Timmins led the way not only for his side but for the competition with the Franklin Bulls player notching up 1.7 a game testament to his impeccable foresight and elevation to get hands to ball. Shane Temara was not far off the pace with 1.1 blocks a game while Joshua Leger recorded an average of a block a game. Both Dane Brooks and Henry managed just under a block a game sitting at 0.9 blocks a game highlighting their defensive pressure for their respective teams.

AVERAGE STEALS:
Harris had a hand in just about every facet of the game with the Jets star taking out top spot for steals with a competition high 2.7 highlighting his ability to cleanly attack the ball and most importantly succeed. Similar to Harris, Mauriohooho Le’Afa had an impressive season featuring highly in most areas with an average of 2.5 steals while Jayden Bezzant also starred for the Jets with his speed to dart around the court and get a hand in at every opportunity that came his way with 1.9 steals a game. Henry amassed 1.6 steals a game as Josh Bloxam completed the top five with 1.5 steals.

LEADERBOARD:

AVERAGE POINTS:

Derone Raukawa: 23.7
Marcel Jones: 22.8
Thomas Vodanovich: 22.4
Izayah Mauriohooho Le’Afa: 20.7
Jordan Hunt: 19.6

AVERAGE ASSISTS:

Derone Raukawa: 7.4
Hyrum Harris: 6.4
Izayah Mauriohooho Le’Afa: 5.4
Jarrod Kenny: 5.2
Taylor Britt: 4.6

AVERAGE REBOUNDS:

Marcel Jones: 13.1
Hyrum Harris: 11.6
Leon Henry: 10.9
Thomas Vodanovich: 10.2
Alexander Talma: 8

AVERAGE BLOCKS:

Samuel Timmins: 1.7
Shane Temara: 1.1
Joshua Leger: 1
Dane Brooks: 0.9
Leon Henry: 0.9

AVERAGE STEALS:

Hyrum Harris: 2.7
Izayah Mauriohooho Le’Afa: 2.5
Jayden Bezzant: 1.9
Leon Henry: 1.6
Josh Bloxam: 1.5

Jets snatch victory from Rams in a come from behind nail-biter

WITH six losses in a row it looked like the Canterbury Rams were going to break their losing streak after holding an 11-point lead in the final quarter, but an almighty comeback in the dying minute of the game saw Manawatu Jets run out three-point victors (101-98). It was a see-sawing affair as neither side could really consolidate on their chances as the last placed Rams proved that they were no easy beats showcasing their drive across the court and defensive pressure to ensure that the Jets had no easy passage to the basket.

CANTERBURY RAMS 20 | 29 | 33 | 16 (98)
MANAWATU JETS 24 | 21 | 26 | 30 (101)

[ … FULL MATCH STATS … ]

It did not take long for the Jets to hit the scoreboard with Nelson Kirksey striking first and setting the tone for Manawatu. Jayden Bezzant got off to a hot start, leading the way with his speed and impressive ball-handling skills while Tom Vodanovich secured the first four-point play of the season thanks to an impressive three and conversion from the charity line. Only a couple of points separated the sides throughout the opening quarter with each team trying to find their rhythm both in attack and defence. Inaccuracy seemed to plague both the Jets and the Rams with neither side able to capitalise on their opportunities at the rim.

Making his way onto the court for the first time this season Reuben Te Rangi sank a triple and had an immediate impact for the Rams shaking off the cobwebs and showcasing his composure with ball in hand to even the ledger. Within a minute, Te Rangi managed to add six points to the Rams’ tally and snatch the lead off the Jets proving just how much of an impact he can have on court. Unable to find any continuity in their gameplay credit to the immense defensive pressure, the lead continued to chop and change before the Jets applied some scoreboard pressure thanks to Taane Samuel and Kirksey who helped open up a four-point lead heading into the first break.

Despite holding a four-point lead at the break the Jets simply could not generate enough flow or rhythm in attack to continue to add to the scoreboard, while the Rams also looked out of sorts. Both sides fell into foul trouble making for a very scrappy couple of minutes of play as the teams settled into their line-ups. In the end it was Quintin Bailey that got things flowing for the Rams, finding his stroke both from inside the paint and on the perimeter, steadily eating into the margin. Bailey started to generate plenty of ball and opportunities for his side to mount a comeback taking a huge offensive rebound.

Jack Exeter also piped up in the second term to get some points on the board and cut the deficit to two points. The Rams refused to go away with Bailey leading the way with his constant drive to the rim and an increased defensive pressure from the Rams saw the Jets start to falter. With the Rams throwing everything they had at the Jets it was Bezzant that once again that stepped up to the plate doing a mountain load of work while Vodanovich also got busy with seven rebounds before half time. The ball ping ponged up and down the court before the Rams put their foot down to pile on nine consecutive points and take a four point lead thanks to Bailey slamming home five points in less than 20 seconds. He finished with 12 points to his name, while Bezzant managed 17 points in the half.

Down at half-time, the Jets rallied to level scores once again with big man Vodanovich terrorising the opposition with 11 points and eight rebounds with a half of basketball to go. After struggling for accuracy in the opening half both the Jets and Rams seemed to find their rhythm with the game turning into a three point showdown with Bailey and Vodanovich going blow for blow from beyond the arc. Increased defensive pressure from the Jets forced a shot clock violation gifting them with another chance to reduce the margin while Bezzant upped the ante with his speed down court to once again reclaim the lead for Manawatu.

With a tick over seven minutes left in the term, Bailey delivered again as it was proving to be a stats stuffing affair with 19 points to his name. Ashton McQueen injected himself into the game with a timely three for the Jets as the lead continued to ebb and flow. With victory insight Bailey imposed himself again with a huge steal, as the Rams started to find their rhythm and pull away opening up a five point lead. But back to back treys from Vodanovich and an increased intensity saw the Jets right back in it while their improved ball movement also allowed them to generate more scoring opportunities. The physicality kicked up a notch with bodies hitting the deck but it was the Rams that answered the call first with Thomas Webley and Taylor Britt applying scoreboard pressure. Despite a scrappy 30 seconds of play Canterbury showcased their hunger with Britt hustling hard and coming up big to hit a triple and gift his side an 11 point lead. Heading into the final change Britt has 25 points to his name while Webley recorded 14.

With the game on the line the Rams seemed to be in full control, composed with ball in hand and happy to play possession as the clock ticked down however the Jets had something different in mind going on a scoring rampage. The Rams became stagnant in attack as the Jets looked to exploit the young Canterbury side and hunt down any opportunity they could to eat into the margin. Vodanovich got himself into some foul trouble, recording his fourth for the evening while Bezzant got busy once again using his change of speed to hit the scoreboard. With the lead down to nine points the Rams refused to give in playing with no fear and attacking at every opportunity but it was the experience of Samuel at the line and Bezzant across the court that hurt them the most as the duo went into overdrive. With a minute left in the game Vodanovich hit his fifth three of the game to steal the lead back for the Jets and with a huge rebound to follow Kirksey converted the triple to give them some breathing space. Not down and out yet Sam Smith sunk a triple to cut the margin to one and give his side a fighting shot but it was little too late with the Samuel putting the final nail in the coffin.

Britt starred for the Rams with 25 points, nine assists and seven rebounds while Bailey had a night out with 28 points and 10 rebounds to record a double-double. Webley also had a strong showing with 15 points while Te Rangi was the only other player to hit double digits with 10 points. Bezzant top scored for the Jets with 27 points and four assists, as Vodanovich also plied his trade with 23 points and 13 rebounds. Samuel’s efforts did not go unnoticed finishing with 20 points and 19 rebounds.

Canterbury take to the court again tonight to try and break a seven-game losing streak up against Otago Nuggets, while the Jets have a bit of a rest until Sunday when they aim to fly high against top of the table Taranaki Mountainairs.

Huskies claim huge upset over second placed Bulls

IT was a Battle of the North with the Franklin Bulls and Auckland Huskies going head to head in the first game of Week 4 for the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) competition, with the latter clenching a huge upset over the second placed Bulls (86-82). With the Bulls getting out to a strong lead in the opening term the Huskies were forced to play catch-up throughout the game but that did not seem to faze them, steadily building into the match and eventually overrunning their opponents. There was over seven lead changes throughout the course of the game testament to how even the contest was on the night.

FRANKLIN BULLS 26 | 20 | 22 | 14 (82)
AUCKLAND HUSKIES 14 | 28 | 29 | 15 (86)

[ … FULL MATCH STATS … ]

The Bulls got out to a flyer in the first quarter piling on a wealth of pressure and flexing their muscles on the scoreboard to hold a commanding 12-point lead. Despite Tohi Smith-Milner opening the account with a jump-shot for the Huskies, it was all one-way traffic from then on as the Bulls simply could not be denied. Dominique Kelman-Poto was on song from the first minute sinking a triple before partner-in-crime Sam Timmins chimed in. The influence of Nicholas Barrow was undeniable with the big man able to hit the scoreboard with great ease for the Bulls and cause all sorts of havoc across the court. A late burst from the Bulls saw them go on a scoring rampage with the Huskies simply unable to generate any form of rhythm in attack or defence.

Up by 12 points at the quarter break the Huskies were determined to reduce the deficit and impose themselves on the contest. Their increased intensity across the court and willingness to drive to the basket became increasingly more evident as the quarter progressed cutting the margin down to five points. But it was their three point shooting that stunned both fans and the Bulls, with the Huskies sinking four straight treys with Reuben Fitzgerald, Jaylen Gerrand and Smith-Milner dishing up the goods. Back to back threes from Smith-Milner and a huge steal from Izayah Mauriohooho Le’Afa  got the Huskies back within two points before Timmins answered to steady the ship.

The game was played with great speed as the ball ping ponged up and down the court with Mauriohooho Le’Afa finding his stroke and causing all sorts of havoc. With the pressure mounting on the Bulls it was up to Timmins to once again stand up, laying a huge block while Taine Murray showcased his dash with a fast break and clever assist to none other than Smith-Milner. The out of contract Melbourne United big man impressed throughout the quarter, knocking back shots from inside the paint, beyond the arc and at the charity line. With a tick over three minutes left in the term Marvin Williams-Dunn evened things up for Auckland and despite the Bulls bigs in Barrow and Timmins dominating on the scoreboard with the latter finishing the half with a double-double 14 points and 10 rebounds the Huskies seemed to have all the momentum. A triple on the buzzer to Jackson Stubbins gifted the Bulls a four-point lead after what was a see-sawing term.

Known as the premiership quarter, the Bulls immediately extending the lead with Everard Bartlett sinking all three shots from the charity line. Smith-Milner quickly responded with a couple of points his own but neither side was able to claim any real ascendancy as the ball bubbled about. Out to a six point lead the Huskies dug deep to stay in the contest  and claw their way back to within two points. Williams-Dunn and Mauriohooho Le’Afa upped their workload with the two looking to the rim and scoring. Barlett continued to be the go to man for the Bulls draining them from range while Nikau McCullough tried to inject himself into the contest with a couple of strong rebounds.

With five minutes on the clock, Auckland hit the front thanks to Smith-Milner. After a relatively quiet half of basketball, Isaac Davidson found his stroke with a nice three, while Timmins also got busy to create a five-point buffer once again. Unfazed by the increased pressure, Mauriohooho Le’Afa upped the ante sinking them from range. Stepping back on the three, Mauriohooho Le’Afa put his side ahead while Tohi Smith-Milner delivered once more, coming up strong with a rebound and streaming down court with Nathan Wilson the beneficiary to hold a three point lead heading into the final change.

With the game on the line the big names for each side stood up with the Huskies getting an early with a forced turnover in the opening stages of the quarter. The defensive pressure was palpable with both sides going three and a half minutes without a score. The physicality of the contest did not disturb either team with the Bulls almost enjoying the challenge and slowly working their way into the contest. Kelman-Poto was involved in everything, swinging the momentum back to the Bulls with a crucial rebound and layup to regain ascendancy on the scoreboard.

After going quiet in the middle stage of the game Gerrand found his stroke forcing the lead to once again change hands. The lead chopped and changed and was cut down to as much as two points with less than three minutes remaining. Timmins hit a timely triple to retake the lead albeit by one point and followed it up moments later spiking the ball out of play and denying the Huskies easy avenue to the basket. With Kelman-Poto fouled out of the game for the Bulls, Huskies big man Mauriohooho Le’Afa delivered once again. With a minute left on the clock Stubbins hit his second three pointer of the game to snatch the lead off the Huskies but it went all downhill from there for Franklin with Smith-Milner reeling in a rebound and Murray making them pay with a triple of his own. Mauriohooho Le’Afa all but ended the chances of a final seconds comeback coming up huge with a steal to take home their fourth win.

Timmins was the main playmaker for the Bulls finishing the game with 21 points, 15 rebounds (11 defensive) and two blocks. Teammate Kelman-Poto also managed double digits with 15 points and eight rebounds while Barrow and Stubbins also recording 10 points each. It is no surprise that Mauriohooho Le’ Afa dominated on the scoreboard amassing a whopping 25 points, seven assists and six rebounds. Smith-Milner also had a stats stuffing performance with 22 points and 13 rebounds while Murray was the only other player to make into double digits with 11 points.

2020 Sal’s NBL night preview July 14: Bulls v. Huskies and Mountainairs v. Nuggets

A TOP four clash is set to headline Week 4 of Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) with the Taranaki Mountainairs playing the Otago Nuggets in the second game of the night while the Huskies will be hoping to continue to bridge the gap between them and the top four with a win over the second placed Franklin Bulls.

FRANKLIN BULLS v. AUCKLAND HUSKIES

Currently sitting in second spot the Bulls will have to throw everything they have at the Huskies to keep them at bay and maintain their position inside the top four. Last time they met the Bulls prevailed, albeit by four points in what was a hard fought battle, meaning this rematch could definitely follow suit given the progression of both sides throughout the season. Although Auckland are coming in off a mere five points, they have strung together a couple of strong performances, finding some continuity on court.

The Bulls will take plenty of confidence from their last performance and come into the match having won four of their last five outings. Their ability to treasure possession and make the opposition pay is what they pride themselves on averaging 11.8 turnovers a game compared to the Huskies’ 14. In terms of accuracy the Bulls also have the upper hand going at 43 per cent field goal efficiency while the Huskies only manage 39.8 per cent. However from three point range both sides don a similar percentage with the Bulls slightly ahead at 32.6 compared to Auckland’s 31.6.

The Bulls and Huskies are also quite evenly poised when it comes to scoring averaging 82.6 and 82.1 per game respectively, showcasing just how much of a tight battle this match will be. With both sides even in terms of scoreboard output it could come down to rebound ability something the Huskies are renowned for. Auckland are one of the strongest teams in the leagues when it comes to rebounds amassing an average of 45.4 each game an area of the Bulls they will be hoping to exploit given they only manage 38.4 a game, the lowest in the competition.

It has been a more consistent effort from the Huskies in recent weeks however the pressure still solely lies on Izayah Mauriohooho LeAfa to do most of the heavy lifting 18.7 points a game, 4.7 assists and 4.5 rebounds showcasing just how dominant he is across all facets of the game. Teammate Taine Murray has also enjoyed a recent run of hot form, finding the basket with ease averaging 17 points a game, while the influence of Leon Henry has not gone unnoticed for the Huskies with Henry imposing himself on the boards with a team high average of 11.7 rebounds and 11.3 points to average a double-double. Another threat for the Bulls is Tohi Smith-Milner with the bigman showcasing his range sinking 12.4 points a game.

For the Bulls they have no shortage of options when it comes to doing damage on the scoreboard but Isaac Davidson is the main points scorer sitting at an average of 18 points a game. Next in line when it comes to scoring potency is Dominique Kelman-Poto who averages 14.3 points while also being the leading rebounder in the team, collecting 7.1. Samuel Timmins is the only other player to average double figures with 12.9 points to his name and has proven to be strong off the boards with 5.6 rebounds a game.

Given just how dominant Mauriohooho Le’Afa can be when he gets going the Bulls will have to pull out all the stops if they are any chance to nullify his presence on the scoreboard. Expect a high intensity battle considering what is at stake for both teams when it comes to ladder positioning and a creating potential separation between the top four.

TARANAKI MOUNTAINAIRS v. OTAGO NUGGETS

The second game of the night will draw plenty of onlookers and attention. Locked in a battle of one versus three expect the Taranaki Airs to try and put the foot down to claim some ascendancy atop of the ladder. When they played earlier in the season the Airs got the job running out with a convincing 26 point win while the Nuggets simply struggled to generate their normal game play. Taranaki have won four of their last five games while the Nuggets have experienced a similar vein of form registering three wins from their past five matches.

Coming in on a three game winning streak Taranaki will be hoping to make the most of their momentum and rattle the Nuggets with their prolific scoring. Although no slouches themselves when it comes to scoreboard impact sitting third in the competition with an average of 93 points a game, the Airs are a class above sinking an average of 101 points a game credit to their explosiveness. Another major discrepancy between the two sides lies in the rebound column with the Airs strong off the backboard with 8.7 more than the Nuggets 48.9 compared to 40.1.

Not only do the Airs have the upper hand when it comes to scoring prowess but so too blocks with the competition ladder leaders recording 3.1 blocks a game, while the Nuggets manage 2.8 a game. However when it comes to turnovers the Airs can be quite costly often throwing ball away in transition with 15.1 per game. Conversely the Nuggets are cautious with ball in hand, looking to flick the ball around and not push the ball until something opens as shown through the side averaging the second lowest turnover rate in the competition with 13.6.

There is no denying that Derone Raukawa is the go to man for the Airs, able to find the basket with ease and ply his trade up and down the court averaging a team high 22.9 points. While his efforts on the scoreboard impress he is also crafty with ball in hand dishing off yet another team high 7.3 rebounds a game. Teammate Marcel Jones is just as influential for the Airs able to light up the scoreboard with an average of 20.3 points while his presence at the rim is just as impressive recording 15 rebounds a game to average a double-double. Shane Temara is another key figure for the Airs sinking 11.6 points a game while reeling in 5.4 rebounds. Kenneth Tuffin has been known to hit the scoreboard while Francis Mulvihill is an excitement machine with the youngster able to find the basket and dish off dimes left right and centre.

It will be up to bigman Jordan Ngatai to lead the way for the Nuggets once again with his influential presence often causing headaches for opposition teams. He leads the team in points and rebounds with 20.5 and 6.3 respectively.  While Ngatai is the most prolific the Nuggets have a wealth of other options such as Jarrod Kenny who has proven he can burst out of the blocks and dominate, sinking them from range with no problem at all. Kenny averages 11.1 points a game and is number one in the team for assists with 4.9. Jordan Hunt is a key play maker for the Nuggets with his drive to the basket sitting at 16.8 points a game and 6.3 rebounds while Josh Aitcheson registers in the top five for points scored, assists and rebounds with 10.1, 2.1 and 4.5 respectively showcasing just how well rounded he is.

Both sides possess very similar attributes however it will come down to whether or not the Nuggets can shut down the ease and freedom with which the Airs can hit the scoreboard that will be the true test. Looking to protect their spot on top of the ladder expect Taranaki to leave no stone unturned and make it two from two against Otago.

Jets slay Giants by 30 in three-point shooting masterclass

THE last time these two sides met the Giants secured a come from behind win, but the tables were well and truly turned this match with the Manawatu Jets putting on a spectacle especially when it came to sinking them from deep. Despite not having Hyrum Harris in the mix, the Jets went about their business as usual, bullying the Giants and creating plenty of scoring opportunities to run out convincing 30-point victors (102-72).

MANAWATU JETS 26 | 22 | 25 | 29 (102)
NELSON GIANTS 17 | 16 | 23 | 16 (72)

[ … FULL MATCH STATS … ]

With three wins apiece under their belt it was a tight contest from the opening whistle with neither side willing to give an inch. Thomas Ingham opened the account for the Giants sinking a triple but it did not take long for the Jets to respond through Ashton McQueen to level the scores. In his first game since coming out of quarantine, Nelson Kirksey added another three to the tally for the Jets in what was shaping up to be a showing of long range shooting. With both sides feeling each other out and settling into the fast paced tempo of the game Michael Karena inserted himself into the contest getting involved in a couple of passages of play and scoring some early points.

As the quarter progressed, inaccuracy seemed to plague both the Jets and Giants with neither side able to sink a shot whether it be from inside the paint or beyond the arc forcing the ball to constantly scream up and down the court. Unable to really find a rhythm it was the Jets that settled first applying a wealth of pressure and most importantly hitting the scoreboard.

Efforts from Kalib Marsich-Mullins and Jayden Bezzant continued to give the Jets the upper hand with the latter converting from down town to push his side out to a seven-point lead with less than five minutes remaining in the term. Bezzant was having things his own way in offence while teammate Taane Samuel had a blistering end to the quarter knocking down five points in less than a minute. With the lead out to 13 points the Giants rallied thanks to Theo Johnson and Nicolas Trathen who reduced the margin to nine heading into the break.

The Giants came out with more intensity and started to find their rhythm in offence with Karena eating into the margin within the opening minute of the quarter to draw back within seven. But Tom Vodanovich proved that anything you can do I can do better with the big man sinking a triple and extending the lead once again. While his efforts in offence were impressive his ability to get back and bring down the rebound also shone, proving to be a real thorn in the Giants side.

Renowned for their physicality, Samuel came off second best with the Jets star notching up his third foul for the game not even half way into the term. With a slight shift in momentum the Jets struggled to find the basket while the Giants found their stroke, sinking them from everywhere to minimise the lead to four. But an unsportsmanlike foul from Riley Bensemann gifted the Jets a couple of free throws and allowed them to regain some control on the game. Following that came an increased defensive pressure from the Jets, smothering every option and pushing the Giants to play the ball around.

Vodanovich upped the ante driving to the basket while McQueen put on a masterclass from three point range. With four minutes left in the quarter McQueen had nine points to his name while Vodanovich was on his way to a triple double with seven points, 13 rebounds and five assists before half time. The Giants simply had no answers for Bezzant who was causing headaches with his 13 points nor Vodanovich with the big man throwing his weight around across the court.

It was a much closer third quarter between the two sides as Karena once again stepped up to the plate for the Giants and steered the ship. It was the usual suspects for the Jets doing all the damage with Vodanovich and Bezzant combining well across the court and regularly hitting the scoreboard while Samuel and Kirksey also got involved in the action, helping to open up a 20-point lead at the six minute mark of the quarter.

Some good ball movement from the Giants allowed them to swinging the ball around the court and keep the Jets guessing with Dane Brookes sinking a timely basket from inside the paint. Samuel registered his fourth foul for the game subsequently forcing him to the bench for large chunks of the game. Meanwhile a hungry and revitalised Giants outfit fought back, with a couple of their young guns stepping up to the challenge with Josh Ledger and Tysxun Aiolupotea leading the charge on the scoring front. Finding their mojo across the court the Giants managed to cut the margin to 17 at the final break.

It was a dominant fourth quarter from the Jets who simply capitalised on every opportunity that swung their way. They impressed with their speed through court to slice through the Giants defence while McQueen continued to dominate from the three point line with four from five. In fact he and Bezzant could not be contained with the two sinking a combined eight triples from 10 attempts.

Although in foul trouble, Samuel stepped up to the plate collecting a couple of crucial offensive rebounds to steadily extend his sides lead but it was Haize Walker that stunned many with an explosive final term. Walker downed a huge three pointer, but to prove it was no fluke he backed it up with two more triples within two minutes to well and truly seal the deal for the Jets and take home a 27 point win.

Falling agonisingly short of a triple-double Vodanovich starred for the Jets amassing 19 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists in what was a stats stuffing performance. Bezzant also left his mark knocking back 24 points while McQueen slotted 17 points of his own. All of the starting five for the Jets recorded double figures for points with Kirksey nailing 12 and Samuel finishing with 10 while Walker also sunk 13. On the other hand only three players managed to reach double figures for the Giants with Ingham posting 19 points and six rebounds, Karena (14 points, four rebounds) and Trathen (10 points, nine rebounds, four assists).

The Giants front up tonight in a quick turnaround to play Taranaki Mountainairs, while the Jets take to the court over the weekend in back-to-back games against Otago Nuggets and Auckland Huskies.

Huskies claim upset win over second placed Nuggets

THE Auckland Huskies stunned the second place Otago Nuggets in a full four quarter performance to run out 12-point victors (81-69) in the Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) last night. The Huskies led throughout the game, stopping the normally free scoring Nuggets in their tracks and controlling the tempo of the game with their attacking prowess.

OTAGO NUGGETS 18 | 20 | 13 | 18 (69)
AUCKLAND HUSKIES 23 | 21 | 17 | 20 (81)

[ … FULL MATCH STATS … ]

Jordan Ngatai struck first for the Nuggets with the big man converting the first layup of the game before Marvin Williams-Dunn delivered for the Huskies with a triple. From there on in the play seemed to lie with the Huskies as Leon Henry chimed in with a three-pointer to push his side out to a solid lead. The ball ebbed and flowed across the court with neither side able to capitalise on their chances with Taine Murray and Otago Nuggets star, Jarrod Kenny missing a couple of shots. Ngatai seemed to be the only one able to apply any sort of scoreboard pressure for the Nuggets, while Auckland shared the load around with the likes of Izayah Mauriohooho Le’Afa and Tohi Smith-Milner asserting themselves on the contest. It was not until the six-and-a-half-minute mark that someone other than Ngatai hit the scoreboard for the Nuggets with Jordan Hunt stepping up to the plate to cut the deficit to one point. With the Nuggets pushing hard, Smith-Milner upped the ante in attack dropping back-to-back points to re-establish a four-point lead. The insertion of Darcy Knox into the game worked wonders for Otago with the Nuggets attacking the basket and using his frame to have an influence across the boards. With just over three minutes left in the quarter Kane Keil converted from a free-throw, keeping his side within striking distance of the Huskies, before a big final couple of minutes saw Auckland blow the lead back out to five points mainly thanks to Nathan Wilson.

The second quarter delivered very similar results for the Nuggets, who were unable to implement their signature style of play instead succumbing to the pressure of the Huskies. In the opening minutes of the quarter Richie Roger showcased his ability to shoot from range, sinking a triple with teammate Josh Aitcheson quickly following up on his good work to also slot a triple and reduce the margin to one point once again. Steadily drawing closer, Wilson held his nerve laying an impressive dunk and the converting again moments later for the Huskies. Despite the best efforts of Kenny, Auckland seemed unfazed, going about their business until Akiva McBirney-Griffin slammed one home for Otago to level the scores with just under seven minutes remaining in the term. The increased intensity saw the ball bubble around with both teams struggling to hit the scoreboard but it was Murray to break the stalemate first and send his side somewhat into a scoring spree. Murray was involved in everything, while Henry also chimed in, pushing the Huskies out to an 11-point lead but the Nuggets refused to give in stringing together a solid couple of minutes to dwindle the lead back down to six at half-time.

Continuing their hot start to the game, it did not take long for Mauriohooho Le’Afa to convert and extend the lead for Auckland. Having somewhat of a quieter quarter, Smith-Milner quickly got back into the thick of things while the Nuggets struggled to maintain possession with a couple of sloppy passes and missed shots at goal. Murray found his stroke from beyond the arc, sinking a nice three while for the Nuggets, Ngatai and Aitcheson stood up under the pressure to draw back the lead. The combination of Mauriohooho Le’Afa and Murray was proving too hard to handle for Otago, with the duo running rings around their opposition. Much like the patch in the second quarter, both sides were at a standstill unable to knock back points and feeling each other out. But it was the Nuggets that blinked first, gifting the Huskies with a chance to stream down court and convert for the first time in over two minutes. With the lead out at 13 points, the Nuggets looked to the bench to provide some fresh legs but it was Rogers that delivered sinking a much needed triple before Ngatai got his side back within seven points. But a big shot from Reuben Fitzgerald, stopped the Nuggets in their tracks heading into the final change.

Kenny upped the ante in defence with a clever block finished off by Ngatai who gobbled up the rebound but simply could not convert. With a sense of urgency in their play and desperation to win ball back and score the Nuggets line-up contested everything that came their way but were plagued by inaccuracy, while the Huskies withstood that rush of momentum as Smith-Milner continued his merry way nailing back-to-back threes. Extending the lead to 14 points at the half way mark of the final term, Ngatai and Aitcheson took control for the Nuggets but it was simply not enough to offset the Huskies who could sense their second win. Despite a strong couple of minutes from Otago to reduce the margin to a mere eight points the closest they had been in the second half, Williams-Dunn crushed any hopes nailing the next four points.

Ngatai dominated for the Nuggets, sinking a team high 19 points along with eight rebounds and three assists. The next closest for the Nuggets was Hunt with 12 points and seven rebounds while Aitcheson managed a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. For the Huskies, Murray showcased his scoring prowess with 19 points, five rebounds and three assists to his name. Teammate Smith-Milner was hot on his tail when it came to scoreboard contribution with 17 while his 10 defensive rebounds capped off a stellar performance. Mauriohooho Le’Afa and Henry also managed double digits for their side with 12 and 11 points respectively but it was Henry’s rebounding ability that really shone recording 14 for the night, in what was a team effort from the bottom of the table Huskies.

2020 Sal’s NBL July 7 night preview: Nuggets v. Huskies and Bulls v. Airs

WEEK 3 of New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) action kickstarts with the top two sides in the Franklin Bulls and Otago Nuggets taking on the bottom two teams in the competition, Taranaki Mountainairs and Auckland Huskies. Each team has shown throughout the season that they have the ability to burst out the blocks and wow the opposition making for an exciting night of action.

OTAGO NUGGETS v. AUCKLAND HUSKIES

Currently sitting second on the ladder it could be argued that the Otago Nuggets have the upper hand heading into the clash, but the Huskies have proven that they can score quickly and easily when on song despite only winning one game for the season so far. The Nuggets are a formidable unit, with a wealth of players able to pop up and ply their trade across the boards while the Huskies tend to rely upon the services of one key player.

When it comes to scoring the Nuggets sit third while their opponents take out last place, often unable to generate scoring opportunities.  The Nuggets average 91.6 points per game showcasing their attacking mindset and freedom in which they can score at. On the other hand the Huskies only manage an average of 77.6 points per game, meaning they will have their work cut out for them against Otago considering the 13 point differential between the two sides.

In terms of rebounding the Huskies have the upper hand with Auckland averaging 41.4 a game, a clear testament to their skill around the rim and desperation to win the ball back whether it be offensively or defensively. The Huskies will be hoping to exploit the Nuggets weakness in this area with Otago only registering an average of 37 per game the lowest of any team in the competition.

It will be up to Izayah Mauriohooho Le’Afa to stand up for the Huskies with the guard leading the charge when it comes to scoring with an average of 18 points a game. His efforts don’t stop there, with Mauriohooho Le’Afa contributing on the rebound front with 4.7 and leads the assist column with an average of 4.7 per game. Teammate, Taine Murray has also been solid on the scoreboard with an average of 13.2 while Leon Henry has stamped his authority averaging a double-double thanks to his 10.5 points and 10.8 rebounds a game.

For the Nuggets the load has been relatively evenly spread despite Jordan Ngatai dominating for his side. The big man is a commanding presence across the court able to have an influence both in offence and defence averaging a whopping 19.6 points and also gobbling up 5.6 rebounds each time he steps out on court. Excitement machine Jarrod Kenny can turn a game on its head in the blink of an eye with the 34-year-old able to shoot the lights out and dish off dimes willy nilly. Kenny averages 12.4 points and 4.8 assists a game proving to be a real playmaker for Otago while the efforts of Jordan Hunt (14.8 points) and Joshua Aitcheson (10 points) do not go unnoticed, making them a very hard team to overcome.

Ngatai will definitely be one to watch for the Huskies if they are any chance to register another win for the season, while expect the Nuggets to put a lot of time into shutting down the influence of Mauriohooho Le Afa. Coming off a loss the Huskies will be desperate to notch up their second victory of the season and really try to get some respectability back on the scoreboard. But with their fourth win in sight and the potential to leapfrog the Bulls into top spot expect the Nuggets to throw everything they have at Auckland to get the job well and truly done.

FRANKLIN BULLS v. TARANAKI MOUNTAINAIRS

 In the second game of the night, the top placed Franklin Bulls take on the Taranaki Mountainairs who have had an up and down campaign so far but are only one game off the top team. With three wins under their belt the Mountainairs will have plenty of belief that they can knock off the top of the table Bulls and jump up the ladder. However the Bulls are coming off a strong showing and on a four game winning spree, a feat they will be hoping to continue tonight.

When it comes to scoreboard impact that is where the Mountainairs can well and truly flex their muscles averaging a whopping 102.5 points per game while their opponents sit second last with 78.5 points, something the Airs will be hoping to take advantage of. Their ability to score with haste and accuracy makes them a real threat to the Bulls able to burst out of the blocks and pile on the pressure.

Another strength for the Mountainairs is their rebounding ability, averaging the highest in the league with 49.7 displaying their ability to impose themselves around the rim and limit their opposition’s chance of regaining possession. The Bulls however are not as proficient in this area sitting fifth in the competition for rebounds with an average of 41.2 which is still impressive.

Although the Airs are a strong attacking team the Bulls have proven to be a tricky team to score against, given their defensive work. The Bulls are cautious with ball in hand, treasuring each possession and only averaging 12.5 turnovers each game, the least amount of any team but the Airs can be sloppy with ball in hand averaging 14.5.

The Bulls have a wealth of options that can hit the scoreboard none more prominent than Isaac Davidson with 17.5 points per game. The youngster has been a focal point in the Bulls line-up able to apply scoreboard pressure, take the court for an average of 30 plus minutes and dish off a dime every now and then. Teammate, Dominique Kelman-Poto has also been influential for the Bulls and will be eager to continue his run of hot form, currently averaging 12.3 points and 6.7 rebounds. Samuel Timmins (12.2 points) and Nikau McCullough (10.2 points) are also valuable avenues to the basket for the Bulls showcasing the plethora of options they have when it comes to posting a commanding tally.

Taranaki have five players averaging over double digits in the points scoring column with Derone Raukawa leading the charge. Raukawa has proven to be a scoring machine for the Airs constantly delivering at the basket and rising up to the challenge time and time again, averaging a whopping 22.5 points per game while also registering 7.3 assists. Averaging a double-double, Marcel Jones will be one to watch for the Bulls with Jones able to explode out of the blocks securing an average of 17.7 points and 15.5 rebounds. Shane Temara and Kenneth Tuffin are other key members of the Airs side with the duo able to knock back shots while youngster Francis Mulvihill is exciting to watch with his drive to the basket  and vision to pass off to teammates.

It will be an enthralling battle with both sides boasting stacked line ups. Despite sitting at vastly different ends of the table expect this match to go down to the wire with the Airs able to fight back from commanding deficits credit to their scoring prowess.

Mountainairs stun Nuggets with 68-point second half

COMING off a loss last night the Taranaki Mountainairs came out with a real fire in the belly downing the Otago Nuggets (107-81). It was a game of two halves with the Airs taking full control in the second half and going on a scoring spree to overrun the Nuggets who simply could not keep up with the frenetic pace of the game.

TARANAKI MOUNTAINAIRS 20 | 19 | 37 | 31 (107)
OTAGO NUGGETS 26 | 20 | 19 | 16 (81)

[ … FULL MATCH STATS … ]

It was a shaky opening couple of minutes for both sides, littered with turnovers, forcing the ball to swing up and down the court. But the Nuggets were the first team to settle with Kane Keil delivering and Jordan Hunt quickly following suit. 

After not hitting the scoreboard in his previous outing and opting to share the ball around, Jarrod Kenny announced himself for the Nuggets hitting an important triple and backing it up hitting three consecutive threes. With five minutes left in the quarter the Nuggets seemed to have the control establishing a commanding nine point lead 7-16. The good times kept on rolling for Otago with big man Jordan Ngatai sinking a huge triple from down town before Marcel Jones fired back for the Airs in what turned out to be a good old fashioned three point shoot out with both sides knocking back a collective eight triples before quarters end.

The free scoring continued with Francis Mulvihill kicking off his campaign in style amassing nine points for the term. Despite both teams shooting from range they were plagued by inaccuracy, unable to capitalise on their scoring opportunities and often sending the ball rocketing down the other end in the blink of an eye given the speed of the game. The quarter was dictated by the Nuggets and their perimeter passing along with their vision to look long down the court and deliver to a teammate on the break holding a six point lead. 

The second quarter was just as exciting with the Mountainairs able to dwindle down the lead by a point at half time. Shane Temara got the Airs off to a good start sinking a timely jump shot before Kenneth Tuffin chimed in with his strength around the rim to drag down a couple of big rebounds and impressive block. With increased pressure across the court it was starting to show on the scoreboard with the Airs sitting at 39 per cent and Nuggets at 38 for field goals showcasing just how intense the battle was. 

Struggling to get into the game Derone Raukawa found his stroke hitting his first points of the game at the six and a half minute mark to reduce the margin to a mere one point. Moments later things were all tied up with the Airs pushing hard. But the class of Ngatai shone true with the Nuggets big man on song and  finding his stroke with ease, while his sides slick ball movement caused havoc for the opposition. Raukawa continued his good form using his burst of speed to explode out of the blocks and score but was rivalled by Hunt for Otago. 

Despite the Mountainairs getting back within one point midway through the term the Nuggets managed to push the lead back out to five points credit to the likes of Ngatai and Hunt who were hungry for the ball and able to convert when within range. 

With play seeming to rest with the Nuggets the Airs came out with a renewed sense of intensity and hunger, suffocating their opponents every move. Their offensive pressure was well and truly up with Mulvihill hitting the scoreboard with ease especially when it came to shooting from beyond the arc while Temara elevated his game even further. The duo dominated heavily in the opening couple of minutes of play with Jones also having an influence. 

Tuffin continued to find his stride, sitting at 15 points for the game with just under seven minutes left in the quarter. The efforts of Temara and Jones did not go unnoticed with the two hustling hard to win the ball back for the Airs and peg away at the deficit. 

Team efforts from Taranaki saw the side take the lead at the seven minute mark and while Ngatai level things at 56 points apiece Raukawa fired back, sinking two from two at his free throw to regain some control of the game. Although Jones struggled to make his jump shot it did not seem to trouble the steam train that was the Mountainairs in the third term, out rebounding their opponents 38-22 and scoring with ease. The youngster in Carlin Davison started to have an impact for the Airs, finding the rim with ease and most importantly delivering, catching the Nuggets off-guard to a certain extent. 

The Airs seemed to have all the momentum in the final minutes of the quarter with the Mountainairs taking the lead and extending it to a whopping 11 points. It was a complete performance from Taranaki in the third quarter with the side piling on a staggering 37 points while restricting the Nuggets to 17 in comparison. 

With the win up for grabs, the Airs did not look like backing down with Jones sinking it from down town and subsequently pushing the lead out to 15. As the game went on the Airs played with more and more confidence with Raukawa and Temara seeming to have the ball on a string. 

Despite the best efforts of Ngatai and Kenny it was simply not enough to get their side back in the contest with the Nuggets only managing 27 points for the second half compared to the Airs who went on a tear with 57 points. The Mountainairs played with speed and were simply unstoppable with the ball pinging across the court and players shooting from here there and everywhere to run out with an impressive 26 point victory. 

All of the Airs starting five reached double figures with Raukawa top scoring with 23 points along with four rebounds and six assists. Temara was next best with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Mulvihill was not far behind with 17 points while Jones starred with a whopping double-double consisting of 15 points and 18 rebounds. 

For the Nuggets it was a three man show with Ngatai leading all comers with his 22 points while efforts from Kenny (18 points, six rebounds) and Hunt (16 points, seven rebounds) shone true but was not enough to get over the top of a rampaging Airs side.

Huskies claim first scalp of the season with impressive win

YET to register a win this season, the Auckland Huskies pulled out their bag of tricks, getting the job done against the Taranaki Mountainairs in the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) Showdown. With the lead getting out to as much as 20 points plus throughout the game the Huskies walked away with a 16 point victory (109-93). The Huskies were on song from the opening quarter finding their shooting stroke and making the Airs pay with their accuracy from both inside and outside the arc.

TARANAKI MOUNTAINAIRS 28 | 16 | 20 | 29 (93)
AUCKLAND HUSKIES 32 | 34 | 21 | 22 (109)

[ … FULL MATCH STATS … ]

The Huskies struck first with Izayah Mauriohooho Le’afa taking no time at all to assert himself on the game, draining a three after what was a disappointing outing the game before. Mauriohoohoo Le’afa proved to not only be a real playmaker in the opening quarter but so too scoring prospect with his ability to shoot from range or dish off to teammates. For the Airs, Derone Raukawa was solid, opening the account for his side with an important shot but his efforts were quickly quashed with Mauriohoohoo Le’afa and Taine Murray draining back-to-back threes to open up a seven point lead with just over seven and a half minutes left in the term.

Despite the best efforts of the Airs, the Huskies refused to take their foot off the pedal pressing at every opportunity and most importantly converting. Marcel Jones slowly started to build into the game, finding his rhythm to basket and knocking back a crucial three to reduce the margin to 10 points. From there on the Airs seemed to wrestle some momentum back from their opponents stringing together some strong passages of play with Raukawa and Jones having a huge influence. With the margin hovering at the 10 point mark the Huskies tried to pull away pushing out it out to 11 points but the Airs did not lie down instead a Kenneth Tuffin inspired couple of minutes saw the lead diminish to five points, after sinking a huge three pointer and proving he was here to play. The intensity lifted from both sides, with neither willing to give an inch. 

Despite getting within one point in the opening minute of the quarter thanks to a handy long bomb from Jones, the Huskies snaffled that pressure, denying the Airs any opportunity to go to the rim only managing a mere 16 points for the term. Auckland simply had a hand in everything, spearheaded by Mauriohooho Le’afa who was causing headaches for the Airs across the boards. Australian NBL Melbourne Boomers player Tohi Smith-Milner showcased his skill getting involved in the action to put some points on the board and establish a more commanding lead for the Huskies.

Moments later Leon Henry lent his hand to the points scoring tally with a jump shot while Mauriohooho Le’afa continued his merry way, finding the basket with ease. For the Airs, Raukawa and Jones plied their trade, working tirelessly to win ball back and apply offensive pressure but simply could not do enough to worry the Huskies who seemed in control. Tuffin and Tai Wynyard also impressed in the early stages of the quarter but were quickly overrun with the Huskies exploiting their opponents’ every weakness. Murray was a constant for Auckland with Nathan Wilson also contributing. Within a blink of an eye the Huskies were out to a commanding lead notching up 66 points at half time and shooting at 71 per cent in what was a complete turnaround from their outing on Sunday. 

Holding a 22-point lead the Huskies did not look like giving up any time soon and despite both sides going toe-to-toe throughout the term did not lose their cool. Wynyard landed the first blow of the second half, converting a free throw while teammate Denhym Brooke chimed in moments later with another free throw to get back within 20 points. But it did not take long for Auckland to find their range with Smith-Milner imposing himself.

The ball bubbled about with both teams almost going goal for goal throughout the team. Despite having a wealth of the play in the mid part of the quarter the Airs simply could not convert, letting the Huskies off the hook multiple times. Efforts from Henry and Murray  did not go unnoticed for Auckland with the two getting their hands to plenty of ball but a flurry from the Mountainairs in the final five minutes of the quarter provided plenty of excitement with Taranaki dwindling the margin down to the lowest of the second half to 15.

Anamata Haku delivered the settler for the Huskies sparking his side back into attack while Wilson also got busy with less than two minutes left on the clock. Heading into the final change the Huskies held a 23-point buffer with Mauriohooho Le’afa wreaking havoc. 

With their first win in sight the Huskies put pedal to the medal but it was not without pressure as the Airs worked to reduce the margin. Strong performances from the likes of Tuffin and Jones the Mountainairs seemed to find their groove in offence able to hit the scoreboard while Mitchell Dance provided a much needed spark sinking them from inside the post with confidence.

After somewhat of a quiet game Francis Mulvihill also found his stroke delivering a crucial three-pointer to get his side back within 18 points. Following in Mulvihill’s footsteps, Raukawa knocked one back from down town with the deficit standing at 15 points with five minutes to go. With the Airs coming hard, Mauriohooho Le’afa stood up to push the margin back out before Shane Temara sunk back-to-back threes to give his side a fighting chance with the deficit standing at 10 points but it was little too late with the Huskies doing enough earlier in the game to secure their inaugural win. 

The scoring was shared for the Airs with Raukawa and Tuffin finishing with 19 points apiece while Raukawa dished off nine dimes for the game. Recording a double-double for his efforts Jones collected 13 rebounds to go with his 14 points with teammate Mulvihill the only other to reach double figures with 11. For the Huskies it is no surprise that Mauriohooho Le’afa took out the number top scorer with 20 points, five rebounds and seven assists.

Next best was Henry who like Jones collected a double-double finishing with 18 points and 14 rebounds but his performance was marred by an incident with Raukawa. Henry was charged with “unduly rough play” and offered a two game suspension for his actions. Three other players also hit double points with Smith-Milner registering 16 while Murray and Wilson sunk 15 apiece in a strong outing by the Huskies. 

Nuggets get it done in tight battle with Jets

IN the first game for both the Manawatu Jets and Otago Nuggets, it did not take long for the Jets to open the scoring. After getting into the groove and momentum of the game both sides found it easy to score, unleashing an enthralling battle to watch with neither side willing to take a backwards step. The game went down to the wire as number one pick Jordan Ngatai landed the match-winning three-pointer in the dying seconds of the game to give the Nuggets the first win of the season (104-100).

MANAWATU JETS 24 | 33 | 16 | 27 (100)
OTAGO NUGGETS 25 | 26 | 27 | 26 (104)

[ … FULL MATCH STATS … ]

The Jets got off to a screamer, peppering away at the scoreboard and most importantly converting opening up a 6-0 lead. Tanae Samuels was the first to inflict pain on the scoreboard while the highly touted Tom Vodanovich got involved in the scoring moments later sinking a shot from outside the arc. Big man Ngatai inserted himself in the play for the Nuggets but was unable to hit the scoreboard the first couple of tries instead leaving it to Joshua Aitcheson who landed the first blow for his side with a well played layup.

However that was quickly overshadowed with Vodanovich displaying his long-range shooting and hitting back to back threes proving he was a force to be reckoned with. The Jets were not afraid to play the ball around and shoot from down town as Jayden Bezzant proved a key playmaker. The point guard left many in awe with his good handles and ability to dish off dimes in limited space. Bezzant and Vodanovich were combining for just about everything with the two lighting up the court while the Nuggets struggled to hit the scoreboard.

But the tables started to slightly turn as Otago well and truly worked their way back into the quarter thanks to Jarrod Kenny and his strong drive down court. Down 16-4 at one stage the Nuggets reduced the margin to 16-12 at the four minute mark before really putting their foot down and overpowering the Jets in the dying stages of the quarter to claim a one point lead. 

Holding the slimmest of leads at the break the Nuggets had every intention of maintaining that lead with Kenny driving the ball down the court. With the ball bobbling up and down the court it was the Nuggets who settled first claiming a couple of crucial shots before the Jets kicked it up a gear. Inspired by Hyrum Harris and his defensive pressure the Jets were able to generate some attacking forays that saw Samuels convert and take back the lead.

With a wealth of pressure on both teams the lead chopped and changed throughout the term coming to somewhat of a stalemate midway through the team with neither side able to add to their tally such was the inaccuracy and pressure. Ngatai jumped into the thick of things for the Nuggets knocking down a crucial three to push his sides lead out to five points.

Despite things seemingly being on their terms, the Jets stood up to the challenge as Bezzant got busy both on the scoreboard and in terms of playmaking while Vodanovich and Nicholas Fee also got involved, with the latter draining a three retaking the lead with less than three minutes on the clock. Heading into half-time with a six point lead Vodanovich had all but showcased his sheer dominance thanks to 17 points while Bezzant had 14 points. For the Nuggets, Ngatai led the way with 12 points, four rebounds and three assists.

Otago went on a scoring spree in the third quarter knocking back 27 points to 16 in what was an inspired effort. Controlling majority of the play the Jets were quick to add to the scoreboard in the third, with Vodanovich and Harris working well in offence. But the tables slowly started to turn as Jordan Hunt upped the ante for the Nuggets and Kenny got busy hitting the scoreboard.

Input from the likes of Kane Keil and Akiva McBirney-Griffin saw the Nuggets generate even more attacking power and slowly cut the deficit. As the quarter wore on Otago overtook their opponents to take a five point lead credit to their grit and determination to keep the Jets at bay and apply their own offensive masterclass,  

The last quarter delivered plenty of intensity with scores drawing level once again showcasing just how tight the game was. Kenny continued to star doing both the offensive and defensive things well for the Jets. the pace of the game did not let up with both teams streaming down the court and applying a wealth of offensive pressure.

Samuels was a prominent threat for the Jets in the last quarter but it was the efforts of Kenny that stood head and shoulders above everyone else on the court. The 35-year-old was simply in everything, seeming to have the ball on a string and was aggressive on the offensive end tying things up with two minutes left on the clock.

Missing the first free-throw, Darcy Knox did not make the same mistake twice, sinking the second with 44 seconds left on the clock. The ball streamed down the court with Bezzant missing the layup and the ball ending up in the hands of Ngatai who despite having a quiet second half, stood up to the pressure delivering the all important three-pointer. 

It is no surprise that Vodanovich secured a double-double with 28 points and a whopping 14 rebounds, Bezzant top-scored with 30 points and five rebounds while Samuels knocked back 20 points. Harris, while he did not have a huge impact on the scoreboard, managed to reel in 11 rebounds credit to his defensive positioning. For the victors, Kenny wowed with his 28 points and six assists while Ngatai slotted a double-double with his 19 points and 10 rebounds.