Tag: isaiah moss

2021 NZNBL team review: Otago Nuggets

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 Otago Nuggets.

SEASON SUMMARY:

Position: 6th
Wins: 9
Losses: 9

KEY STATS:

Points: 86.7 (4th)
Rebounds: 38.9 (1st)
Assists: 16.9 (4th)
Steals: 6.9 (9th)
Blocks: 3.0 (4th)
Field Goal %: 46.0 (5th)

KEY PLAYERS:

Sam Timmins

The dominant five in the competition, Timmins continued his terrific form at NZNBL level from last season with an All-Star 5 nod. Averaging a double-double of 19.2 points and 13.9 rebounds across 17 matches, Timmins also picked up 4.3 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.4 steals in an impressive balanced throughout the year. Whilst not notably a three-point shooter (six of 39 at 16.3 per cent accuracy), his ability to get to the basket and deliver, or hit the jumper was strong, shooting at a 52.8 per cent overall. His free throw percentage is an area of improvement however, shooting at just 45.8 per cent in 2021.

His rebounding each and every week meant he just about picked up a double-double every night, thanks to only one match – the finale against Canterbury Rams – being a single-digit points match, and only four other matches being single-digit rebounds. That meant he picked up 12 double-doubles from 17 games, including a ridiculous 26 points, 27 rebounds, six assists, three blocks and one steal against Manawatu Jets back on May 15, and a triple-double of 18 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, three blocks and two steals against Canterbury Rams on June 10.

Isaiah Moss

The other big man with plenty of firepower was Moss, who put up more points than any other Nuggets player in season 2021. He finished the year with 21.1 points, as well as 5.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.5 steals in an all-round effort, but unlike Timmins, we very efficient from beyond the arc. Shooting 61 of a possible 163 attempts, Moss was able to deliver at 37.4 per cent from long0-range, making up the majority of his attempts. It might have brought down his field goal percentage to 44 per cent, but he was able to deliver when at the charity stripe with an 85.1 per cent success rate.

The American was a mirror of consistency, not dropping below double-figure points in any 2021 NZNBL game, with 11 points against the Southland Sharks off limited minutes on July 9 being his lowest total. He had below 20 on just seven occasions, with a further four games with 25 or more points. His season-high came against Hawkes Bay Hawks on July 3, putting up 31 points, as well as nine rebounds, four steals and three assists in that game. His sole double-double came against Manawatu Jets back on May 15 where he recorded 19 points and 10 rebounds in the win.

OTHERS:

Geremy McKay started every match like Moss, and put up a consistent 12.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists to be the next best on the side. Richie Rodger (8.8 points, 2.9 assists and 2.8 rebounds) and Josh Aicheson (5.5 points. 2.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists) were the other starters every week, with the Nuggets never tinkering with their starting five. Luke Aston‘s 10.4 points and 2.0 rebounds coming off the bench was the pick of the role players.

SUMMARY:

The reigning premiers had a much bigger challenge in season 2021 with more teams and the talent distributed again, but they more than held their own. The Nuggets were right in contention for the Final Four heading into the penultimate round, and whilst they missed out on the post-season series, were highly competitive throughout the NZNBL season.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Saints grab mental edge over Huskies as Rams finish season on high

TOP of the table Wellington Saints have grabbed the mental edge over Auckland Huskies in an impressive New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) win last night, whilst Canterbury Rams ended their season on a high with a good win over Otago Nuggets. Ahead of their do-or-die semi-final clash on Thursday night, the Saints will look for much of the same against the Huskies after the last regular season day win of 85-61. Meanwhile the Rams’ 17-point win over Otago Nuggets saw them leapfrog the Nuggets into fifth.

Wellington Saints powered away early against the Huskies, putting on a 10-point lead to show why they were well positioned ahead of the Final Four. The Huskies were not going to go away however, with the fourth placed side winning the second term 21-17, and cutting the deficit back to six at half-time. Wellington really took control after the main break however, putting the foot down with 41 points to 23 to win, 85-61.

Wellington was the more accurate of the teams, shooting at a 48 per cent clip from the field compared to the Huskies’ 39 per cent, also hitting two more threes (11-9), albeit at a lower efficiency (32 to 36 per cent). The Saints also had more assists (12-10), steals (7-4), and points in the paint (42-22), as well as less turnovers (7-17) and therefore more points from turnover (16-5). The Huskies on the other hand had more rebounds (39-33) and blocks (3-1), and also marginally more second chance points (10-9) and bench points (18-16).

It was an even Most Valuable Player (MVP) voting with Dion Prewster eventually getting the nod for his game-high 23 points, as well as nine rebounds and eight assists in an almost triple-double effort for the Saints. Taane Samuel put up 20 points, four rebounds and two assists in an equally impressive effort, shooting three of six from long-range. Kerwin Roach Jr (10 points, four rebounds and two steals) and Ken Tuffin (11 points, three of six from beyond the arc) were other Saints who hit double-figures.

Auckland Huskies had two clear standouts, with one double-double and another almost double-double. Justin Bibbs (18 points, nine rebounds and four assists) was strong across the game, whilst Tom Vodanovich was rewarded with a double-double of 17 points, 10 rebounds and two assists. Takiula Fahrensohn had 10 points and four rebounds coming off the bench in the other player to reach double-figure points.

In the other match, Canterbury Rams grabbed fourth spot in the dead rubber clash against Otago Nuggets, winning three of the four quarters on their way to a 17-point triumph. The first term was a high-scoring contest of 56 points, as the Rams edged ahead by two with a 29-27 term, also adding five more points to the lead to be up by seven at half-time. Level in the third term, Canterbury put the foot down in the final stanza to pile on 30-20 and run away with the contest, 101-84.

Canterbury won most of the statistics with a higher field goal percentage (50-42), and also had more rebounds (43-34), steals (9-6), points in the paint (52-24) and second chance points (16-7), as well as less turnovers (10-15) and more points from turnovers (20-15). Auckland had more blocks (3-2) and bench points (28-25) in the loss.

Deshon Taylor won MVP with 28 points, five rebounds and two assists in the Rams’ victory, with four other players hitting double-digit points. Max Darling (17 points, six rebounds and three steals), Jack Salt (16 points, seven rebounds), Quintin Bailey (13 points, two rebounds and two assists) and EJ Singler (10 points, six rebounds and six assists) were the others to achieve the feat.

Luke Aston (23 points) and Richie Rodger (22) both had a couple of rebounds, but it was Sam Timmins once again who stormed to 20 rebounds – 17 defensive to keep the Nuggets in the contest, and also finish with eight points, three blocks and two assists. Isaiah Moss also reached double-figure points with 13 points, three assists and two rebounds.

 

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Saints secure top spot with another big win

WELLINGTON Saints will head into the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) Final Four as the team to beat, securing top spot on the ladder following a 17-point triumph over the Otago Nuggets. Whilst the Nuggets were not in finals contention after Auckland Huskies wrapped up the last spot in the post-season series last night, they have been largely competitive throughout the 2021 season. That was again the case for the most part, with a last quarter dominance from the home team seeing the eventual final margin out to 17, 102-85.

Wellington started strongly knowing the Saints needed just one more win to secure the minor premiership ahead of the post-season series which starts in just over a week. They lead by six points at quarter time after a 25-19 first term, before the Nuggets cut into the deficit by one with a high-scoring second term with a combined 61 points scored (31-30 in favour of the visitors). The Saints extended their lead out to seven by the final break with a 21-19 third quarter, then put the foot down as they so often have this season, piling on 26 points to 16 in the last to blow out the game and run out comfortable winners.

Wellington controlled the majority of the key statistics, shooting at an accurate 57 per cent compared to the Nuggets’ fairly impressive 53 per cent. Whilst Otago led a low rebound count (36-27) and had more second chance points (17-9) because of it, all the other key stats went the way of the home team. The Saints had more assists (17-11), dominated the steals (14-3) and blocks (7-2), as well as more points in the paint (54-40), points from turnovers (26-15) and bench points (19-13).

Kerwin Roach Jr won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) honour for 27 points, four rebounds, four assists, five steals and three blocks in an all-round effort for the Saints. Combining well with Roach was Taane Samuel who managed the 23 points – five of nine from long-range – and five rebounds. Dion Prewster (13 points, five assists, three rebounds and two blocks) and Tohi Smith-Milner (12 points, three rebounds and three steals) held their own from the starters, whilst Troy McLean managed 10 points and four rebounds in 17 minutes coming off the bench.

For the Nuggets, Gerasimos McKay had a team-high 25 points – three of four from long-range – as well as six rebounds and two assists. Isaiah Moss (23 points, three rebounds and two assists) and Richie Rodger (11 points, seven rebounds and three assists) both contributed three triples. Sam Timmins (13 points, 11 rebounds) picked up a double-double in the loss, whilst Luke Aston had six points and two rebounds in the top performer off the bench in defeat.

Wellington Saints have two more games left despite securing top spot, able to manage players ahead of the Final Four with road trips to take on Franklin Bulls and Auckland Huskies. The Otago Nuggets have the one match left, hosting Canterbury Rams on Saturday night.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Sharks book Final Four spot with 24-point triumph over Nuggets

SOUTHLAND Sharks have dominated the opening half of their clash against Otago Nuggets to storm to a 24-point win and lock in a final four spot for the upcoming post-season series. The Sharks piled on 71 points in the opening half of action to the Nuggets’ 35, all but securing the victory. Whilst the Nuggets hit back in the second half, it was too little, too late, going down 117-93.

The Sharks kicked off proceedings in a big way at ILT Stadium, dominating the first term with a 32 point to 17 quarter. The second quarter was even more one-sided, as the Sharks added a further 39 points to 18 to lead 71-35 at half-time. The Nuggets did hit back in the third term, trimming the massive 36-point deficit back to 23, but an even fourth quarter resulted in the home team extending the lead by one to win, 117-93.

Aside from most of the first half of the first quarter, once the Sharks got out to a two-basket lead, there was no stopping them and they ran away with the big victory. They were far more accurate from the field (54 to 46 per cent), drained more threes (14 to 11) and were more efficient from the free throw line (68 to 55 per cent). Additionally, the Sharks had more assists (30-21), steals (10-3) and points in the paint (56-48). With 12 less turnovers (8-20), Southland also recorded plenty more points from turnovers (31-8) in the big win. The Nuggets had more rebounds (46-43), blocks (2-1), second chance points (10-8) and bench points (40-30) in the showing.

Dom Kelman-Poto won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) with a team-high 25 points and nine rebounds, as well as two assists and two steals, shooting at 57 per cent from the field. Josh Cunningham was his partner-in-crime with 21 points – including three of six from long-range – eight rebounds and nine assists in an almost triple-double performance. Brayden Inger (18 points – four of eight from three-point range – seven rebounds and two steals) and Alonzo Burton (16 points – four of nine from beyond the arc – five rebounds, two assists and two steals) also hit double-figure points.

For the Nuggets, Sam Timmins was by far the standout, amassing the most points (26) and rebounds (14) on court, as well as picking up five assists and two blocks for his troubles. Luke Aston came off the bench for 19 points – including five triples – and four rebounds, whilst Isaiah Moss (11 points, seven rebounds) and Richie Rodger (nine points, six assists and four rebounds) both tried hard.

The Sharks take on Canterbury Rams to close out their regular season next Friday night, whilst the Nuggets travel to face the Wellington Saints, before hosting the Rams in must-win contests if they are to find a way into the Final Four.

 

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Joe Allison/Getty images via NZNBL

NZNBL Round 10: Saturday night

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

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

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

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

Franklin Bulls (101) defeated Taranaki Mountainairs (99)

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

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

Photo credit: NZNBL Twitter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Shane Wenzlick/Photosport via NZNBL

Saints shine in high-scoring overtime thriller, as Huskies grab second big win of weekend

WELLINGTON Saints have returned serve on Hawkes Bay Hawks to post a thrilling overtime win in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) last night, as the Auckland Huskies drew level with Otago Nuggets on eight wins following a memorable weekend of basketball. Whilst both contrasting results – the Saints winning by seven points after not being able to be split for 40 minutes and the Huskies dominating the second half to win by 23 – both were equally important for the Final Four calculations.

In the Saints-Hawks game, it was the visitors who raced off to a strong start in a high-scoring first term with 60 points on the board and a 32-28 lead in favour of the Hawks. They were hoping to win against the Saints for the second time in two weeks, but Wellington – despite playing in front of no fans – were not going to spoil their perfect home record thus far in 2021. The Saints quickly hit back with a dominant 30-17 second term to regain the lead by nine points and look to be in control. That was quickly whittled down by the Hawks who won the second term by seven, and they hit the front by three points in the last 10 seconds of the match.

Back-to-back Ethan Rusbatch free throws handed the Hawks a three-points lead, which meant Wellington needed a saviour. That came in the form of Tohi Smith-Milner who drained the three-pointer to level the scores at 98-apiece. The extra period was just as exciting, with the first eight points – including two triples to Taane Samuel – going the way of the Saints. From there they traded baskets, with Rusbatch and Jarrod Kenny both lively for the Hawks, though the Saints had the better composure as the experience of Kerwin Roach Jr and Dion Prewster to nail the free throws off the deliberate fouls handed them the seven-point win, 119-112.

Prewster won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) honours for a massive 34 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, coming agonisingly close to a huge triple-double in the win. Smith-Milner picked up a double-double of 21 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, but it was the deadeye long-range shooting of Samuel – 12 of 14 from the field and six of eight from beyond the arc – who recorded 33 points, four rebounds and two blocks. Roach Jr (16 points, five rebounds, four steals and two assists) and Kenneth Tuffin (10 points, four rebounds and two steals) also hit double-figure points.

Rusbatch had a team-high 27 points as well as two rebounds, whilst Hyrum Harris was a master thief on the night, racking up 10 steals, eight rebounds and five assists to go with 16 points. Devondrick Walker (19 points, three rebounds and three assists) and Derone Raukawa (16 points) reached double-figure points, as Kenny hit four of four from long-range on his way to 18 points and two steals, and Jordan Hunt managed 11 points, three rebounds and two assists.

Meanwhile in the more one-sided game, the Auckland Huskies overcame a one-point half-time deficit to post a big 23-point win. The visitors led by two points at quarter time, but lost the second term by three to head into the main break 40-39 down. The second half was a different story, piling on 30 points to 23 in the third term, then completely dominating the final one with 24 points to seven, and running out 93-70 winners.

Tom Vodanovich picked up another MVP with a huge 24 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and two blocks, scoring four of 10 from beyond the arc. Chris Johnson (23 points, 11 rebounds and four assists) continued his wonderful season, whilst Justin Bibbs (16 points, six rebounds and four assists) and Zach Riley (11 points, two rebounds) also reached double-figure points in the victory.

For the Nuggets, Sam Timmins crashed the boards as expected, finishing with 21 points, 16 rebounds – 13 defensive – and seven assists, whilst Isaiah Moss helped out with 19 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Luke Aston (13 points, two rebounds and two blocks) and Richie Rodger (10 points, three rebounds and two assists) both providing some scoring assistance on the night.

Wellington Saints will play the Nelson Giants in a rescheduled clash on Wednesday night, before a second clash with Taranaki Mountainairs on Friday. Auckland Huskies also take on the Giants, on Friday night, whilst the Otago Nuggets host the Hawkes Bay Hawks on Saturday night.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

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, Nuggets and Rams all produce huge wins

THE bottom three sides in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) were all on the receiving end of some hefty losses, as Hawkes Bay Hawks, Otago Nuggets and Canterbury Rams all staked their claims for a Final Four finish. The second placed Hawks shot down the Manawatu Jets by 28 points, the fourth placed Nuggets produced the most dominant performance of the year to win by 40 against Franklin Bulls, and the fifth placed Rams kept in touch with the top four courtesy of a 24-point win over cellar dwellers, Taranaki Mountainairs.

Hawkes Bay Hawks were red hot from the opening tip-off, putting up 28 points to 13 to race out to a 15-point lead. Whilst the second term was even in a high-scoring affair, the Hawks once again took control in the third to all but end the contest as it pushed the difference to beyond 30 points. A rallying effort in the final term cut the Jets back to within 28, but they were no match for the Hawks, going down 61-89.

Devondrick Walker won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) on the night for his 25 points, eight assists and six rebounds, ahead of Jordan Hunt (17 points, three rebounds and two assists) and Hyrum Harris (10 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and five steals. All five starters hit at least one shot from long-range, as Rhys Vague also picked up a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds. Ethan Rusbatch (10 points, two rebounds) was the other Hawks player to hit double-figure points.

For the Jets, Daishon Knight stood tall with 20 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals, leading the way from Jayden Bezzant (16 points, two steals) and Deandre Daniels (12 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks). Tukaha Cooper came on for less than 11 minutes and contributed eight points – including a triple – in that time.

In the Otago Nuggets’ complete domination of Franklin Bulls, the home team never looked like losing, piling on 23-9 in the opening term. The high-scoring second term of 34-28 showed perhaps the game might get back on even terms from that point, but it was not to be as Otago again put the defensive pressure on, scoring 26-9 in the third term to lead by a whopping 37 points with a quarter to play. The final term was tighter, but the home team still won it by three, notching up a massive 40-point win, 104-64.

Sam Timmins won another MVP award for his effort, notching up 24 points and a massive 19 rebounds – 17 defensive – whilst recording two assists and two steals for his troubles. Isaiah Moss provided the long-range daggers with six of 13 from beyond the arc on his way to 23 points, four rebounds and three assists. Both players spent less than 28 minutes on court in the win. Gerasimos McKay (14 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals) and Richie Rodger (11 points, three rebounds were productive, whilst the lopsided scoreline allowed five bench players to spend more than 10 minutes on court, and six of the seven coming on to score.

For the Jets, Kyrin Galloway did all her could with a massive 17 rebounds – 13 defensive – to match his 13 points, while Denhym Brooke (12 points, two rebounds and two assists) also tried hard. Coming off the bench, Nicholas Fee (11 points, three rebounds) and Jaylen Gerrand (10 points, three rebounds and two steals) notched up double-figure points.

In the third game, Canterbury Rams kept their finals hopes alive with a solid 24-point win over last placed Taranaki Mountainairs. The Rams produced the goods early in front of home fans, applying 26 points to 16 to lead by 10, then extended that margin out to 16 by half-time. The Airs cut into the deficit by two heading into the final term, before the Rams stepped up to produce an identical quarter to the first one (26-16) to win, 92-68.

EJ Singler took the MVP honours with 24 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and two steals on the night, just ahead of Deshon Taylor (21 points, five assists, four steals and two rebounds). Alex Talma (12 points, 10 rebounds and three assists) also recorded a double-double, whilst Sam Smith (12 points, eight assists and four rebounds) and a returning Max Darling (10 points, four rebounds) both hit double-figure points in the win as well.

Marcel Jones was back to his double-double best in a hard working 16-point and 10-rebound effort, shooting three of six from long-range and also collecting a couple of steals. Tai Wynyard (16 points, four rebounds) and Carlin Davison (14 points, three assists and two rebounds) also reached double-figure points, as Francis Mulvihill (seven points) and Deu-Leo Leusogi-Ape (six points, three rebounds and two assists) were the next best.

Franklin Bulls and Canterbury Rams tip-off the next round of action on Thursday, with a battle between the Taranaki Mountainairs and Manawatu Jets on Friday. The Hawkes Bay Hawks host the Franklin Bulls on Saturday, whilst the Otago Nuggets rest up until a home game against Auckland Huskies on Sunday.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL