Tag: alexander mcnaught

Kendle match-winner keeps Huskies undefeated in overtime

JEREMY Kendle had a night to remember during Auckland Huskies’ thrilling three-point win over Nelson Giants last night, needing to go all the way, and then some before posting a 90-87 victory at Eventfinda Stadium. The Huskies prevailed in a tough contest that saw them win three of the four quarters, but still only be level at the final buzzer, before getting up in a low-scoring nail-bitting first overtime period by three points.

The home team got the upper hand in the match early, leading 18-15 at the first break to take the advantage. Nelson Giants produced one of the biggest turnarounds of the season in the second period, piling on 35 points to 20 to head into half-time with a huge 12-point lead. The momentum swung back into the Huskies’ favour in the third quarter thanks to a 26-7 term, before the frantic final term. In the last 30 seconds, Chris Johnson nailed two free throws to put the Huskies in front, before Nelson’s Donte Ingram levelled the scores with 18 seconds on the clock.

Johnson had a look from long-range with six seconds on the clock only to miss, before an offensive rebound to Sean Murphy handed off to Kendle from three-point range on the buzzer missed. The last five minutes of action was frantic, with only 13 points scored in total for the match. Ingram hit the first three-point of the period 1:05 into the time to help the Giants to lead by that exact margin. Dontae Nance responded not long after with a neat layup, but both Bronson Beri and Johnson missed jump shots, then Ingram missed both free throw attempts after being sent to the line.

When Brook Ruscoe-Taiaroa finally troubled the scorers after the drought in the overtime, his one free throw levelled the scores. Ingram was again the man the Giants turned to with a pull up jumper after collecting the defensive rebound up the other end, and the visitors were up by two with 1:04 on the clock. Johnson tied the game with a layup with 37 seconds remaining, and then another Ingram miss saw Zach Riley grab the board, and the Huskies use the lock to the last second and Kendle nailed the match-winner from long-range. Hunter Hale went for the three-point jumper on the buzzer, but a block from Kendle sealed the game.

The Huskies dominated the stats sheet, leading in their field goal percentage (46 to 44 per cent) largely due to a more efficient effort from long-range (44 to 37 per cent), but really took control in the free throws (81 to 61 per cent). They won the rebounds (41-37), assists (19-16), blocks (4-2) and second chance points (10-9), and also had four less personal fouls (13-17). The Giants to their credit had less turnovers (12-18), and double the steals (10-5). They also doubled their opponents in points from turnovers (26-13) and secured more points in the paint (32-30).

Kendle won Player of the Match for his terrific work late in the contest, also finishing with 23 points, seven assists and three rebounds, though also eight turnovers. Johnson was the standout shooter on the court with 30 points, 12 rebounds and two assists, while Ruscoe-Taiaroa (13 points, five assists, three rebounds and two steals) and Murphy (10 points, five rebounds) also hit double-figure points for the winners.

Hale finished with a match-high 32 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Ingram had 23 points, eight rebounds and two assists. Both Giants shooters hit four triples out of nine and eight attempts respectively. Thomas Ingram and Alexander McNaught had the next most points with seven, while Beri had six rebounds, three assists and two steals to go with five points. Sam Dempster did not score in the match, but picked up nine rebounds – four offensive – as well as three assists.

Auckland Huskies play the next match in the NZNBL which is on Friday night when they travel to face Canterbury Rams, while the Nelson Giants will take on Wellington Saints and Hawke’s Bay Hawks back-to-back making it three consecutive undefeated sides for their fixtures.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Vukona return sparks Giant win over Rams, ends four-game slide

THE Nelson Giants’ runaway fourth quarter has led to the ninth straight downfall of the Canterbury Rams in the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL), as the return of Mika Vukona helped spark a strong performance, despite a limited run on the floor last night.

NELSON GIANTS 13 | 29 | 22 | 16 (80)
CANTERBURY RAMS 22 | 15 | 20 | 7 (64)

[ … FULL MATCH STATS … ]

While it remains very unlikely for either the Giants or Rams to make the top four, both teams had a lot of pride on the line before squaring up last night in Saturday’s opener. The Giants, who looked at ending their four-game skid, had to knock off a Rams side that was desperate for a win, having lost eight straight contests prior to the matchup.

Good news for Nelson straight off the bat, New Zealand Hall of Famer and 162-time Tall Black in Vukona made his first appearance for the Giants, coming off the bench in his side’s bid to gain some room off the bottom of the standings. Meanwhile, the Rams’ chances looked bleak, as key guard Taylor Britt was absent due to an elbow injury.

Nevertheless, Reuben Te Rangi, Benjamin Carlisle-Smith and Alexander Talma got their squad going early, opening up a 6-0 start to the clash of the two South Island sides.

The advantageous start for the Rams would set the tone for the majority of the first term, pushing their lead to as much as nine points off the back of two free-throws from Te Rangi. The conversion rate was the ultimate factor in obtaining the 22-13 lead at quarter-time for Canterbury, as the squad shot over 40 per cent from the field compared to the Giants, who shot under 30 per cent.

After Vukona made his first basket of the season 37 seconds into the second period, it seemed as though Nelson started to gain a little bit of momentum. But, a well organised and prepared Canterbury side parried most of their runs during the first few minutes of the second.

Following an injury scare to the Rams’ Samuel Smith, Canterbury continued to outperform the Giants in all methods of scoring. Methods varied from points in the paint to second chance points to points off the bench, as Mick Downer’s squad flexed their depth late in the first half.

An unsportsmanlike foul on Te Rangi allowed Nelson back into striking range, as Nicolas Trathen’s technical free-throws and Theo Johnson’s three helped cap off an effective 13-0 run giving Nelson the lead for the first time in the game. Te Rangi’s three tied the contest up, but a Dane Brooks and-one and dunk solidified the half-time lead at the main break, giving his team the five-point edge 42-37. Thanks to his last-minute run of plays, Brooks led the way for his team in scoring and rebounding prior to the third quarter, adding 10 points and five rebounds to the cause, while Te Rangi was held responsible for his 11 individual points.

A glaring red light for Canterbury’s first half downfall was in the category of points from turnovers. Nelson’s defence led to eight points from forcing takeaways, as the Rams were yet to produce in that fashion. Despite this, the Rams contributed 15 second-chance points, compared to Nelson’s 11, highlighting one of the few good things the bottom-dwellers of the league did up until half-time. The Rams’ Jack Exeter knocked down a lead-off three to get Canterbury off on the right foot, as Canterbury quickly levelled the playing field a couple minutes into the second half with both sides sitting on 44 points apiece.

With both sides going basket-for-basket in the middle stages of the third period, Nelson could start to exploit the Rams’ holes in their defence, separating themselves from their opponents and after Johnson’s And-1 dunk, they could start to see the light at the end of the tunnel leading by as much as seven points with just over a quarter to play.

That lead would remain for the rest of the third phase as a Mac Stodart’s alley-oop layup on the buzzer gave the Rams a modicum of hope going into the final ten minutes, as they continued to search for answers to lock down the key (the Rams allowed 38 points in the paint through three quarters).

Nelson’s frontcourt started get results as the big-man duo of Mike Karena and Vukona helped extend their team’s lead into double-digits for the first time of the night, leading 72-57 with just under eight minutes remaining. Following this, everything started to fall, as Alexander McNaught added to his impressive performance with a three-pointer of his own.

Another scoring run from the Giants would put the result beyond all doubt all the way to the final whistle, as Nelson ran away with the contest by a potent 16-point deficit, 80-64. It therefore ended their four-game losing stretch and improving their record to four wins and seven losses. On the other side of the tape, the Rams move a game and a half back on the standings, losing their ninth straight after a string of close defeats over the last few weeks.

Brooks led the charge for the Giants, standing with Karena as one of the only two players to reach double digits in scoring. The shooting guard remained reliable from the field, hammering home 26 points and eight rebounds in his man of the match performance. For Karena, 11 points and five rebounds completed a modest performance off the bench, as Vukona made a substantial impact in his return to the hardwood (eight points, three rebounds and two assists).

While each basket for the Rams seemed to be a challenge, Te Rangi continued his good start to the season with a team-high 15 points and four rebounds. Meanwhile, Toby Gillooly earned his salt at the free-throw line attributing five of his ten points to the charity strike, going five from six.

Both sides encounter the Auckland huskies in their next on-court appearances, with Nelson to face the side in the next 24 hours and looking to close the gap for fifth spot in the standings. Next up for the Rams, they can look forward to some rest as the injury woes continue for the Red and Black, lining up against the Huskies on Wednesday night looking to avoid a double-digit losing streak after their ninth consecutive loss last night.

2020 Sal’s NBL night preview July 18: Giants v Rams and Nuggets v Bulls

A BOTTOM two clash between the most out-of-form sides and a battle between two title contenders is what confronts teams in a big Saturday night of action in the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) Showdown.

NELSON GIANTS vs. CANTERBURY RAMS

To say the first match of the night is a must-win for both teams is an understatement, with a combined 12 games losing streak between them. Luckily for the Giants, they only share in four of those 12 straight losses, having last won back on July 5 over the Auckland Huskies. Since then, they have fallen to the top four sides consecutively, and by an average of 14 points, with the eight-point defeat to Otago Nuggets the closest. The Rams have now eight straight losses to their name after three initial wins, but their last four games have been agonisingly close. Since losing the Bulls by 25 points back on July 8, their last four defeats have been by an average of four points. The fact that they have gone down by seven, five, three and one, the pattern tells us the Rams could be in for a win.

Taylor Britt has been the standout player this season for Canterbury, adding 21.3 points, 4.2 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game, ranked first, first and second in those areas for his side. Alex Talma has been really impressive off the boards with an almost double-double average of 10.6 points and 8.2 rebounds, while Sam Smith (12.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists) has stepped up in the average of Toby Gillooly since the early rounds. Reuben Te Rangi is starting to head up for the Rams, and when the Tall Blacks talent really gets going, he will be crucial to their success as they try and make up some ground on the other teams.

The Giants have missed the influence of Mike Karena (17.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists) of late, while Thomas Ingham and Nic Trathen have stepped up to average double-figure points and more than four rebounds per game. throughout the season. The Rams are a strong rebounding team with four players totalling more than five rebounds per game, but need to build their assist tally with just one player – Alexander McNaught – averaging more than 2.2 assists per game.

Nelson’s best has been very impressive, but the Rams have been better in their defeats of late. The last time these teams faced off the Giants won 97-90 in a tight contest off the back of a 39-22 first term, which is why the Rams must try and restrict the scoring early and it will go a long way to finally breaking the losing drought.

OTAGO NUGGETS vs. FRANKLIN BULLS

The second match of the night has finals ramifications in the scheme of things with a second and third clash between the Otago Nuggets and Franklin Bulls. Both are level on 6-4 in the top three, with the winner to move ahead of the other clearly. The Nuggets fans may not have any nails left after their last two clashes – dropping a game to Taranaki Mountainairs by a point, before bouncing back to defeat Canterbury Rams y the same margin. Overall, the Nuggets have been in great form, completely dismantling the Manawatu Jets a week ago to win by 36 points on their way to a season-high 130 points. The Bulls went on a four-game winning streak at one stage, but have had a yo-yo last couple of weeks with two wins and two losses rom their last four games. They have a real balanced squad and will be keen to make it two consecutive wins for the first time since early week three.

Jordan Ngatai is maintain a massive 20 points per game average for the Nuggets, also putting up 3.5 assists and 6.0 rebounds to sit second in those areas for his side. Since his massive first day out with 28 points, Jarrod Kenny has been the facilitator for his teammates, leading the side in assists with five per game to accompany his 12 points. Jordan hunt has stepped up as that second scorer with 16 points and six rebounds, but it is the work of underrated talents like Kane Keil and Josh Aitcheson who both average double-figure points, two assists and four rebounds, which has helped the Nuggets remain successful.

The Bulls have a side where all of their players can step up and be a scoring threat on their day, with Isaac Davidson averaging a team-high 16.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists, as big men, Dom Kelman-Poto and Sam Timmins have dictated play off the boards. Kelman-Poto (15.5 points, 7.5 rebounds) and Timmins (13.1 points, 6.4 rebounds) have been prolific at the four and five spot, while captain Everard Bartlett, and fellow three-point shooter Nikau McCullough are no stranger to coming on and having bursts of impact throughout the match.

The last time these teams went head-to-head, Bulls got up by six points in an important win in the scheme of things. This clash has all the hallmarks of a thriller that could again go down to the wire, and possibly into overtime, with a flip of the coin as good a way as any to try and guess who takes out this match.

Bulls make early charge to stamp authority in win over Giants

FRANKLIN Bulls’ three quarter dominance of Nelson Giants helped the Bulls secure an impressive 12-point win in the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) Showdown clash last night. The Bulls won the first three quarters of the match to lead by 19 points at the final break, and while Nelson hit back to win the last term 19-12, it was too little, too late as the Bulls celebrated a nice 82-70 victory.

NELSON GIANTS 18 | 10 | 23 | 19 (70)
FRANKLIN BULLS 28 | 13 | 29 | 12 (82)

[ … FULL GAME STATS … ]

The Nelson Giants were undermanned in this uphill battle, but fought the Franklin Bulls valiantly all night. Unfortunately they put themselves in a hole early and spent the rest of the game trying to dig themselves out of it. Dane Brooks got the fans out of their seats early at the Trusts Arena with what was a no look, falling down layup that somehow found its way through the hoop. Very early into the game, the Giants’ defence looked fierce with back-to-back blocks from Josh Ledger. However Sam Timmins would come back with a gigantic block, right off the backboard. From the get-go, the match looked to be a highly competitive night.

But that thought came way too soon as the Giants offence instantly looked dire and stagnant. One second they were running the floor with first quarter liveliness, the next – they were not. With less than four minutes remaining in the first, the Bulls had already made twice as many field goals with three times the amount of assists. The Bulls’ decision to run plays through Isaac Davidson was working, as he was playing very aggressive. Shooting with confidence, clearing his way to the paint, he was foundational in the Bulls leading by 10 at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter saw both teams play more smoothly. The Bulls stepped up on defence and the Giants started running screen heavy plays. This change in energy was nice to see, but late. Although it took the Giants way too long to realise that the constant dribble handoffs to the left side was simply not working, as the 10-point lead remained constant. And when they finally began to attack the middle, the Bulls clogged them up beautifully. 

It really cannot be said enough – the Bulls’ defence, especially when going around screens, was sensational. Their hustle on that side of the floor was the most exciting feature of the second. They forced the Giants to shoot wild threes with no seconds left on the shot clock. Despite the fierce defensive pressure from the Bulls, with a lot of luck, Thomas Ingham was able to hit one from long-range. The end of the half looked like a before training shootout, with four three point attempts from both teams in less than 30 seconds. It ended with the Bulls leading 41-28. 

One of the biggest differences in style was just the patience shown by the Bulls on offence. They spread the floor and attacked the rim when they should have. Not just when they could have. There were numerous times when the Giants just drove in on two or three defenders, just for the ball to bounce off the rim and into the hands of the Bulls. The Giants’ deficit continued to climb and with that came more ugly shots. By the time the buzzer sounded, the Bulls led 70-51 with one period left. 

The fourth appeared to be the classic, ‘winning team takes foot off the pedal as win is assured’ quarters. The Bulls scored only 12 while the Giants nailed in 19, finishing the game with dignity. The Giants shot 13 threes in the last period making only three, while the Bulls ran with the second unit. What struck out from this game was the similarities in rebounding numbers. Clearly effort was not what was holding the Giants back, that would be missing teammates – five more turnovers – and missing shots – 40.6 per cent from the field, 10 per cent less than their opponents – which are areas the Giants can work on for their next match.

Giants’ captain, Ingham was one of the few in the blue jerseys with a hot hand, dropping 18 points on 46 per cent from the field. He would also be the only player in the starting line with double figures on his stat sheet. Nic Trathen worked hard off the bench for 15 points, draining three of four from long-range in the process, while Alexander McNaught had seven assists, almost half of his team’s total.

For the Bulls, it was all about Dominique Kelman-Poto who ended the contest with 26 points in 28 minutes while shooting an insane 78 per cent from the field, as well as eight rebounds. He was far from alone though with Davidson sinking 16 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Chris McIntosh (10 points, three of which were triples) also reached double figures.

Both teams next play on Saturday night with Nelson Giants taking on Canterbury Rams in a bottom two battle, while Franklin Bulls lock horns with Otago Nuggets.