Tag: brooke ruscoe-taiaroa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

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