Tag: Casyn buchman

NZNBL 18IN18 team review: Auckland Dream

WITH the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) 18IN18 competition done and dusted, we take a look back at each of the six teams, how they performed and some of the top talents who stood out across the condensed season.

We continue with the fifth placed Auckland Dream who statistically matched up well compared to the rest of the competition, and started the season strongly before losing the last three games and missing out on finals.

SUMMARY:

Position: 5th
Wins: 2
Losses: 3

STATS:

Points: 63.0 (3rd)
Rebounds: 43.2 (3rd)
Assists: 14.4 (2nd)
Steals: 9.6 (6th)
Blocks: 3.0 (5th)
FG%: 34.1 (5th)

After winning the 3X3 Schick Cup, the Auckland Dream came into the 18IN18 tournament full of confidence as reigning premiers. Starting off with two consecutive wins, the Dream then dropped the last three matches to miss out on finals. Overall, they were always tight with their opponents, and showed that they could match them across the board, ranking in the top three for points, rebounds and assists. Unfortunately the areas they struggled were accuracy and the defensive aspects such as steals and blocks, but there was plenty to like about the Dream despite the disappointing finish.

RESULTS:

1: defeated Waikato Wizards by 3 points
2: defeated Canterbury Wildcats by 15 points
3: lost to Capital Swish by 10 points
4: lost to Otago Gold Rush by 10 points
5: lost to Harbour Breeze by 13 points

TOP TALENT:

Sharne Robati

The Auckland Dream outfit had a really even contribution across the board and honestly, you could pick a number of top talents coming through. What was so impressive about Robati was her consistency throughout, never dropping below 14 points, and playing 22 minutes or more in ever game. She also hit eight or more rebounds in four of her five games, including a massive seven offensive rebounds against the Swish. Looking at the season as a whole, you could not fault her as she averaged 16.4 points and 8.2 rebounds.

OTHERS:

Arielle Williams-Mackey was a player who turned it on and could pile on the points in quick succession. Her long-range shooting was a treat, and she averaged 14.4 points, and 2.2 three-point makes in the season. Had her accuracy been a little higher, than she easily could have surpassed the 20 points per game. Casyn Buchman was the next most consistent, averaging the 11.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists, but it was her work from the offensive boards that stood out, with 14 rebounds up that end for the season, giving her teammates second chance opportunities. Amanda Wayment was another reliable source off the boards, averaging 7.2 points and 8.4 rebounds.

Picture: Photosport

Harbour Breeze into semis unbeaten as Dream wait for other results

HARBOUR Breeze have ended the regular season of the condensed New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) 18IN18 competition with an unbeaten record for five games, finishing atop the ladder ahead of the semi-finals. In a logjam of four other sides who sit with two wins, they were the clear standout all night against Auckland Dream, setting the tone with an impressive first term and running out 13-point winners. It means the Dream now have a nervous wait, needing Capital Swish to defeat Waikato Wizards tonight in order for the Dream to finish fourth, and take on the Breeze in the semis.

The game was almost over before it began with the Breeze jumping the Dream to start the match. Brooke Blair, Jazzmyne Kailahi-Fulu, Ashleigh Kelman-Poto and Gabriella Fotu all shared around the points firing off eight straight in the opening two and a half minutes. It was not until the three-and-a-half minute mark when Auckland’s Casyn Buchman finally broke the drought, hitting a jumper then backing up with an impressive layup off a rebound and assist from Sharne Robati.

Unfortunately for the Dream, the fast start was not the only burst for the Breeze, who went on to score 12 of the next 14 points to end the term, starting with Blair’s second basket, as Blair (four), Zara Jillings (three) and Fotu (three) all were starting to capitalise. Robati was the only other scorer for the Dream, but a last second layup from Kelman-Poto had the quarter time margin at 20-6 in favour of the Breeze.

Blair was quick out of the blocks again in the third term with a jumper, extending the lead out to 16 before a drought-breaking layup from Buchman. Once again though the Breeze were in total control as Kelman-Poto and Bell both scored either side of Dream missed opportunities and the lead was out to 18. Arielle Williams-Mackey hit her first points off free throws midway through the term, but once again Blair was there with the talented shooter hitting double-figures already.

The teams traded baskets over the next few minutes but the Breeze held a commanding position, answering each challenge with one of their own. Jelena Vucinic managed to get busy in the term, but Kelman-Poto and Fotu were both in-form. By the time the half-time buzzer sounded, the Breeze were 17 points up, leading 35-18, but the Dream had stemmed the flow.

It would be the case for most of the second half with the Breeze having done enough to keep control, and both sides hit five points in the opening 90 seconds of the third term, with Williams-Mackey and Jillings both hitting long-range bombs with Kelman-Poto and Robati scoring either side of them. The Dream did have a sniff midway through the term as the 18-point deficit was cut back to just 10 after Amanda Wayment hit a jumper and Williams-Mackey and Katelin Noyer scored back-to-back triples.

Fotu was quick to arrest that momentum swing just 23 seconds later, and when Blair hit a three-pointer a couple of minutes later, the Breeze lead was back out to 14. Jillings and Fotu both continued to add to their totals despite the good term from Noyer, and a late free throw from Kelman-Poto meant the final break margin was the same as at the half, 52-35.

If there was any question of a comeback, Kelman-Poto and Blair soon put that to bed, hitting the first eight points of the quarter to blow the Breeze lead out to 25 points. To the Dream’s credit with the Breeze resting a number of players, they hit 14-straight points to come within 11, and four minutes on the clock. The Breeze steadied with important baskets from Kailahi-Fulu and Blair. Despite some late triples from Williams-Mackey and Buchman, it would only reduce the damage in the end, going down to the Breeze by 13 points, 72-59.

Harbour Breeze controlled most stats, shooting at a higher clip from the field (43 to 30 per cent) despite having two less attempts. They dominated the steals (8-4) and lead the assists (14-11) and rebounds (47-46), while the Dream had one less turnover (11-12) and actually scored more fast break points (13-9).

Kelman-Poto finished the match with a standout performance of 19 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals, rivalled by Blair who put up 18 points – at 66 per cent accuracy from the field – as well as five rebounds and three assists. Fotu (13 points, five rebounds, four assist sand two steals) was impressive, while Kailhai-Fulu (nine points, four rebounds and three blocks) and Jillings (eight points, six rebounds and two steals) were both productive.

For the Dream, Robati had a day out with 15 points and nine rebounds, teaming up well with Buchman who had 15 points and seven rebounds herself. Williams-Mackey had the 13 points but shot just three of 12 from the field, including none of five from two-point range, also picking up two rebounds. Olivia Berry did not register a point, but she picked up 11 rebounds and three assists coming off the bench.

Harbour Breeze will now await the fourth placed semi-finalist who could be the Auckland Dream, or potentially Capital Swish if the Swish fall to the Wizards tonight.

Picture: Photosport

Swish storm home in final term flurry to end Dream run

CAPITAL Swish have announced themselves as a genuine title contender, defeating reigning champions Auckland Dream in the 2020 New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) 18IN18 competition last night. The Swish came into the night with a 1-1 record having knocked off the Canterbury Wildcats, but lost to Harbour Breeze, while the Dream had also accounted for the Wildcats, as well as Waikato Wizards on opening night.

For the majority of the contest there was not much between them, but a sensational final term and the last seven points of the night went to the Swish, to celebrate a remarkable win. A big last term from Grace Simi Vaofusi – scoring 12 of her team’s 27 points – and a double-double from Letava Whippy were massive differences, leaving the Dream needing to regroup ahead of their final two matches and giving the Swish the upper hand when it came to a top two place in the semi-finals.

From the opening tip-off it was clear the Swish were not going to be pushovers, as Vaofusi and Maia Jean Watene both scored baskets in the opening two minutes whilst the usually reliable Amanda Wayment missed free throws, and three of her teammates also missed jump shot opportunities. Instead it was Wayment who got on the board as the time ticked down with eight on the clock, making the layup to make their fourth shot attempt through a layup, drawing contact and this time producing the And-One chance.

Wayment scored her side’s first five points of the match, as she levelled the scores following Whippy’s 50 per cent strike from the free throw line. Then Sharne Robati put her team in front with a couple of successful free throws, but it proved only temporary as Paris Lokotui and Watene got involved for the Swish to regain the lead. Arielle Williams-Mackey – who was he most prolific scorer in the opening two matches for the Dream – finally got on the board with a long-range bomb, and the teams traded blows.The Swish were a little more accurate later in the term to score seven of the last nine points, with Sariah Penese‘s last minute layup putting her side up by four at the first break, 16-12.

That momentum carried into the second with Vaofusi again having a red-hot start putting up the first four points of the quarter to blow the lead out to eight points and an upset was brewing. Casyn Buchman settled the nerves for the Dream with a vital layup, but again the Swish responded with the next five points including back-to-back layups through Dalen Pilitati and Jyodanna Davey respectively for the lead to hit double-figures midway through the quarter.

Needing a response, the Dream got it through a triple from Robati, an Olivia Berry layup and then four points from Williams-Mackey through free throws and a layup to roar back to within two points in an 9-0 run. Vaofusi halted that with an important basket, and a Pilitati triple following a Williams-Mackey layup and the Swish were back out to a five-point buffer. A last minute jumper from Rionne Papa cut the Dream’s deficit to three at half-time with the Swish up, 30-27.

Entering the third term, both teams traded baskets one after the other and each team the Swish managed to get some momentum, the Dream pegged them back. Whippy was providing plenty of resistance close to the basket, getting the layup, copping the contact and slotting the And-One chance to extend it out to six points, only for a Buchman triple to start a remarkable dream run of 12 consecutive points. Papa and Williams- Mackey added four of those each, and from a six-point deficit, the Dream were suddenly ahead by six points.

Despite it looking like the Dream were going to run away with the contest, Whippy and Lokotui had other ideas with back-to-back baskets before Taulelei hit the game-leveller with just over two minutes on the clock. Buchman responded with a triple, but was countered by Grace Gordon with a long-range success of her own. By the three quarter time buzzer, the teams could not be split at 49-apiece.

Initially Wayment hit the first jumper of the final term to hand her team the lead, but the next seven points of the game went the way of the Swish. The momentum-swinging contest went back the other way, as the Dream came from a five-point deficit to hit eight consecutive points of their own and lead by three with just over five minutes remaining. Back-to-back triples for the Swish just provided some breathing space, as Vaofusi and Lokotui were on song.

Williams-Mackey would produce a layup and then follow up with the And-One chance with 67 seconds left on the clock and her team just three points down. Only 22 seconds later, Te Huinga Selby-Rickett would score her first points of the night to extend the lead out to five for the Swish, and back-to-back three-point attempts went begging from Williams-Mackey and Buchman which proved costly. Gordon and Vaofusi had the final say of the contest, scoring the last five points of the game to lock in a 10-point victory 76-66.

The Swish were far more accurate from the field, hitting three more chances from six less shots, shooting at 42 per cent compared to 34 per cent. They also won the rebounds (52-47) and blocks (3-2), but were level in assists and second chance points, while the Dream had three less turnovers (15-18) and and an additional steal (11-10).

Vaofusi hit 21 points, and had four assists, three steals, two rebounds and a block in a big performance, but it was Whippy who notched up a stunning double-double of 15 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, four steals and one block. Lokotui had a big last term to finish with eight points and six rebounds, while Gordon (eight points, four rebounds) and Davey (seven points, three rebounds) were prominent off the bench.

For the Dream, Williams-Mackey finished with a team-high 16 points, accompanying two rebounds, two assists and one steal, while Robati had the most impact, shooting at a higher clip of 42 per cent to finish with 15 points. Robati also had nine rebounds – seven offensive two assists and two steals on the night. Buchman (13 points, six rebounds) and Papa (10 points, three rebounds and one steal) reached double-figure points, while Wayment (seven points, eight rebounds) provided support off the boards.

The Swish have the chance to back up with a match against Otago Gold Rush tonight, before the Dream return tomorrow night hoping to bounce back, also against the Gold Rush.

Picture: Photosport

Dream start to the 18IN18 season for Auckland

AUCKLAND Dream have built on the momentum of their dying seconds winner against Waikato Wizards to secure a more comfortable victory over Canterbury Wildcats only 24 hours later. The New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) 18IN18 tournament has gone exactly to plan thus far for the Dream, who have won their first two games of five in the condensed competition, earning a hard earned rest. Starting strong to lead by 13 points at half-time, they were able to maintain the age and get up by 15 in a thrilling contest.

The Wildcats were the first team on the board in the match, with Terai-Ma-Teata Elia dropping both free throws in the opening minute. That was soon countered by a red-hot Casyn Buchman who hit a triple, grabbed a defensive board off a Rosalia Samia long-range attempt, then made another two-pointer to grab her team the early lead. It set the tone for the Dream’s intensity as game one winner, Arielle Mackey-Williams got on the board, as did the Wildcats’ Brittany Richards for a high-scoring opening few minutes.

Leading by just a point four minutes in, the Dream started to take control and notched up back-to-back layups from Olivia Berry and Amanda Wayment, before a crucial Gemma Etheredge jumper reduced the deficit to four with just under two minutes left. Six seconds later, Jelena Vucinic drilled a triple off a Buchman assist, and despite both teams having chances, the margin was seven at the first break with the Dream ahead, 15-8.

The Dream certainly had the momentum heading into the second term, and Sharne Robati was quick on the trigger to grab four points in the opening 80 seconds, as Shea Crotty, Richards and Samia had multiple chances from long-range but could not get it happening despite consecutive boards. Wayment soon grabbed one and Robarti had scored the first six points for her side in the term, with only a Richards basket in between. For all the attacking nature of the Wildcats, it was Wayment who extended the lead out to 13 after two and a half minutes.

The high-scoring opening few minutes slowed a little as both teams had settled down defensively in the term, but for everything the Wildcats threw at the Dream, the in-form side had the answers. An Ekka basket was matched by Robati, and then a Wayment jump shot and Rionne Papa free-throw extended the lead out to 15. Etheredge quickly replied by Williams-Mackey went to work building towards another big performance with five consecutive points and handing her side an 18-point lead. The Wildcats had all the scoring in the final two minutes of the term thanks to a Katherine Jones triple and two success Etheredge free throws, but they still trailed by 13 points.

The Wildcats needed a spark in the second half and Richards and Elia were quick on the board, but back-to-back triples by Robati and Buchman either side of a Samia layup drove the dagger further in. Every challenge by Canterbury was suitably answered, with Etheredge becoming a problem close to the basket, but the likes of Robati and Vucinic standing up, with Buchman creating on offence. The Wildcats could not seem to get a crucial jump shot, instead Etheredge kept getting to the line and making the most of it.

Unfortunately for Canterbury, they could only get within 13 points, as the pairing of Williams-Mackey and Waynment were back on after a rest in the last couple of minutes and having an immediate impact. Jones put the deficit to within 14 with a minute to play, but a late Williams-Mackey basket extended it out to 16 at the final break.

Wayment was first on the board in the final term to all but end the contest. Emily Knight got her first points of the game for the Wildcats, as her second basket drove her team to within 12 points for the first time in two quarters. When Etheredge made a jump shot with 97 seconds left in the match, the deficit was still a tough ask, and then Mackey-Williams decided that was enough of that, draining back-to-back triples to put the final nail in the coffin. Despite Etheredge’s best work – sinking a triple in response, Wayment’s last basket in the final 30 seconds secured the 66-51 victory.

The Dream were once again the more efficient team on offence, shooting at 42 per cent compared to 26 from the field, and the Wildcats drained just three of 26 triples, compared to the Dream six of 15, showing their determination to look to secure baskets from close range. The rebound count was even, with the Wildcats ahead, as well as making the most of 19 second chance points thanks to their healthy work off the offensive boards. The Dream led the assist count (15-9), as well as the steals (14-13), blocks (2-0) and crucially, had four less turnover s (19-23).

Mackey-Williams backed up her game-winning performance on night one with a match-high 19 points, as well as five rebounds, one assist and two steals. Robarti had 14 points, five rebounds and two assists, while the best player coming off the bench was clearly Wayment, who had 13 points and 13 rebounds – including a massive eight offensive – to go with three assists and two blocks. Buchman played a crucial role with seven rebounds and four assists to go with her eight points.

For the Wildcats, Etheredge was by far the best player, dropping team-highs in points (17) and rebounds (12), particularly damaging off the offensive boards with nine. She also got to the free-throw line for 10 chances, making eight of them, and had three assists and two steals. Elia was the other double-digit scorer with 10 points, six rebounds, two assists and three steals, while Samia (five points, five rebounds and three steals) and Jones (six points, six rebounds) also tried hard across the board.

Now the Wildcats look to bounce back against Capital Swish tonight, while Auckland Dream earn a week’s break before also taking on the Swish next Friday, November 27.

Picture: Photosport

Dream snatches narrow win in dying seconds

AUCKLAND Dream have kept their momentum rolling from the Schick 3X3 Cup title win with an opening night win in the Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) 18IN18 competition thanks to a three-pointer from Arielle Mackey-Williams with just seven seconds remaining. The Dream might have got up in the 3X3 tournament, but it was clear that Waikato Wizards were up for the fight early on, winning the first two quarters before the home team hit back to escape with a 61-58 victory.

It was somewhat of an omen that Mackey-Williams was the first to get on the board for the season, making a layup 14 seconds into the match. Both teams were a little nervous and off target at first, before Sharne Pupuke-Robati scored the only other basket in the first two an a half minutes. Finally hitting the scoreboard, the Wizards’ Matangiroa Flavell nailed an important jump shot and swung the momentum back in the underdogs’ favour.

Both teams traded back-and forth baskets in the first term, with the lead out to as much as four points when Zarya Poulava completed an And-One chance with 27 remaining. Amanda Wayment secured a couple of free throws with four seconds left in the first term to help her Dream side to get within two points.

The second term was much like the first with both teams able to hit the scoreboard, but also miss some golden chances. Flavell extended the Wizards’ lead out to four points with a triple just a couple of minutes into the term, which was followed up by Natasha Lenden‘s free throws that resulted in a match-high six-point advantage.

Each time the Wizards skipped away, the Dream reeled them in, with as much as a six-point lead with 88 seconds left in the half, with Flavell again productive on the offensive end. A couple of late free throws in the final 30 seconds to Mackey-Williams cut the deficit to four, and the term was identical to the first at 14-12 in favour of the Wizards.

Needing a spark after half-time, Casyn Buchman hit an early two-pointer, and the teams traded blows with Alyssa Hirawani four points in response. Pupuke-Robati was starting to get a feel for it though for Auckland and between her and Buchman, the pair combined for their team’s first 13 points of the half. It led them to a lead, which never got more than two points as both teams remained capable of taking back the momentum. A late Jayzelee Waihi layup for the Wizards tied up the game at 47-47, but most importantly for the Dream, they had won the quarter by four.

The stage was set for a ripping last term, but early on it was the Dream that looked liked running away with it. Mackey-Williams and Pupuke-Robati extended the gap on the scoreboard out to five, as the Wizards only scored their first basket four minutes and 20 seconds into the term. A couple of misses for the Dream opened the door for the Wizards, as Makayla Daysh and Hirawani levelled the scores with just over three minutes to play.

Missing a chance moments early, Wayment stepped up with an important layup to again hand her team the lead, but Daysh hit the match-levelling free throws with two minutes and 56 seconds left on the clock. Both teams committed an array of errors or missed shots in the final couple of minutes as the pressure was through the roof. Plenty of substitutions were made on and off in a bid to gain the advantage, but it took until Arielle Parai made the fade away jumper to hand the Wizards the lead with 33 seconds on the clock.

A Dream timeout and reset seemed to do the trick, as Pupuke-Robati hit the layup play off the Buchman assist to level the scores with 31 seconds remaining. The Wizards took their turn at a timeout but Hirawani missed her layup opportunity, with Pupuke-Robati scooping up the rebound getting it to Buchman who again provided the crucial dime to Mackey-Williams from long-range who made no mistake with the game winner. Hirawani had a rushed shot with one second remaining, but it was not going to get there and the Dream escaped in a thriller.

Looking at the overall stats, the teams will want to improve on their shooting efficiency, recording just 32 and 33 per cent from the field, though both were impressive off the boards. The Wizards won the count 48-47, and also had more steals (14-8), while the Dream had more assists (16-12) and blocks (6-5), as well as less turnovers (20-22).

Pupuke-Robati was the standout with 23 points, 10 rebounds, one assist and one steal, whilst Buchman also picked up a double-double for the Dream thanks to 13 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and one steal. Mackey-Williams had the 11 points and three assists, while Wayment finished with a handy six points, seven rebounds, three assists and a massive five blocks.

For the Wizards, Flavell led the way with points thanks to 12, as well as four rebounds and five steals, but it was Daysh who was clearly best-on in the losing side. The forward racked up 10 points, 12 rebounds – six offensive – and two blocks. Parai (nine points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Hirawani (six points, four rebounds and three steals) also impressed.

The Dream will not have too long to bask in glory having to back up tonight against Canterbury Wildcats, while for the Wizards, they get a long break before coming up against Otago Gold Rush and the Wildcats back-to-back on November 24-25.

Picture: Photosport

NZNBL 18IN18 team preview: Auckland Dream

AUCKLAND Dream head into the condensed New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) 18IN18 competition in rare company. The Dream are coming off a title already in the Schick 3X3 Cup played over the weekend and will hope to add more silverware to the trophy cabinet when the game expands out to the full court five-player traditional game.

The four players involved in 3×3 Cup glory were Amanda Wayment, Arielle Williams-Mackey, Casyn Buchman and Darci Finnigan. Whilst Finnigan twisted her knee in the semi-final and had limited minutes in the 3×3 final, it is expected she should be right to go when the season tips off later this week. All four will play crucial roles in the team success, along with a list that will no doubt provide plenty of highlights throughout the year.

Wayment spent her college days at Brigham Young University in the West Coast Conference of the NCAA. The Cougars were the same college Tall Black and fellow Dream talent Kalani Purcell played at before graduating a year earlier in 2017. The 185cm forward is an athlete who will provide great leadership to the team having captained her college team in her senior year.

Fellow College talent Buchman returns to the Dream after playing there in 2019, averaging the 7.9 points from 19.9 minutes, shooting at an accurate 58.6 per cent. She also picked up the 3.2 rebounds, equally capable off the boards at either end, and is as tough as they come. Meanwhile 18-year-old Williams-Mackey is one to watch as a big-game player as she showed in the 3×3 final, with her accurate shooting and clutch baskets.

The turnaround between the 3×3 Cup and opening night of the NZNBL season is not long, with the Dream first up against Waikato Wizards on Thursday. Led by Tall Ferns assistant coach, Aik Ho the Dream have the talent to go deep in the 18-day tournament. There have been some crucial omissions from last year’s team in Tall Ferns talents, Natalie Taylor, Charmian Mellars and Jordan Hunter alongside Purcell, but other internationals to replace them in Katelin Noyer and Jelena Vucinic.

Both are coming off impressive college seasons, and added to the fact the exciting Sharne Robati will also run around for Auckland makes it a dream team. Rionne Papa and Tania Uluheua round out the 10-player squad, with the team one to watch in 2021 and hopeful of hitting the ground running from night one against the Wizards.

2020 Auckland Dream Full Team List:

Amanda Buck
Amanda Wayment
Casyn Buchman
Darci Finnigan
Jelena Vucinic
Sharne Pupuke-Robati
Rionne Papa
Arielle Williams-Mackey
Tania Uluheua
Katelin Noyer

Sharks and Dream secure NZNBL 3X3 Cup titles

SOUTHLAND Sharks and AUCKLAND Dream have claimed their respective New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) Schick 3X3 Cups over the weekend, with the Sharks winning the male title and the Dream taking out the female title.

Auckland Dream won in a nail-biting final 18-16 over Harbour Breeze to claim the title, with both sides winning all six games leading into the final. The Dream had topped Pool A and then defeated their Pool opponents NZ Select in the semi-finals, whilst Breeze topped Pool B by defeating Otago Gold Rush in the other semi. The two teams were the standout sides in the women’s draw, always looking like the teams to beat, with the Dream winning their two finals by a combined 14 points, whilst the Breeze did not quite have it like their namesake, winning with a combined eight points.

In the end, just two points separated the sides in the decider, with a two-point successful make from Casyn Buchman the difference with just six seconds left on the clock. To that point, the momentum had ebbed and flowed with the Breeze taking control early, before the Dream hit back through young star, Arielle Williams-Mackey. She helped her side to get back into it, before the experienced Amanda Wayment drew it, and Buchman finished it off.

Along with the injured Darci Finnigan who twisted her knee in the semi-final, the quartet was overcome the obstacle of limited minutes for their teammate in the decider to post the win and secure the title after being the fourth seeds heading into the tournament. For the Breeze, Ella Fotu, Brooke Blair, Ashleigh Kelman-Poto and Jazzmyne Kailahi-Fulu tried hard and almost got there after a sensational tournament, but just fell short in the end.

In the men’s competition, Southland Sharks defied the odds to topple one of the tournament favourites in Hawke’s Bay Hawks in the final. Like the women’s final, just two points separated the sides as the Sharks got up 21-19 to secure the title. Seeded fifth at the event, the Sharks won two of their four Pool games in Pool B to finish third on the overall table behind Auckland Huskies and Franklin Bulls, while the Hawks also finished third with two wins from four games, behind Tasman Suns and Otago Nuggets.

Finals are a different ball game, particularly knockout finals, with the Suns defeated by the seventh placed NZ Select Team which faced the Hawks who belted the Bulls 21-12 in their quarter final. The Hawks overcame the NZ Select Team by three points to advance to the final, whilst on the other side, the Sharks toppled the Nuggets by three points, then defeated the top of the table Huskies by four points to reach the decider.

Remarkably the match went blow-for-blow right up until 19 apiece and everything relying on the last basket. Two stars of New Zealand basketball in Derone Raukawa and Hyrum Harris were superb on either end, whilst Dom Kelman-Poto backed up his great work from the NZNBL Men’s competition with another big effort this tournament. It was Alonzo Burton who sank the game winner to end what was the most remarkable finals.

Harris, Kelman-Poto, Burton and Alex Pledger celebrated the 21-19 victory, having done it the hard way after the Pool stage of the competition. For Raukawa, Ethan Rusbatch, Everard Bartlett and Taane Samuel – who had all backed up from their NZNBL efforts – it was so close, yet so far, falling short of a title but having had a lot of fun along the way in the 3×3 tournament.

Picture: NZNBL