Tag: canterbury rams

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

Saints grab mental edge over Huskies as Rams finish season on high

TOP of the table Wellington Saints have grabbed the mental edge over Auckland Huskies in an impressive New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) win last night, whilst Canterbury Rams ended their season on a high with a good win over Otago Nuggets. Ahead of their do-or-die semi-final clash on Thursday night, the Saints will look for much of the same against the Huskies after the last regular season day win of 85-61. Meanwhile the Rams’ 17-point win over Otago Nuggets saw them leapfrog the Nuggets into fifth.

Wellington Saints powered away early against the Huskies, putting on a 10-point lead to show why they were well positioned ahead of the Final Four. The Huskies were not going to go away however, with the fourth placed side winning the second term 21-17, and cutting the deficit back to six at half-time. Wellington really took control after the main break however, putting the foot down with 41 points to 23 to win, 85-61.

Wellington was the more accurate of the teams, shooting at a 48 per cent clip from the field compared to the Huskies’ 39 per cent, also hitting two more threes (11-9), albeit at a lower efficiency (32 to 36 per cent). The Saints also had more assists (12-10), steals (7-4), and points in the paint (42-22), as well as less turnovers (7-17) and therefore more points from turnover (16-5). The Huskies on the other hand had more rebounds (39-33) and blocks (3-1), and also marginally more second chance points (10-9) and bench points (18-16).

It was an even Most Valuable Player (MVP) voting with Dion Prewster eventually getting the nod for his game-high 23 points, as well as nine rebounds and eight assists in an almost triple-double effort for the Saints. Taane Samuel put up 20 points, four rebounds and two assists in an equally impressive effort, shooting three of six from long-range. Kerwin Roach Jr (10 points, four rebounds and two steals) and Ken Tuffin (11 points, three of six from beyond the arc) were other Saints who hit double-figures.

Auckland Huskies had two clear standouts, with one double-double and another almost double-double. Justin Bibbs (18 points, nine rebounds and four assists) was strong across the game, whilst Tom Vodanovich was rewarded with a double-double of 17 points, 10 rebounds and two assists. Takiula Fahrensohn had 10 points and four rebounds coming off the bench in the other player to reach double-figure points.

In the other match, Canterbury Rams grabbed fourth spot in the dead rubber clash against Otago Nuggets, winning three of the four quarters on their way to a 17-point triumph. The first term was a high-scoring contest of 56 points, as the Rams edged ahead by two with a 29-27 term, also adding five more points to the lead to be up by seven at half-time. Level in the third term, Canterbury put the foot down in the final stanza to pile on 30-20 and run away with the contest, 101-84.

Canterbury won most of the statistics with a higher field goal percentage (50-42), and also had more rebounds (43-34), steals (9-6), points in the paint (52-24) and second chance points (16-7), as well as less turnovers (10-15) and more points from turnovers (20-15). Auckland had more blocks (3-2) and bench points (28-25) in the loss.

Deshon Taylor won MVP with 28 points, five rebounds and two assists in the Rams’ victory, with four other players hitting double-digit points. Max Darling (17 points, six rebounds and three steals), Jack Salt (16 points, seven rebounds), Quintin Bailey (13 points, two rebounds and two assists) and EJ Singler (10 points, six rebounds and six assists) were the others to achieve the feat.

Luke Aston (23 points) and Richie Rodger (22) both had a couple of rebounds, but it was Sam Timmins once again who stormed to 20 rebounds – 17 defensive to keep the Nuggets in the contest, and also finish with eight points, three blocks and two assists. Isaiah Moss also reached double-figure points with 13 points, three assists and two rebounds.

 

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 stun Sharks, Hawks topple Bulls and Jets bounce back against Rams

THREE games of single-digit results including one overtime match has seen one of the nights of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) season. The Auckland Huskies needed extra time to shake off a fast-finishing Southland Sharks for the Sharks’ first loss at home of the year, Hawkes Bay Hawks did enough through the middle two quarters to down the Franklin Bulls in a closer-than-expected five-point win, and Manawatu Jets bounced back from their disappointing loss to last placed Taranaki Mountainairs the night before to win by seven over Canterbury Rams.

The match of the night belonged to the Huskies-Sharks, with the game going right down to the wire. Yet to lose at home, the Sharks lead by a narrow two points at the first break. That turned on its head as Tom Vodanovich stepped up a gear and the Huskies won the next two terms by a combined 12 points to lead by double digits at the final break. Southland roared back to life in the last term, levelling the scores by the final buzzer, with a Tom Cowie layup in the final minute ensuring the teams finished at 83-apiece. The overtime period saw both teams trading blows, with Justin Bibbs turning up the heat for the Huskies and scoring the last seven points for his side to come from four points down, to hit the front with less than a minute left courtesy of a three-point jumper.

Vodanovich had some kind of night, nailing five of 11 from long range on his way to 33 points, 13 rebounds – six offensive – and two assists. He teamed up well with Bibbs who also lit up from long-range putting together five of 13 from beyond the arc to finish with 27 points, five assists and three rebounds. Chris Johnson (11 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two blocks) and Dontae Nance (11 points, three rebounds and three assists) also hit double-figure points in the win.

Josh Cunningham was the standout for the Sharks, shooting at 72 per cent, picking up 28 points, 10 rebounds and two assists, whilst Brayden Inger (20 points, five rebounds) and Alonzo Burton (19 points, five rebounds and two steals) both stood tall. Dom Kelman-Poto also impressed off the boards with seven points, 11 rebounds and three assists, whilst Toby Gillooly (nine points, seven rebounds and three assists) was strong.

Hawkes Bay Hawks came from 12 points down at quarter time to win the next two quarters by 11 and eight points respectively and lead Franklin Bulls by seven with a term to play. Whilst the visitors did cut into the lead by two points in the final term, the Hawks won 95-90 overall to maintain their good form in the top two.

Devondrick Walker was phenomenal with 21 points – five of 13 from long-range – seven steals, four assists and four rebounds, whilst Ethan Rusbatch had 21 points, three assists, two rebounds and two steals. Jordan Hunt came off the bench for 20 points and two steals, whilst Rhys Vague (12 points, six rebounds and three assists) and Hyrum Harris (10 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals) were also impressive.

Kyrin Galloway had 20 points and 13 rebounds in a big double-double for the Bulls, as he and Isaac Davidson (21 points, six rebounds and three assists) did the bulk of the scoring for the losers. Jett Thompson (12 points, four assists and two rebounds) and Adam Dunstan (10 points, six rebounds) also worked hard.

After losing to the last placed Airs the night before, Manawatu Jets got the better of Canterbury Rams by seven points. Trailing by six points at the first break, and seven by half-time, the Jets dominated the third term to score 26-14, then finished off strongly to win 92-85 and bounce back from their defeat.

Daishon Knight was unbelievable with the best games of the year, putting up 30 points, 16 rebounds – 11 defensive – and 11 assists, as well as three steals in a full 40 minutes of court time. Also spending 40 minutes on the court, Deandre Daniels managed the 22 points, five rebounds, four blocks and three steals, whilst Nikau McCullough had 25 points, two rebounds and two assists off the bench.

EJ Singler had a team-high 26 points, as well as eight rebounds and two steals for the Rams, with Deshon Taylor (23 points, five rebounds and three assists) also stepping up. Max Darling (15 points, nine rebounds and two blocks) contributed off the bench, whilst Sam Smith (eight points) and Jack Salt (six points, three rebounds) also shared in the points despite the loss.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Rams raid Franklin to keep Final Four hopes alive

CANTERBURY Rams have kept their Final Four hopes alive with a crucial 16-point win on the road against Franklin Bulls in last night’s New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) contest. The Bulls were all but out of the race, and the loss put another nail in their finals coffin, but the Rams are very much alive after grabbing their seventh win of the season, and keeping pressure on the fourth placed Otago Nuggets. Winning all four quarters, the Rams proved the clear dominant side, taking home the victory, 87-71.

A low-scoring first term saw the Rams take an early lead in the match, scoring 17 points to 12. They extended on that by three with a higher scoring 26-23 second term to head into the half with an eight-point advantage. Out to a double-digit lead by the final break following another impressive term, the Rams finished off how they started, with a 20-15 final quarter and securing the standout 16-point win at Franklin Pool and Leisure Centre.

Aside from the Bulls leading by seven points midway through the first term, once the Rams hit the front they never surrendered that lead. In fact, midway through the final term it had blown out to 20 points – after the Bulls had cut the deficit to 10 points early in the quarter – before the Bulls managed to reduce it to 16 by the final buzzer.

Canterbury Rams scored at a higher clip from the field (48 to 43 per cent), and hit double the three-pointers in the match (8-4), with the Bulls only scoring at a woeful 15 per cent from long-range. The Rams had two less turnovers (18-20), but the teams shared the points from turnovers (18-18), as well as assists (17-17) and steals (10-10). They did record more second chance points (13-7) and bench points (27-11). Franklin recorded one more rebound (38-37) and four more blocks (5-1) as well as additional points in the paint (48-42).

In an even team performance, Deshon Taylor won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) honours for his 24 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals. He pipped Rams teammate, EJ Singler who had the 18 points, 12 rebounds – eight defensive – and six assists. Also productive were Sam Smith (12 points, three rebounds), the returning Jack Salt (eight points, five rebounds) and Max Darling (eight points, two rebounds and two assists).

For the Bulls, Manel Ayol continued his good form with 20 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two assists in an impressive effort, whilst Isaac Davidson played his best game of the season upon return – despite only scoring one of five from long-range – picking up 18 points, six assists and five rebounds. Kyrin Galloway (17 points, eight rebounds and two blocks), Denhym Brooke (five points, six rebounds, three steals, three blocks and two assists) and Joseph Nunag (seven points, two rebounds and two assists) also tried hard.

Both teams have a 48-hour turnaround and have to hit the road, with the Bulls facing Hawkes Bay Hawks, and the Rams taking on Manawatu Jets tomorrow night.

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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.

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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.

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Sharks circle late to grab win against Jets

SOUTHLAND Sharks have taken home the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) victory in their clash against Manawatu Jets at ILT Stadium last night, needing the full four quarters to take home the points. The home team had a see-sawing night which featured different leaders at different breaks, being level at the last change before an impressive final stanza which created separation on the opposition. Three players picked up double-doubles for the Sharks, and five starters hit double-digit points in a real team effort during the 104-97 win.

The Sharks raced out of the blocks in front of their home fans to put on a clinic of 31 points to 17 in the opening term, showing why they are one of the serious title contenders this year. Unexpected was the fact the Jets then took that momentum and completely reversed it to score a massive 35 points to 20 in the second term and hit the front by a point at the main break.

Manawatu managed to hold the lead for the majority of the third term, getting out to as much as a six-point lead early in the quarter, but could not build upon it as the Sharks stuck around. That proved vital for the home team’s chances, as the Jets lead early in he fourth by four points, but once the Sharks hit the front with seven minutes left on the clock, they never looked back, scoring 21 points to 15 from that moment. It was far from a one-sided finish though, with the Jets drawing to within one point with 1:44 on the clock at 96-95, but then the Sharks put up eight of the next 10 points to grab the seven-point victory.

Southland Sharks lead the field goal shooting percentage 52 to 48 per cent, as well as draining 12 triples to 10 in an effective effort from range. Manawatu Jets were better from inside the arc (61 o 55 per cent) and had more steals (5-3), less turnovers (6-7), less personal fouls and more points from turnovers (10-9), as well as more points in the paint (48-46). The Sharks lead the rebounds (42-36) and assists (23-22), as well as second chance points (8-5) and bench points (14-5) in what was a really even game across the board, but there could only be one winner.

Courtney Belger won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) on the night with 22 points and 11 assists in a double-double effort, one of three Sharks to reach the feat in the victory. Belger also hit an impressive four of five from long-range to showcase his accuracy from beyond the arc. Dom Kelman-Poto (22 points, 11 rebounds and four assists) was big once again, as was Josh Cunningham (19 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and two blocks). Brayden Inger (14 points, eight rebounds and two assists) and Alonzo Burton (13 points, two rebounds) both nailed three triples, whilst Sione Helu contributed 11 points in eight minutes off the bench.

Deandre Daniels was the star for the Jets, dropping a game-high five triples from seven attempts on his way to a huge 34 points in 40 minutes, also collecting 11 rebounds – nine defensive – four blocks and two assists. Daishon Knight knocked down 28 points and nine assists, while Shane Temara was also busy with 20 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Jayden Bezzant (10 points, six assists and three rebounds) and Nikau McCullough (five points, two assists) were the other scorers for the Jets in defeat.

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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

Sharks make it four consecutive wins as Rams punish Hawks late

SOUTHLAND Sharks and Canterbury Rams came away the winners in last night’s New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) contests, holding off Manawatu Jets and Hawkes Bay Hawks respectively to post victories. In what were relatively even contests, the Rams came from behind at the final break to overcome the Hawks, while the Sharks took control early and maintained that advantage in the second half to win by 12 points.

In the Rams-Hawks game, it was Canterbury that burst out of the blocks with a 27-17 first term to open up a double-digit advantage at quarter time. The Hawks started clawing their way back into the contest by cutting the deficit back to eight at the main break, before a dominant third stanza of 23-13 swung the momentum in their favour. With the lead now two points to the visiting team, the Rams needed something special, and they pulled it out with a 25-15 final term to run out 87-79 winners.

While the Hawks were more efficient from their shooting (41 to 38 per cent from the field and particularly 54 to 43 per cent from inside the arc), the Rams lead most key statistics. Canterbury finished ahead in the rebounds (51-41), steals (9-5), points in the paint (42-30) and bench points (22-9), with less turnovers (12-18) leading to more points from turnovers (20-14). The Hawks won the assists (19-15) and were the only team to produce any blocks (8-0).

Deshon Taylor was outstanding with 33 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and two steals in a double-double performance for the Rams. EJ Singler had 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals, while Quintin Bailey (10 points, seven rebounds) and Ben Constable (10 points, six rebounds) were also busy.

For the Hawks it was a triple threat of Ethan Rusbatsch (23 points, three rebounds and two assists), Devondrick Walker (18 points, five rebounds and two assists) and Rhys Vague (14 points, eight rebounds and three assists), while Jonathan Janssen (nine points, nine rebounds and five blocks) was prolific off the bench in the defeat.

Southland Sharks won three of the four quarters against Manawatu Jets to post a 12-point victory over their opponents at the Fly Palmy Central Energy Trust Arena. The Sharks got out to a two-point quarter time lead and extended that to nine by half-time, before the Jets managed to cut it back by one to remain in the contest at the last change. Southland steadied in the final term to post 26-22 and record a 100-88 victory.

The Sharks were deadly from long-range with a 45 per cent to 28 per cent shooting efficiency outside the arc, for an overall 48 to 46 per cent from the field. They led the steals (7-5) and second chance points (16-11), with less turnovers (8-14) allowing them to have more points from turnovers (18-10). The Jets had more rebounds (43-37), assists (16-12) and blocks (3-0).

Alonzo Burton put up 27 points, four rebounds and two steals for the winners, shooting six of 11 from long-ranger in the process. Dom Kelman-Poto (14 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals), Courtney Belger (15 points, seven rebounds and five assists) and Brayden Inger (19 points, three assists were all lively.

Daishon Knight picked up a team-high 22 points, as well as three assists and two rebounds for the Jets, while Deandre Daniels was the star with a double-double of 19 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Shane Temara (20 points, eight rebounds and three assists) was not too far behind, while Jayden Bezzant managed the 18 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals.

The Manawatu Jets are the first of the four sides to play again with a huge clash on June 3, with the Southland Sharks hosting Wellington Saints, and Hawkes Bay Hawks taking on Franklin Bulls on June 4. A day later, the Canterbury Rams host the Saints in a huge clash for the Rams.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL