Tag: hunter hale

2021 NZNBL team review: Nelson Giants

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 Nelson Giants.

SEASON SUMMARY:

Position: 7th
Wins: 6
Losses: 10

KEY STATS:

Points: 80.7 (9th)
Rebounds: 29.9 (10th)
Assists: 14.1 (9th)
Steals: 7.7 (5th)
Blocks: 1.3 (10th)
Field Goal %: 45.0 (eq. 7th)

KEY PLAYERS:

Hunter Hale

His side might not have had a great season, but it was hard to fault the consistency of Hale, who night-in, night-out put up a ridiculous amount of points for his side. Earning a place in the All-Star 5, Hale also averaged the most points in the NZNBL. In season 201, Hale averaged 26.9 points per game, shooting at 48.5 per cent from the field including a 35.9 per cent clip from long-range and draining a total of 52 three-points in the season. He was also reliable when he got to the line, averaging 82.6 per cent from the charity stripe. With 5.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.6 steals to go with his high-volume shooting, Hale was the complete player.

One might not have guessed his season would pan out the way it did with just eight points in 27 minutes against Southland Sharks in the opening match. From then on, he would only play less than 30 minutes twice, and would only dip below 20 points once, in a mirror of consistency. He kept putting up huge records and breaking them, with a 37-point outing against Canterbury Rams on May 20 eclipsed two days later with a 41-point performance against Otago Nuggets in overtime. He had another 41-point effort a week later, and recorded an additional 30-plus points on four occasions. Whilst never recording a triple-double and in fact only one double-double, Hale came within reach of that feat twice, against Franklin Bulls on May 8 (26 points, nine rebounds and nine assists) and Auckland Huskies on July 2 (30 points, nine rebounds and eight assists).

Donte Ingram

The other dominant shooter for the Giants was Ingram with the fellow American averaging 18.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals in 2021. Playing the perfect tandem support role to Hale, Ingram was huge off the boards, teaming up with Sam Dempster as Nelson’s two key rebounders. His overall balance was impressive, shooting at 35.7 per cent from outside the arc and 45.3 per cent from the field, hitting the second most threes (35) in his side. Much like Hale, Ingram was a regular fixture in the Giants’ starting five and a key contributor throughout the year.

The versatile utility only had single-digit points once – against Otago Nuggets on June 18 when he put up six points – and had 20 or more points on five occasions. Whilst a consistent 15-20 point shooter on his night, Ingram exploded against Auckland Huskies on July 2, knocking down 38 points and picking up 10 rebounds. The night feature five of eight from long-range, and was 12 more points than his next highest score. That 26 points came against Manawatu Jets on June 3, which triggered back-to-back double-doubles, with the Huskies double-double making it four for the year in total.

OTHERS:

Dempster’s rebounding was important for the side, putting up more rebounds (7.8) than points (7.3), but providing that extra big body close to the basket. Tom Ingram (10.9 points, 2.5 rebounds) and Anzac Risetto (7.3 points, 3.3 rebounds) also contributed well, whilst Nic Trathen came off the bench with his deadly three-point shooting of 45 per cent accuracy to average 9.3 points and 2.9 rebounds.

SUMMARY:

Whilst the season was not ideal for the Giants who struggled at times, there was no shortage of highlights with the likes of Hale and Ingram going to work. They had some solid supporting roles, but not enough depth to match the top sides, which culminated in their overall eighth placed finish in 2021.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Saints, Hawks Final Four preparation continues as Rams hold off Giants in overtime

WELLINGTON Saints and Hawkes Bay Hawks have continued their strong seasons to grab wins against the bottom two sides of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL), whilst Canterbury Rams kept their Final Four aspirations alive with an overtime victory over Nelson Giants. Both the Saints and Hawks had no troubles over their respective opponents, with the former defeating Manawatu Jets by 23 points, and the latter triumphing by 26 points over Taranaki Mountainairs. By far the closest contest of the night, the Rams got up over the Giants, 95-90 in overtime.

The top of the table Saints won the first three quarters against the Jets to race out to a 26-point lead. The Saints won the first quarters by nine points, and lead by 15 points at the main break, before blowing the game open with a 25-14 third term. To their credit the Jets won the last term by three, but it was too little, too late in the 103-80 result. The Saints dominated the rebounds (46-29) and assists (21-6), as well as points in the paint (52-36) and second chance points (23-5) in a one-sided contest.

Taane Samuel won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) honours after putting up 23 points, three rebounds and two assists in the win. It was a shared team effort however, as Kerwin Roach Jr (20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists) and Tohi Smith-Milner (20 points, seven rebounds and four assists) both impacted the scoreboard heavily. Ken Tuffin (11 points, three rebounds, four steals and two assists) and Troy McLean (11 points, two rebounds) also managed double-figure points. For the Jets, Daishon Knight (30 points, seven rebounds, four steals and three assists) and Jayden Bezzant (25 points, two rebounds) made up more than half of the team’s points.

Hawkes Bay Hawks also had no troubles dismissing their opponents, winning the first three quarters against the Taranaki Mountainairs to set up the win. They dominated the opening term 32-16, then won the next two quarters by two and eight points respectively to lead 80-54 at the final break. Both teams managed the 20 points in the last term, but the Hawks had done all the work early to take home the points. The home team dominated the rebounds (50-33) and assists (20-13), and made more of their points in the paint (54-40), second chance points (14-2) and bench points (28-9).

Devondrick Walker was the standout player on the court, earning MVP for his 20 points – four of nine from long-range – seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. Hyrum Harris (15 points, four rebounds and three assists), Jarrod Kenny (14 points, six assists, three rebounds and two steals) and Ethan Rusbatch (14 points, four assists and three rebounds) all impressed from the starting side, while Jordan Hunt (14 points, eight rebounds) showed impact off the bench. Marcel Jones lead the Airs yet again with 24 points – four of nine from long-range – seven rebounds, three assists and three steals, while Tai Wynyard (17 points, five rebounds) and Haize Walker (12 points, three rebounds and three assists) also did well.

In the only tight game of the night, Canterbury Rams needed extra time to overcome Nelson Giants at Cowles Stadium. The Rams lead by four points at quarter time and five at the main break, before the Giants hit their straps. Piling on 26 points to 19 in the third quarter, Nelson snatched the lead by two heading into the final term. Canterbury backed up to win the final quarter by two, forcing overtime and then winning that 13-8, not conceding the lead at any stage during the extra five minutes. Canterbury had a whopping 59 rebounds to 41, as well as 58 points in the paint to 32, and 23-10 second chance points.

EJ Singler‘s work late in the game saw him earn MVP honours for 22 points, 13 rebounds and four assists. He was one of two Rams to hit double-doubles as Jack Salt (14 points, 10 rebounds and two steals) also achieved the feat. Deshon Taylor (21 points, eight assists and five rebounds) and Max Darling (20 points, nine rebounds and three assists) also had plenty of the points in the win. For the Giants, Hunter Hale was phenomenal with 32 points, seven rebounds and six assists, whilst Sam Dempster (16 points, six rebounds and three assists), Donte Ingram (15 points, nine rebounds and nine assist) and Thomas Ingram (13 points) did the bulk of the scoring.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Giant win over Franklin gifts Nelson breathing room on the ladder

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: NZNBL Twitter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Joe Allison/Getty images via NZNBL

NZNBL Round 10: Friday night

IT was an action packed Friday night of New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) with three big games as Southland Sharks, Wellington Saints and Auckland Huskies took out the win in each of their respective matches.

Canterbury Rams (81) defeated by Southland Sharks (92)

The second placed Sharks imposed themselves against Canterbury Rams claiming an 11-point win. It was neck-and-neck to start the game with both sides taking a while to settle into a rhythm, going blow for blow in the opening term to sit at 21 points apiece. The battle continued into the second quarter with the Rams and Sharks unable to break away from one another as Canterbury proved they can match it with the best in the business. Skipping out to a handy lead midway through the third term, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Sharks were about to gain control and jump into the driver’s seat, but that was not the case as the Rams hit back. With the game hanging in the balance it was time for the Sharks to put the foot down and consolidate their standing on the ladder. A flurry of points midway through the quarter gifted the Sharks the lead and from there they steadily built on their buffer as a three point margin turned into a five point one, so on so forth.

Edward Singler worked in overdrive for the Rams racking up 26 points in his 40 minutes out on court while he also amassed four assists and 13 rebounds. Teammate Deshon Taylor was also influential with his 20 points at 39 per cent from the field. Taylor also collected four rebounds and three steals. Jack Salt showcased just how much damage he can do in 25 minutes pouring on 16 points and a whopping 15 rebounds. Courtney Belger was the topscorer for the Sharks registering 23 points at 64 per cent from the field while Joshua Cunningham also impressed with his 22 points and five rebounds. Alonzo Burton was amongst the thick of things dropping 19 points, seven assists and four rebounds while Dominique Kelman-Poto sunk 12 points at 38 per cent from the field.

Taranaki Mountainairs (81) defeated by Wellington Saints (89)

It was a one sided affair between the Taranaki Mountainairs and Wellington Saints as the latter recorded a handy eight-point win. It was a much closer match than many would have anticipated given it was a first verse last clash but in the end the Saints proved why they are top of the ladder, owning the court with their speed and cleanliness. The Mountainairs impressed in the opening term piling on 23 points to 17 to hold the lead and continued that hot form in the second to maintain a nine point buffer heading into the main break. The Saints ate into the deficit in the third going into the final break down by five points before shifting gears in the final quarter to steal the ascendancy and the lead piling on 27 points.

It was the Marcel Jones show the Airs with the bigman imposing himself thanks to his 29 points and ability to hit them from deep draining three of his six attempts. Jones also picked up six assists and six rebounds in the loss. There were three other players that hit double-digits as 11 proved to be the lucky number with Tai Wynyard, Haize Walker and Scott Telfer all managing 11 points each. Wynyard got busy off the boards with four rebounds as Walker registered three assists. For the winners it was the efforts of Tohi Smith-Milner and Dion Prewster that stood out. Smith-Milner topped the table credit to his 25 points in 31 minutes of action while he also proved to be a menace in defence picking up 15 rebounds, two steals and a block. Prewster was not far off the pace with 24 points, six rebounds and two steals. Taane Samuel found his groove walking away with 14 points to his name as both Kevin Roach Jr and Kenneth Tuffin slotted 10 points each in the win.

Nelson Giants (96) defeated by Auckland Huskies (104)

It was a game that could have gone either way given how evenly they match up but in the end it was the Huskies that got the chocolates with a hard-fought win. The Huskies got the first points of the game to kickstart their campaign but that only signalled what was going to be a seesawing affair. The Giants held the lead at quarter time credit to a flurry of points to close out the term and continued to monopolise the play in the second forcing Auckland to play catch-up basketball. The Huskies came out with a point to prove in the third levelling the scores with a tick under five minutes to play. They started to generate some real momentum but were still down at the final change. With it all to play for in the final 10 minutes of the match the Huskies unlocked another level to attack the rim and keep the Giants guessing. They tied the scores and from there put the foot down to reign supreme with a blockbuster final quarter of action.

Donte Ingram had a night to remember producing a whopping 38 points. He had a hot hand from beyond the arc draining five of his eight attempts to convert at 63 per cent. Ingram also reeled in 10 rebounds and two steals to cap off an all-round solid performance. Next best was teammate Hunter Hale who proved to be in fine form with his 30 points, eight assists and nine rebounds to just fall short of a triple double. Thomas Ingham was the only other player to make it out of single digits recording 12 points in his 33 minutes out on court. It was a more evenly shared load for the Huskies as four players hit double-digits. But it was Justin Bibbs that did the most damage draining 31 points, five assists and four rebounds. Zach Riley was also in dominant form for the Huskies producing 25 points at 53 per cent from the field to accompany his nine rebounds and two steals. Tom Vodanovich reminded everyone what he is capable draining 20 points in his 38 minutes out on court while Chris Johnson chimed in with a handy 13 points to get his side over the line.

Photo credit: NZNBL Twitter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Shane Wenzlick/Photosport via NZNBL

Wellington Saints maintain winning momentum

WELLINGTON Saints reigned supreme over Nelson Giants, claiming a 12-point win in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL). It was a tight contest throughout the game, with neither side able to really pull away as the lead chopped and changed until the top of the table Saints put the foot down (86-74).

The Giants came out with a real pep in their step early to control proceedings and create an early lead. The margin blew out to as much as eight points midway through the first term before the Saints were able to peg their way back into the contest with some crafty court play and big shots. Nelson held a handy three point lead at the first change but Wellington refused to go away constantly niggling at their opponents to eventually steal the lead in final seconds of the term.

From there on out the Saints rallied momentum to forge ahead landing the first shot of second half to kickstart the action. But in true testament of this match-up the Giants hit back. They quickly levelled the scores at the seven and a half minute mark before putting the foot down as Hunter Hale and Donte Ingram came to life.  It was once again time for the Giants to skip out to a handy lead as they established a four point buffer but it was not enough to put their opposition away as the seesawing affair continued. Somehow in the final minutes of the third term Wellington kicked things up a gear with a flurry of shots to hold the lead heading into the last term. Once things started to fall into place for Wellington, nothing was stopping them as they upped the ante both in offence and defence.

When looking at the stats it is incredibly hard to split with Wellington Saints only just holding the upper hand with 36 rebounds in comparison to the Giants’ 35. Wellington also recorded nine assists to seven and led the way with six steals in comparison to five. A main difference was the turnovers the Giants racked up two more than their opponents with 14 compared to 12.

Hale commanded the ball for the Giants as he poured on 25 points in his 37 minutes out on court. He also got busy with three assists and three steals to keep his side within touching distance. Hunter was ably assisted by the likes of Ingram who chimed in with 17 points at 46 per cent from the field along with eight rebounds. Five of those rebounds were defensive, highlighting his capacity to get down and help out on D. Thomas Ingham was influential in the loss producing 12 points, while the efforts of Anzac Rissetto did not go unnoticed as he finished with 12 points, five rebounds and two blocks to his name.

Looking at the victors and it was the impact from their two key cogs in Taane Samuel and Dion Prewster that got them over the line in this clash. Samuel led the way on the points scoring front with a team-high 25 points and converted at a relatively high accuracy with his 64 per cent clip from the field. Prewster managed 20 points and also racked up six assists, three rebounds and a steal in the win. Tohi Smith-Milner was also amongst the thick of things draining 14 points for the Saints as he also showcased his class to record seven assists and seven rebounds. Kerwin Roach Jr and Leon Henry both plied their trade with 14 and 10 points respectively to keep the Saints ahead and push them over the line for a win.

Photo credit: Wellington Saints Twitter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL