Tag: Alex Talma

2021 NZNBL team review: Canterbury Rams

IN the wake of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) coming to a close over the weekend, Draft Central will run through each of the 10 competing sides to look at the key stats and players of the 2021 season. The series continues with Canterbury Rams.

SEASON SUMMARY:

Position: 5th
Wins: 9
Losses: 9

KEY STATS:

Points: 86.1 (5th)
Rebounds: 37.9 (2nd)
Assists: 16.8 (eq. 5th)
Steals: 8.4 (2nd)
Blocks: 1.6 (9th)
Field Goal %: 44.8 (8th)

KEY PLAYERS:

Deshon Taylor

Producing an all-round impressive performance for the Rams, Taylor was consistent across the board, playing in all 18 games and having an impact. One of only four players to run out in every game, and one of only two to start every game, Taylor finished the season with a team-high 8.3 rebounds, and finished second in points (18.1), assists (4.6) and steals (1.7), able to use the ball effectively in transition. Taylor also was deadly from long-range, nailing 40 three-pointers at 40.8 per cent efficiency, whilst going at 49.4 per cent from the field overall. When at the line, Taylor was reasonably reliable two, with a 73.5 per cent efficiency.

Looking at his best performances, it was hard to go past his sole double-double performance of 33 points, 10 rebounds – four offensive – six assists and two steals, one of four 30-plus point performances in 2021. Three of those four came in a 16-day streak, putting up 31, 35 and 33-point efforts, to average 29.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.8 steals. He did not dip into single-digits once, and only had five games below 20 points, four of which came in his first five games, showing how consistent he was from late May until the finish line.

EJ Singler

Showing all of his ANBL experience, Singler was a star for the Bulls, sharing the top two spots in all the key statistical areas with Taylor. Finishing second on the team for rebounds (4.8), he led the way with points (22.9), assists (4.8) and steals (2.5), providing serious impact across the court at both ends. Putting up a third of his three-point attempts, Singler shot at around 45.3 per cent from the field, making 40 of 121 three-point attempts. From the foul line he was almost a monty, nailing 100 of 113 at 88.5 per cent accuracy. Along with Taylor, Singler was the only other starter in every one of the 18 games.

Singler did not quite have the consistency of Taylor, with a slow start to the season off limited minutes, but then a ridiculous game of 41 points mid-season. In the end, he had six games of 20-plus points, with the 41-point effort against Taranaki Mountainairs, accompanied by nine assists, seven rebounds and three steals. He had some massive games off the boards though, picking up six double-doubles with points and rebounds, of which the highest combination was his 26 points and 13 rebounds, and his closest to a triple-double being 17 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and four steals coming against Franklin Bulls on May 22.

OTHERS:

Quintin Bailey contributed across all 18 games on his way to 8.7 points and 3.6 rebounds, with Alex Talma (7.2 points, 4.6 rebounds) the other player to run out in every match. Jack Salt only managed half a season due to injury, but the dominant big man managed the 13.3 points and 8.7 rebounds in nine matches, while Max Darling put up 12.0 points and 5.4 rebounds in seven. Sam Smith (6.9 points, 3.6 rebounds) was the other player to hold up well throughout season 2021.

SUMMARY:

The Canterbury Rams were never an easy team to play against, and whilst they missed out on the NZNBL finals, they won nine games at a 50 per cent winning ratio. One cannot help but think had Salt (injury) and Darling (ANBL commitments) been available the whole season, that finals may well have been a reality for the Rams.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Sharks and Hawks wrap up regular season with wins

SOUTHLAND Sharks and Hawkes Bay Hawks will head into the Final Four on the back of victories, following their wins to open the final round of New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) action. The Sharks toppled the Canterbury Rams by 13 points in their clash, whilst the Hawks proved far too strong for the bottom two Manawatu Jets, posting a huge 28-point victory in front of home fans.

The Sharks might have recorded a comfortable win but it was far from easy, losing both the first two quarters to trail by nine points at half-time. They managed to cut the deficit to seven by the final break, but looked in real danger of dropping the home game at ILT Stadium. Luckily a dominant final term which saw them smash the Rams out of the park courtesy of a 33-13 final term, resulted in the Sharks getting up 100-87.

Southland was more accurate from the field, shooting at 55 per cent from both inside and outside the arc, nailing 15 of 27 from three-point range compared to the Rams’ nine of 26 (34 per cent). The Sharks also led the rebounds (39-34), assists (25-12), blocks 2-0) and points in the paint (40-30). There was some good news for the Rams who had less turnovers (15-18) and therefore had more points from turnovers (18-16), as well as more second chance points (15-9), bench points (25-23) and steals (11-9).

Dom Kelman-Poto was simply unstoppable on his way to the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award courtesy of 28 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, shooting three of six from beyond the arc. Similarly, Josh Cunningham had the 21 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals, while Brayden Inger knocked down three triples – albeit from 10 attempts – for 11 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Courtney Belger (13 points, 10 assists and three rebounds) and Toby Gillooly (10 points) also reached double-figures for the Sharks.

Deshon Taylor was a one-man machine, putting up 31 points, as well as five rebounds, three assists and two steals. EJ Singler produced another memorable outing with three triples to total 16 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals. Jack Salt (nine points, 10 rebounds) came close to a double-double, whilst Joe Cook-Green (nine points, four rebounds) and Alex Talma (eight points) were steady off the bench.

Hawkes Bay Hawks did not have any issues – aside from a second quarter lapse – in posting a big 28-point win over Manawatu Jets. The Hawks dominated the first term with a 28-13 quarter before the Jets responded with a 21-14 term of their own. With the game back to eight points, the Hawks reestablished themselves as a dominant force, putting up a whopping 54 points to 34 in the second half to run away with the contest, 96-68.

The Hawks won every single statistic, with more accuracy from the field (42 to 32 per cent), rebounds (59-45) and assists (15-5) all heavily in their favour. They also had more steals (6-3) and blocks (4-3), as well as more points in the paint (42-26), second chance points (19-11), points from turnovers (12-6) and bench points (27-11).

There was little doubting the MVP in the game, as Devondrick Walker blitzed his way to 35 points – more than half the entire opposition’s score – as well as five rebounds and two steals, which included seven of 14 from beyond the arc. Rhys Vague (15 points, nine rebounds) and Ethan Rusbatch (14 points, two rebounds) both held up well in the starting side, with Jonathan Janssen (12 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two blocks) the best off the bench. Hyrum Harris (five points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals) contributed outside the scoreboard.

Daishon Knight led the scoring for the Jets with a hard-working double-double effort of 20 points and 12 rebounds, as well as three assists. Jayden Bezzant (15 points, four rebounds) and Nikau McCullough (14 points, two rebounds) chipped in with some solid numbers, whilst Finn Lally (six points, seven rebounds and two blocks) and Matangirei Hipango (five points, four rebounds) were the next best for the Jets.

The two winners head to the Final Four with a nice break to rest up, whilst for the Rams and Jets, they take on Otago Nuggets and Nelson Giants tomorrow and Sunday respectively.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Huskies fight back to post narrow win over Rams

AUCKLAND Huskies have fought back from an early deficit to post a five-point win over Canterbury Rams and keep in touch with the top few sides in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) last night. The Huskies trailed by eight points at quarter time, but won the final three quarters to swing the momentum in their favour, and led by teenage talent Dontae Nance, were able to come away with the 83-78 victory.

Canterbury Rams threatened to spoil the Huskies’ homecoming early with a 23-15 first term to lead by eight points at quarter time. The Huskies immediately responded in the second term to take control with a 23-18 quarter and cut the deficit to three points by the main break. They built on that momentum in the third quarter with a 22-18 term and grabbed the narrowest of leads with 10 minutes to play despite the Rams leading for the majority of the third term. Early in the fourth the visitors stole back the lead, and then did so again late, with Canterbury up by a point with 2:06 on the clock. The Huskies scored 10 of the last 12 points to run over the top of the Rams and secure the memorable win.

Both teams were fairly even with their shooting accuracy, as they looked to get inside for their source of scoreboard pressure, and the Huskies lead marginally in the rebounds (40-39) and assists (15-11), as well as the blocks (6-1), second chance points (14-5) and bench points (18-10). With less turnovers (18-20), they also capitalised with more points from turnovers (20-12), whilst the Rams had more steals (11-8) and additional points in the paint (40-34).

Nance won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) on the night, putting up a team-high 18 points – including three of eight from long-range – four rebounds, four steals and three assists, not missing a second of action. Justin Bibbs (17 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists) was also busy, whilst Zach Riley (16 points, four rebounds and two assists) was the top pick off the bench. Chris Johnson racked up another double-double of 14 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and four blocks, while Thomas Vodanovich hit double-figure points with 14 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

For the Rams, Deshon Taylor was the clear standout, picking up a match-high 24 points – three of six from three-point range – six rebounds, four steals and three assists, whilst EJ Singler helped himself to 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Alex Talma had the 13 points and four rebounds, while Sam Smith (seven points, four rebounds and two assists) and Quintin Bailey (six points, seven rebounds) were also lively despite the loss.

Canterbury Rams front up again on Sunday to host the Taranaki Mountainairs, with Auckland Huskies having a break until the following Sunday when they travel to face the top of the table Southland Sharks.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Rams deflate Airs early as Saints produce record-breaking third term

TWO separate stunning single quarter efforts from Canterbury Rams and Wellington Saints proved to be the difference in their respective New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) clashes overnight. The Rams deflated the Taranaki Mountainairs in the opening term with a 37-point quarter to all but suck the life out of the contest on the road on their way to an 18-point win, whilst the Saints blew the Manawatu Jets away in the third quarter with a dominant 43-point term to win by 23 points.

Canterbury Rams powered to an 18-point advantage at quarter time courtesy of a stunning 37-point first term, which ultimately proved the difference between the sides. The Rams pushed it out to 20 points at the half, and whilst the Airs did win the third term, the visitors settled in the last to run out 103-85 winners, not losing control of the lead from the midpoint of the first term, and almost getting out to a 30-point advantage.

The Rams shot at an impressive 55 per cent from the field, ahead of the Airs’ 47 per cent, shooting a massive 12 triples from 26 attempts, as the home team struggled from long-range, converting just three of 19. Taranaki also won the assists (23-18) and steals (17-13) in a high turnover game as the teams combined for 53 turnovers (27-26 towards the Rams). The Rams had 28 points from turnovers compared to the Airs’ 25, whilst also winning the bench points (22-18). Taranaki won the rebounds (36-33), blocks (4-2), points in the paint (56-42) and second chance points (17-8).

EJ Singler produced arguably the best performances of the season for the Rams, not missing a single shot from 16 field goals attempts for a massive 41 points – six triples – as well as nine assists, seven rebounds, three steals and no turnovers in a stunning effort. Deshon Taylor (20 points, five rebounds and five steals) chipped in, but by contrast had 10 turnovers. Alex Talma (12 points, five rebounds) and Mason Whittaker (10 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals) also hit double-figure points.

For the Airs, Tai Wynyard topped the scoring with 16 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals, while Marcel Jones notched up another double-double of 15 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and three steals. Haize Walker (13 points, three rebounds), Carlin Davison (12 points, five rebounds and two assists), Francis Mulvihill (11 points, three steals and two assists) and Dru-Leo Leusogi-Ape (11 points, three rebounds and three steals) all had double-figure points.

In the other match, the impressive Wellington Saints were well matched by the plucky Manawatu Jets for a half, before putting the foot down in the third term. Leading by just four points at half-time, the Saints stepped up the intensity for a stunning 43 points to 13 in the third term to blow it out to a game-high 34-point final break lead. The Jets to their credit did reel it in a little with a 30-19 term, but despite their strong finish could not cut the deficit back enough and the Saints won, 100-77.

The Saints were deadly from three-point range which was the difference, shooting at 41 per cent – 18 of 43 – to the Jets’ 28 per cent – eight of 28 – for a total efficiency of 47 to 45 per cent. They also lead the rebounds (45-32), assists (21-9), second chance points (16-14) and points from turnovers (19-13), and had three less turnovers (10-13). Manawatu won the steals (6-5), blocks (4-1) and bench points (32-23) and were at least impressive from inside the arc (20 of 34 for a 58 per cent efficiency).

Tohi Smith-Milner won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award for the night with 21 points – four of seven from long-range – nine rebounds and two assists. Kerwin Roach Jr also picked up a double-double of 14 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Dion Prewster (16 points, eight assists and six assists), Ken Tuffin (15 points, two assists) and Taane Samuel (11 points, eight rebounds) also stood out in a really strong starting five performance for the Saints.

Daishon Knight was the clear best for the Jets, putting up 25 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals in an all-round effort. Deandre Daniels hit 14 points, five rebounds and two assists, whilst coming off the bench, Nikau McCullough produced four of 10 from long-range for 16 points from 22 minutes, as well as four rebounds. Kalib Marsich-Mullins (10 points, two rebounds) also held his own in 20 minutes on court.

Canterbury Rams have a Thursday night road trip in a few days up against Auckland Huskies, whilst Wellington Saints take on Hawkes Bay Hawks on Friday night. In other matches, Taranaki Mountainairs then face the Saints on Saturday, before Manawatu Jets front up against the Hawks on Sunday.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Timmins’ triple-double leads Nuggets to win over Rams

A MASSIVE triple-double to big man Sam Timmins has helped Otago Nuggets grab an important win on the road and keep in touch with the top few sides in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL). Sitting fourth heading into the contest, the Nuggets needed to grab the points to stay within striking distance of the top three sides and hold off their nearest rivals. Those rivals included their opponents Canterbury Rams, who sunk to a 4-5 record following last night’s loss, with Otago securing the 13-point victory, 95-82.

In front of almost 1400 fans, the Nuggets silenced the crowd early with a dominant 27-15 quarter to race out to a 12-point lead at quarter time. They maintained that control early in the second term, extending their advantage out to 15 points, before the Rams stormed home to cut the deficit back to just three points at half-time. In a surprise turnaround, Canterbury actually hit the front early in the third and looked like they were going to start building momentum at Cowles Stadium.

Instead, it was the Nuggets who then took hold of the contest, with a dominant run to get back out to a 13-point advantage at the final break following a 28-18 third term. While the Rams managed to get it back into a single digit deficit early in the fourth stanza, they could not sustain it as the Nuggets blew the lead right out to 20 at one stage. The Rams did hit back to cut the final margin to just 13, it was too little, too late and they went down.

Otago Nuggets shot at 51 per cent from the field, higher than the Rams’ 46 per cent. Neither side was particularly dominant from long-range, but both were highly effective from inside the arc. In particular, the Nuggets piled on 60 of their 95 points from inside the paint, whilst the Rams added 48 from 82 in the same area. Canterbury lead the points from turnovers (16-15), but otherwise it was the Nuggets all the way, winning the rebounds (40-37), assists (25-19), blocks (4-2), second chance points (11-9) and bench points (13-12).

Timmins was the clear best on the court with a whopping 18 points, 18 rebounds – 15 defensive – 10 assists, three blocks and two steals in an enormous performance from the Nuggets. They had plenty of contributors though, with Isaiah Moss (24 points, four assists, two rebounds and two steals) and Gerasimos McKay (21 points, eight rebounds and two assists) both putting up good numbers. Richie Rodger (12 points, five assists and three rebounds) and Josh Aitcheson (seven points, four assists) also looked strong from the starting line-up.

For the Rams, Deshon Taylor had another big night with 21 points, six rebounds, six assists and five steals, leading the way from Quintin Bailey (18 points, five rebounds and two assists) and EJ Singler (16 points, six rebounds). Derek Albertsen (11 points, three rebounds and two assists) also hit double-figure points, whilst Alex Talma was influential off the boards with six rebounds to go with his four points.

Otago Nuggets will have a 48-hour turnaround to face Hawkes Bay Hawks tomorrow night, while the Rams travel to take on last placed Taranaki Mountainairs on Sunday afternoon.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Saints and Sharks grab wins to extend stranglehold on top two spots

WELLINGTON Saints and Southland Sharks have grabbed wins in an action-packed night of New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) action, to extend their lead at the top of the table. The Sharks are running hot with a five-game winning streak, whilst the Saints bounced back from their first loss the night before – to the Sharks – and moved to a 7-1 record in the 2021 season. It was at the expense of the Canterbury Rams, as the Saints won by 25 points, while the Sharks held off a determined Otago Nuggets to win by seven.

In the Saints’ big win, they took control early to pile on 17 points to nine against the Rams and really control the game defensively. The home team hit back by winning the second term and cutting the deficit to just six points at the main break. As Wellington has so often done this season, the Saints found a way, piling on 51 points to 32 to run away with the contest, and the victory, 89-64.

Kerwin Roach Jr had 23 points, five rebounds and three assists, teaming up well with Dion Prewster who notched up 22 points, six rebounds, three steals and two assists in the win. Also contributing strongly was Taane Samuel (16 points, seven rebounds and four assists), while Tohi Smith-Milner (nine points, eight assists, five rebounds and two steals) and Romaro Gill (five points, four rebounds and five blocks) were impressive defensively.

For the Rams, they shared the load on the scoring front but it would not be enough. Quintin Bailey put up 19 points, nine rebounds and two assists to lead all-comers. Meanwhile Deshon Taylor (12 points, six assists, four steals and two rebounds), EJ Singler (12 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists) and Alex Talma (11 points, six rebounds and two assists) all reached double-figure points. Ben Constable‘s shooting (one from nine) was off, but he still recorded the seven rebounds in the loss.

The game was much tighter between the Sharks and Nuggets, with the home team starting off strongly to lead by two points at the first break. It was the middle two quarters that broke the match open for the Sharks, as the visitors piled on 49 points to 28 in that time to blow open the game to lead by 19 points with a quarter to play. Otago stormed home thanks to a dominant 31-19 final term, but it was a case of too little, too late and the Sharks won, 85-78.

Dom Kelman-Poto had 24 points and six rebounds, teaming up well with Brayden Inger who starred with 22 points – four out of 10 from long-range – five rebounds and four steals. Toby Gillooly had 17 points and four rebounds in a superb effort off the bench, while Josh Cunningham did not have his usual accuracy (six points off two from 13 from the field) but managed 13 rebounds, five assists and two blocks. Courtney Belger (seven points, three assists and three steals) also stepped up.

Isaiah Moss racked up a match-high 25 points for the Nuggets, draining four of 11 from long-range, and also have seven rebounds for his troubles. Sam Timmins had a huge double-double of 13 points and 16 rebounds – seven offensive – as well as three assists and two steals. Richie Rodger (13 points) and Gerasimos McKay (11 points, four rebounds) also impressed, while Pafe Momoisea had eight points and three assists in 15 minutes off the bench.

All four teams have a break until next week, with the Canterbury Rams and Otago Nuggets doing battle on Thursday night, before Southland Sharks host Manawatu Jets on Friday, while Wellington Saints wait until Sunday to host the Jets.

Photo credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Saints and Hawks continue unbeaten runs as Giants win first of three matches

WELLINGTON Saints and Hawkes Bay Hawks remained undefeated, and Nelson Giants won their first of three Round 4 matches in a blockbuster night of action in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) last night. The trio of clashes provided plenty of individual highlights and high-scoring efforts, with the Saints defeating Franklin Bulls by 29 points, Giants knocking off Canterbury Rams by 12, and the Hawks winning in a nail-biter against Taranaki Mountainairs by three points.

In the Saints’ win over the Bulls, Wellington always looked in control and showed why they are the team to beat this season, winning every quarter by at least four points. The home team created some great separation in the first half to race out to a 55-38 lead. Whilst the Bulls managed to keep it closer in the second half, the Saints again poured on back-to-back quarters of 28 points to race past the hundred point mark and win 111-82.

Kerwin Roach Jr had a match-high 22 points and nine rebounds, as well as five assists and three steals in the win, shooting four of 10 from beyond the arc. Dion Prewster (13 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals) did not have the same success from long-range with none from four attempts, though still contributed strongly. Tohi Smith-Milner (14 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists) and Taane Samuel (12 points, six rebounds, three assists) were both impressive, whilst Romaro Gill (17 points, six rebounds and two steals) and Isaac Miller-Jose (10 points, five rebounds, and two assists) averaged a point a minute coming off the bench.

Josh Selby led the way with 16 points and four assists for the Bulls, sharing the team-high points with Dane Brooks (16 points, two rebounds, three steals and two blocks). Jaylen Gerrand (12 points, two assists) and Jett Thompson (10 points) both reached double-figure points, as Zane Waterman had a quiet night by his standards with shooting (seven points) but still managed the team-high six rebounds and five assists in the loss.

In a much tighter contest, Hawkes Bay Hawks ground out a three-point win against a fast-finishing Taranaki Mountainairs. The Hawks led by five points at quarter time and raced out to a 14-point lead by the main break, looking well on their way to maintaining their unbeaten streak. The Airs refused to give in however, piling on 51 points to 40 in the second half to come close, but fall short, with a Marcel Jones triple attempt for a bid to level the scores in the last few seconds missing and consolidating the Hawks’ victory.

Ethan Rusbatch dominated for the Hawks, knocking down 33 points – including a whopping seven of 14 from three-point range – and five rebounds, whilst Jonathan Janssen picked up a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds. Derone Raukawa (10 points, seven assists) reached double-figure points, while Hyrum Harris (eight points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals) did it all, and Everard Bartlett finished with seven points, four assists and three rebounds.

Francis Mulvihill (14 points) and Tai Wynyard (13 points, five rebounds and three steals) contributed to the Airs’ cause, but it was another dominant performance from Jones that kept them in the contest. Mr Double Double piled on 30 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and three blocks in another big performance. Haize Walker managed the five points and six assists, while Aaron Bailey-Nowell contributed nine points and two rebounds off the bench.

Meanwhile Nelson Giants grabbed their second win of the season and first of a heavy schedule this round, defeating the Rams after a strong second term. The Giants only lead by one point at quarter time, but then piled on 30-16 in the second quarter to race out to a 15-point advantage at the half. That lead increased to 17 at the final break, before the Rams made inroads in the final term to reduce it to 12, but it was a case of too little, too late, going down 91-79.

Hunter Hale dropped 37 points, six rebounds, six steals and four assists in a remarkable effort to drag his side to victory. Donte Ingram (19 points, eight rebounds and four assists) and Thomas Ingham (15 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals) also impressed, whilst Sam Dempster (five points nine rebounds and two assists) was dominant off the boards. Nic Trathen contributed seven points off the bench.

Deshon Taylor was the top scorer for the Rams with 19 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals, well supported by a dominant double-double effort from EJ Singler (18 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and two steals). Alex Talma had the 14 points, eight rebounds and two steals off the bench, as Sam Smith (seven points, three assists) and Ben Constable (six points, four rebounds) also contributed on the night.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Rams end Huskies run as Bulls hand Sharks third consecutive loss

TWO sides with early wins on the board in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) felt the pinch last night with the evenness of the 2021 competition. The Auckland Huskies suffered their first loss of the season at the hands of the Canterbury Rams, whilst the Southland Sharks sunk to their third consecutive loss after back-to-back wins to open the season, as Franklin Bulls grabbed another victory.

For the Rams, it was a case of striking gold with back-to-back wins, even though it took them a little while to get going. Trailing by six points at the first break, the Rams managed to cut it back to four, before the Huskies steadied in the third to lead by five at the final break. Then the final quarter happened. A stampede of scoring for the home team resulted in the Rams piling on 28 points to 13 to run away with the contest on the back of the three-point shooting of Deshon Taylor, and the paint work of Jack Salt to combine for 53 points and 22 rebounds in an outstanding dual effort.

The Rams had two less three-pointers for the night, but shot at a marginally higher field clip (45 to 44 per cent), and topped the rebounds (47-35) and steals (9-6), whilst the Huskies won the blocks (5-3) and broke even in the assists (21-21). Canterbury was cleaner with the ball however, having four less turnovers (12-16) and capitalising three times over on those turnovers (21 points to seven). The Rams also had more points in the paint (42-30) and second chance points (15-8) in an all-round impressive effort.

Taylor finished with 31 points – including five of nine from long-range and 61 per cent efficiency from the field – eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals in a dominant shooting effort. Salt crushed 14 rebounds – eight offensive – with 22 points, three assists and two steals in providing the big body close to the basket. Similarly, EJ Singler aided the cause with six rebounds, eight assists and two steals alongside six points. Coming off the bench, Alex Talma was the only score with 11 points, five rebounds and two steals. Quintin Bailey was the other double-figure scorer, finishing with 14 points.

For the Huskies, Brook Ruscoe-Taiaroa lead the way with 26 points, five assists and four rebounds, teaming up well with Chris Johnson (19 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, four blocks and two steals) in a complete performance from the American. Off the bench, teenage start Dontae Nance racked up 19 points, five assists and three rebounds, while Takiula Fahrensohn had six rebounds to go with three points.

In the other match, Franklin Bulls finished the stronger of the sides to pile on more pain to the Southland Sharks, dominating the final quarter. The Bulls trailed by six points at quarter time, but had balanced the ledger at 43 points apiece by half-time. The Sharks gained the minor advantage heading into the final quarter with a three-point lead, before the Bulls slammed home 29 points to 17 to win 82-73.

The Bulls were far more accurate from the field, having 16 less shots from the field, but shooting at 43 to 37 per cent, including 34 to 17 per cent from three-point range. They also lead the assists (16-10), and had less turnovers (16-17) and personal fouls (12-20) in the win. The Sharks held their own throughout the contest, particularly with plus-18 in rebounds (53-35), more steals (8-6) and blocks (5-2), whilst also having more points in the paint (46-30), second chance points (21-7) and points from turnovers (23-21).

Zane Waterman was the key man on the night for the Bulls, shooting a deadly 10 of 13 from the field to finish with 31 points, as well as nine rebounds. Waterman’s partner-in-crime Josh Selby was not as accurate as in his first handful of games, only making one of eight from the field for seven points, but still managed the six rebounds, five assists and two steals. Joseph Nunag (17 points, three assists and two steals) and Jaylen Gerrand (12 points, three rebounds) were both clinical off the bench, while Denhym Brooke had his fair share of influence with six points and seven rebounds.

Dom Kelman-Poto knocked down 25 points and 15 rebounds in a losing side, teaming up well with Josh Cunningham (15 points, 12 rebounds) off the boards once again. Courtney Belger (12 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Toby Gillooly (11 points, five rebounds) also hit double-figure points in the loss, while Alonzo Burton could not manage to find his range with just six points (two of 14 from the field) but had the three rebounds and three steals for his troubles.

Auckland Huskies and Southland Sharks face off in a battle of last night’s losers tomorrow night, whilst the Canterbury Bulls take on the Nelson Giants next Thursday night, and the Franklin Bulls travel to TSB Bank Arena on the same night to face the Wellington Saints.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Saints make statement as Rams claim first win

WELLINGTON Saints have cruised to a massive 32-point win to make a statement to the rest of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL), proving too good for Southland Sharks in a dominant top of the table clash. In the other match, Canterbury Rams secured their first win with a hard-fought 11-point victory over Manawatu Jets on the second night of Round 2.

In the Saints’ smashing, Wellington actually started slow to be trailing by seven points at the first break. That soon changed in the second term, as the home team piled on 29 points to 15 to lead by seven themselves. Southland kept themselves in contention by conceding only two extra points heading into the final break, but it only spurred the Saints on, as they slammed home 34 points to 11 to blow out the margin to 32 points during the 105-73 victory.

Washington Saints were terrific from the field, shooting at 68 per cent from two-point range and 50 per cent from three-point range, also knocking down 13 of 14 free throws. The Sharks were solid themselves, but were still lower at 58 and 31 per cent from two and three-point range respectively. The home team won most of the statistics with a plus-five in rebounds (30-25) and assists (19-14), also winning the blocks and steals, and capitalising on the Sharks’ 19 turnovers to score 29 points. Southland marginally were ahead in the points in the paint (48-42).

Dion Prewster was yet again the man to try and stop, knocking down 22 points (66 per cent from the field) with seven rebounds and six assists. Taane Samuel (26 points, four rebounds and two assists) was also busy, as Kerwin Roach Jr (16 points, six assists, three rebounds and two steals) and Tohi Smith-Milner (14 points, two rebounds and three steals) produced big. Romaro Gill completed and even starting five with eight points, five rebounds and two steals, while Ken Tuffin hit three of five from long-range to total his nine points.

For the Sharks, there was no standout shooter, but Dom Kelman-Poto had plenty of influence with 11 points – five of six from the field – six rebounds and six assists. Brayden Inger (12 points, two rebounds), Alonzo Burton (12 points, three steals) and Courtney Belger (10 points, two rebounds and two steals) all reached double-figure points, while Sione Helu had nine points and four rebounds off the bench in 16 minutes.

Meanwhile Canterbury Rams secured their first win of the season with an 87-76 triumph over Manwatu Jets. The Rams led by six at the first break, and while they lost the second term by a point, quickly got back on top to win the second half by six and secure the 11-point win.

The Jets actually shot more accurate from the field with a 43 per cent field goal efficiency compared to the Rams’ 42 per cent, though the Rams got to the line more to score 14 of 19 from free throw range to the Jets’ five of six. Canterbury led the rebounds (46-39) assists (22-11) and steals (14-8), had less turnover (14-19) and capitalised on more second chance points (18-14) and points from turnovers (21-17), while the Jets had one less personal foul (16-17) and five more turnovers (19-14).

EJ Singler won Player of the Match for an almost triple-double of 20 points – including five of seven from long-range – eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals in the win. Deshon Taylor (16 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals also stood out, while Jack Salt (13 points, nine rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks) was also influential. Other key scorers included Sam Smith (12 points, four assists and two steals) and Alex Talma off the bench (11 points, four rebounds).

For the Jets, Daishon Knight (24 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals) dominated and teamed up well with Jayden Bezzant (20 points, five rebounds and two steals). Shane Temara also reached double-figure points and an almost double-double of 11 points, nine rebounds and two assists, while Jake McKinay (seven points, six rebounds) was the pick of the Jets off the bench.

Manawatu Jets and Southland Sharks both have the quick turnaround, with last night’s losers up again tonight facing Otago Nuggets and Hawke’s Bay Hawks on the road respectively. The Canterbury Rams wait until May 14 to face off again, this time against Auckland Huskies, while the Wellington Saints will play the day after up against the Nelson Giants.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Saints and Huskies get up to create early ladder separation

ALL three Round 1 winners have now made it 2-0 from the opening six games, leaving the six other sides winless in their respective opening encounters. The Wellington Saints proved too strong for Canterbury Rams, winning 95-74 last night, while Auckland Huskies had a tougher assignment on the night against Manawatu Jets but eventually got the job done by nine points, 106-97.

In the Saints game, Wellington won three of the four quarters against the Rams, starting strongly to take a three-point advantage over Canterbury at quarter time, before blowing out the margin to lead by a whopping 13 points at the main break. The 26-16 second term was a huge factor in the win, though the visitors did hit back with a high-scoring 27-23 third quarter. That cut the deficit to just six at the final break, but a dominant 23-11 final term saw off any chance of a comeback from the Rams.

The Saints who shot more effectively, hitting 55 per cent of their chances from the field, having one less shot, but six more makes as the Rams recorded a 45 per cent efficiency. Neither side was particularly good from the charity stripe (63 to 55 per cent in the Rams’ favour), whilst both teams hit nine triples. The Saints did win the rebound count (38-32), as well as the steals (6-3), blocks (3-1) and dominated the points in the paint (48-36) and from turnovers (21-8), while the Rams had more assists (16-13).

Dion Prewster backed up his enormous Round 1 effort with another huge night out, picking up 31 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists while Kevin Roach Jr (18 points, seven assists and five rebounds) and Romaro Gill (17 points, seven rebounds and two blocks) were also strong players from the starting tip-off. Ken Tuffin nailed 13 points – including three of five from long-range – while Tohi Smith-Milner proved a problem off the boards with nine rebounds and three assists to accompany eight points.

For the Rams, Deshon Taylor started his season with a team-high 18 points and seven assists as well as two rebounds and three steals. Jack Salt finally made it onto an NZNBL court and hit up 16 points and five rebounds in 25 minutes, while Quintin Bailey (12 points, three rebounds) and Alex Talma (nine points, three rebounds) were also steadfast in defeat.

Meanwhile in the other match, the Huskies outlasted the Jets in a high-scoring thriller, coming from seven points down at the first break to post a 106-97 victory. The Huskies found themselves trailing 24-17 at quarter time, but slowly turned it around with a 27-22 second quarter to head into half-time trailing by just two points. They hit the front in the third term courtesy of a 29-22 quarter, then held on with a high-scoring 33-29 final term to win by nine points.

The Jets made the most of less chances, shooting at 51 per cent from the field to the Huskies’ 49 per cent, but that was largely due to a high two-point range efficiency, knocking down 66 per cent of their shots to the Huskies’ 53 per cent. From long-range the Huskies capitalised with 11 triples to the Jets’ five, and only missed one of 14 free throws. The Huskies led the rebounds (44-40), assists (16-15), steals (9-7) and points from turnovers (20-10), having just the eight turnovers to the Jets’ 12. Manawatu did dominate in the paint with 60 points to 52, and had 15-10 second chance points.

Two players knocked down 30 points on the night, with Jeremy Kendle again being a key contributor in the Huskies’ win. He hit 30 points – at 58 per cent efficiency from the field – as well as eight rebounds, recording four of nine three-point attempts. Dontae Nance came off the bench for 26 points and four rebounds, as Sean Murphy picked up a double-double himself of 14 points and 11 rebounds. Brooke Ruscoe-Taiaroa was the other big points scorer with 14 , as well as four assists, three rebounds and three steals.

For the Jets, Daishon Knight came off the bench for an equal game-high 30 points, as well as six assists and three steals, nailing every one of his 13 attempts from two-point range. Shane Temara (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Jayden Bezzant (15 points, three assists) were others who stood out from the starting perspective, while Deandre Daniels (12 points, five rebounds) was strong off the bench.

Manawatu Jets have he quickest turnaround of the four sides, taking on Franklin Bulls tonight, with the Canterbury Rams playing Hawkes Bay Hawks tomorrow. Wellington Saints host fellow undefeated side Southland Sharks next Friday night, while the Auckland Huskies wait until Sunday week to take on Nelson Giants at home.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL