Tag: hawke’s bay hawks

2021 NZNBL team review: Hawkes Bay Hawks

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 Hawkes Bay Hawks.

SEASON SUMMARY:

Position: 2nd
Wins: 14
Losses: 6

KEY STATS:

Points: 92.6 (2nd)
Rebounds: 37.7 (3rd)
Assists: 18.3 (2nd)
Steals: 8.0 (4th)
Blocks: 3.1 (2nd)
Field Goal %: 47.4 (4th)

KEY PLAYERS:

Devondrick Walker

A shooting machine, Walker was a sensational and reliable player throughout the 2021 NZNBL Grand Final, putting up 21.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.7 steals throughout the year. Walker led his team in points, and was second in both assists and steals, showcasing his ball-handling skills. Nailing 70 of his 164 three-point attempts, the long-range shooter averaged 42.7 per cent from beyond the arc, always dangerous when lining up for the jumper. When he did occasionally get to the free throw line, he converted 84.6 per cent of the time. Walker put up double-digits in all bar two games he was on court, and amassed 20-plus scores in 11 games. In his last three outings, Walker had his most prolific games of the year – two of which were finals – in his final three matches to put up an average of 33 points and six rebounds across the three games.

Hyrum Harris

The well-balanced talent had another strong season backing up his 2020 year by leading his team in rebounds (8.1), assists (4.0) and steals (2.1), being the key facilitator for the Sharks like he was for the Jets last season. Again Harris fell short of a premiership medal, finishing runner-up for the second consecutive season, but he did everything he could during the year. He shot at 55.4 per cent from the field, and whilst his free throw shooting was down (just 66.7 per cent efficiency), he was still able to contribute across the court. Harris ended the year with 12 double-digit points games, including a run of five consecutive matches mid-season. His two finals saw outings of 19 and 22 points, both being double-doubles. In total, Harris managed six double-doubles, and stepped up when needed.

Ethan Rusbatch

The ever-reliable Rusbatch played all bar one game, and started in each of them, averaging 16.8 points per match to be second in his team behind Walker. He also managed the 4.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.1 steals. Rusbatch shot at a high 38.7 per cent from long-range to combine well with Walker from beyond the arc, and he managed an 81.8 per cent efficiency when he got to the charity stripe. His consistency was remarkable, with a run of 15 consecutive games in double-digits. Unfortunately his grand final (four points) was a quiet one, but overall he contributed to the team with seven rebounds. At one point in the season he had a five-game streak of 20 or more points, with his season high of 36 coming against Otago Nuggets on June 12, with a whooping nine of 15 triples in that game.

Rhys Vague

Whilst Vague played a few less games than the others (16, including 15 starting), he still did his part off the boards to be second overall behind Harris in rebounds (7.0), and fifth overall for points (12.0). He played his role each and every week, and shot at 36.8 per cent from outside the arc and 48.6 per cent overall, though support off the boards was his main job. When he got to the line, Vague hit three quarters of his free throws to be a reliable option there. Of his 16 games, 10 were in double-figure points, and he had the one double-double against Manawatu Jets on June 20, when he picked up 11 points and 12 rebounds, though he had an outlying 25-point game (the only match about 20 points) along with eight rebounds and five assists, against Otago Nuggets on June 12, dominating with Rusbatch.

OTHERS:

He was one of the more dominant players in 2020, and whilst Derone Raukawa was not as dominant in 2021, he still contributed 12.3 points, 3.6 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.0 steals. The two players coming off the bench with good numbers were Jonathan Janssen (8.6 points, 6.2 rebounds) and Jordan Hunt (11.2 points, 4.2 rebounds).

SUMMARY:

The Hawkes Bay Hawks came within a basket of winning the overall prize, having the better of the Wellington Saints midway through the 2021 NZNBL Grand Final, but could ultimately not finish the job. Nonetheless they can be proud with their efforts after not dropping a game at home all season.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Dozen it feel good? Wellington Saints claim 12th NZNBL title

WELLINGTON Saints have claimed their twelfth New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) title in one of the most thrilling finishes to a decider. Leading by two points in the dying moments against Hawkes Bay Hawks, a turnover was stolen by the Hawks, raced up the other end, but unable to get a clean look and safely captured by the Saints to hold on as the buzzer sounded for a two-point win. 77-75.

The top of the table Saints looked like they were going to storm to a dominant win early, taking the lead from the get-go and racing to a 12-point advantage at the first break. That was not indicative of what the Te Rauparaha Arena crowd was about to witness however, as the second placed Hawks began to claw their way back into the contest. Getting it back to as little as a one possession game late in the second term, the Hawks headed into the ain break with a 25-19 quarter win, and a six-point deficit on the scoreboard.

That momentum swing continued into the second half as the Hawks completely stagnated the usually free-flowing Saints attack, keeping Wellington to just nine points in the third quarter and piled on 19 themselves to lead by a team-high lead of four points. That lead extended out to six early in the fourth and it looked like an upset might be brewing. As they had all year though, the Saints found a way and dug deep to quickly make up the difference. There were eight lead changes in the final term, with the nail-biting finish one to savour.

Tohi Smith-Milner handed the Saints the lead with three minutes remaining, and Taane Samuel – who beat a tribunal charge to play on the night – added a long-range bomb for a four-point lead. Rhys Vague returned serve with layups either side of another Smith-Milner fadeaway and the difference was just two points with 37 remaining on the clock. The experience of Leon Henry came into the game.

With possession the Saints just needed to hold onto it, as Samuel had a three-point attempt which was rebounded, but then a Kerwin Roach Jr pass under pressure almost proved costly as Devondrick Walker read it well and raced up the other end. To his credit, Roach Jr forced the body contact as Walker drove to the basket and the buzzer sounded with the ball missing.

The Saints were yet again the more efficient team on the night, putting up 50 per cent of their attempts, despite shooting at a lower 25 per cent from range for just seven of 27. It was still enough to be better than the Hawks (three of 18 at 16 per cent efficiency). They were beaten in the rebounds (42-31) but won the assists (14-13), steals (6-5) and blocks (8-5) all narrowly. To the Hawks’ credit they threw everything at the Saints, and had one less turnover (9-10) which resulted in more points from turnovers (17-13). They also had more second chance points (17-4) and bench points (10-6) in an overall strong performance.

Roach Jr won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) on the biggest stage, scoring 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one steal in the win. Captain Dion Prewster led from the front putting up 15 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks, and was the only player to fill the full 40 minutes on court. Samuel made the most of his chance being able to play, putting up a team-high 26 points, while Smith-Milner (nine points, four assists, four blocks and three rebounds) was also solid despite inaccuracy.

For the Hawks, Walker had a match-high 31 points and seven rebounds, being the only player to score from long-range with three of eight. Hyrum Harris (22 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks) picked up a double-double for his troubles in what would be his second successive NZNBL Grand Final loss, whilst Vague (eight points, six rebounds) and Derone Raukawa (eight points, two rebounds) also picked up some important points.

It was a memorable decider and the best team for the regular season and on the night lifted the trophy, but not without a real challenge from the Hawks who came so close to glory.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Hawks step up in final stanza to claim narrow win over Sharks

HAWKES Bay Hawks will look to dethrone the top of the table Wellington Saints in the 2021 New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) Grand Final after an exciting victory over Southland Sharks in the second semi-final last night. The Hawks won in a seven-point thriller against Sharks, after the teams were level at the final break. Now the Saints and Hawks will do battle in the decider tonight at Te Rauparaha Arena.

In a seesawing contest all night, neither team really felt comfortable when they held a lead, as the sides momentum ebbed and flowed and never got beyond 13 points, with double-digits only arising halfway through the last term. The game started with lead changes galore and a high-scoring opening stanza, as the Hawks took the ascendancy to head into quarter time with a seven-point lead. It was never going to be all one-way traffic however, and the Sharks hit back in the second quarter with an impressive 27-16 lead and put it out to a four-point advantage at half-time, which was their largest lead of the game.

Despite putting it out to six early in the third term, that was as far as it got for the Sharks, as each challenge Southland threw down to the Hawks, Hawkes Bay answered with flying colours. By the final break, the teams were as they started, completely level. That was all the Hawks needed, quickly gaining the momentum early in the fourth and blowing the lead right out to 13 points midway through the last term, and buying enough time to secure the win. To the Sharks’ credit they came back and cut the late deficit to seven by the final buzzer, but it was too little, too late and the Hawks got up with a 98-91 victory.

Hawkes Bay was the more accurate shooting team, putting up 51 to 44 per cent from the field, including 43 to 32 per cent from long-range. They also had more rebounds (42-41) and assists (15-13) in virtually even statistics, whilst also recoding five more points off their bench (17-12). The points in the paint and second chance points were dead even at 42 and seven points apiece respectively. Meanwhile the Sharks had three less turnovers (13-16) and therefore capitalised off turnovers (20-8). Southland also had more steals (9-6) and blocks (3-2) in the loss.

Devondrick Walker was the star, knocking down a game-high 33 points in the win, shooting six of 13 from long-range, and also recording five rebounds and two assists in the process. Hyrum Harris picked up a double-double of 19 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Ethan Rusbatch (14 points – four of eight from three-point range – and five rebounds) and Rhys Vague (13 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals) both contributed strongly from the start. Derone Raukawa shouldered the load off the bench with 13 points and three assists in 25 minutes.

Dom Kelman-Poto had 25 points, 11 rebounds and four assists was the clear standout for the Sharks in defeat, one of two players to pick up a double-double. Joshua Cunningham also had one with 13 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals. Brayden Inger (18 points, four rebounds, two steals and two blocks), Courtney Belger (12 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals) and Sione Helu (11 points) were the other double-figure points scorers for the Sharks.

Now the Hawks will need to dig deep in order to find a way to knock he top of the table Saints off their perch in tonight’s grand final.

Photo credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

2021 NZNBL Semi-Finals preview: Final Four tips off tonight

TEN teams started in the 2021 New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL), and just four remain after 13 weeks of top notch basketball action decided the final four which tips off tonight. Held at Te Rauparaha Arena over two consecutive nights, the four semi-finalists will face off in two do-or-die matches tonight, with the winner of each semi-final progressing through to tomorrow night’s grand final. The four teams in contention are Wellington Saints, Hawkes Bay Hawks, Southland Sharks and Auckland Huskies who remain in the hunt for premiership glory.

WELLINGTON SAINTS vs. AUCKLAND HUSKIES
Thursday, July 22 @ 6pm
Te Rauparaha Arena

Up first are the minor premiers, Wellington Saints taking on fourth placed Auckland Huskies for the opening spot in the 2021 NZNBL Grand Final. The Saints finished on top with 16 wins from 18 matches, clearly the benchmark team ranked first in overall points and first in least points conceded making them an easy favourite for the overall title. In nine matches at home, the Saints did not lose, and their 7-2 record on the road was pretty imposing as well. For the Huskies, they secured their final four spot in the penultimate round, winning 11 games from 18 matches, including a 5-4 record at home, and a 6-3 record on the road, making travelling no fear for the side.

Fans do not have to look too far back to see the last time these sides faced off, with the Round 12 match just five days earlier and the Saints coming away with a 24-point win, 85-61. Captain and League Most Valuable Player (MVP) Dion Prewster went to work putting up 23 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in that game, well aided by Taane Samuel (20 points, four rebounds and two assists). For the Huskies, Justin Bibbs (18 points, nine rebounds and four assists) and Tom Vodanovich (17 points, 10 rebounds and two assists) were the two key players. In their only other encounter back on May 28, Wellington Saints easily accounted for the Huskies by 31 points in a 107-76 victory.

In terms of the key statistics, the Saints average almost 11 points more per game (97.1 to 86.2) and concede nine points less (76.7 to 85.4). Their shooting percentage is higher from inside and outside the arc, and from the free throw line, they have more rebounds and assists per match. In particular, the Saints are great at second chance opportunities, grabbing an average of 11 offensive rebounds per game. They can also win the ball back in transition, recording nine steals per game to the Huskies’ 7.2. In saying that, the Huskies are generally good with ball-in-hand, only committing the 11.8 turnovers per game, less than the Saints’ 12.9.

With Chris Johnson back in the United States and teenage talent Dontae Nance injured, the Huskies have looked to Bibbs and the returned Vodanovich as the key players. Vodanovich has averaged the 20.3 points and 78 rebounds per game, teaming up well with Bibbs (18.0 and 5.3) in that sense. Brook Ruscoe-Taiaroa (10.6 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists) and Zach Riley (10.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists) are others who have stepped up in the absence of key players. Riley in particular has had a memorable season, winning the Youth Player of the Year.

The Saints on the other hand have no shortage of stars, with Prewster (18.7 points, 4.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds) voted the best player in the NZNBL this season. Kerwin Roach Jr (17.4 points, 4.2 assists and 5.8 rebounds) has also been outstanding, whilst Samuel (16.6 points) is also an All-Star 5 this season, and Tohi Smith-Milner (13.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists) has been outstanding throughout. When weighing up the two sides, it is hard to look past Wellington Saints who have been the best side all year, have very few flaws and an outstanding starting five that should get the job done yet again.

HAWKES BAY HAWKS vs. SOUTHLAND SHARKS
Thursday, July 22 @ 8pm
Te Rauparaha Arena

Once the winner of the first semi-final is decided, it is straight onto the other match with a blockbuster second against third clash. Hawkes Bay Hawks and Southland Sharks both come in with 13-5 records from this season, and were as evenly poised as any to go head-to-head in this match. The Hawks did not lose a match at home in nine outings, including toppling both the Sharks and Wellington Saints, whilst their road record was a little more shaky with a 4-5 record. The Sharks were not as dominant at home but still recorded seven wins from nine matches, whilst also having six from nine away from home.

The most recent encounter between these sides was not so close, with the Hawks coming away with a comfortable 97-71 win on the road. In what was only the Sharks second loss on the road – after a one-point overtime defeat at the hands of Auckland Huskies in the last match at ILT Stadium – the Hawks stormed to a 26-point victory. In an even team performance, five players had double-figure points for the Hawks, with Jordan Hunt (21 points, four assists and two rebounds) and Derone Raukawa (17 points, four assists and three rebounds) leading the way in the win. For the Sharks, Dom Kelman-Poto was a one-man wrecking ball with 27 points, four rebounds and two assists, whilst Joshua Cunningham put up 13 points, eight rebounds and two assists. In their earlier encounter back on May 8, the Hawks came away with a closer 12-point win at Pettigrew Green Arena, 85-73.

In terms of individuals, Kelman Poto is the sole member of the All-Star 5 in this match, with the Hawks having an overall balanced lineup. Looking at the key team stats, the Hawks are marginally ahead in points per game (93.2 to 91.3), and have conceded marginally less points to their opposition (83.4 to 84.3). The Sharks are a marginally better shooting team from inside the arc (56.1 to 55.7 per cent), though neither team could be split from outside it, with 36.9 per cent, and the Hawks hitting 1.3 additional three-pointers per game. Off the boards it is the Hawks who lead the way (37.7 to 36.9), whilst the Sharks are ahead in the assists (19.8 to 18.7) and steals (8.3 to 8.2), whilst also having less turnovers (12.0 to 13.1).

Having played every game for the Hawks, Hyrum Harris has been a rock across the court, able to impact in a multitude of ways on his way to an average of 12.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.1 steals. Leading the team for points, Devondrick Walker has put up 20.2 points. 4.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.9 steals in an impressive effort, whilst Ethan Rusbatch managed the 17.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. The depth of the Hawks is ultra-impressive, with Hunt (12.7 points, 4.6 rebounds), Raukawa (12.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.1 steals) and Rhys Vague (12.2 points, 6.9 rebounds) also averaging double-figure points.

Kelman-Poto’s All-Star 5 season came about from his 17.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game, shooting an a high 57 per cent from the field. He worked well starting every game with Cunningham (14.7 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists), whilst three others reached double-figure point averages. Courtney Belger (12.3 points. 5.7 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.7 steals), Brayden Inger (14.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists) and Alonzo Burton (13.1 points. 2.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 steals) all played 17 or games this year showing great durability.

This game is hard to split, but with the Hawks having won both their previous encounters, the scale tips in their favour, but it could genuinely go either way given the stars on display in this contest.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Sharks and Hawks wrap up regular season with wins

SOUTHLAND Sharks and Hawkes Bay Hawks will head into the Final Four on the back of victories, following their wins to open the final round of New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) action. The Sharks toppled the Canterbury Rams by 13 points in their clash, whilst the Hawks proved far too strong for the bottom two Manawatu Jets, posting a huge 28-point victory in front of home fans.

The Sharks might have recorded a comfortable win but it was far from easy, losing both the first two quarters to trail by nine points at half-time. They managed to cut the deficit to seven by the final break, but looked in real danger of dropping the home game at ILT Stadium. Luckily a dominant final term which saw them smash the Rams out of the park courtesy of a 33-13 final term, resulted in the Sharks getting up 100-87.

Southland was more accurate from the field, shooting at 55 per cent from both inside and outside the arc, nailing 15 of 27 from three-point range compared to the Rams’ nine of 26 (34 per cent). The Sharks also led the rebounds (39-34), assists (25-12), blocks 2-0) and points in the paint (40-30). There was some good news for the Rams who had less turnovers (15-18) and therefore had more points from turnovers (18-16), as well as more second chance points (15-9), bench points (25-23) and steals (11-9).

Dom Kelman-Poto was simply unstoppable on his way to the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award courtesy of 28 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, shooting three of six from beyond the arc. Similarly, Josh Cunningham had the 21 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals, while Brayden Inger knocked down three triples – albeit from 10 attempts – for 11 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Courtney Belger (13 points, 10 assists and three rebounds) and Toby Gillooly (10 points) also reached double-figures for the Sharks.

Deshon Taylor was a one-man machine, putting up 31 points, as well as five rebounds, three assists and two steals. EJ Singler produced another memorable outing with three triples to total 16 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals. Jack Salt (nine points, 10 rebounds) came close to a double-double, whilst Joe Cook-Green (nine points, four rebounds) and Alex Talma (eight points) were steady off the bench.

Hawkes Bay Hawks did not have any issues – aside from a second quarter lapse – in posting a big 28-point win over Manawatu Jets. The Hawks dominated the first term with a 28-13 quarter before the Jets responded with a 21-14 term of their own. With the game back to eight points, the Hawks reestablished themselves as a dominant force, putting up a whopping 54 points to 34 in the second half to run away with the contest, 96-68.

The Hawks won every single statistic, with more accuracy from the field (42 to 32 per cent), rebounds (59-45) and assists (15-5) all heavily in their favour. They also had more steals (6-3) and blocks (4-3), as well as more points in the paint (42-26), second chance points (19-11), points from turnovers (12-6) and bench points (27-11).

There was little doubting the MVP in the game, as Devondrick Walker blitzed his way to 35 points – more than half the entire opposition’s score – as well as five rebounds and two steals, which included seven of 14 from beyond the arc. Rhys Vague (15 points, nine rebounds) and Ethan Rusbatch (14 points, two rebounds) both held up well in the starting side, with Jonathan Janssen (12 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two blocks) the best off the bench. Hyrum Harris (five points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals) contributed outside the scoreboard.

Daishon Knight led the scoring for the Jets with a hard-working double-double effort of 20 points and 12 rebounds, as well as three assists. Jayden Bezzant (15 points, four rebounds) and Nikau McCullough (14 points, two rebounds) chipped in with some solid numbers, whilst Finn Lally (six points, seven rebounds and two blocks) and Matangirei Hipango (five points, four rebounds) were the next best for the Jets.

The two winners head to the Final Four with a nice break to rest up, whilst for the Rams and Jets, they take on Otago Nuggets and Nelson Giants tomorrow and Sunday respectively.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Huskies stun Sharks, Hawks topple Bulls and Jets bounce back against Rams

THREE games of single-digit results including one overtime match has seen one of the nights of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) season. The Auckland Huskies needed extra time to shake off a fast-finishing Southland Sharks for the Sharks’ first loss at home of the year, Hawkes Bay Hawks did enough through the middle two quarters to down the Franklin Bulls in a closer-than-expected five-point win, and Manawatu Jets bounced back from their disappointing loss to last placed Taranaki Mountainairs the night before to win by seven over Canterbury Rams.

The match of the night belonged to the Huskies-Sharks, with the game going right down to the wire. Yet to lose at home, the Sharks lead by a narrow two points at the first break. That turned on its head as Tom Vodanovich stepped up a gear and the Huskies won the next two terms by a combined 12 points to lead by double digits at the final break. Southland roared back to life in the last term, levelling the scores by the final buzzer, with a Tom Cowie layup in the final minute ensuring the teams finished at 83-apiece. The overtime period saw both teams trading blows, with Justin Bibbs turning up the heat for the Huskies and scoring the last seven points for his side to come from four points down, to hit the front with less than a minute left courtesy of a three-point jumper.

Vodanovich had some kind of night, nailing five of 11 from long range on his way to 33 points, 13 rebounds – six offensive – and two assists. He teamed up well with Bibbs who also lit up from long-range putting together five of 13 from beyond the arc to finish with 27 points, five assists and three rebounds. Chris Johnson (11 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two blocks) and Dontae Nance (11 points, three rebounds and three assists) also hit double-figure points in the win.

Josh Cunningham was the standout for the Sharks, shooting at 72 per cent, picking up 28 points, 10 rebounds and two assists, whilst Brayden Inger (20 points, five rebounds) and Alonzo Burton (19 points, five rebounds and two steals) both stood tall. Dom Kelman-Poto also impressed off the boards with seven points, 11 rebounds and three assists, whilst Toby Gillooly (nine points, seven rebounds and three assists) was strong.

Hawkes Bay Hawks came from 12 points down at quarter time to win the next two quarters by 11 and eight points respectively and lead Franklin Bulls by seven with a term to play. Whilst the visitors did cut into the lead by two points in the final term, the Hawks won 95-90 overall to maintain their good form in the top two.

Devondrick Walker was phenomenal with 21 points – five of 13 from long-range – seven steals, four assists and four rebounds, whilst Ethan Rusbatch had 21 points, three assists, two rebounds and two steals. Jordan Hunt came off the bench for 20 points and two steals, whilst Rhys Vague (12 points, six rebounds and three assists) and Hyrum Harris (10 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals) were also impressive.

Kyrin Galloway had 20 points and 13 rebounds in a big double-double for the Bulls, as he and Isaac Davidson (21 points, six rebounds and three assists) did the bulk of the scoring for the losers. Jett Thompson (12 points, four assists and two rebounds) and Adam Dunstan (10 points, six rebounds) also worked hard.

After losing to the last placed Airs the night before, Manawatu Jets got the better of Canterbury Rams by seven points. Trailing by six points at the first break, and seven by half-time, the Jets dominated the third term to score 26-14, then finished off strongly to win 92-85 and bounce back from their defeat.

Daishon Knight was unbelievable with the best games of the year, putting up 30 points, 16 rebounds – 11 defensive – and 11 assists, as well as three steals in a full 40 minutes of court time. Also spending 40 minutes on the court, Deandre Daniels managed the 22 points, five rebounds, four blocks and three steals, whilst Nikau McCullough had 25 points, two rebounds and two assists off the bench.

EJ Singler had a team-high 26 points, as well as eight rebounds and two steals for the Rams, with Deshon Taylor (23 points, five rebounds and three assists) also stepping up. Max Darling (15 points, nine rebounds and two blocks) contributed off the bench, whilst Sam Smith (eight points) and Jack Salt (six points, three rebounds) also shared in the points despite the loss.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Hawks swoop against Saints as Nuggets’ Giant first half secures win over Nelson

HAWKES Bay Hawks swooped on the Wellington Saints early to post an impressive win in the 2019 New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) finals rematch, whilst the Otago Nuggets spoiled the Nelson Giants’ 40th birthday celebrations in the other match. Both games saw the eventual winners storm to a big lead early, and shake up the ladder, as the top four teams now sit a game clear of the rest of the competition.

In the top three clash, Hawkes Hay Hawks leapfrogged the Wellington Saints to hand their opponents only their second loss for the season. Moving into second spot on the ladder, the Hawks did so by taking control from the opening tip-off and leading 23-12 at the first break. The Saints predictably clawed their way back into the contest, winning the second term by six points and the third by three, but the home team steadied when it counted to win the last stanza by four, and the match by six, 88-82.

Hawkes Bay shot at a more accurate 49 per cent from the field, compared to the Saints’ 41 per cent. They won the rebounds (39-37), points in the paint (38-34) and second chance points (15-8) on the night. The Saints had their fair share of the ball, with one more assists (18-17) and steals (6-5), as well as more blocks (6-1) and less turnovers (10-13), leading to an even share of the points from turnovers (11-11), but the Saints produced more points off the bench (17-9).

It was an even team performance from the Hawks, with Devondrick Walker (20 points, four rebounds) marginally winning the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award from the match, shooting four of seven from long-range. Hyrum Harris (18 points, seven rebounds and four assists) was not far behind, whilst Rhys Vague (15 points, three rebounds and two assists), Derone Raukawa (14 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Ethan Rusbatch (12 points, five rebounds and three assists).

For the Saints, Tohi Smith-Milner top-scored with 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists, whilst the long-range shooting deadeye of Taane Samuel managed four of five from beyond the arc to finish with 14 points, four rebounds and two blocks. Kerwin Roach Jr (18 points, six rebounds and five assists) and Dion Prewster (14 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals) also impressed from the starting team, while Leon Henry contributed all the team’s bench points with 17 – five of nine from three-point range – as well as seven rebounds and four blocks in the loss.

The Otago Nuggets silenced the crowd early on a night where the Nelson Giants were celebrating 40 years in the competition, piling on 31 points to 19 in the opening term, then 23-18 in the second quarter to lead by 17 points at the main break. The home team sprung to life in the second half, winning it 47-40, but it was a case of too little, too late, with the visitors getting up by 10 points, 94-84.

Otago shot the lights out with 56 per cent of their attempts from the field going in, compared to the Giants’ 34 per cent. What made it all the more impressive was that the Nuggets had 25 less shots, but nailed four more than their opponents, including the same amount of triples (11) despite 19 less attempts (21-40). They also won the rebounds (43-41), assists (23-15) and blocks (5-0), and had more points in the paint (40-28). The Giants committed less turnovers (10-20) and therefore had more points from turnovers (22-12), as well as more second chance points (16-13) and steals (10-4).

Isaiah Moss won MVP with 24 points – five of nine from long-range – eight rebounds, two assists and two steals to lead the way, whilst Gerasimos McKay picked up 21 points, nine rebounds and two assists on the night. Sam Timmins continued his hot streak with a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds – 11 defensive – as well as five assists, two steals and two blocks, while Richie Rodger had the 11 points, seven assists and two rebounds.

For the Giants, Hunter Hale had 21 points, five assists, five steals and two rebounds, just ahead of Sam Dempster (19 points, seven rebounds and two assists) Thomas Ingham (11 points, four rebounds) also hit double-figure points from the starting line-up, whilst Nic Trathen contributed his usual long-range shooting from the bench with three of five going in from long-range on his way to 13 points and three rebounds.

Wellington Saints front up tonight up against the Taranaki Mountainairs, whilst the Hawkes Bay Hawks take on Manawatu Jets tomorrow, whilst the Otago Nuggets also play then against Franklin Bulls. The Nelson Giants have an extended break until lJune 25 when they lock horns with the Saints.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Jets destroy Bulls as Hawks grab narrow Huskies win

TWO very different New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) games played out last night, with the Hawkes Bay Hawks winning in a tight one against a fast-finishing Auckland Huskies outfit, while Manawatu Jets pounced on a wounded Franklin Bulls team to win big. Just five points separated the Hawks and Huskies, whilst the Jets won all four quarters on their way to a massive 32-point victory in a high-scoring encounter.

In the tight encounters, Hawkes Bay Hawks started off strongly to win the first three quarters. The home team scored 18 points to 15 in the first term, and 14 points to 12 in the second to lead by five points at the main break. They extended the advantage into double-digits by the last change, before Auckland made its move. Despite the Huskies chipping away at a lead that got out to as much as 20 points during the third term, they could not draw closer than four, eventually going down by five, 80-75.

There were positives from both sides as the Hawks shot at a higher clip of 43 to 41 per cent from the field. They won the points in the paint battle well (34-26), as well as the points from turnovers (21-12) given both sides committed the 15 turnovers apiece. Across the board all the stats were either even or separated by a narrow margin, including the rebounds, assists, steals and blocks, with only the Huskies’ bench points (26-18) creating some separation on the Hawks.

Devondrick Walker was the standout shooter on the night, recording 25 points – five of nine from long-range – eight rebounds, four assists and three steals. Ethan Rusbatch (14 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals) also reached double-figure points, while Derone Raukawa (eight points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals) Hyrum Harris (eight points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Rhys Vague (seven points, seven rebounds) all contributed to the starting side. Off the bench, Jonathan Janssen (six points, seven rebounds) and Jordan Hunt (six points, six rebounds) were influential.

For the Huskies, Chris Johnson (20 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three blocks) and Zach Riley (15 points, eight rebounds and four steals) teamed up well from the starting side. Teenager Dontae Nance came on court to drop 20 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals in an all-round effort, while Takiula Fahrensohn had a solid performance with seven points and five rebounds.

The other match was not nearly as competitive, with an understrength Franklin Bulls outfit feeling the wrath of a red-hot Manawatu Jets side. The Jets were on from the opening tip-off, racing out to an eight-point quarter time lead, before making it 14 by half-time. Not willing to let it slip, Manawatu won the third term by another five, then completely put the foot down and piled on 31 points to 18 to run away with a massive 118-86 win. The 118-point tally was the largest any team has scored this season.

The Jets unsurprisingly won every key stat from field goal percentage (48 to 36 per cent) to rebounds (57-49) and assists (28-18). The game was dictated by long-range shooting as the Jets nailed a massive 19, while the Bulls still had a huge 17, contributing the majority of their points. Manawatu also controlled the paint with 42 points to 24, had more second chance points (27-9) and more points off the bench (28-14).

Unfortunately without Josh Selby, Zane Waterman and Matt Freeman, the Bulls have been struggling in recent times and will need to find an answer if they are to turn around their season. In the loss, it was up to Denhym Brooke (23 points, five rebounds) and Kyrin Galloway (22 points, 14 rebounds and four assists) who both shot four triples, while Nicolas Fee (13 points, eight assists and four rebounds) and Jaylen Gerrand (11 points) had the three triples apiece.

The Jets had no shortage of stars, as Shane Temara racked up a massive double-double of 34 points – five of six from long-range – 13 rebounds and three assists. Daishon Knight came within a whisker of a triple-double, pulling out a 16-point, 10-assist and nine-rebound performance. Deandre Daniels hit four of eight from long-range for 22 points, five rebounds, three blocks and two assists, while Nikau McCulloch came off the bench for 17 points – four of seven from three-point range – in 21 minutes. Jayden Bezzant (13 points, six assists and three rebounds) and Jake McKinlay (seven points, 13 rebounds and two assists) were others who shone on the night.

Manawatu Jets are the first side to front up of these four sides, taking on Southland Sharks next Friday, as the Hawkes Bay Hawks host Otago Nuggets, and Franklin Bulls travel to Auckland Huskies on Saturday night.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Sharks hand Saints first loss as Hawks and Huskies claim wins

IT was a triple treat of action in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) last night, as Southland Sharks became the first side to reach seven wins, downing the previously undefeated Wellington Saints to temporarily take top spot, while Hawkes Bay Hawks and Auckland Huskies both collected wins to remain in the top five. While the Sharks knocked off the Saints by 14 points, Hawkes Bay Hawks smashed Franklin Bulls by 37, and Auckland Huskies easily accounted for Taranaki Mountainairs by 22.

The Sharks came to play at ILT Stadium in front of home fans, proving themselves a title contender by racing out to a four-point lead at quarter time, which grew to 11 points by the main break. Wellington hit back in the third term to cut the deficit back to six with a quarter to play, before a dominant final term in favour of the Sharks (20-12) saw them run away with the 14-point victory, 84-70.

Dom Kelman-Poto racked up a massive double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds, as well as six assists on the night. Courtney Belger top-scored with 19 points, and had the seven assists, four rebounds and two steals in an all-round effort. Fellow starters, Alonzo Burton (15 points, five assists and five steals), Josh Cunningham (13 points, nine rebounds) and Brayden Inger (14 points, three assists, two rebounds and two steals) all clocked in some serious minutes in the Sharks’ win.

Kerwin Roach Jr had a team-high 17 points for the visitors, also notching up seven rebounds and six assists, while Dion Prewster (11 points, eight rebounds and four assists) also came close to a double-double. Taane Samuel (13 points, three assists and two rebounds) was the other player to record double-digit points, while Tohi Smith-Milner (seven points, nine rebounds) and Ken Tuffin (eight points, four rebounds) were also solid despite the defeat.

In the biggest win of the night, Hawkes Bay Hawks easily accounted for Franklin Bulls, winning by 37 points on the road, 110-73. The Hawks put the foot down early with a dominant 33-10 first quarter, and whilst the Bulls managed to win the second term by four, were no match for the dominant Hawks, who went on to score 56 points to 38 in the second half, and consolidate a top three spot with a big win.

Ethan Rusbatch was sensational with a whopping eight of 13 from long-range to help him accumulate 27 points, seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks in the victory. Derone Raukawa finished with 14 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals, and Jonathan Janssen came off the bench for 18 points and eight rebounds. Others who had no trouble scoring were Rhys Vague (15 points, five rebounds) and Jordan Hunt (15 points, six rebounds), while Devondrick Walker came agonisingly close to a triple-double of nine points, eight rebounds, eight assists and two steals.

In a disappointing night for the Bulls, Denhym Brooke still stood up with 17 points – five of 17 from three-point range – eight rebounds and three assists. Jett Thompson (12 points) and Dylan Wilkie (11) had their fair share of points, whilst Joseph Nunag (nine points, seven rebounds and two assists) and Zachary Easthope (nine points, five rebounds) were both solid in the loss.

In the third game of the night, Auckland Huskies posted a 22-point triumph over Taranaki Mountainairs. The Huskies won the first half by 11 points, to head into the main break with a 53-42 lead. The third term was even, but the visitors stepped it up a gear in the last quarter, pouring on 28 points to 17 to double their lead and win, 106-84.

Chris Johnson had a night out with 26 points – nailing all four three-point attempts – 11 rebounds – nine defensive – and five assists in a double-double effort. He was far from alone however, with two more players recording 19 points, and two more reaching 18. Coming off the bench, teenager Dontae Nance helped himself to 19 points, five rebounds and five assists, levelling with Takiula Fahrensohn (19 points, three rebounds). Brook Ruscoe-Taiaroa (18 points, five assists, three rebounds and three steals) and Zach Riley (18 points, five assists and three steals) also notched up big numbers.

For the Airs, Marcel Jones did his usual thing with 20 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals in a workman-like effort. Carlin Davison had 16 points, four rebounds and two assists in the loss, while Haize Walker (14 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Francis Mulvihill (12 points, four assists and two rebounds) also had busy nights on the stats sheet.

The quickest turnarounds belong to the Southland Sharks and Wellington Saints who both hit the road to face Otago Nuggets and Canterbury Rams respectively tonight. The Auckland Huskies travel to lock horns with Hawkes Bay Hawks tomorrow, whilst the Franklin Bulls tackle the Manawatu Jets, and the Taranaki Mountainairs face the Nelson Giants on Monday.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Sharks make it four consecutive wins as Rams punish Hawks late

SOUTHLAND Sharks and Canterbury Rams came away the winners in last night’s New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) contests, holding off Manawatu Jets and Hawkes Bay Hawks respectively to post victories. In what were relatively even contests, the Rams came from behind at the final break to overcome the Hawks, while the Sharks took control early and maintained that advantage in the second half to win by 12 points.

In the Rams-Hawks game, it was Canterbury that burst out of the blocks with a 27-17 first term to open up a double-digit advantage at quarter time. The Hawks started clawing their way back into the contest by cutting the deficit back to eight at the main break, before a dominant third stanza of 23-13 swung the momentum in their favour. With the lead now two points to the visiting team, the Rams needed something special, and they pulled it out with a 25-15 final term to run out 87-79 winners.

While the Hawks were more efficient from their shooting (41 to 38 per cent from the field and particularly 54 to 43 per cent from inside the arc), the Rams lead most key statistics. Canterbury finished ahead in the rebounds (51-41), steals (9-5), points in the paint (42-30) and bench points (22-9), with less turnovers (12-18) leading to more points from turnovers (20-14). The Hawks won the assists (19-15) and were the only team to produce any blocks (8-0).

Deshon Taylor was outstanding with 33 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and two steals in a double-double performance for the Rams. EJ Singler had 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals, while Quintin Bailey (10 points, seven rebounds) and Ben Constable (10 points, six rebounds) were also busy.

For the Hawks it was a triple threat of Ethan Rusbatsch (23 points, three rebounds and two assists), Devondrick Walker (18 points, five rebounds and two assists) and Rhys Vague (14 points, eight rebounds and three assists), while Jonathan Janssen (nine points, nine rebounds and five blocks) was prolific off the bench in the defeat.

Southland Sharks won three of the four quarters against Manawatu Jets to post a 12-point victory over their opponents at the Fly Palmy Central Energy Trust Arena. The Sharks got out to a two-point quarter time lead and extended that to nine by half-time, before the Jets managed to cut it back by one to remain in the contest at the last change. Southland steadied in the final term to post 26-22 and record a 100-88 victory.

The Sharks were deadly from long-range with a 45 per cent to 28 per cent shooting efficiency outside the arc, for an overall 48 to 46 per cent from the field. They led the steals (7-5) and second chance points (16-11), with less turnovers (8-14) allowing them to have more points from turnovers (18-10). The Jets had more rebounds (43-37), assists (16-12) and blocks (3-0).

Alonzo Burton put up 27 points, four rebounds and two steals for the winners, shooting six of 11 from long-ranger in the process. Dom Kelman-Poto (14 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals), Courtney Belger (15 points, seven rebounds and five assists) and Brayden Inger (19 points, three assists were all lively.

Daishon Knight picked up a team-high 22 points, as well as three assists and two rebounds for the Jets, while Deandre Daniels was the star with a double-double of 19 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Shane Temara (20 points, eight rebounds and three assists) was not too far behind, while Jayden Bezzant managed the 18 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals.

The Manawatu Jets are the first of the four sides to play again with a huge clash on June 3, with the Southland Sharks hosting Wellington Saints, and Hawkes Bay Hawks taking on Franklin Bulls on June 4. A day later, the Canterbury Rams host the Saints in a huge clash for the Rams.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL