Tag: ethan rusbatch

Hawks, Nuggets and Giants secure wins in Saturday night triple treat

THERE was no shortage of available basketball around in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) last night, with three clashes taking pace across the country. Hawke’s Bay Hawks handed Southland Sharks their second consecutive loss, as the Otago Nuggets sent the Manawatu Jets to 0-4, and Nelson Giants grabbed their first win of the season with a victory on the road against the Franklin Bulls.

Starting off at the Pettigrew Arena, Hawke’s Bay Hawks kept in touch with the top of the table Wellington Saints by remaining undefeated this season thanks to a victory over Southland Sharks. The Hawks started strongly to lead by two points at the first break and then nine at half-time. By the final break the home team had blown the lead out to 16, and while the Sharks had cut the eventual deficit back to 12 with a spirited final term, it would not be enough.

Derone Raukawa was the star, earning Player of the Match honours thanks to 28 points, five assists and three rebounds, while Jonathan Janssen was enormous off the boards, racking up a massive double-double of 11 points, 15 rebounds and two assists. Devondrick Walker (16 points, two rebounds and two steals) and Everard Bartlett (14 points, three rebounds) also hit double-figure points, and Hyrum Harris (nine points, eight rebounds) and Ethan Rusbatch (seven points, four rebounds and two assists) also contributed on the scoreboard.

Josh Cunningham was the star for the Sharks once again, knocking down 21 points – including all three attempts from long-range – as well as 11 rebounds. Dom Kelman-Poto (14 points, seven rebounds and three assists) and Alonzo Burton (14 points, two steals) both hit the scoreboard well, while Courtney Belger (seven points, two rebounds) and Toby Gilloolly (five points two rebounds and three steals) were also steadfast in defeat.

The Hawks next play the Nelson Giants next Sunday night, while the Sharks travel to Franklin to take on the Bulls on Friday night.

Otago Nuggets grabbed their second win of the season with the reigning premiers stringing back-to-back victories since an opening night loss to Wellington Saints, knocking off Manawatu Jets to sentence them to their fourth consecutive defeat. The Nuggets dominated the opening term to race out to a 25-12 lead at quarter time. An explosive high-scoring second quarter saw the Jets slam home 37 points to 29 to cut the deficit to five points, before the Nuggets again took control to win the third term 29-20 and hold a 14-point advantage with a quarter to play. Refusing to throw the towel in, the Jets kept fighting and scored 27-25, but would fall short to the Nuggets, 108-96.

Isaiah Moss was named Player of the Match, putting on a shooting clinic with seven of 13 long-range attempts dropping as he went on his merry way for 33 points in 33 minutes, as well as seven rebounds and three steals for the Nuggets. Sam Timmins crashed the boards and set up the offence on his way to a double-double and almost triple-double of 23 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and two blocks, while Gerasimos McKay (18 points, five rebounds) also stood strong. Josh Aitcheson (10 points) hit double-figure points starting, while Darcy Knox (11 points, six rebounds) came off the bench to have an impact in 19 minutes.

For the Jets, Daishon Knight scored 29 points, six rebounds, four steals and two assists, creating a damaging tag-team with Jayden Bezzant (23 points, four assists and three rebounds). Shane Temara (14 points, 15 rebounds) had enormous impact off the boards, while Jake McKinlay (13 points, eight rebounds and two steals) and Deandre Daniels (seven points, seven rebounds) also did well. The Jets will now have to tweak some things before a fixture quirk sees them taking on the Otago Nuggets again in their next game on Saturday night, but this time they return to their home court.

In the third game on the night up at Franklin Pool and Leisure Centre, Nelson Giants proved too strong for Franklin Bulls, getting up by 13 points in a four-quarter performance. The Giants won three of the four quarters, but most of the damage was done early, racing out to a nine-point lead after one quarter of play. They extended it to 12 by half-time, and whilst the teams were fairly even in the second half, the Bulls could not make inroads further and went down, 107-94.

Hunter Hale won Player of the Match honours with 26 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and five steals in an outstanding performance that almost netted him a triple-double. He was one of five Giants players to hit double-figure points as the starters all shared the load. Donte Ingram (19 points, 10 rebounds and four assists) picked up a double-double, Thomas Ingram (15 points, four rebounds and two assists) contributed across multiple facets, while Anzac Risetto (14 points, two rebounds) and Sam Dempster (13 points, four rebounds) were both busy.

For the Bulls, Josh Selby continued his remarkable start to the season playing every minute in the loss and put up 36 points – including six of 11 from three-point range – along with six rebounds and four assists. Zane Waterman had a double-double of 20 points, 12 rebounds and two assists, while Jaylen Gerrand came off the bench for 10 points, two rebounds and two assists. Others contributed in small parts, but it was the duo of Selby and Waterman who really stepped up to the plate in the loss.

The Bulls next host the Southland Sharks on Friday night, with the Giants not having much time to recover, taking on Auckland Huskies tonight, before a clash with another undefeated side in the Wellington Saints next Saturday night.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

2021 NZNBL Round 2 preview: Top two sides do battle in Friday night blockbuster

THE top two sides will lock horns in a massive Friday night blockbuster clash in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL), with a number of undefeated matches, as well as winless head-to-heads set to shake up the ladder at the conclusion of Round 2.

TARANAKI MOUNTAINAIRS vs. FRANKLIN BULLS
Thursday, May 6 @ 7:30pm
TSB Stadium

In their first home game of the season, Taranaki Mountainairs will be hoping to break their back-to-back losses from Round 1 against the 1-1 Franklin Bulls. After dropping their opening game, the Bulls bounced back to win their second encounter, and sit in sixth with an almost identical points for and points against column, and will be keen to win for Aaron Bailey-Nowell‘s 300th NZNBL game. Marcel Jones has started off as one would expect for the Airs, averaging 17.5 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game, teaming up well with shooter Francis Mulvihill (10.5 points, 4.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals). The pair are the only players to average double-figure points after two matches, with Franklin Bulls by comparison having five. Josh Selby has proven to be one of the most prolific shooters in the competition, dropping 26.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 3.0 steals, whilst in his only match in Round 1, Zan Waterman managed 25 points and 14 rebounds. Joseph Nunag (17.0 points, 2.5 assists) and Denhym Brooks (12 points, four rebounds) are the other key scorers for the Bulls, and they will be favourites to win this clash.

WELLINGTON SAINTS vs. SOUTHLAND SHARKS
Friday, May 7 @ 7:30pm
TSB Bank Arena

A top of the table clash between two undefeated sides is set to light up TSB Bank Arena on Friday night, with the Wellington Saints and Southland Sharks making the perfect starts to their 2021 campaigns after missing the 2020 season. The Saints are the most successful team in the competition’s history, and they have started off on fire, with a points differential of 43. The Sharks are the next best side with a lower scoring output, but also conceding less to be plus-21 from their Round 1 clashes. Dion Prewster has been the top player in the NZNBL to start the season, earning two Player of the Match awards for his 31 points, five rebounds, 4.5 assists and two steals per game. Kerwin Roach (18.5 points, 4.5 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals) and Romaro Gill (11.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks) have also started the season in strong form. For the Sharks, they have a trio of dominant players off the boards who can also shoot, with Josh Cunningham (14.0 points, 9.5 rebounds), Dom Kelman-Poto (11.0 points, 7.5 rebounds) and Toby Gillooly (12.5 points, 7.0 rebounds) likely to stretch the Saints close to the basket.

CANTERBURY RAMS vs. MANAWATU JETS
Friday, May 7 @ 7:30pm
Cowles Stadium

A battle between two winless sides is the opposite Friday night clash, as the seventh placed Jets take on the last placed Rams. The Jets have come close and are only minus 10 for the points differential thus far, whilst the Rams have started off the season like they did last season – before charging up in finals – with a minus-35 points differential and sitting on the bottom. Quintin Bailey (16.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists) has shared the top points-scorer nod with import Deshon Taylor (16.5 points, 5.5 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals). The other two players to have impacted the scoreboard across both games are Ben Constable (11.0 points, 5.5 rebounds) and EJ Singler (11.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists). The Jets have had some prominent scorers, but not a lot from their depth, as Daishon Knight (26.5 points, 3.5 assists, 3.0 steals and 2.0 rebounds) has been impressive, shooting at 69.7 per cent from the field. Jayden Bezzant has been a deadeye himself with 22.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists with a 66.7 per cent clip, while Shane Temara (17.0 points, 12.0 points) and DeAndre Daniels (13.5 points, 10.0 rebounds) are averaging double-doubles. The Jets have the top-end talent to be favourites in this encounter.

FRANKLIN BULLS vs. NELSON GIANTS
Saturday, May 8 @ 7:30pm
Franklin Pool & Leisure Centre

Coming back for their second game of the weekend, the Franklin Bulls could build some momentum in Round 2 if they can string back-to-back victories against winless sides. The Bulls’ second match comes on Saturday night at home up against Nelson Giants, with the Giants relying a lot on import Donte Ingram in game one. The Giants suffered a 19-point loss last week, and Ingram was the only scorer in double-digits with 20 points, six rebounds and three assists. Sam Dempster (seven points, nine rebounds) helped off the boards, while Hunter Hale (eight points, six rebounds and three assists) did a bit of everything. It will be a tough ask for the Giants, but it was only one game, so they will be looking for a better effort here.

OTAGO NUGGETS vs. MANAWATU JETS
Saturday, May 8 @ 7:30pm
Edgar Centre

Having clashed with the Rams on Friday night, the Jets then face reigning premiers Otago Nuggets on Saturday night. The 2020 NZNBL Grand Final rematch will see the sides come in with no more than two wins between them, though the Nuggets looked impressive in their second game out. As mentioned above, the Jets have some serious top-end talent, but the Nuggets can match them in that department. They have only has three players score more than three points per game in the opening two matches, as Isaiah Moss (10 points, three rebounds), Sam Timmins (nine points, 4.5 rebounds) and Josh Aitcheson (seven points, 2.5 rebounds) the main focal points. They will need to share the load against a high-scoring Jets outfit.

HAWKE’S BAY HAWKS vs. SOUTHLAND SHARKS
Saturday, May 8 @ 7:30pm
Pettigrew Green Arena

It will be Southland Shark’s turn to do the double-up in what is a tough weekend for them against two other undefeated sides. With the premiership favourites Wellington Saints the Friday night clash, the Sharks then turn their attention to the fourth placed Hawke’s Bay Hawks on Saturday night. The Hawks have only played the one game, but their start power certainly fired, with Devondrick Walker having a night out with 26 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Hyrum Harris marked his return to the Hawks in style with 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Jonathan Janssen (12 points, nine rebounds) and Ethan Rusbatch (10 points, six rebounds) were also prolific off the boards, and the Hawks will really worry the Sharks in this Round 2 contest.

AUCKLAND HUSKIES vs. NELSON GIANTS
Sunday, May 9 @ 5:00pm
Eventfinda Stadium

The last undefeated side in Auckland Huskies host the final game of the NZNBL Round 2 up against the Nelson Giants who will be coming off a clash against Franklin Bulls the night before. The standalone Sunday evening game will be favoured for the Huskies who have ticked off both challenges in Round 1, and will be looking to take down the Giants in this one. Jeremy Kendle has been running hot in the league, putting up 31 points, 5.5 assists and five rebounds per game as one of the most dominant shooters thus far. Teenage star Dontae Nance made a statement in Round 1 with 22 points and four rebounds, while Brooke Ruscoe (15.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists) and Nick Barrow (11.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists) also impressive in the opening round of action.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Sharks and Dream secure NZNBL 3X3 Cup titles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture: NZNBL

2019 NZNBL season recap: Wellington Saints take out title

AN undefeated season from the Wellington Saints saw the side take out the 2019 New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) title. Draft Central throws back to last season with the new 2020 season upon us to see how each of the teams performed and whether they are competing this year.

1st Wellington Saints (18-0)

The minor premiers had a perfect season to-date storming to the title off the back of an 18-0 regular season, and then winning both their finals. The Saints defeated Southland Sharks by six points in the semis, and 10 points in the final, to take home the coveted title. Their side featured names such as Nick Kay, Shea Ili, Jordan Ngatai and Thomas Abercrombie, of whom all are legitimate stars at Australian National Basketball Level (ANBL). Unfortunately like three other sides in the top four, the Saints will not be competing in 2020, leaving the title up for grabs.

2nd Hawke’s Bay Hawks (14-4)

The Hawks chose not to compete in 2020 after finishing second overall and making the final. They were still four wins behind the Saints, but comfortably inside the top four with a win extra on top of the third place Canterbury Rams who they defeated in the semi-finals to reach the decider. The Hawks had talented players like Jarrod Kenny (competition-high 6.8 assists) Brandon Bowman, Ethan Rusbatch and E.J. Singler which helped them have such success in the season.

3rd Canterbury Rams (13-5)

The third placed Rams were a win off a home semi-final and went down narrowly to the Hawks in semis. They had produced some consistent basketball all season and avoided the fourth placed spot to go up against the minor premiers. Among the Rams’ top players were Emmett Naar and Cameron Gliddon, though Canterbury had a real even team balance across the board.

4th Southland Sharks (12-6)

The Sharks will not be competing in the 2020 season, but will remember the 2019 one fondly. They reached the finals, and while they ultimately fell short against the top of the table Saints, had a number of impressive players throughout the season. Jarrad Weeks, Todd Blanchfield and Hyrum Harris were among those on the books for Southland in 2019.

5th Southern Huskies (9-9)

Making the trek from Tasmania was a tricky obstacle for the Huskies who missed out on finals with a 50-50 win-loss ratio. They have since rebranded and based themselves in Auckland which should help, and one of the newest sides there will be keen to get off to a good start. Jalen Billups and Marcel Jones were among the top performers for the Huskies last season.

6th Nelson Giants (7-11)

The Giants were the next best in mid-table duo, with a four-win gap to the bottom three, but still two wins adrift of fifth. During the season they had a couple of standout players such as Jordair Jett and Rhys Vague who held up their end of the bargain for the Giants who will eye off more success in 2020.

7th Super City Rangers (3-15)

Statistically the Rangers absolutely dominated, but could not quite get it to click. Tim Quarterman averaged the most points (28.1) and steals (3.3) per game, while Venky Jois had the most rebounds (11.5) and Nnanna Egwu had the most blocks (1.9). It did very little in the overall scheme of things however as the Rangers won just three games, and they are the other side (outside the top four from 2019) not competing in the 2020 competition.

8th Taranaki Mountainairs (3-15)

Finishing below the Ranges with an equal win-loss record, the Mountainairs did not have too many standout players, but rather contributors. Kevin Foster, Chris Early and Derone Raukawa all made Team of the Weeks at different points during the season, but once each for a total of three nominations. Returning in 2020 under the new format, the Airs will be keen to take full advantage of the draft.

9th Manawatu Jets (2-16)

The wooden spooners from 2019 was the Manawatu Jets who won just the two games from 18 appearances. Daishon Knight and Wally Ellenson were the two standouts throughout the season, but ultimately the Jets were not able to be competitive enough for long enough. With a new format in place this season, they could be anything with the right drafting.