Tag: deandre daniels

2021 NZNBL team review: Manawatu Jets

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 Manawatu Jets.

SEASON SUMMARY:

Position: 9th
Wins: 4
Losses: 13

KEY STATS:

Points: 89.3 (3rd)
Rebounds: 35.5 (8th)
Assists: 12.4 (10th)
Steals: 6.2 (10th)
Blocks: 3.7 (1st)
Field Goal %: 44.7 (9th)

KEY PLAYERS:

Daishon Knight

Despite a disappointing season from the Jets, Knight was a consistent player throughout, playing every match and starting in all bar one of them. He led the team for points (23.5), assists (5.2) and steals (1.9), with the latter two being a huge issue for the Jets. They finished dead last in both areas, and after Knight, the next highest assist-maker was Jayden Bezzant (2.6), and only one other player had more than one steal per game. Knight shot at 51.1 per cent from the field, though only hit his three-balls at 28.6 per cent. Overall he was a reliable player across the season and one who consistently performed for the Jets.

The American finished the season like a house on fire, racking up a whopping triple-double of 30 points, 16 rebounds, 11 assists and three steals against Canterbury Rams on June 26. He went on to pick up another two double-doubles in the final three games, to really get cooking in the home stretch. He did come close to a triple-double against Franklin Bulls back on June 6, recording 16 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds in just 31 minutes, his lowest time on court all season. That was just one of three times where Knight scored less than 20 points for Jets, in a mirror of consistency.

Deandre Daniels

The other American up the front end took care of the rebounds, finishing second in the category with 86, as well as his 16.4 points and 2.3 blocks, the latter a team-high. It was his ability to deny the opposition time and time again at the basket that kept his team in contention, and as the number one blocking side. He was the only player on the Jets to average more than a block a game, but it was his versatility as a whole from a shooting perspective that was equally impressive. He was able to get in the paint, or get up the jumper, averaging 34.9 per cent from long-range. He did average less than an assist and steal per game however, synonymous with the team’s performance.

His eight points against Wellington Saints in the final game of the year was one of only three times he reached single-digit points, with the other two coming on back-to-back nights in the second round of the season. Showing his resilience, Daniels went from seven points and seven rebounds to 22 points and 12 rebounds against Otago Nuggets a week apart back in May, learning how to play his opponents. His best game came against Southland Sharks on June 11, where he played all 40 minutes and put up 34 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and two assists in a complete performance. He recorded at least four blocks in four games, with a block in all bar one match.

OTHERS:

Bezzant (15.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists) and Shane Temara (16.4 points,. 8.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks) were the other two consistent key contributors, with Jake McKinley‘s 6.8 points and 6.6 rebounds in 11 matches another healthy contribution.

SUMMARY:

Manawatu Jets ultimately struggled in season 2021, only picking up the four wins, though did have many tight contests, particularly early in the season. Had the Jets turned some of those losses into wins, it might have put them on a different trajectory. Whilst they were ranked third for points and first for blocks, their ball-handing skills with assists and steals showed they struggled to create scores from turnovers and playmaking efforts which is an improvement for the future.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

2021 NZNBL Round 11 preview: Ladder defining clashes take centre stage

IT is going to be another action packed round in the New Zealand National Basketball League with a couple of sides getting to ply their trade out on court twice this round as the ladder continues to shape up heading towards the back end of the season. The Saints will be keen to retain top spot while the Mountainairs have two chances to notch up a win.

Nelson Giants vs. Franklin Bulls
Thursday, July 8 @7:30pm
Trafalgar Centre

The contest between the Giants and Bulls is set to be an enthralling one as both sides have had a chequered run in their past few encounters. The Giants are coming in off a loss while the Airs will be riding a wave of success clinching a narrow win last round. Nelson Giants will be hoping to rekindle their form and steal the win to take the ledger to two wins apiece.

Hunter Hale has been one of the most consistent players to-date for the Giants, averaging 26.9 points, 4.7 assists and 4.1 defensive rebounds each time he steps out on court. Teammate Donte Ingram is also one to watch in this clash given he averages 18.8 points making him a handy target. Ingram is also more than capable of dishing off dimes averaging 2.3 assists a game while he also leads the way with 5.6 defensive rebounds. Speaking of rebounds, Samuel Dempster is a real eye catcher thanks to his 5.4 defensive rebounds and team-high average of 2.1 offensive rebounds. The Bulls will need the likes of Joshua Selby and Denhym Brooke to fire on all cylinders and create some real scoreboard presence if they are to defeat the Giants. Selby averages 24.4 points per game while Brooke boasts an average of 11.3 points along with four rebounds.

Southland Sharks vs. Otago Nuggets
Friday, July 9 @7:30pm
ILT Stadium Southland

The Sharks and Nuggets will engage in their second clash of the year with the latter hoping to reverse the fortunes of their previous meeting. Both sides are coming in with similar form guides having won three of their past five games, the only difference being the Nuggets enter the clash fresh off a win.

The combination of Isaiah Moss and Samuel Timmins will be one to watch given the two are the most prolific shooters for the Nuggets. Moss averages 22.2 points per game while Timmins is not far off the pace with 20 points of his own. Timmins is also crafty with ball in hand registering 4.6 assists a game and a whopping 10.7 rebounds highlighting his overall dominance. Gerasimos McKay is another player for the Nuggets that is able to change the course of a game with his ability to contest for the rebound averaging 4.7 a game while he is also able to create attacking forays credit to his 2.5 assists. For the Sharks there is no denying that Dominique Kelman-Poto is the main man to watch. Kelman-Poto tops the table for points with an average of 16.5 per game but will need the likes of Brayden Inger and Joshua Cunningham to ply their trade to impose a commanding score. Inger averages just over 14 points per game while Cunningham can influence both on the scoreboard and off the boards with 6.4 rebounds.

Hawkes Bay Hawks vs. Taranaki Mountainair
Saturday, July 10 @7:30pm
Pettigrew Green Arena

The first Saturday game of the round will see Hawkes Bay Hawks host Taranaki Mountainairs who have had less than a desirable season. The Hawkes will be hoping continue their winnings ways and really assert themselves on the lowly Mountainairs. Taranaki sit firmly at the bottom of the ladder while the Hawks are all the way up the ladder in second and will be eager to notch up a win to create some much needed ladder separation.

Unfortunately for the Airs it is a one man show with Marcel Jones proving to be that man. Jones can light up the court with his drive to the rim and is a force to be reckoned with credit to his average of 23.2 points, 3.8 assists and 8.9 rebounds falling just short of a double-double. If the Airs are any chance of causing a major upset they will need Tai Wynyard to be at his damaging best and apply the pressure on the scoreboard. Throw in the likes of Haize Walker and Aaron Bailey-Nowell who is renowned for his presence off the boards and the Airs have a strong core. But the Hawks are not short on star power with Devondrick Walker able to dominate as shown with his average of 19.1 points while Ethan Rusbatch can chime in with his average of 15.2 points. If those two are kept quiet then look to Jordan Hunt to step up to the plate while Hyrum Harris is also an option both on the scoreboard and with ball in hand credit to his 4.1 assists a game.

Manawatu Jets vs. Wellington Saints
Saturday, July 10 @7:30pm
Ballroom B and M Centre

It could be a blowout game if the top of the table Wellington Saints are able to bring their A-game against the lowly Manawatu Jets. The Jets only have four wins to their name while up the other end of the table the Saints have 12 to their name. The last time these two sides met it was Wellington that got the chocolates by 23 points and will be hoping to repeat those efforts in this outing to solidify their standings.

The Saints are brimming with talent as Dion Prewster, Kerwin Roach Jr and Tohi Smith-Milner are real livewires. Prewster leads the way with 21.1 points to accompany his 4.9 assists while Roach Jr is another dominant scorer credit to his 16.2 points and 4.1 assists a game. When looking at the Jets it is Daishon Knight that tops the table with is 23.3 points and will have to expect plenty of attention from the Saints to shut down his scoring ability. DeAndre Daniels is another exciting option for the Jets averaging 16.9 points per game along with 6.1 defensive rebounds. Shane Temara will need to up the ante for the Jets if they are to cause a boil-over while Jayden Bezzant has also proven to be a livewire at times.

Canterbury Rams vs. Nelson Giants
Saturday, July 10 @7:30pm
Cowles Stadium

A win here for either side will be monumental as the mid-table logjam continues to develop. The Rams will be hoping to capitalise on the Giants fatigue given they would have played only days earlier but Nelson need the victory to keep their finals hopes alive. The Giants pulled off the win the last time they played and will be keen to do it once again to generate some much needed momentum.

It will come down to the workload of Deshon Taylor and whether or not he can inspire the Rams to really get going. Taylor averages 22.1 points per game along with 4.9 assists and 3.9 defensive rebounds showcasing just how influential he is for the side. Another key cog for the Rams is Edward Singler who has proven to be handy on the scoreboard credit to his 18.5 points. It does not stop there for Singler as he also boasts 4.6 assists and 6.2 defensive rebounds. Keep an eye out for Samuel Smith to bob up every now and then for the Rams.

Auckland Huskies vs. Taranaki Mountainair
Sunday, July 11 @5:00pm
Eventafinda Stadium

The Mountainairs will be fronting up for their second game in as many days while the Huskies will be keen to take advantage of their fresh legs. Currently sitting in fourth spot on the ladder a win here could propel Auckland up the ladder and most importantly widen the gap between them and fifth place. Meanwhile for the Mountainairs, it will be a matter of pride as they look for their third win of the season.

Looking at the Huskies and they have a number of big contributors with Chris Johnson paving the way. He is the most prolific scorer for the Huskies averaging 20.1 points a game along with 2.9 assists and an impressive 8.4 rebounds. Meanwhile teammates Dontae Nance and Brook Ruscoe-Taiaroa are also right up there averaging 11.6 and 11.4 points respectively. Nance has also proven to be a handy contributor with ball in hand averaging 2.9 assists while Zach Riley has showcased his strength off the boards with 3.7 defensive rebounds. Throw in the services of American import Justin Bibbs and the Huskies have the makings for a big win if all of their structures fall into place. For the Mountainairs there is no denying that it is Jones that is the biggest threat. He is an imposing force across all aspects of the court and will need to have a mammoth performance if the last placed side are a chance to claim victory.

Wellington Saints vs. Otago Nuggets
Monday, July 12 @7:30pm
TSB Bank Arena

The final game of the round plays host to the top of the table Wellington Saints and fifth placed Nuggets. Both sides will be entering their second game for the round meaning the level of bench-depth from sides is sure to be the game changer. The two teams have played their fair share of games this season meeting five times already with Wellington walking away with the chocolates each and every time meaning it will be a matter of pride and redemption for the Nuggets this time around.

The Nuggets have the upper hand when it comes to defensive rebounds and assists and will be eager to get that style of play up and running early to catch the Saints on the back foot. But Wellington are much cleaner with ball in hand only averaging 13.85 turnovers a game in comparison to the Nuggets’ 14.93 which means they are able to capitalise when it counts. When it comes to top performers it is hard to go past the likes of Timmins and Moss for the Nuggets while Prewster, Roach and Taane Samuel are livewires for the Saints.

Photo credit: Joe Allison/Getty images via NZNBL

NZNBL Round 10: Sunday

THE Auckland Huskies continued their winning ways in their second outing of the round in the New Zealand National Basketball League while the Hawks bounced back after a loss earlier in the round.

Manawatu Jets (66) defeated by Auckland Huskies (75)

In their second game of the round it was the Huskies that made it two from two with a hard-fought win over the Jets. The Huskies asserted themselves nice and early on the contest establishing a handy six-point lead credit to some late free-throws. Scoring was hard to come by in the first few minutes of the second term as the ball ping-ponged up and down the court before the Jets hit back to get within two points and then steal the lead. This seesawing affair continued until once again it was the higher placed Huskies that kicked things up a notch. Only two points separated the two sides at half time and within the blink of an eye the Jets were level once again and had the lead in a complete replica of the second quarter. Manawatu started to motor, pouring on the scoreboard pain and creating an eight-point lead but it was not enough to worry the Huskies who fought back in the dying stages. With the lead chopping and changing the final quarter was always going to be a heart in your mouth finish and it certainly was. Auckland quickly tied things up as the intensity in the game steadily lifted and they eventually stole the lead. the buffer grew from two points to four before blowing out to the winning total of nine.

The Jets had two predominant scorers with Daishon Knight and Deandre Daniels leading the way. Daniels was the topscorer for Manawatu producing 23 points in his 40 minutes out on court while also racking up nine rebounds, two assists and two steals. Knight finished with a double-double to his name credit to his 21 points and 10 rebounds all of which were defensive. Jayden Bezzant was the only other player to have a real impact on the scoreboard credit to his nine points and three rebounds. For the Huskies it was the work of Chris Johnson that stood out as he sunk 25 points but also amassed a staggering 20 rebounds with 16 of them defensive. Bigman Tom Vodanovich was also in strong form producing 20 points, two assists and four rebounds in the win. Justin Bibbs and Zach Riley were the other two that had a notable impact for Auckland draining 14 and 10 points apiece.

Southland Sharks (71) defeated by Hawkes Bay Hawks (97)

The Hawks reversed their fortunes from earlier in the round with a resounding 28-point win over the Sharks last night. Taking the court for the second time in as many days the Hawks managed to string together some clever basketball to outsmart the Sharks and get the win. They burst out of the blocks in the opening quarter piling on a whopping 37 points while keeping Southland to 18 at the first break. Their accuracy and proficiency was on full display as the visitors continued to put the foot down in the second, extending out to as much as 28 points at halftime. While the Sharks upped the ante somewhat in the third term the Hawks never lost control, able to consistently ride the wave and withstand any type of pressure thrown their way. The fourth quarter was much the same as the Hawks remained in the driver’s seat, controlling proceedings and finding easy avenues to the rim to keep the scoreboard ticking over and the Sharks at bay.

It was a tough day at the office for the Sharks but Dominique Kelman-Poto was up to his usual tricks scoring 27 points in his 29 minutes out on court. Kelman-Poto also managed two assists and four rebounds in the loss while teammate Joshua Cunningham was the next cab off the rank when it came to scoring with 13 points at 55 per cent from the field along with eight rebounds. Brayden Inger was the only other player to hit double figures for the Sharks with 10 points. For the Hawks, Jordan Hunt was the man proving to have the hot hand as he dropped 21 points at 44 per cent from the field. Hunt did not stop there as he also recorded four assists and two deflections as Devondrick Walker also found himself in the thick of things with his 17 points, four assists and three rebounds. Both Deone Raukawa and Ethan Rusbatch showcased their class with 12 points apiece as the latter also walked away with four assists and a steal.

Photo credit: NZNBL

2021 NZNBL Round 10 preview: Top four battles headline the round

ROUND 10 of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) commences tonight with some ladder defining clashes headlining the round. With the finals inching closer and closer now is the time for the sides to hit their stride and start to rally some much needed momentum.

Canterbury Rams vs. Southland Sharks
Friday, July 2 @7:30pm
Cowles Stadium

Both sides are coming in off a loss and will be eager to get back to their winning ways in this contest. Canterbury Rams have won three of their past five encounters while Southland Sharks have won four of their past five making for an enthralling battle. In terms of ladder positioning the Sharks well and truly have the upper hand currently locked in at second spot while the Rams are stuck in the mid-table logjam at sixth so a win here could be a huge upset for Canterbury. However, the Rams do have two dominant scorers in Deshon Taylor and Edward Singler. Taylor averages 22.3 points a game along with five assists while Singler is not too far behind with 18 points. The scoring load is a lot more shared for the Sharks with the likes of Dominique Kelman-Poto, Brayden Inger and Joshua Cunningham all viable options. Kelman-Poto leads the pack for the Sharks with his average of 16.1 points while Inger averages 15. Cunningham is pretty well rounded thanks to his 13.4 points, 2.1 assists and 6.7 rebound average making him a key cog in the Sharks outfit and one the Rams will need to stop if they are to topple the second placed side.

Taranaki Mountainairs vs. Wellington Saints
Friday, July 2 @7:30pm
TSB Stadium

It is going to be a battle between first and last when the Mountainairs and Saints go head-to-head. The Saints are in blistering form up in top spot on the ladder with 11 wins to their name while Taranaki have struggled to find their mojo all season, glued to the bottom of the table. The last time these two sides met the Saints walked away with the chocolates in a one-sided affair and will be keen to replicate that output once again given they average a higher number of points, assists, rebounds and blocks than their opponents. Looking at key contributors, it is hard to go past the likes of Marcel Jones for the Airs with the bigman leading the way with his average of 21.5 points, 3.9 assists and nine rebounds to fall just short of a double-double. He will need a helping hand from the likes of Tai Wynyard and Haize Walker if the home side are any chance of upsetting the apple cart. For the Saints they have no shortage of scoring options with Dion Prewster, Kerwin Roach Jr and Taane Samuel all influential figures. Prewster averages 20.9 points along with 5.1 assists and 3.9 defensive rebounds. Roach Jr is also explosive thanks to his 16.7 points, 4.4 assists and 5.2 rebounds while Tohi Smith-Milner is also a force to be reckoned with off the boards.

Nelson Giants vs. Auckland Huskies
Friday, July 2 @7:30pm
Trafalgar Centre

The Giants and Huskies are both looking for ways to weasel their way out of that mid-table logjam and this is the perfect opportunity. A win here for the Huskies could boost them into fourth spot while if the Giants get the win they will close the gap between them and sixth on the ladder. The Huskies have won two of their three encounters so far this season against the Giants and will be wanting to make it three from four by taking advantage of their winning momentum. Both teams are relatively well-matched up with the only main difference coming in the blocks category with Auckland impressing down in defence. Hunter Hale is the main facilitator for the Giants with his ability to attack the rim thanks to his 26.6 point average plus his 4.5 assists and 3.8 defensive rebounds. He will need the likes of Donte Ingram to step up to the plate if the Giants are to keep their hopes alive. Meanwhile the Huskies have a couple of key points scorers with Chris Johnson topping the table thanks to his 20.3 points. He is also handy on the assists front with an average of three to his name along with 7.3 defensive rebounds. Brook Ruscoe-Taiaroa and Dontae Nance are also known for their ability to chime in and hit the scoreboard which the visitors will need in this contest.

Otago Nuggets vs. Hawkes Bay Hawks
Saturday, July 3 @7:30pm
Edgar Centre

It is going to be an enthralling top four battle as Otago Nuggets host Hawkes Bay Hawks in hope to solidify their standings on the ladder. The Hawks currently sit two games ahead of the Nuggets but a win here could shift things and give the home side some real confidence heading into the backend of the season. But Otago will have to pull out the big guns having gone down to Hawkes Bay by 30 points last time the two sides met. Both teams are coming in off a loss and will be looking to put their foot down with a strong showing here. Isaiah Moss and Samuel Timmins have been the most dominant scorers for the Nuggets with the pair averaging 21.6 and 20.6 points respectively with the latter also racking up 4.9 assists and 11.1 rebounds. The Hawks have a number of players capable of causing some scoreboard trouble with Ethan Rusbatch boasting an average of 19.4 points, Devondrick Walker averaging 18.9 and Hyrum Harris with 13.3. Harris is no slouch when it comes to assists picking up 3.6 per game while also imposing himself off the boards with a team-high 5.4 rebounds making him one to watch.

Franklin Bulls vs. Taranaki Mountainairs
Saturday, July 3 @7:30pm
Franklin Pool and Leisure Centre

The Mountainairs will be gearing up for their second game in as many days while the Bulls will be hoping their added break will give them the legs to overrun the struggling side. Not much separates the two teams with the Bulls sitting second last on the ladder but two wins ahead while Taranaki will be yearning for a win and this is probably their best opportunity. It was a blowout the last time they met with the Bulls claiming a 16-point victory but when looking at form it is the Mountainairs that hold the upper hand registering a win last round while the Bulls are on a four-game losing streak. Keep an eye out for Joshua Selby given he averages 24.4 points, 3.8 assists and 4.9 rebounds for the Bulls and expect Jones to do the heavy-lifting for the Airs. Denhym Brooke is also a crucial cog for the Bulls recording an average of 10.9 points as Francis Mulvihill will hope to be crafty with ball in hand.

Manawatu Jets vs. Auckland Huskies
Sunday, July 4 @3:00pm
Ballroom B and M Centre

Manawatu Jets are set to take on the Huskies as they look to bounce back from a shock loss last week. The Huskies got over the line by nine points back in April when the two sides locked horns and will be hoping to repeat that feat once again to continue their way up the ladder. Manawatu have been guilty of turning ball over and will need to treasure possession in this clash if they are to roll the Huskies. The Jets will need big efforts from Shane Temara, DeAndre Daniels, Daishon Knight and Jayden Bezzant if they are to post a competitive total and generate some real momentum. Knight tops the table with an average of 23.4 points while Daniels is also prolific thanks to his 16.5 points. Temara and Bezzant average 15.7 and 15.6 points apiece with the former also able to dish off dimes with ease thanks to his average of 3.2 assists.

Southland Sharks vs. Hawkes Bay Hawks
Sunday, July 4 @5:00pm
ILT Stadium Southland

The final game of the round is between Southland Sharks and Hawkes Bay Hawks – another top four battle. Sitting on 10 wins apiece heading into the clash, this one could prove to be ladder defining so expect both sides to leave nothing to chance. The two sides have played off three times this year and the Hawks have come out on top each time giving them a wealth of confidence and belief heading into this clash. Expect a high quality game with the likes of Kelman-Poto and Rusbatch renowned for their ability to hit the scoreboard with ease for their respective sides.

Photo credit: Shane Wenzlick/Photosport 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

Rare Air for Wynyard’s Taranaki with upset win over Jets

A DOMINANT double-double performance from Tai Wynyard has seen the Taranaki Mountainairs claim an impressive 11-point win over Manawatu Jets in last night’s New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) clash. The Airs only had one win coming into the match, but doubled that total in last night’s bottom two battle, overcoming a Jets side missing big man Shane Temara, resulting in Wynyard racking up a whopping 31 points and 17 rebounds, whilst Marcel Jones also collected a double-double in the 104-93 victory.

The Airs took control of the game early, racing out to a six-point quarter time lead. Making sure not to let the game slip, they really put the foot down in one of their most impressive terms of the year in the second stanza, piling on 31 points to 19 to hold a whopping 18-point advantage at the main break. Both teams were fairly even in the third term, before the Jets grabbed some consolation points to win the last term 32-25, but it was not going to be enough as Taranaki enjoyed the rare win, in front of home fans.

Aside from patches during the first term when the Jets held narrow leads, once the Airs took the advantage late in the term, they never looked back. At one stage the lead got out to 22 points midway through the second quarter, and whilst eventually the Jets reduced the damage by the final buzzer, it was always going to be tough to make up the first half difference.

The Airs hit 50 per cent of their field goal attempts to the jets’ 40 per cent, and nailed 44 per cent (12 of 27) from long-range compared to their opponents’ 24 per cent (eight of 33). Whilst their free throw percentage was shocking (41 to 80 per cent), they comfortably won the rebounds (51-42) and assists (24-13), as well as smashed the Jets in the pain (56-36) and from second chance points (20-12). Both teams had 16 turnovers, but it was the Jets who capitalised more with 23 points to 18, as well as having more steals (12-8) and bench points (17-13).

Wynyard unsurprisingly won Most Valuable Player (MVP) for his 31 points and 17 rebounds – 12 offensive – as he played arguably the best game from a second chance points perspective. Jones had the 23 points – three of eight from outside the arc – 11 rebounds – all defensive – six assists and five steals in an all-round game. Haize Walker (15 points, three assists and two rebounds), Carlin Davison (11 points, eight rebounds and six assists) and Scott Telfer (11 points, two rebounds and two assists) rounded out an overall strong starting five performance.

Daishon Knight was the prominent scorer for the Jets, picking up 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists to be the losing side’s best player. Jayden Bezzant (16 points, five assists, four rebounds and four steals), Deandre Daniels (13 points, six rebounds and two blocks) and the long-range shooting of Kalib Marsich-Mullins (14 points – four of 10 from three-point range – and six assists) all stood out. Nikau McCullough had his usual impact off the bench with 13 points, three rebounds and three steals.

Manawatu Jets will need to dust themselves off before a home clash against Canterbury Rams tonight, whilst the Airs will have until Friday to prepare for their home battle with top of the table Wellington Saints.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

2021 NZNBL Round 9 preview: Wellington match goes ahead as league adapts to COVID-19 restrictions

FOUR rounds remain in the hotly contested New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL), as the top four sides have created some separation from the remaining six, though a mid-table logjam means that some of those fifth-eighth teams could give it a shake with a lot of luck.

FRANKLIN BULLS vs. CANTERBURY RAMS
Thursday, June 24 @ 7:30pm
Franklin Pool & Leisure Arena

In what is simply a must-win for both sides, and particularly for Franklin Bulls in the scheme of their season, the eighth placed Bulls take on the fifth placed Canterbury Rams. The wounded Bulls are a loss away from having a line put through their season – if the ink was not dry already – whilst for the Rams, a win means they keep in touch with the top four, as Otago Nuggets sit just a win ahead. Franklin Bulls are 2-4 at home with the Rams 1-4 on the road, which shows neither side has been particularly successful in those areas. Kyrin Galloway (11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks) and Manuel Ayol (13.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals) are two who have come in and made an impact for the Bulls, whilst Isaac Davidson (8.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists) is just warming up. It will take quite an effort to beat the likes of EJ Singler (17.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.0 steals), Deshon Taylor (22.1 points, 5.1 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 3.0 steals) and Quintin Bailey (11.2 points, 4.5 rebounds).

TARANAKI MOUNTAINAIRS vs. MANAWATU JETS
Friday, June 25 @ 7:30pm
TSB Stadium

In the now standalone Friday night game, Taranaki Mountainairs will host Manawatu Jets in a bottom two clash. Back at home where they grabbed their only win this season, the Airs have a chance to double their win tally in season 2021, sitting at 1-11 from the year. The Jets are not much better with a 3-9 season, though they have come incredibly close to a number of other victories. The Airs are 1-5 at home and the Jets are 1-6 on the road, so one side will grab its second win from those parameters. Marcel Jones has been a lone hand for the Airs all season, racking up 21.4 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks to lead his side in every statistical area. Carlin Davidson (8.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.2 steals) and Haize Walker (9.1 points, 3.5 assists and 3.3 rebounds) have been the next best for the Airs. The Jets have had no trouble finding some big scorers, with Daishon Taylor (22.8 points, 5.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals), DeAndre Daniels (16.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.3 blocks) and Shane Temara (15.7 points, 9.3 rebounds) all making their presence felt.

SOUTHLAND SHARKS vs. AUCKLAND HUSKIES
Saturday, June 26 @ 7:30pm
ILT Stadium

Another mid-table side desperate to keep in touch with the top four is Auckland Huskies, who will tackle the top of the table Southland Sharks. The Sharks are yet to lose at home, winning five straight at ILT Stadium, and will go in as raging favourites, having amassed a 10-3 record this season. Having played the 13 games compared to the second placed Hawkes Bay Hawks’ 12 (9-3) and third placed Wellington Saints’ 11 (9-2) they have less games in hand, so will be keen to keep winning and avoid one of those sides in the final four. The Huskies are 2-3 on the road, so will need to be at their best to cause an upset. The Sharks have had remarkable consistency, with all five of their starters playing every game, and starting in every match bar one the exact same way. Dom Kelman-Poto (16.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists), Josh Cunningham (12.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists) and Courtney Belger (13.1 points, 5.1 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.9 steals) are the red-hot trio to watch. Chris Johnson has been the star for the Huskies, averaging 20.9 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.8 blocks in 10 matches for Auckland. Teenage star Dontae Nance (13.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.6 steals) and Brooke Ruscoe (14.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.7 steals) have been other consistent contributors.

HAWKES BAY HAWKS vs. FRANKLIN BULLS
Saturday, June 26 @ 7:30pm
Pettigrew Green Arena

The second placed Hawks enter the round with a home game up against Franklin Bulls, With the Bulls coming off a match a couple of nights before, the Hawks will be keen to use fresh legs against the Bulls in the Saturday night fixture. They are yet to lose at home from six matches, so will be heavily favoured to pick up their 10th win of the season and keep touch with the top of the table Sharks. The Hawks have six players with double-digit point averages, led by Devondrick Walker (18.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.4 steals) and Ethan Rusbatch (18.65 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.2 steals), whilst Hyrum Harris (13.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.7 steals) has contributed across the board for the impressive Hawks.

MANAWATU JETS vs. CANTERBURY RAMS
Saturday, June 26 @ 7:30pm
Fly Palmy Arena

WELLINGTON SAINTS vs. HAWKES BAY HAWKS
Sunday, June 27 @ 5:00pm
TSB Bank Arena

Originally scheduled to be their second game of the round, the Wellington Saints now take on the Hawkes Bay Hawks first on Sunday evening at TSB Bank Arena. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions in Wellington, the Saints’ visiting clash against Nelson Giants was moved from Friday night to the following Wednesday night, whilst the Sunday night battle with the Hawks remained at the same venue and time, but with no crowds allowed in. Expect the Saints to create their own atmosphere in this massive top three clash, with both sides heading into the round with nine wins, though the Hawks could have notched up their 10th by this stage. The fresh legs and home court should hand the Saints a strong advantage. Dion Prewster has led from the front with 19.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.6 steals, whilst Kerwin Roach (17.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.7 steals) and Tohi Smith-Milner (12.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.2 steals) have also stood out.

OTAGO NUGGETS vs. AUCKLAND HUSKIES
Sunday, June 27 @ 5:00pm
Edgar Centre

Also on Sunday night is the fourth placed Otago Nuggets hosting the Huskies in what is a tough weekend for the sixth placed Huskies. Auckland will not want to lose both its games this weekend, whilst depending on results, the Nuggets can bridge their gap on the mid-table sides even further with a win in this game, though can close the gap right up with a loss. Sam Timmins is in some remarkable form for the Nuggets, hard to stop close to the basket at both ends, the big man is averaging 18.8 points, 12.9 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks from 12 games thus far in season 2021. Isaiah Moss (19.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 steals) and Geremy McKay (13.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists) have been others who have also amassed big points totals.

NELSON GIANTS vs. WELLINGTON SAINTS
Wednesday, June 30 @ 6:30pm
Trafalgar Centre

A five-day delay has seen Nelson Giants host the Saints at the Trafalgar Centre as a standalone Wednesday night fixture. The Giants are 5-7 and on the verge of being knocked out of finals contention, but a huge upset here and they are back on track. The Saints are 2-2 away from TSB Bank Arena, whilst the Giants are 3-3 at home, but it will take a huge effort to topple Wellington in this clash. American duo Hunter Hale (26.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.9 steals) and Donte Ingram (17.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.7 steals) have done the bulk of the damage this season, whilst Sam Dempster (6.5 points. 7.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists) has been a huge influence off the boards.

 

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Hawks, Nuggets and Rams all produce huge wins

THE bottom three sides in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) were all on the receiving end of some hefty losses, as Hawkes Bay Hawks, Otago Nuggets and Canterbury Rams all staked their claims for a Final Four finish. The second placed Hawks shot down the Manawatu Jets by 28 points, the fourth placed Nuggets produced the most dominant performance of the year to win by 40 against Franklin Bulls, and the fifth placed Rams kept in touch with the top four courtesy of a 24-point win over cellar dwellers, Taranaki Mountainairs.

Hawkes Bay Hawks were red hot from the opening tip-off, putting up 28 points to 13 to race out to a 15-point lead. Whilst the second term was even in a high-scoring affair, the Hawks once again took control in the third to all but end the contest as it pushed the difference to beyond 30 points. A rallying effort in the final term cut the Jets back to within 28, but they were no match for the Hawks, going down 61-89.

Devondrick Walker won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) on the night for his 25 points, eight assists and six rebounds, ahead of Jordan Hunt (17 points, three rebounds and two assists) and Hyrum Harris (10 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and five steals. All five starters hit at least one shot from long-range, as Rhys Vague also picked up a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds. Ethan Rusbatch (10 points, two rebounds) was the other Hawks player to hit double-figure points.

For the Jets, Daishon Knight stood tall with 20 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals, leading the way from Jayden Bezzant (16 points, two steals) and Deandre Daniels (12 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks). Tukaha Cooper came on for less than 11 minutes and contributed eight points – including a triple – in that time.

In the Otago Nuggets’ complete domination of Franklin Bulls, the home team never looked like losing, piling on 23-9 in the opening term. The high-scoring second term of 34-28 showed perhaps the game might get back on even terms from that point, but it was not to be as Otago again put the defensive pressure on, scoring 26-9 in the third term to lead by a whopping 37 points with a quarter to play. The final term was tighter, but the home team still won it by three, notching up a massive 40-point win, 104-64.

Sam Timmins won another MVP award for his effort, notching up 24 points and a massive 19 rebounds – 17 defensive – whilst recording two assists and two steals for his troubles. Isaiah Moss provided the long-range daggers with six of 13 from beyond the arc on his way to 23 points, four rebounds and three assists. Both players spent less than 28 minutes on court in the win. Gerasimos McKay (14 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals) and Richie Rodger (11 points, three rebounds were productive, whilst the lopsided scoreline allowed five bench players to spend more than 10 minutes on court, and six of the seven coming on to score.

For the Jets, Kyrin Galloway did all her could with a massive 17 rebounds – 13 defensive – to match his 13 points, while Denhym Brooke (12 points, two rebounds and two assists) also tried hard. Coming off the bench, Nicholas Fee (11 points, three rebounds) and Jaylen Gerrand (10 points, three rebounds and two steals) notched up double-figure points.

In the third game, Canterbury Rams kept their finals hopes alive with a solid 24-point win over last placed Taranaki Mountainairs. The Rams produced the goods early in front of home fans, applying 26 points to 16 to lead by 10, then extended that margin out to 16 by half-time. The Airs cut into the deficit by two heading into the final term, before the Rams stepped up to produce an identical quarter to the first one (26-16) to win, 92-68.

EJ Singler took the MVP honours with 24 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and two steals on the night, just ahead of Deshon Taylor (21 points, five assists, four steals and two rebounds). Alex Talma (12 points, 10 rebounds and three assists) also recorded a double-double, whilst Sam Smith (12 points, eight assists and four rebounds) and a returning Max Darling (10 points, four rebounds) both hit double-figure points in the win as well.

Marcel Jones was back to his double-double best in a hard working 16-point and 10-rebound effort, shooting three of six from long-range and also collecting a couple of steals. Tai Wynyard (16 points, four rebounds) and Carlin Davison (14 points, three assists and two rebounds) also reached double-figure points, as Francis Mulvihill (seven points) and Deu-Leo Leusogi-Ape (six points, three rebounds and two assists) were the next best.

Franklin Bulls and Canterbury Rams tip-off the next round of action on Thursday, with a battle between the Taranaki Mountainairs and Manawatu Jets on Friday. The Hawkes Bay Hawks host the Franklin Bulls on Saturday, whilst the Otago Nuggets rest up until a home game against Auckland Huskies on Sunday.

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2021 NZNBL Round 8 preview: Top three clash among mid-table battles to open weekend of action

IT is getting towards the pointy end of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) season, and there is plenty on the line in Round 8 of the competition. Some mid-table clashes, a top three battle and some last chances for lower sides in a weekend that is sure to promise plenty of excitement.

AUCKLAND HUSKIES vs. CANTERBURY RAMS
Thursday, June 17 @ 7:30pm
Eventfinda Stadium

A mid-table clash between two sides with five wins takes place tonight in a standalone clash in Auckland. The Auckland Huskies (5-6) are hosting the Canterbury Rams (5-5), in what is literally a ladder-defining clash. It will be the Huskies’ only Round 8 outing this weekend, with the Rams suiting up again on Sunday evening to take on the Taranaki Mountainairs. At home the Huskies are an even 3-3 while the Rams have not been that great on the road, recording a 1-3 record to-date. Chris Johnson (21.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 blocks) has been the standout player for the Huskies, but now Tom Vodanovich is back from ANBL duties, putting up 22 points, five rebounds and two assists coming off the bench last match. The Rams American duo of EJ Singler (166 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.1 steals) and Deshon Taylor (22.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.8 steals) can do it all.

OTAGO NUGGETS vs. NELSON GIANTS
Friday, June 18 @ 7:30pm
Trafalgar Centre

Next up in one of two Friday night clashes is another mid-table showdown between the fourth placed Otago Nuggets (6-5) and sixth placed Nelson Giants (5-6). Much like the previous match, it is certainly a ladder-defining match with the reigning premier Nuggets able to create some separation on the mid-table logjam, whilst the Giants can keep in touch with those top sides by bringing home the points. At home the Nuggets are 2-3, whilst the Giants are 2-4 on the road. Nelson is playing its only game for Round 8, while Otago will host Franklin Bulls on Sunday. Sam Timmins is in ripping form this season, racking up a triple-double last week and now averaging 18.6 points, 12.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.3 steals. He has teamed up well with Isaiah Moss (18.9 points, 5.5 rebounds) and Geremy McKay (12.5 points, 6.1 rebounds) this season for the Nuggets. Speaking of red hot form, Hunter Hale continues to shoot the lights out with an average of 27.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.7 steals. Donte Ingram (18.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.7 steals) has been the other key scorer for Nelson.

HAWKES BAY HAWKS vs. WELLINGTON SAINTS
Friday, June 18 @ 7:30pm
Pettigrew Green Arena

The match of the round is likely to be between two top three sides as the Hawkes Bay Hawks (7-3) host the Wellington Saints (8-1). The third placed Hawks are yet to lose at home, and have strung together three straight wins to be sitting comfortably, while Wellington Saints have won their past two since dropping their first game to Southland Sharks a couple of weeks again. Wellington has only hit the road three times for a 2-1 record, but have proven hard to beat this season. Dion Prewster (21.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.7 steals), Kerwin Roach Jr (17.3 points. 6.7 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.9 steals), Tohi Smith-Milner (11.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 steals) and Taane Samuel (14.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists) have all been outstanding and contributed to the Saints’ phenomenal season. The Hawks have had their huge depth for support as well, with Ethan Rusbatch (20.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.3 steals), Devondrick Walker (17.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.7 steals), Hyrum Harris (13.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.4 steals) and Jonathan Janssen (13.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks) set to lock horns with those Saints talents.

SOUTHLAND SHARKS vs. FRANKLIN BULLS
Saturday, June 19 @ 7:30pm
ILT Stadium

Tipping off the weekend for one of two Saturday night clashes, the Southland Sharks (9-3) host the Franklin Bulls (4-7). After looking in serious trouble the past couple of weeks due to the injury toll starting to mount, the Bulls finally broke through for a win last start, and will be hoping to back that up with consecutive victories. They are 2-3 when on the road in season 2021, whilst the Sharks are yet to lose at home from four games and are on a seven-game hot streak since losing three consecutive games what seems an eternity ago. Dom Kelman-Poto has been outstanding with 17.8 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game, while Courtney Belger (13.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.8 steals) and Josh Cunningham (11.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists) have also been impressive. For the Bulls, injuries to Josh Selby and Zane Waterman have really hurt them in particular, as the two key scorers have been replaced by Kyrin Galloway (23.5 points, 14.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.5 blocks) in the past two games, and Manel Ayol (19 points, 11 rebounds and three assists) last match, with Denhym Brooke (11.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks) one of the few key features all season.

WELLINGTON SAINTS vs. TARANAKI MOUNTAINAIRS
Saturday, June 19 @ 7:30pm
TSB Bank Arena

Bottom of the table Taranaki Mountainairs have a mammoth task when entering Round 8, having to topple the second placed Wellington Saints on the road. The Airs (1-9) have sunk to six consecutive losses, and are yet to win away (0-4), whilst the Saints have a perfect 6-0 record when at home. The main hope for the Airs will be the fatigue for the Saints having played the night before. Marcel Jones has been the shining light this season, averaging 23.0 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks, whilst Carlin Davison (8.0 points. 4.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.3 steals) has impacted off the bench, and Haize Walker (9.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists) steadfast in all 10 matches.

MANAWATU JETS vs. HAWKES BAY HAWKS
Sunday, June 20 @ 3:00pm
Fly Palmy Arena

The third placed Hawks come in for their second game of the round, as the last match featuring a team playing its first game in the Manawatu Jets. Hosting the Hawks at Fly Palmy Arena, the ninth placed Jets must win to keep their finals hopes alive, sitting near the bottom with a 3-8 record, and only 2-2 at home. The Hawks are 2-3 on the road, which could give the Jets confidence of causing an upset. The American trio of Daishon Knight (23.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.9 steals), DeAndre Daniels (16.7 points. 9.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks) and Shane Temara (15.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists) have all been superb despite the Jets’ disappointing season thus far.

OTAGO NUGGETS vs. FRANKLIN BULLS
Sunday, June 20 @ 5:00pm
Edgar Centre

CANTERBURY RAMS vs. TARANAKI MOUNTAINAIRS
Sunday, June 20 @ 5:00pm
Cowles Stadium

 

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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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