Tag: Haize Walker

2020 NZNBL 3×3 Cup: Men’s preview

NEW Zealand basketball is set to have a big month in November with the 2020 New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) 3×3 Cup taking place next weekend prior to the much anticipated 18in18 NZNBL women’s competition. There are 10 teams vying for the 3×3 title in the men’s competition, with the teams split into two pools of five sides, which will be held from November 12-14.

There are a number of differences with the 3×3 competition compared to a regular basketball match, including a court size of 15x11m and a maximum team size of four player. There are just 10 minutes per game with the first team to 21 announced the winner. The regular shot clock time of 24 seconds is also halved to 12.

The schedule sees each of the five teams play the other four teams in their pool once over November 12-13. From there, the two lowest finishers will face off against the team in the opposite group for fourth against fifth matches. The winners from there will progress to the quarter finals where the top three sides in each group will face off. The top placed teams will take on the winners from those fourth and fifth clashes, whilst second will take on third in their opposite groups. It is knockout from start to finish, with the teams advancing through until the two top teams play off in the grand final. That decider will be held at 10.11pm local time on November 14.

GROUPS:

Men’s Pool A:

Hawke’s Bay Hawks
Manawatu Jets
Otago Nuggets
Taranaki Mountainairs
Tasman Suns

Men’s Pool B:

Auckland Huskies
Canterbury Rams
Franklin Bulls
NZ Select
Southland Sharks

A number of familiar teams are competing in the shortened competition, with this year’s Sal’s NBL premiers Otago Nuggets in Pool A alongside their grand final opponents Manawatu Jets. Taranaki Mountainairs are the other side to have competed earlier this year that falls into Pool A, whilst Hawke’s Bay Hawks and Tasman Suns also join the party.

In Pool B, a special NZ Select side will help even the numbers at 10 teams, whilst Southland Sharks also return to the competition after not competing in the shortened NZNBL format this year. The three other sides are Auckland Huskies, Canterbury Rams and Franklin Bulls who will all be looking to add some silverware to their cabinets after missing out in the NZNBl season.

Southland Sharks would be one of the favourites for the title with some serious firepower including teaming up Hyrum Harris and the much-improved Dom Kelman-Poto. The pair will make it difficult for opposition teams given their size and range, whilst Alex Pledger showed he could impress in bursts during the NZNBL season, and Alonzo Burton rounds out the four.

Franklin Bulls are also a danger team with Mr Double Double himself, Marcel Jones returning to the club for the 3×3 tournament and is joined by a trio of Bulls’ teammates. Isaac Davison was the star of the competition in the early rounds of the NZNBL season, and can shoot from range with ease. Nikau McCullough is also a known three-point shooter, as Joel Vaigangina rounds out the list.

Hawke’s Bay Hawks cannot be discounted with Derone Raukawa leading the charge after a mammoth NZNBL season. He can just about do anything, and he teams up with veteran Everard Bartlett, as well as Ethan Rubatsch and Taane Te Kira Samuel. Otago Nuggets will be keen to do the double and back up their NZNBL win with a 3×3 Cup victory, and they had a strong four. Sam Timmins is the big body close to the basket, whilst Josh Aitcheson, Kane Keil and Richie Rodger are all underrated scorers with plenty of talent.

Looking across the board, the Manawatu Jets will have the talents of Jayden Bezzant and Haize Walker, while the Taranaki Airs have gone with experience thanks to Aaron Bailey-Nowell and Tai Wynyard. Jordan Hunt is a crucial cog for Auckland Huskies this tournament, with Canterbury Rams sticking to what they know with Ben Carlile-Smith, Jack Exeter and Mason Whittaker all named in the side. NZ Select will have players to watch such as Samuel Aruwa, whilst the Tasman Suns welcome the talented Tom Ingham who will prove hard to stop.

TEAMS:

Auckland Huskies:

Jordan Hunt
Chris McIntosh
Sean Murphy
Dru-Leo Leosogi Ape

Canterbury Rams:

Mason Whittaker
Jack Exeter
Ben Carlisle-Smith
Ben Hall

Franklin Bulls:

Marcel Jones
Nikau McCullough
Isaac Davison
Joel Vaigangina

Hawke’s Bay Hawks:

Derone Raukawa
Ethan Rusbatch
Everard Bartlett
Taane Te Kira Samuel

Manawatu Jets:

Kalib Mullins
Jayden Bezzant
Haize Walker
Matangirei Hipango

NZ Select:

Dane Karel Brooks
Denhym Brooke
Pafe Momisea
Samuel Aruwa

Otago Nuggets:

Sam Timmins
Kane Keil
Josh Aitcheson
Richard Rodger

Southland Sharks:

Hyrum Harris
Dom Kelman-Poto
Alonzo Burton
Alex Pledger

Taranaki Mountainairs:

Aaron Bailey-Nowell
Karl Noyer
Tai Wynyard
Thomas Allan

Tasman Suns:

Sam Dempster
Tom Ingham
Tysxun Aiolupotea
Bronson Beri

Draft Central’s NZNBL Top 10 Moments: #4 – Otago baffles Manawatu with 130-point display

WHILE the end result of the Otago Nuggets and the Manawatu Jets ended in a blowout, both teams put on phenomenal scoring totals. But in their second of five encounters throughout the 2020 NZNBL season, the Nuggets strung together perhaps the most dominant display of basketball across all fixtures this year securing the number four spot in Draft Central’s Top 10 Moments of the season.

For the full match report between the Nuggets and the Jets – Click HERE

Heading into the contest, neither of the eventual grand finalists were yet to establish themselves as a serious top-two team. The Nuggets had only a modest .500 record with three wins and three losses to their name. Meanwhile for the Jets, they sat just half a game above Otago, earning four wins to this point thanks to an extra-game 30-point win over the Nelson Giants in their last outing.

Both sides would ensue in a back and forth opening period, as Manawatu’s newly signed wingman Nelson Kirksey got his stroke going early to open up proceedings. But Otago emerged with the more aggressive style of play by pushing the floor and attacking the rim, which in turn forced three early Jets turnovers and created a 12-5 lead as a result.

However, a late run of points from center Taane Samuel and guard Haize Walker tied the score with less than a minute to go in the first. Two free-throws in the dwindling moments of the opening term from Jordan Hunt were responsible for the Nuggets’ two-point lead at the opening break, but the good shooting from both sides of the aisle continued well into the second quarter.

Otago once again got out to an early advantage, pulling away with another 12-5 scoring run. Unsurprisingly however, Thomas Vodanovich became the main focus point for Brent Matehaere’s side. As the multi-time Tall-Black started to catch fire in an impressive first half, managing to convert four of his seven attempts, with three of them triples as the Jets trailed by just a single point after 20 minutes.

The Nuggets decided they needed a different approach if they were to pull away from a persistent Jets outfit and through the deep ball, Otago found a solution. Creating a quick 8-0 run, the team from Dunedin got themselves out to a comfortable double-digit lead and began a dominant one-sided second half in turn.

Otago shot a ridiculous 56 per cent from the field in an authoritative third term, as the lead quickly grew out of control. Outscoring the Jets 38-23 in the championship period, Tim McTamney’s side needed drastic measures if they were to claw their way back from a 16-point deficit in the final quarter. Ashton McQueen started the fourth off in good spirits knocking down a lead-off three, but when Jordan Ngatai and Kane Keil started to heat up, there was nothing that the Jets could come up with to slow down the South Island onslaught that was the Nuggets’ second half.

Otago pushed all the way to the finish line, outscoring Manawatu 35-15 in the concluding 10 minutes, capping off a 73-point performance in the latter two periods of the game and gliding away with the 130-94 demolition of the Jets.

Collectively for the Jets, both Jayden Bezzant and Vodanovich led the way for their side with 18 points apiece, but five different individuals for the Nuggets reached double digits. Keil’s game-high 29 points, six rebounds and four assists led the way for Otago, as Ngatai and Hunt combined for a massive 55-point haul.

As a team, the victors completed their performance with a script of impressive stats. Firstly, they concluded their shooting with a 57 per cent accuracy rate, going 47 from 82 on the floor. Otago managed to knock down 14 triples and 22 free-throws, and lastly, a plus-six on the boards and a plus-10 in assists would round out the highest scoring performance from a team all season. Furthermore, the Jets’ 94 points of their own helped bring the overall total of the game to 224, the largest points total in a contest form both troops all season long.

A lot went right for both sides in this high scoring affair, but the Nuggets put the rest of the league on notice with the 130-point effort against the Jets. For this masterclass at both ends of the floor, there’s no arguing that this moment slots in at number four in Draft Central’s list.

Huskies slide into third ahead of finals, outlast Jets

IN an extremely tight-knit rendezvous of two of the top four teams in the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) Showdown, the Auckland Huskies have held on just long enough to see off a tenacious Manawatu Jets side, to lock up third spot ahead of Finals Week.

The 93-82 win sets the Huskies up for a meeting with the winner of Tuesday’s elimination final between the Nelson Giants and the Canterbury Rams.

AUCKLAND HUSKIES 25 | 19 | 24 | 25 (93)
MANAWATU JETS 24 | 21 | 21 | 16 (82)

[ … FULL MATCH STATS … ]

Leading up to last night’s encounter, the Huskies had some writing on the game. A win would see them take on the winner of the first elimination final between the two bottom teams in the league, whereas a loss would see them face the Franklin Bulls, a team they only beat by four points last time out. So, it was safe to assume that Kevin Braswell’s side was looking for a victory against the second-seeded Jets.

Both teams made their shots count in the infant stages of the match, with each side seeing more than 60 per cent of their shots drop early on in the first half of the opening period, perfectly encapsulated by a beautiful turnaround fadeaway from Nelson Kirksey five minutes in. With both teams deadlocked through nine minutes of basketball at 20 points apiece, a pull-up three by Izayah Mauriohooho Le’afa would give Auckland the one-point lead at quarter-time, 25-24, also thanks to the Huskies’ five second chance points and Leon Henry’s seven.

Continuing into the second term, neither side could effectively pull away from the other in the quarter. However, a couple of buckets from guards Haize Walker and Jayden Bezzant helped squeeze out a momentary lead just before half-time. Succeeding this, another three from Le’afa tied up the joust with 90 seconds yet to be played, tying the game at 43. A lovely running floater by a crafty Ashton McQueen, put the Jets up two with less than a minute to go in the half, shortly before a lone Isaac Miller-Jose free-throw cut the difference by one, rounding out a seesawing affair through 20 minutes.

In total, 11 lead changes took place in the first half, and it did not look like the pattern of scoring would not change anytime soon. With little to separate the two teams at the halfway point, it was the efforts of Le’afa and Hyrum Harris leading the way for their respective teams. Le’afa’s 15 points and three assists, shone through with a couple of triples, as Harris was putting in work early, stacking up the stat sheet with 11 points, seven rebounds and four steals.

Two quick buckets got the Huskies up and running, as they kicked off the second half with a 12-4 run and therefore putting themselves in the driver’s seat with 16 minutes to play. Each side struggled profusely to be accurate from three-point range and because of this, the contest would be a grind. Both sides had to fight for tooth and nail to get even a decent look at the rim, forcing scorers to earn their points more often than not in the key.

Eventually a breakthrough arrived and both offences started to flow, as Kirksey knocked down two consecutive threes, therefore returning command over the game back to Manawatu. Marvin Williams-Dunn answered back with one of his own to initiate a 7-0 run finishing off a strong response by a crafty Auckland side.

The Huskies grasped the slightest of leads with a quarter to go and only a strong, focused and diligent line-up would be needed to take the team to the finish line. Two layups in a row for Aaron Bailey-Nowell put the Huskies back on the right track, but for every attack Auckland made, Manawatu had a counterattack own – like Nicholas Fee’s three to answer back to Auckland’s.

But the exit of McQueen due to too many personal fouls and an early departure for Vodanovich, the Jets were without one of their best defenders and one of their best offensive threats, which made obtaining the win drastically more difficult. A beautiful assist to Fee and steal from Harris was a critical point in the contest with three and a half minutes left, taking a huge chunk out of their deficit.

Two further free throws from Harris tied the game, but Tohi Smith-Milner and Henry went for the jugular with two minutes remaining, fabricating an 8-0 run out of thin air and in the space of three possessions ending the game. Finding their form in the fourth and final quarter, the 93-82 result did not reflect the true character of the game for Auckland. The character could be described as an extremely close grinded out contest, with the Huskies only blowing the game out of the water in the last couple of minutes.

Nevertheless, the Huskies eighth win of the campaign equals the record of the Taranaki Mountain Airs, but due to percentage, Auckland now lifts itself into the third seed. Because of this, the team now looks forward to facing either the Rams or the Giants on Wednesday night.

For the Jets, they conclude their NZNBL regular season with an overall record of eight wins and six losses and look to earn a semi-final position with a win over the minor premier Otago Nuggets on Tuesday.

Auckland had five players in double-digit figures for scoring, headlined by Le’afa who continued his terrific run of form in the late portion of the season. The 23-year-old locked up 26 points and six assists, as well as four shots from deep (40 per cent efficiency). Smith-Milner (19 points and 10 rebounds) and Henry (13 points and 13 rebounds) both enjoyed the spoils of war with each Husky nabbing themselves a double-double, whereas Bailey-Nowell and Nathan Wilson produced 12 and 11 points respectively.

For the season’s runners-up Jets, Harris collected another unconventional stat-line, falling three assists and one steal short of a quadruple-double in another all-around effort. The Illawarra Hawk from last season tallied 16 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and nine steals. Meanwhile Taane Samuel strung together a team-high 25 points through 33 minutes.

Jets navigate Airs in explosively high-scoring contest

MANAWATU Jets powered on in the final term of their 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) Showdown contest with Taranaki Mountainairs to record a memorable 15-point win over the top of the table side. It was no surprise that the two highest scoring sides went toe-for-toe and surpassed the ton, with 11 individual scorers reaching double-figure totals. Leading the way was Hyrum Harris who returned to the court following injury, and the star made an impact with his first game back, producing a jaw-dropping triple-double in the victory.

MANAWATU JETS 22 | 32 | 21 | 33 (118)
TARANAKI MOUNTANAIRS 25 | 23 | 32 | 23 (103)

[ … FULL MATCH STATS … ]

It did not take long for the first and fourth placed sides to get going as Mr Double Double (Marcel Jones) dropped a jump shot and then was immediately countered by an Ashton McQueen bucket off a Harris assist. Whilst Harris looked a little rusty in his return game early – with a turnover and missed layup in the opening couple of minutes – it was good to have the Jets talent back on court. In the meantime though, Tai Wynyard and then Derone Raukawa skipped the ladder-leading Airs out to a lead with Raukawa’s triple and then one of two free throws handing the hairs an early 8-2 lead.

Harris scored his first basket of the contest with a nice layup four minutes in, and despite the Jets clawing to within three points, Taranaki got some air on its opposition with a couple of Jones free throws and a Mitchell Dance jump shot. Harris returned from a brief stint on the bench to immediately be a worry for the opposition, fouled off attempting a triple. He did not hurt the Airs as much as he could have, sinking just the one of three from the charity stripe. Nelson Kirksey soon drew his side within four, but that was matched by Jones dropping another triple 10 seconds later.

When Jones landed a handy hookshot with 93 seconds left on the clock in the first term, the Airs led by seven points. Then a quick flurry of points, including a Haize Walker layup in the final 10 seconds resulted in the Jets cutting the deficit to three points at the first break.

That three-point deficit was eroded in the first minute as a Harris jump shot from long-range levelled the scores. Wynyard found Shane Temara for a memorable Airs dunk in response, as Taranaki was forcing fouls off the opposition. Ken Tuffin scored his first points of the match a few minutes into the second term, as the Airs built a handy seven-point buffer with six minutes to play. Then the Jets came hard. Kirksey in particular decided enough was enough, dropping five points as his side scored 10 of the next 12 points.

Surprisingly, high volume scorer Tom Vodanovich only put up his first points of the contest with three and a half minutes left in the first half, while Raukawa was already cooking in what was building to be another sensational performance. The momentum had turned in the meantime with the Jets up by one following a pair of Jones free throws to cut the deficit back, only for the Jets to sink 14 of the next 20 points – including four triples – to blow out the margin to nine with a minute to play. Raukawa got a crucial long-range shot to drop to cut the half-time deficit to six, but the jets were here to play.

Both teams were going to hang around in the second half as they traded blows early with Harris and Taane Samuel putting up five consecutive points for the Jets to lead by nine just 90 seconds into the contest. It would be the Airs turn to go on a scoring rampage though, shooting the next 14 points, including five to Jones, four to Raukawa and a triple to Tuffin, for Taranaki to again regain control. A Jayden Bezzant steal off Tuffin proved crucial though, as he and Samuel scored six of the next eight points to pull within a point midway through the term.

After Jones completed a couple of free throws, Vodanovich tied the game with a triple off a Harris assist, and then despite Wynyard momentarily regaining the lead for the Airs, the Jets sank back-to-back baskets through Samuel and Harris. The long-range shooting of the Jets was proving the difference with Manawatu maintaining a small lead over Taranaki heading into the final break. Jones was still being a nuisance for the Jets, regularly set to the charity stripe and with 48 seconds to go, he drew his team within one. But the Jets scored the final four points of the game to head into the last term with a 85-80 lead and the stage was set for a thrilling finish.

Denhym Brooks was quick to drop a triple for the Airs and draw within two points in the opening minute of the game, but the Airs had the answers with McQueen and Vodanovich again extending the lead out to eight points a minute later. Each time Taranaki would draw closer, a Jets player – such as Kirksey – would drain a triple and undo the hard work the Airs had put together. Manawatu leader Tia Temata-Frost scored his basket at a crucial junction to go seven points clear, and soon Kirksey had another triple and the lead was into double-digits.

Back-to-back triples from the Jets thanks to Vodanovich and McQueen meant the Airs’ back-to-back two-pointers were not only countered but built upon, and when Vodanovich drained another long-range bomb with just over four minutes remaining in the contest, the lead was out to 13 points. Harris and Samuel all but sealed the game in the next minute with a combined five points buffering the advantage to 18, before a couple of free throws to Francis Mulvihill brought the Airs to the century with just under three minutes to play.

Mitchell Dance scored three of the last five points of the game, but it would not be enough as the Jets secured the 118-103 victory courtesy of a strong final term. In terms of team stats, the Jets shot at a much higher 67 to 52 per cent from the field, and drained 15 triples to seven – a third of their long-range shots going in. The Airs work from the charity stripe kept them in the contest (86 per cent accuracy), but the Jets scored 17 points to 11 from turnovers, and made good with 18-11 second chance opportunities. In particularly, scoring 31 points from 18 off the bench was impressive, though both teams only had the 11 turnovers each in what was a high quality game by two genuine Sal’s NBL Showdown contenders.

Harris was voted best-on in the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award thanks to his remarkable triple-double of 24 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and two blocks, leading the way for the Jets. He was one of six players to notch up double-figure points with Samuel (22 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals) and Kirksey (19 points, four rebounds, four assists and one steal) both having plenty of it. Vodanovich was by his standards quiet but still amassed the 17 points and six rebounds, while McQueen and Bezzant both had 12 points and three rebounds in the win.

For the Airs, Raukawa and Jones were the standout players. Raukawa helped himself to a double-double of 29 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and two steals, while Jones picked up 24 points and 10 rebounds. Temara also achieved a double-double with 13 points, 10 rebounds and two assists, while Tuffin was the other starter to record double-figure points with 11. Dance’s last three points of the game saw him too notch into double-figure points with an identical 11.

Heading into the final week, the now second-placed Jets take on Franklin Bulls on Tuesday, before matches against Otago Nuggets and Auckland Huskies to play the four other top five teams in consecutive matches to end the regular season. The Airs meet Nelson Giants on Wednesday before a clash with the Bulls on Thursday the last encounter ahead of finals, having the most break of any side ahead of the post-season series tipping off on Tuesday week.

2020 Sal’s NBL July 11 night preview: Jets v Huskies and Nuggets v Giants

WEEK three comes to a close tonight with Manawatu Jets and Auckland Huskies battling for that top four spot, while Otago Nuggets hope to continue the brilliant form of last night against a Nelson Giants side desperate for some consistency.

MANAWATU JETS vs. AUCKLAND HUSKIES

The opening game of tonight’s two big clashes sees a battle between fourth and fifth, with the Jets potentially jumping up to third and making up for their forgettable 36-point loss to Otago Nuggets last night. The Huskies on the other hand have been in good form of late with three wins from four games and starting to find their rhythm. A win here could see them leap into the top four and put themselves in a good position for the run home.

Both sides are strong rebounding teams with the Jets ranked second overall with an average of 45.4 rebounds per game, just ahead of the Huskies (44.6). They have both been solid in terms of assists with Manawatu recording a league third place of 17.9, compared to Auckland’s fourth place (16.1). In most other areas Manawatu ranks much higher as the second top scorer on average, putting up 94.5 points per game to Auckland’s competition-low 79.6 per game. It is the same story when it came to two-point percentage with the Jets sitting at a competition-high 57.1 per cent to the Huskies’ competition-low 43.5. It is closer from outside the arc with the Jets ranked third and Huskies sixth, whilst in overall field goal percentage, the Jets are third and Huskies seventh.

In the last match between the teams on June 27, the Jets easily accounted for the Huskies in a 28-point win. Dominating the first half, Manawatu raced away to a whopping 54-21 lead by half-time, including 31-8 in the second term. Auckland managed to get back some pride in the second half by scoring five more goals than its opposition, but still went down 67-95. In that match it was all about Tom Vodanovich who piled on a competition season-high of 38 points, as well as three rebounds ad four steals. Jayden Bezzant (17 points, four rebounds and five assists) and Haize Walker (11 points, two rebounds) both reached double figures, but it was Hyrum Harris‘ ridiculous game that was an impressive as Vodanovich’s shooting display, racking up 21 rebounds to accompany 13 points, six assists, four steals and one block.

For the Huskies, Taine Murray finished with a team-high 16 points – though shot at just 33.3 per cent from the field – as well as three rebounds, while Jaylen Gerrand (10 points) was the other Auckland player to reach double-figure points. Leon Henry (eight points, nine rebounds and two assists) and Tohi Smith-Milner (five points, seven rebounds) both contributed off the boards, while Marvin Williams-Dunn (eight points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals) also tried hard.

The Jets will start favourites given how they performed against the Huskies last time, but will have to pick up the effort from last night. The Huskies have been in good form of late and are building nicely to take a big scalp here and move up the ladder further.

OTAGO NUGGETS vs NELSON GIANTS

After a huge 36-point win and record 130 points – including 73 in the second half – last night, Otago Nuggets are raring to go for their second consecutive match-day. They take on Nelson Giants who have had an up and down season thus far but technically only sit a win behind the Nuggets – albeit with one less game played. A Huskies loss in the earlier game and a win here could see the Giants move into the top four.

When looking at the game statistically, Otago has the advantage across most facets of the game so far. From a points perspective, the Nuggets average 93.9 points per game to rank third in the competition, ahead of the Giants’ 85.4 (fifth). In terms of accuracy Otago is ranked second and fourth respectively in two and three-point shooting, with Nelson fourth and seventh in those areas, though not much separates the teams when it comes to shooting percentages. Overall from the field, Otago is 44.9 per cent to Nelson’ 43.7 per cent for a fourth and fifth ranking respectively. One area where the Giants have the upper hand is in rebounds, with Nelson sitting fifth thanks to 41.5 per game compared to Otago’s 39.4, though the Nuggets are elite at passing the rock around with a competition-high 19.3 assists compared to the Giants’ 14.8 (sixth).

The last time these teams played way back in week one on night three, the Nuggets got the better of a Giants side still trying to find its feet with the loss of Mika Vukona, Mike Karena and Dane Brooks. After being competitive early but not able to really keep consistently close to the Nuggets, the Giants faded in the final term with Otago running away courtesy of a 107-82 victory. In the absence of the big three, it was Nic Trathen (21 points, seven rebounds and two steals) who tried hard for the Giants, while Tom Ingham shot at an elite 85.7 per cent from the field to end the game with 17 points and eight rebounds. Zeb Lovell also was productive with eight points, seven rebounds and three assists.

For the Nuggets, Jordan Ngatai put up a game-high 23 points, three rebounds, three assists, three steals and one block, including nailing five of 11 from outside the arc. Jordan Hunt (19 points, two rebounds) and Kane Keil (11 points, four rebounds, two assists) and two steals) were also productive from the starting team, as Josh Aitcheson (13 points) and Richie Rodger (11) reached double-figure points off the bench. Jarrod Kenny did not put up a shot after 28 points the game before, but still had six assists and two rebounds, opening up chances for teammates.

This could be a thrilling contest, though Otago should head in as favourites The key is trying to stop Karena and what he is capable of doing on a regular basis, and after Otago’s big win last night, the Nuggets are in great form to keep the run going.

Nuggets second half forces emergency landing, down Jets by 36

AN impressive shooting performance from all over the court, particularly in the second half by the Otago Nuggets, has led to a convincing rout over the Manawatu Jets last night in Saturday’s opener of the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) Showdown. This also included an imposing night from behind the arc from Kane Keil, as he drilled six triples to aid his side, trouncing their opponents 130-94.

OTAGO NUGGETS 28 | 29 | 38 | 35 (130)
MANAWATU JETS 26 | 30 | 23 | 15 (94)

[ … FULL MATCH STATS … ]

After their disappointing defeat at the hands of the Auckland Huskies four days ago, the Nuggets had their eyes set on an important bounce-back win against a Jets outfit hot off their landslide victory over the Nelson Giants.

Nelson Kirksey made his presence known early with a pull-up three to help get game flowing from long-range. But Otago continued to attack the rim and push the ball early in the infant stages of the game, exploding out of the gates to lead 12-5 three minutes into the first period, forcing three early turnovers from the Jets as a result.

Manawatu’s big-man in Taane Samuel refused to let Otago run away with the contest early, showing off his fancy footwork on numerous occasions, helping the Jets fight their way back mid-way through the first ten minutes of play.

Following a late injection of adrenaline off a Haize Walker three in the corner, Samuel’s third personal foul would put his side over the bonus, which therefore allowed the Nuggets to slip away with a 28-26 quarter time lead, thanks to Jordan Hunt’s two made free-throws with a few seconds remaining and Keil’s eight first quarter points.

Both sides began the second converting consistently on their attempts, but similarly to the opening minutes of the first quarter, the Nuggets came out firing. A spot-up triple from Keil, capped off a 12-5 start to the period.

Focusing on Thomas Vodanovich, he made his shots count in the first half. Going 4/7 from the field, the New Zealand Breaker shot true on three three-point attempts halfway through the second quarter (50 per cent from behind the arc).

As the contest approached half-time, it seemed as though the Nuggets would edge out a subtle three-point lead at the midway point of the contest, but Walker’s floater down the middle of the lane essentially reset the scores at 0-0, as the Jets headed to the main break trailing 56-57.

While Hunt and Vodanovich led their teams in scoring with 14 and 15 points respectively, it was the overall play from the likes of Jordan Ngatai (12 points and four rebounds) and Jayden Bezzant (13 points, five rebounds and two assists) that predominantly helped facilitate the see-sawing affair in the first two quarters, which was evident in the 17 lead changes up to this point.

With Hunt adding to his point totals to kick off the third period, a couple threes from the Nuggets signalled a change in offensive strategy to try and separate themselves from Manawatu.

This initially worked well for Otago, pushing out to an 11-point lead halfway into the third interval and the Jets could not slow down the onslaught of fast-break points Brent Matahere’s side were producing. The Nuggets’ 56 per cent shooting would also become a factor in how they compiled 38 third quarter points to extend their advantage by 16 at the final break.

Needing solutions quickly with 10 minutes to go, Ashton McQueen put the Jets on the right path early with a three, but as Ngatai and Keil started to heat up it started to push Otago beyond the reach of Manawatu, extending their lead over 30 and then subsequently 36 to take home the dominant performance with a 73-point second half.

While Manawatu’s Bezzant and Vodanovich shared the larger part of their side’s points with 18 points each, the scoring game was all Otago’s. Final numbers for the Nuggets included finishing the clash with a 57 per cent efficiency (47-82 from the field), including 42 per cent from three-point range knocking down 14 triples, as well as remaining calm at the free-throw line, finding 22 points at the line off of 31 attempts. A plus-six on the boards and a plus-10 in assists, rounded out a superior performance by the Nuggets, as they earned their fourth win of the campaign.

Individual performances by the South Island-side came in bunches as all five starters reached double-digits. Keil cemented man-of-the-match honours with 29 points, six rebounds and four assists, whereas Ngatai and Hunt’s 55 combined points provided a much-needed buffer for their side in the second half.

The Jets have little time to go back to the hangar for repairs, as they need to lift themselves off the ground to upset an in-form Huskies group tomorrow afternoon, looking for their third win in a row. Meanwhile, the Nuggets follow up tomorrow’s double-header as they hope to continue last night’s hot shooting, when they go chest-to-chest with the Nelson Giants.

Jets slay Giants by 30 in three-point shooting masterclass

THE last time these two sides met the Giants secured a come from behind win, but the tables were well and truly turned this match with the Manawatu Jets putting on a spectacle especially when it came to sinking them from deep. Despite not having Hyrum Harris in the mix, the Jets went about their business as usual, bullying the Giants and creating plenty of scoring opportunities to run out convincing 30-point victors (102-72).

MANAWATU JETS 26 | 22 | 25 | 29 (102)
NELSON GIANTS 17 | 16 | 23 | 16 (72)

[ … FULL MATCH STATS … ]

With three wins apiece under their belt it was a tight contest from the opening whistle with neither side willing to give an inch. Thomas Ingham opened the account for the Giants sinking a triple but it did not take long for the Jets to respond through Ashton McQueen to level the scores. In his first game since coming out of quarantine, Nelson Kirksey added another three to the tally for the Jets in what was shaping up to be a showing of long range shooting. With both sides feeling each other out and settling into the fast paced tempo of the game Michael Karena inserted himself into the contest getting involved in a couple of passages of play and scoring some early points.

As the quarter progressed, inaccuracy seemed to plague both the Jets and Giants with neither side able to sink a shot whether it be from inside the paint or beyond the arc forcing the ball to constantly scream up and down the court. Unable to really find a rhythm it was the Jets that settled first applying a wealth of pressure and most importantly hitting the scoreboard.

Efforts from Kalib Marsich-Mullins and Jayden Bezzant continued to give the Jets the upper hand with the latter converting from down town to push his side out to a seven-point lead with less than five minutes remaining in the term. Bezzant was having things his own way in offence while teammate Taane Samuel had a blistering end to the quarter knocking down five points in less than a minute. With the lead out to 13 points the Giants rallied thanks to Theo Johnson and Nicolas Trathen who reduced the margin to nine heading into the break.

The Giants came out with more intensity and started to find their rhythm in offence with Karena eating into the margin within the opening minute of the quarter to draw back within seven. But Tom Vodanovich proved that anything you can do I can do better with the big man sinking a triple and extending the lead once again. While his efforts in offence were impressive his ability to get back and bring down the rebound also shone, proving to be a real thorn in the Giants side.

Renowned for their physicality, Samuel came off second best with the Jets star notching up his third foul for the game not even half way into the term. With a slight shift in momentum the Jets struggled to find the basket while the Giants found their stroke, sinking them from everywhere to minimise the lead to four. But an unsportsmanlike foul from Riley Bensemann gifted the Jets a couple of free throws and allowed them to regain some control on the game. Following that came an increased defensive pressure from the Jets, smothering every option and pushing the Giants to play the ball around.

Vodanovich upped the ante driving to the basket while McQueen put on a masterclass from three point range. With four minutes left in the quarter McQueen had nine points to his name while Vodanovich was on his way to a triple double with seven points, 13 rebounds and five assists before half time. The Giants simply had no answers for Bezzant who was causing headaches with his 13 points nor Vodanovich with the big man throwing his weight around across the court.

It was a much closer third quarter between the two sides as Karena once again stepped up to the plate for the Giants and steered the ship. It was the usual suspects for the Jets doing all the damage with Vodanovich and Bezzant combining well across the court and regularly hitting the scoreboard while Samuel and Kirksey also got involved in the action, helping to open up a 20-point lead at the six minute mark of the quarter.

Some good ball movement from the Giants allowed them to swinging the ball around the court and keep the Jets guessing with Dane Brookes sinking a timely basket from inside the paint. Samuel registered his fourth foul for the game subsequently forcing him to the bench for large chunks of the game. Meanwhile a hungry and revitalised Giants outfit fought back, with a couple of their young guns stepping up to the challenge with Josh Ledger and Tysxun Aiolupotea leading the charge on the scoring front. Finding their mojo across the court the Giants managed to cut the margin to 17 at the final break.

It was a dominant fourth quarter from the Jets who simply capitalised on every opportunity that swung their way. They impressed with their speed through court to slice through the Giants defence while McQueen continued to dominate from the three point line with four from five. In fact he and Bezzant could not be contained with the two sinking a combined eight triples from 10 attempts.

Although in foul trouble, Samuel stepped up to the plate collecting a couple of crucial offensive rebounds to steadily extend his sides lead but it was Haize Walker that stunned many with an explosive final term. Walker downed a huge three pointer, but to prove it was no fluke he backed it up with two more triples within two minutes to well and truly seal the deal for the Jets and take home a 27 point win.

Falling agonisingly short of a triple-double Vodanovich starred for the Jets amassing 19 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists in what was a stats stuffing performance. Bezzant also left his mark knocking back 24 points while McQueen slotted 17 points of his own. All of the starting five for the Jets recorded double figures for points with Kirksey nailing 12 and Samuel finishing with 10 while Walker also sunk 13. On the other hand only three players managed to reach double figures for the Giants with Ingham posting 19 points and six rebounds, Karena (14 points, four rebounds) and Trathen (10 points, nine rebounds, four assists).

The Giants front up tonight in a quick turnaround to play Taranaki Mountainairs, while the Jets take to the court over the weekend in back-to-back games against Otago Nuggets and Auckland Huskies.

Karena and Brooks returns sees Giants down Jets

The final game of the first week of the NZNBL (New Zealand National Basketball League) saw the Nelson Giants seeking their first win against the Manawatu Jets who were coming off a huge win the previous night, boasting many good performers.

While Mika Vukona did not return, the return of Mike Karena and Dane Brooks would have boosted the confidence of the Giants which would have been needed having known what the Jets did in their last outing.

NELSON GIANTS 16 | 18 | 28 | 26 (88)
MANAWATU JETS 22 | 20 | 21 | 20 (83)

[ … FULL MATCH STATS … ]

Fatigue from back-to-back games did not bother Manawatu as we were treated to a much higher scoring game than the earlier match. Winning the tip, Jets guard Jayden Bezzant passed to Taane Samuels who drained a triple within seconds of the tip. He then traded baskets with Karena who had not missed a beat. Despite huge games the previous night, Hyrum Harris (13 points, 21 rebounds) and Tom Vodanovich (38 points) were not feeling it early, although they did pick it up later. Harris turned the ball over for a Karena score, while Vodanovich missed his first shot.

Brooks found himself subbed into the game as coach Mike Fitchett was hoping he would have an immediate impact. An evenly poised first quarter of play after a Theo Johnson and-one conversion, the Jets would close the quarter out scoring eight of the last 10 points on back of a Haize Walker three and a Harris block, leading to a nice spinning layup for himself. Pulling away at the end of the quarter, Manawatu found themselves up 22-16 at quarter time.

Brooks launched himself into the game at the start of the second quarter with a huge swat off the backboard which led to a smooth finish up the other end from Nic Trathen who has enjoyed solid performances in the absence of Nelson’s star players. Vodanovich then suffered two missed three-point attempts and an offensive foul in just over a minute, a far cry from his heroics the previous night. Another Samuels triple gave the Jets an eight-point lead, and with Karena subbing out with foul trouble due to Samuels taking his second charge of the game in the tantalising matchup, it was looking dire for the Giants.

After trading baskets for two minutes, the Giants would get a stop and a Tysxun Aiolupotea floater would bring the deficit down to three-points. From there Vodanovich would leave the perimeter and put the ball on the floor as he and Walker would each score four points to extend the lead back out. If it were not for Johnson scoring five points late for the Giants, it would have been an ominous margin heading into half-time. The Jets were certainly much more convincing through the first half of play, shooting a much better percentage from the floor and controlling the tempo of the game. Johnson and seven second chance points from the Giants kept the margin to single digits with the scores 54-62.

Needing to lift the intensity, the Giants started the second half full of energy, securing a jump ball which led to an Aiolupotea layup. The good start the Giants needed was halted when Samuels continued to challenge Karena forcing him out onto the perimeter, draining another triple. The battle continued as Samuels drew a third offensive foul call on Karena, leading to a Vodanovich three, pushing the margin out to a game-high 12.

Nelson then turned it around and went on a 10-0 run for the next two minutes, including an unsportsmanlike foul and an offensive foul for Vodanovich, seeing him subbed out with four fouls. A big opportunity for the Giants, the Jets then scored seven straight points before Brooks hit the scoreboard for the first time with a much-needed triple. Johnson then secured a five-point play to see them trail by one. He would finish off his large third quarter with a go-ahead basket, before Samuels would regain the one-point lead for the Jets heading into the last quarter.

With the game in the balance heading into the final quarter, Vodanovich looked to assert himself early, but only mustered up an air ball attempt from deep and a turnover. While trading baskets, he would end up making a three in what was proving to be a see-sawing final quarter. Riley Bensemann then stepped up for Nelson and made some big plays with a block, a steal, a layup, and a triple following a stop. A Bezzant three would bring the game back to two points, yet the next two and a half minutes would bring trading baskets and turnovers back and forth until Johnson made it a two possession game with a triple with 40 seconds left.

A Harris layup would make the scores 84-83 the Giants’ way, until he committed an unsportsmanlike foul, all but ending the game. With intentional fouls and free throws ending the game at 88-83, the Giants recorded their first win for the season. A solid second half performance saw them score 13 more points than the Jets, giving them the confidence they need going forward. Johnson (20 points) and Karena (17 points, six rebounds) led the way while Trathen (11 points, six rebounds) and Aiolupotea (nine points) were both serviceable. They now sit in fourth place and face the Franklin Bulls on Tuesday.

Vodanovich (16 points, 16 rebounds) and Harris (18 points, 13 rebounds) were both impressive again as Bezzant (17 points, six rebounds) and Samuels (15 points, five rebounds) also put up solid numbers. The seventh placed Jets will be looking for more scoring depth when they face the ladder-leading Canterbury Rams on Wednesday.

Vodanovich and Harris pave the way for Jets rout over Huskies

IN the first of last night’s 2020 Sal’s National basketball League (NBL) Showdown match ups, it was Manawatu Jets that got their season rolling, following the 28-point drubbing of the Auckland Huskies in a contest that saw the Jets hold the wolfpack to 21 first half points.

It was the outstanding play of two ANBL (Australian NBL) prospects that neutralised the Huskies’ offensive play, thus being responsible for keeping the Kevin Braswell’s squad winless for at least a day longer in this season’s NZNBL.

AUCKLAND HUSKIES 13 | 8 | 23 | 23 (67)
MANAWATU JETS 23 | 31 | 19 | 22 (95)

[ … FULL MATCH STATS .. ]

Both the Auckland Huskies and the Manawatu Jets went into Saturday afternoon’s contest looking for their first win of the season, with each team staring at 0-1 starts to kick off their NZNBL campaigns.

It seemed that from the get-go the Jets were looking to their shooters early on, as New Zealand Breaker Thomas Vodanovich nailed two three pointers to kick off the first quarter for Manawatu in the infant minutes of the game.

However, Vodanovich wouldn’t stop there as he would go on to score 10 of the Jets’ 16  initial points throughout the first half of the opening period. But on the flip side, it was the poor shooting by the Huskies that got them off on the wrong foot, shooting 27 per cent from the field by the first break, compared to Manawatu’s 56, thus causing them to trail by double-digits early on. Another factor in this was also Hyrum Harris’s 10 opening quarter rebounds.

The situation would remain dire for Auckland throughout the second period, following a 21-3 run by the Jets squad in the first six minutes. As all seemed completely lost by this point for the Huskies trailing by as much as 37, guard Emmanuel Matambanadzo would drain two late baskets leading into the end of the first half, putting a dent into what was a stellar 20 minutes of play from the Jets, with Manawatu leading 54-21 at the main break.

It was more of the same at the start of the second half, as Vodanovich kicked off the third quarter with another bucket from deep, extending his side’s lead by an astonishing 36 points off a Harris assist. Nevertheless, Auckland finally started to put some points up on the scoreboard, outscoring the Jets as a whole in the third quarter, 23-19. Taine Murray amassed 10 of his team’s 23 from the beginning of the third period to the start of the final quarter.

When the final period finally came around, after what seemed like an eternity from the viewpoint of Auckland, Jayden Bezzant would continue a trend that was becoming a familiar pattern, nailing a three-pointer to kick-start the closing quarter and extending the deficit to 32 with a final nail in the coffin.

With just 46 seconds remaining in a completely lop-sided affair, Nicholas Brophy’s two made free-throws would bring the Huskies’ loss under 30 points, capping off a 40-minute rout by the Jets, 95-67. The win would set in motion Manawatu’s season, earning the side their first win of the season, meanwhile the Huskies would slip to 0-2, thus placing them next to the winless Nelson Giants and Franklin Bulls.

The two main factors for Manawatu’s dominant performance could be solely placed on the shoulders of Vodanovich and Harris, as the two would combine for 55 points. Additionally, offensive efficiency was a tale of two stories as the Huskies would shoot a miserable 33 per cent, a deficit of 15 below compared to the victors, who shot an impressive 48 per cent of their attempts. Looking past the plus-11 on the rebounding totals, the Jets would come out on top in basically every statistical category in what was an exemplary second matchday of their season.

Vodanovich, who shot the lights out from beyond the arc, going 10 of 14 from deep at a 71 per cent clip, was largely responsible for his 38 points on the scoreboard. For Harris, a member of the Illawarra Hawks in last season’s NBL competition, improved his stock market value tremendously, following what was a complete demolition job on the boards. Harris’s final stat line would read 13 points, six assists, four steals and a whopping 21 rebounds.

Other honourable mentions for the Jets included Bezzant, who accounted for the team’s second largest gathering of points on the night accumulating 17 was a reliable source of production, shooting 50 per cent on the night, alongside five assists and four rebounds. Whereas, Haize Walker provided the extra goods, finishing his day with 11 points next to his name.

Looking at the positives for the Huskies, Murray’s team-high 16 points was the lone talking point for Auckland in regard to their offence, whereas big man Leon Henry fell a basket and a rebound short of a double-double. Meanwhile, Jaylen Gerrand’s 4-10 shooting performance would be enough for him to crack double digits (10 points).

Auckland has the chance to redeem themselves in less than 24 hours, as they take on the Franklin Bulls. Whereas, the Jets can put themselves above .500 with a win over the Nelson Giants and given their performance last night, it seems a real possibility.

2020 Manawatu Jets season preview: Sharks duo to provide bite

USING their first two picks to select a Southland Sharks duo for the upcoming New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) season, Manawatu Jets are looking to rise up the ladder in 2020. After a last placed finish which saw them win just the two games in 2019, the Jets are hoping to fly high in Sal’s NBL Showdown this year thanks to the recruitment of former Sharks, Tom Vodanovich and Hyrum Harris to lead the offence.

MANAWATU JETS FOUR TO WATCH:

Tom Vodanovich

The 201cm Tall Blacks forward was never going to last too long on the board, so it came as no surprise when Manawatu Jets selected him at pick three in the NZNBL Player Draft last week. Still only 25-years-old – to turn 26 during the season – Vodanovich arrives at the Jets after playing for Southland Sharks. Last season he averaged 12.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Sharks, showing he could get it done up both ends with a nice split between his offensive and defensive boards. Coming off the bench in all of the New Zealand Breakers’ Australian NBL games last season – including starting once – he averaged a couple of points and a rebound, but showed he could be a very solid rotation at the higher level. He returns with that experience and could be a huge danger to opposition players trying to guard him.

Hyrum Harris

A versatile player who can play a role in multiple posiitons, Harris is 198cm and 105kg but for a big man he knows how to control the ball and has that perfect balance of offence and defence. In season 2019 playing for the Sharks alongside Vodanovich, Harris averaged the 11.0 points, 3.7 assists, 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. His partnership with Vodanovich will help the Jets already have a strong one-two combo that knows the other player’s strengths and deficiencies. Like Vodanovich, Harris was able to play in the Australian NBL off the bench for the Illawarra Hawks, taking full advantage of the injury crisis at the club to post up 2.6 points and 1.3 rebounds coming off he bench in 16 matches.

Jayden Bezzant

Having previously signed with Franklin Bulls prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, the young college star for Northwest Nazarene University Crusaders returns to the NZNBL after a successful 2019-20 NCAA2 season. There Bezzant averaged 13.4 points, 3.8 assists and 1.8 rebounds, shooting at 52.3 per cent from inside the arc, but was renowned for his ability to shoot daggers from long range. At 188cm, Bezzant will look to start out of either the one or two spots on the floor.

Tia Temata-Frost

Whilst the Jets were unable to pick up his co-captain in Jackson Stubbins, club legend Temata-Frost joins Manawatu for another season. It will be his leadership on and off the court that stands out the most leading a team that is vastly different to the one it might have looked like prior to COVID-19 lockdown. It was announced Temata-Frost would co-captain the Jets in 2020 on the club’s website.

HEAD COACH TIM MCTAMNEY ON TIA TEMATA-FROST EARLIER THIS YEAR:

“Tia showed last year that he was committed to developing as a player and always led by example in his approach. He embraced, more than anyone else, the need for continual improvement. Tia is part of a family legacy in this town. His father, Joe Frost, has given selflessly, arguably more than anyone, to basketball in the region over four decades. Tia is continuing in the same fashion. He is a man of true character and embodies our team values.”

Manawatu Jets begin their 2020 Sal’s NBL campaign up against Otago Nuggets on Wednesday night at 5.30pm, before playing back-to-back games over the weekend. In those matches, the Jets face off against Auckland Huskies on Saturday and Nelson Giants on Sunday.

2020 SAL’S NBL MANAWATU JETS INFORMATION:

FULL LIST:

Tom Vodanovich
Hyrum Harris
Jayden Bezzant
Taane Samuel
Nick Fee
Haize Walker
Tia Temata-Frost
Ashton McQueen
Matangirei Hipango
Josiah Laracy
Nelson Kirksey
Kalib Mullins

FIXTURE:

Wednesday June 24 vs Nuggets @ 5:30pm
Saturday June 27 vs Huskies @ 5:30pm
Sunday June 28 vs Giants @ 7:30pm
Wednesday July 1 vs Rams @ 7:30pm
Saturday July 4 vs Bulls @ 5:30pm
Sunday July 5 vs Airs @ 7:30pm
Wednesday July 8 vs Giants @ 5:30pm
Saturday July 11 vs Nuggets @ 5:30pm
Sunday July 12 vs Huskies @ 5:30pm
Wednesday July 15 vs Rams @ 5:30pm
Sunday July 19 vs Airs @ 7:30pm
Tuesday July 21 vs Bulls @ 5:30pm
Thursday July 23 vs Nuggets @ 7:30pm
Saturday July 25 vs Huskies @ 7:30pm