Tag: Denhym Brooke

2021 NZNBL team review: Franklin Bulls

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 Franklin Bulls.

SEASON SUMMARY:

Position: 8th
Wins: 5
Losses: 13

KEY STATS:

Points: 83.6 (7th)
Rebounds: 35.9 (7th)
Assists: 14.3 (8th)
Steals: 7.0 (8th)
Blocks: 3.1 (3rd)
Field Goal %: 42.2 (10th)

KEY PLAYERS:

Denhym Brooke

The only player in the side to start in every single match of the season, Brooke averaged the 11.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 1.4 assists and 1.3 steals. With the team fluctuating greatly due to injury, Brooke was one of the few that the Bulls could rely upon each day, able to deliver from inside and outside the arc. Though his shooting percentage was lower than some with 32 per cent from three-point range and 40.7 per cent overall, he was still able to contribute in a multitude of ways. He was the glue that held the team together when they lost both Zane Waterman and Josh Selby midway through the season.

Aside from a 16-point opener, Brooke had a quiet start to the season, with single-digit points in the next six games. Once the damaging duo left, Brooke had to step up and he hit two games of 17 points, and then a season-high 23 points in a clash against Manawatu Jets. He had just the three more double-digit point scoring efforts, but did pick up an impressive double-double against Taranaki Mountainairs on July 3 with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Overall, Brooke was someone the Airs could count on to be there and play a role.

Isaac Davidson

Playing the other half of the season to Selby and Waterman, Davidson returned from his ANBL commitments to play nine games and have an impact straight away. He averaged a team-high 13.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists in that time to be the dominant player for the Bulls. After bursting onto the scene in 2020, Davidson showed his potential once again, even if he was a little rusty with his shooting. Finding himself under more pressure this season, Davidson shot at 27 per cent from outside the arc and 39.7 per cent overall, which was indicative of his entire team’s shooting efforts.

After a slow start to the season returning from the ANBL – Davidson averaged just eight points per game across his first four outings, but still just over six rebounds per match. Once he hit his straps, the final five games yielded a much higher 17.8 points and 6.4 rebounds, shooting at a much more consistent rate. Whilst it was not enough to consistently see wins ticking over for the Bulls, Davidson did what he could for his side each night.

OTHERS:

Selby (24.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.9 steals) was in MVP contention before he left, with Waterman (21.4 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.0 blocks) not far behind. Kyrin Galloway joined Davidson late in the season, to average an impressive 16 points and 12 rebounds from seven games and be the star talent also returning from the ANBL.

SUMMARY:

Franklin Bulls started brightly with some standout performers, but once Selby and Waterman were ruled out, they struggled. The return of Davidson with Galloway provided a bit of a spark, but ultimately it was too little, too late, and the final game – a 60-point shellacking at the hands of Wellington Saints – ended their year in the worst possible way.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Giant win over Franklin gifts Nelson breathing room on the ladder

NELSON Giants reigned supreme in their clash against Franklin Bulls claiming a whopping 35-point win, 119-85. It was only the Giants’ sixth win of the season but it was a convincing one as they put the clamps on the seventh placed Bulls.

The intention of the Giants was clear from the opening jumpball of the game with Anzac Rissetto winning it and propelling it down court. Not only were the Giants hungry but they were also daring and willing to back themselves in from down town. Their confidence was sky-high nice and early and while it did not take long for the Bulls to answer the call, Nelson were always able to find a way to surge ahead. They skipped out to an eight-point lead midway through the opening term as they continued to build on that momentum. Things only got better and better for the Giants as the quarter went along with the likes of Nicolas Trathen and Hunter Hale combining to apply scoreboard pressure to blow the Bulls out of the water.

Heading into quarter time up by 14 points it is fair to say the Giants well and truly had the upper hand and did not look like letting up as they immediately added to the total. It was becoming all too much for the Franklin Bulls who simply had no answers in either defence or offence to stop the Giants who were firing on all cylinders. The lead ballooned out to as much as 19 points before the Bulls rallied to somewhat stem the bleeding, however that was only short lived. The third quarter continued much of the same with Nelson able to find easy avenue to the basket time after time while their defensive pressure limited the fluidity for the Bulls. The lead extended out to a whopping 32 points but that was just an indication of what was to come in what was a blistering final term of action. The Giants refused to take their foot off the pedal and managed to increase the lead to a winning total of 35 points.

Statistically speaking the two sides were incredibly close on the rebounding front with 43 and 42 apiece in favour of the Giants while when it came to assists it is no surprise that Nelson also had the upper hand with 22 compared to 13. Turnovers proved to be the main killer with Franklin amassing a whopping 19 while the Giants only coughed up possession four times.

The Giants had no shortage of players putting their hand up to lead the way throughout the clash with Trathen imposing himself. He topscored for the side with 24 points in only 20 minutes out on court. Trathen also managed to register two assists and three rebounds. Hot on his heels in a scoring sense was teammate Hale who slotted 23 points at 45 per cent from the field. He tried his luck from deep sinking three triples from nine attempts while he also reeled in five rebounds. Donte Ingram was among the best out on court for the Giants as he dropped 17 points, seven assists and five rebounds while the work of Samuel Dempster did not go unnoticed as he fell agonisingly short of a triple-double with 15 points, nine assists and 14 rebounds to his name. In his 100th game, Thomas Ingham was the only other player to hit double-digits for the Giants with 10 points.

It was a different story for the Bulls who did not share the same amount of depth but still had a couple of crucial cogs that were able to step up to the plate. Isaac Davidson proved to be a real menace producing 24 points, two assists and three rebounds in the loss. Denhym Brooke was also up there for the Bulls contributing 20 points at an impressive 80 per cent from the field while also accumulating four assists, eight rebounds and three blocks. Jaylen Gerrand and Manel Ayol both plied their trade sinking 15 and 10 points respectively in the loss with the latter also picking up six rebounds.

Photo credit: NZNBL Twitter

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: Saturday night

SATURDAY brought a couple of exciting match-ups in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) as the Otago Nuggets and Franklin Bulls notched up wins. It was a close encounter in both matches as the two sides showcased their ability to fight back when down to clinch victory.

Otago Nuggets (94) defeated Hawkes Bay Hawks (88)

The fourth placed Nuggets showcased some real grit and determination against the third placed Hawks in what was an enthralling contest that saw them get over the line. Neither side was willing to give an inch as they engaged in a hard-fought battle filled with plenty of excitement and lead changes. It was level pegging to start the game with both the Nuggets and Hawks heading into quarter time on 11 points each. Thing started to open up in the second quarter as the Nuggets generated some real scoring momentum to create a 10-point buffer. But the Hawks found a way to stay in the hunt reducing the deficit to eight at the main break. Their high tempo continued into the third quarter draining the first six points thanks to back-to-back triples before rounding out the term in style with only one point separating the two sides. It was an action packed final quarter but it was the Nuggets that found their groove as the clock ticked down to steal the win.

Isaiah Moss was the most damaging player out on court for the Nuggets sinking 31 points and while he could have been more accurate from down town, still had an impact with his five triples from 10 attempts. It did not stop there for Moss as he walked away with three assists, nine rebounds and four steals. Gerasimos McKay was firing on all cylinders producing 17 points at 58 per cent from the field while also accumulating six assists, eight rebounds and two steals. Luke Aston and Samuel Timmins also featured highly for the Nuggets with 14 and 12 points respectively, with the latter also amassing six rebounds. Devondrick Walker caused all sorts of havoc for the Hawks piling on 23 points, five rebounds and two assists while Jordan Hunt was the next best for the Hawks with 14 points. Derone Raukawa showcased his class credit to his 13 points and five rebounds in 30 minutes of play while Hyrum Harris also got busy with 11 points at 42 per cent from the field.

Franklin Bulls (101) defeated Taranaki Mountainairs (99)

Only two points separated the Bulls from the Mountainairs as Franklin just scraped over the line. Having already played on Friday night the Mountainairs looked slightly fatigued against a fit and firing Bulls side who did the job to create some more ladder separation. It was a heart in your mouth match as the two sides traded blows with the lead chopping and changing. Taranaki held the lead for a large chunk of the opening half in what was a high scoring affair. Up by 14 points at the main break it was time for Franklin to hit back and put some respectability back on the scoreboard and that they did. They steadily chipped away at the scoreboard as the lead went from 14 to nine and so forth. Although the Mountainairs still managed to find a way to score the Bulls continued to charge ahead. It all came to the final quarter with the Mountainairs staring down a potential second win of the season, but it was not to be as Franklin gelled together to pull off an almighty comeback.

Manel Ayol impressed with his ability to find the rim and apply scoreboard pressure for the Bulls as he piled on 31 points in 35 minutes out on court. He found his mojo off the boards too, with six rebounds and three steals in an all-round dominant performance. Jayeln Gerrand imposed himself for the Bulls with his 20 points at 44 per cent from the field plus his two rebounds as Denhym Brooke also chimed in with a handy double-double credit to his 17 points and 11 rebounds. Isaac Davidson and Jett Thompson did enough to get their side over the line producing 11 and 10 points respectively for the Bulls. When looking at the Airs it is once again hard to deny the influence of Marcel Jones who starred with his whopping 39 points at 57 per cent from the field. Jones also inflicted pain off the boards with his 15 rebounds, 12 of which were defensive. Tai Wynyard continued his form draining another 16 points and six rebounds as teammate Dru-Leo Leusogi-Ape was the next cab off the rank with his 15 points as his 100 per cent accuracy from beyond the arc took centre stage.

Photo credit: NZNBL Twitter

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

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.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

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.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Title contenders claim big wins in one-sided night of action

TITLE contenders Southland Sharks and Wellington Saints have established their top two positions on the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) ladder, with big wins in their respective matches overnight. The top placed Sharks won the first three quarters to take complete control over Franklin Bulls on their way to a 101-69 triumph, whilst the Saints bounced back from a loss to Hawke’s Bay Hawks last start, to win 89-63 in their home clash and retake the second spot Hawke’s Bay had snatched from them.

Southland Sharks did all the damage early, piling on 32 points to 15, leaving the visiting Bulls on the back foot from the start, then added 21-15 in the second term to lead by 23 points at the main break. Needing a spark in the second half, the Bulls could not find it until the final term – which they won by two points – as the Sharks added another 29 points to 18 in the third, leading to the eventual 32-point victory, 101-69.

The Sharks won every statistic in the book, from field goal shooting percentage (47 to 36 per cent), rebounds (52-41), assists (20-17) and steals (13-6). They had seven less turnovers (15-22) and therefore more points from turnovers (25-18), and also had more points in the paint (46-32), second chance points (22-7) and bench points (33-22).

Josh Cunningham piled on 22 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals in the win, as he grabbed the Most Valuable Player (MVP) from the match. Not far behind him was Courtney Belger (13 points, six assists and four steals) who also impressed, while Brayden Inger had the 18 points – four of eight from long-range – and six rebounds. Alonzo Burton (11 points, four rebounds) and Sione Helu (10 points, three assists and two rebounds) also hit double-figure points, while Toby Gillooly came close to a double-double of nine points and nine rebounds.

For the Bulls, Manel Ayol was the star with 17 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals, with a couple of fellow recent additions since the completion of the ANBL season also holding their own. Isaac Davidson (11 points, five rebounds and three assists) and Kyrin Galloway (eight points, 12 rebounds and two steals) both tried hard, whilst the Bulls’ old firm – being there since the start of the season – in Denhym Brooke (nine points, five rebounds and three blocks) also worked well in tandem.

Wellington Saints had an equally comprehensive win over Taranaki Mountainairs in a top-against-bottom clash at TSB Bank Arena. The Saints won every quarter in the match, starting off strongly to race to a 47-28 lead at the main break, then won the second half by seven points to claim a 26-point victory, 89-63.

The Saints were the more accurate of the sides (45 to 40 per cent field goal accuracy), also knocking down 11 three-pointers to six. They had more rebounds (48-28), assists (15-10) and steals (12-6), with the Airs winning the blocks (4-1). Wellington finished with more points in the paint (44-28), second chance points (14-7), points from turnovers (24-15) and bench points (34-20) in a real dominant effort.

It was incredibly difficult for judges to select an MVP from the match with seven players earning between six and three votes. In the end, captain Dion Prewster got the nod in the Saints’ winning performance, finishing with 10 points, four rebounds and four assists. Tohi Smith-Milner (15 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists), Kerwin Roach Jr (13 points, five assists and three rebounds), Leon Henry (13 points, 11 rebounds and two steals) and Ezrah Vaigafa (11 points, six rebounds) all picked up votes in an even team performance. Ken Tuffin was another one who contributed strongly with 13 points and six rebounds.

Tai Wynyard tried his hardest for the Airs with 15 points, four rebounds and two steals, grabbing MVP votes in the heavy loss with Baxter Fenwick (10 points, two rebound) Marcel Jones had a quieter night, only shooting two of nine from the field on his way to 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Francis Mulvihill (seven points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals) was the other player who did his best in the loss.

Both the losers will have to regroup themselves for matches today as Franklin Bulls and Taranaki Mountainairs both hit the road to take on Otago Nuggets and Canterbury Rams respectively. The Wellington Saints take on Nelson Giants next Friday night, with Southland Sharks hosting Auckland Huskies on the Saturday night.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

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

 

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL