Tag: jack salt

2021 NZNBL team review: Canterbury Rams

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 Canterbury Rams.

SEASON SUMMARY:

Position: 5th
Wins: 9
Losses: 9

KEY STATS:

Points: 86.1 (5th)
Rebounds: 37.9 (2nd)
Assists: 16.8 (eq. 5th)
Steals: 8.4 (2nd)
Blocks: 1.6 (9th)
Field Goal %: 44.8 (8th)

KEY PLAYERS:

Deshon Taylor

Producing an all-round impressive performance for the Rams, Taylor was consistent across the board, playing in all 18 games and having an impact. One of only four players to run out in every game, and one of only two to start every game, Taylor finished the season with a team-high 8.3 rebounds, and finished second in points (18.1), assists (4.6) and steals (1.7), able to use the ball effectively in transition. Taylor also was deadly from long-range, nailing 40 three-pointers at 40.8 per cent efficiency, whilst going at 49.4 per cent from the field overall. When at the line, Taylor was reasonably reliable two, with a 73.5 per cent efficiency.

Looking at his best performances, it was hard to go past his sole double-double performance of 33 points, 10 rebounds – four offensive – six assists and two steals, one of four 30-plus point performances in 2021. Three of those four came in a 16-day streak, putting up 31, 35 and 33-point efforts, to average 29.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.8 steals. He did not dip into single-digits once, and only had five games below 20 points, four of which came in his first five games, showing how consistent he was from late May until the finish line.

EJ Singler

Showing all of his ANBL experience, Singler was a star for the Bulls, sharing the top two spots in all the key statistical areas with Taylor. Finishing second on the team for rebounds (4.8), he led the way with points (22.9), assists (4.8) and steals (2.5), providing serious impact across the court at both ends. Putting up a third of his three-point attempts, Singler shot at around 45.3 per cent from the field, making 40 of 121 three-point attempts. From the foul line he was almost a monty, nailing 100 of 113 at 88.5 per cent accuracy. Along with Taylor, Singler was the only other starter in every one of the 18 games.

Singler did not quite have the consistency of Taylor, with a slow start to the season off limited minutes, but then a ridiculous game of 41 points mid-season. In the end, he had six games of 20-plus points, with the 41-point effort against Taranaki Mountainairs, accompanied by nine assists, seven rebounds and three steals. He had some massive games off the boards though, picking up six double-doubles with points and rebounds, of which the highest combination was his 26 points and 13 rebounds, and his closest to a triple-double being 17 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and four steals coming against Franklin Bulls on May 22.

OTHERS:

Quintin Bailey contributed across all 18 games on his way to 8.7 points and 3.6 rebounds, with Alex Talma (7.2 points, 4.6 rebounds) the other player to run out in every match. Jack Salt only managed half a season due to injury, but the dominant big man managed the 13.3 points and 8.7 rebounds in nine matches, while Max Darling put up 12.0 points and 5.4 rebounds in seven. Sam Smith (6.9 points, 3.6 rebounds) was the other player to hold up well throughout season 2021.

SUMMARY:

The Canterbury Rams were never an easy team to play against, and whilst they missed out on the NZNBL finals, they won nine games at a 50 per cent winning ratio. One cannot help but think had Salt (injury) and Darling (ANBL commitments) been available the whole season, that finals may well have been a reality for the Rams.

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

Sharks and Hawks wrap up regular season with wins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Rams raid Franklin to keep Final Four hopes alive

CANTERBURY Rams have kept their Final Four hopes alive with a crucial 16-point win on the road against Franklin Bulls in last night’s New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) contest. The Bulls were all but out of the race, and the loss put another nail in their finals coffin, but the Rams are very much alive after grabbing their seventh win of the season, and keeping pressure on the fourth placed Otago Nuggets. Winning all four quarters, the Rams proved the clear dominant side, taking home the victory, 87-71.

A low-scoring first term saw the Rams take an early lead in the match, scoring 17 points to 12. They extended on that by three with a higher scoring 26-23 second term to head into the half with an eight-point advantage. Out to a double-digit lead by the final break following another impressive term, the Rams finished off how they started, with a 20-15 final quarter and securing the standout 16-point win at Franklin Pool and Leisure Centre.

Aside from the Bulls leading by seven points midway through the first term, once the Rams hit the front they never surrendered that lead. In fact, midway through the final term it had blown out to 20 points – after the Bulls had cut the deficit to 10 points early in the quarter – before the Bulls managed to reduce it to 16 by the final buzzer.

Canterbury Rams scored at a higher clip from the field (48 to 43 per cent), and hit double the three-pointers in the match (8-4), with the Bulls only scoring at a woeful 15 per cent from long-range. The Rams had two less turnovers (18-20), but the teams shared the points from turnovers (18-18), as well as assists (17-17) and steals (10-10). They did record more second chance points (13-7) and bench points (27-11). Franklin recorded one more rebound (38-37) and four more blocks (5-1) as well as additional points in the paint (48-42).

In an even team performance, Deshon Taylor won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) honours for his 24 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals. He pipped Rams teammate, EJ Singler who had the 18 points, 12 rebounds – eight defensive – and six assists. Also productive were Sam Smith (12 points, three rebounds), the returning Jack Salt (eight points, five rebounds) and Max Darling (eight points, two rebounds and two assists).

For the Bulls, Manel Ayol continued his good form with 20 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two assists in an impressive effort, whilst Isaac Davidson played his best game of the season upon return – despite only scoring one of five from long-range – picking up 18 points, six assists and five rebounds. Kyrin Galloway (17 points, eight rebounds and two blocks), Denhym Brooke (five points, six rebounds, three steals, three blocks and two assists) and Joseph Nunag (seven points, two rebounds and two assists) also tried hard.

Both teams have a 48-hour turnaround and have to hit the road, with the Bulls facing Hawkes Bay Hawks, and the Rams taking on Manawatu Jets tomorrow night.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

2021 NZNBL Round 7 preview: Rams and Nuggets open round as Giants rest up

SIX games played out across four days will provide New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) fans with nine of the 10 teams running out on court this weekend, with Nelson Giants the only side putting their feet up this round. Otago Nuggets, Canterbury Rams and Manawatu Jets will all play a second match over Round 7 as the mid-table logjam is set to get a shake-up.

CANTERBURY RAMS vs. OTAGO NUGGETS
Thursday, June 10 @ 7:30pm
Cowles Stadium

First up in a standalone clash tonight at Cowles Stadium, Canterbury Rams host Otago Nuggets to try and bounce back from their disappointing loss to Wellington Saints last week. They had won three out of four coming into the clash, and will be keen to notch up an important win. For the Nuggets, they went down to Southland Sharks after impressive wins over Franklin Bulls and Auckland Huskies, but will gain some serious breathing space if they can take down the Rams in the match. Deshon Taylor (22.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists) has been the leading player for the Rams, with Jack Salt (17.0 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists and 1.7 steals) and EJ Singler (13.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.1 steals) other key players. Sam Timmins (21.9 points, 14.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.4 steals) will have a huge battle with Salt throughout the night, while Isaiah Moss (21.8 points, 6.2 rebounds) and Gerasimos McKay (12.4 points, 6.2 rebounds) have both been productive off the boards.

SOUTHLAND SHARKS vs. MANAWATU JETS
Friday, June 11 @ 7:30pm
ILT Stadium

The standalone Friday night clash between top of the table Southland Sharks hosting the eighth placed Manawatu Jets at ILT Stadium. Undefeated at home from three matches, the Sharks go in as strong favourites with an overall 8-3 record from 11 matches and a six-game winning streak. The Jets on the other hand had a 3-6 record, but have won three of their past five to be a big improver, though their loss in that time was 12 points to the Sharks at home. The evenness of the Sharks’ team is evident to see in their results, with Dom Kelman-Poto (17.5 points, 8.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists), Brayden Inger (14.4 points, 3.8 rebounds), Alonzo Burton (12.7 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.9 steals) and Courtney Belger (12.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.9 steals) all putting up good numbers to start the season. Daishon Knight (22.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.8 steals) has been influential for the Jets, while Jayden Bezzant (18.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists), Shane Temara (16.8 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists) and DeAndre Daniels (15.1 points, 9.4 rebounds) have all impressed.

HAWKES BAY HAWKS vs. OTAGO NUGGETS
Saturday, June 12 @ 7:30pm
Pettigrew Green Arena

The Nuggets will come in for a 48-hour turnaround for their clash against Hawkes Bay Hawks, with the top four battle having plenty on the line for both teams. The Nuggets have been good on the road with a 3-1 record, while the Hawks are unbeaten at Pettigrew Green Arena, winning all four clashes that have taken place there. Hawkes Bay grabbed back-to-back wins last round to head into the Round 7 contest with form, and they will hope to grab another victory here. Devondrick Walker (19.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.7 steals), Hyrum Harris (14.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.6 steals) and Derone Raukawa (13.4 points, 4.3 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals) are among seven players to average double-figure points for the Hawks this season.

AUCKLAND HUSKIES vs. FRANKLIN BULLS
Saturday, June 12 @ 7:30pm
Eventfinda Stadium

Action also takes place at Eventfinda Stadium on Saturday night, with the ninth placed and wounded Franklin Bulls trying to find something to upset a fifth placed Auckland Huskies. The Huskies head into the game with an even win-loss record of 5-5, and have a better-than-average 3-2 record at home. The Bulls are 1-3 on the road, and their last three matches have been 21, 37 and 32-point losses with the depth really tested, whilst the Huskies’ form has been up and down. Chris Johnson (21.5 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists), Brooke Ruscoe-Taiaroa (14.1 rebounds, 3.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.7 steals) and Dontae Nance (13.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals) have been impressive for the Huskies in 2021. Nicolas Fee (6.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists) and Denhym Brooke (11.5 points, 4.3 rebounds) have been the only two players to have started in all 10 games for the Bulls.

TARANAKI MOUNTAINAIRS vs. CANTERBURY RAMS
Sunday, June 13 @ 3:00pm
TSB Stadium

The Taranaki Mountainairs enter Round 7 with a clash against Canterbury Rams who played on Thursday night, as the Airs hope to double their win tally after grabbing just one victory in the first nine matches. That did come at home, but with 42, 22 and 14-point losses in the past three matches, the Airs will need to bounce back in a strong way to topple the Rams in front of home fans. Marcel Jones (23.9 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.3 steals) has carried the Airs throughout the season, whilst Tai Wynyard (13.7 points, 5.8 rebounds) has been an able support in that time.

WELLINGTON SAINTS vs. MANAWATU JETS
Sunday, June 13 @ 5:00pm
TSB Bank Arena

The second placed Wellington Saints will be looking to notch up another win at home, this time against the Manawatu Jets on Sunday evening. After losing their first match to the Southland Sharks last week, the Saints bounced back to defeat Canterbury Rams by 25 points the game after. No shortage of stars this season, Dion Prewster (22.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.8 steals), Kerwin Roach Jr (17.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.0 steals), Taane Samuel (14.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists) and Tohi Smith-Milner (13.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.3 steals) have all stood up and had some big numbers this year across multiple facets.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

2021 NZNBL Round 4 preview: Giants to play triple treat in huge round of action

NELSON Giants will play three matches in four days as part of Round 4 of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) competition this weekend. There is plenty on the line for all 10 teams as they look to grab some crucial wins at this stage of the season.

NELSON GIANTS vs. CANTERBURY RAMS
Thursday, May 20 @ 7:30pm
Trafalgar Centre

Opening up the round of action as part of three concurrent matches, two sides with opposite trajectories go head-to-head. The Canterbury Rams have strung together back-to-back wins since dropping their first two games, whilst the Nelson Giants have lost three on the trot and now sit in the perilous position of 1-4 and ninth of the NZNBL table. They will be keen to get the win here in front of home fans before hitting the road to take on the Otago Nuggets. The Rams also have a second game, up against Franklin Bulls at home. Deshon Taylor has been a shining light for the Rams, putting up 20.0 points, 5.8 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 2.3 steals, teaming up well with EJ Singler (12.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.3 steals). Jack Salt is one of the most crucial big men in the competition, almost averaging a double-double of 17.0 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.7 steals. Hunter Hale has been lighting it up for the Giants, racking up 23.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.4 steals per match, with Donte Ingram (18.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists) and Tom Ingham (10.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.0 steals) the other players averaging double-figure points this season.

TARANAKI MOUNTAINAIRS vs. HAWKE’S BAY HAWKS
Thursday, May 20 @ 7:30pm
TSB Stadium

Yet to lose a game, Hawke’s Bay Hawks will hit the road for the first time this season after three straight wins at home to tip-off the season. They are keeping touch with the Wellington Saints at the top of the table, but have a couple of games this round against Taranaki Mountainairs and Auckland Huskies. The Airs sit at 1-3 for the season, but won their last start at home, and will be keen to build some momentum given they only have the minus-16 points differential at this stage. Marcel Jones is the man the Hawks must try to contain, with the dominant big man averaging 23.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.3 blocks. Haize Walker (9.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists) and Francis Mulvihill (8.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.3 steals) are the next highest points-scorers. For the Hawks, Hyrum Harris has returned to the fold perfectly, putting up 16.7 points, 8,3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.0 steals, whilst Jonathan Janssen (15.3 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists) is averaging a double-double, and Devondrick Walker top-scoring off two games with 21.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals.

WELLINGTON SAINTS vs. FRANKLIN BULLS
Thursday, May 20 @ 7:30pm
TSB Bank Arena

The third game of the night over at TSB Bank Arena is the Wellington Saints up against Franklin Bulls. The Saints have been the benchmark team all season, winning by an average margin of 25, whilst the Bulls have won three out of five and sit third thanks to their plus-10 points differential. As the match will be the Saints’ only game, they get a rest for the remainder of the week, whilst the Bulls travel to Cowles Stadium 48 hours later to lock horns with the Rams. Dion Prewster has been the key player for the Saints, knocking down 24.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.5 steals, whilst the likes of Kerwin Roach (16.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.5 steals) and Taane Samuel (15.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists) have been terrific. Josh Selby will have a chance to go head-to-head with fellow MVP contender Prewster, with the Bulls’ talent averaging 26.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.4 steals. He and Zane Waterman (25.8 points, 13.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists) have lead the way, while Joseph Nunag‘s contribution off the bench (14.8 points, 2.0 assists and 1.2 steals) has been solid.

AUCKLAND HUSKIES* vs. HAWKE’S BAY HAWKS
Friday, May 21 @ 7:30pm
Eventfinda Stadium

Auckland Huskies will come into Friday’s night’s clash fresh up against a Hawks outfit that will have played the night before. The Huskies have dropped their past two games after winning their first three, and have replaced Jeremy Kendle (28.3 points, 6.0 assists and 4.3 rebounds) with American import Justin Bibbs. Chris Johnson (21.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.0 steals) has done it all for the Huskies, whilst Brooke Ruscoe (16.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.4 steals) has also been prolific. Expect them to want to make a statement at home against a Hawks side potentially tired from the game the night before.

CANTERBURY RAMS vs. FRANKLIN BULLS
Saturday, May 22 @ 7:30pm
Cowles Stadium

Both these teams will be playing their second game of the round in what will be a testing time for list management over the weekend.

OTAGO NUGGETS vs. NELSON GIANTS
Saturday, May 22 @ 7:30pm
Edgar Centre

Nelson Giants return to the court after 48 hours to travel to the Edgar Centre for a clash with reigning premiers Otago Nuggets. The Nuggets are 3-2 for the season, and will be hoping to leapfrog Franklin Bulls with a win and a Bulls’ loss or two over the weekend. Sam Timmins has been enormous at the five for the Nuggets, averaging 17.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.3 blocks. Isaiah Moss (16.8 points, 5.0 rebounds) and Geremy McKay (7.8 points, 4.2 rebounds) are others who have impressed thus far for the Nuggets.

MANAWATU JETS vs. TARANAKI MOUNTAINAIRS
Sunday, May 23 @ 3:00pm
The Ballroom

As the Airs try and win their second game from two chances this weekend, the last placed Manawatu Jets hope to get off the bottom with a maiden victory. Sitting at 0-5, though rather unluckily with an average losing margin of eight points, the Jets will be every chance in this contest at The Ballroom. American duo Daishon Knight (24.8 points, 4.0 assists, 3.6 assists and 2.8 steals) and Shane Temara (14.2 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists) have been among the top Jets this season, while Jayden Bezzant (18.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists) has been a potent scorer for the cellar dwellers.

SOUTHLAND SHARKS vs. NELSON GIANTS
Sunday, May 23 @ 5:00pm
ILT Stadium

The last team to enter Round 4 of the NZNBL is the Southland Sharks who host the Nelson Giants on Sunday evening. The Giants will be playing their third game of the round in a hefty weekend for them, and will only have less than 24 hours to turnaround for the third match. The Sharks come in fresh with a 3-3 record, having bounced back from the three consecutive losses with a win last start, and are unbeaten at home so far, which they will be hoping to continue here. Dom Kelman-Poto (15.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1,0 steals) has been superb, teaming up well with Josh Cunningham (13.3 points, 7.8 rebounds) and Alonzo Burton (12.3 points, 2.2 assists and 2.2 steals) in a real show of homegrown talent at the Sharks.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Rams end Huskies run as Bulls hand Sharks third consecutive loss

TWO sides with early wins on the board in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) felt the pinch last night with the evenness of the 2021 competition. The Auckland Huskies suffered their first loss of the season at the hands of the Canterbury Rams, whilst the Southland Sharks sunk to their third consecutive loss after back-to-back wins to open the season, as Franklin Bulls grabbed another victory.

For the Rams, it was a case of striking gold with back-to-back wins, even though it took them a little while to get going. Trailing by six points at the first break, the Rams managed to cut it back to four, before the Huskies steadied in the third to lead by five at the final break. Then the final quarter happened. A stampede of scoring for the home team resulted in the Rams piling on 28 points to 13 to run away with the contest on the back of the three-point shooting of Deshon Taylor, and the paint work of Jack Salt to combine for 53 points and 22 rebounds in an outstanding dual effort.

The Rams had two less three-pointers for the night, but shot at a marginally higher field clip (45 to 44 per cent), and topped the rebounds (47-35) and steals (9-6), whilst the Huskies won the blocks (5-3) and broke even in the assists (21-21). Canterbury was cleaner with the ball however, having four less turnovers (12-16) and capitalising three times over on those turnovers (21 points to seven). The Rams also had more points in the paint (42-30) and second chance points (15-8) in an all-round impressive effort.

Taylor finished with 31 points – including five of nine from long-range and 61 per cent efficiency from the field – eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals in a dominant shooting effort. Salt crushed 14 rebounds – eight offensive – with 22 points, three assists and two steals in providing the big body close to the basket. Similarly, EJ Singler aided the cause with six rebounds, eight assists and two steals alongside six points. Coming off the bench, Alex Talma was the only score with 11 points, five rebounds and two steals. Quintin Bailey was the other double-figure scorer, finishing with 14 points.

For the Huskies, Brook Ruscoe-Taiaroa lead the way with 26 points, five assists and four rebounds, teaming up well with Chris Johnson (19 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, four blocks and two steals) in a complete performance from the American. Off the bench, teenage start Dontae Nance racked up 19 points, five assists and three rebounds, while Takiula Fahrensohn had six rebounds to go with three points.

In the other match, Franklin Bulls finished the stronger of the sides to pile on more pain to the Southland Sharks, dominating the final quarter. The Bulls trailed by six points at quarter time, but had balanced the ledger at 43 points apiece by half-time. The Sharks gained the minor advantage heading into the final quarter with a three-point lead, before the Bulls slammed home 29 points to 17 to win 82-73.

The Bulls were far more accurate from the field, having 16 less shots from the field, but shooting at 43 to 37 per cent, including 34 to 17 per cent from three-point range. They also lead the assists (16-10), and had less turnovers (16-17) and personal fouls (12-20) in the win. The Sharks held their own throughout the contest, particularly with plus-18 in rebounds (53-35), more steals (8-6) and blocks (5-2), whilst also having more points in the paint (46-30), second chance points (21-7) and points from turnovers (23-21).

Zane Waterman was the key man on the night for the Bulls, shooting a deadly 10 of 13 from the field to finish with 31 points, as well as nine rebounds. Waterman’s partner-in-crime Josh Selby was not as accurate as in his first handful of games, only making one of eight from the field for seven points, but still managed the six rebounds, five assists and two steals. Joseph Nunag (17 points, three assists and two steals) and Jaylen Gerrand (12 points, three rebounds) were both clinical off the bench, while Denhym Brooke had his fair share of influence with six points and seven rebounds.

Dom Kelman-Poto knocked down 25 points and 15 rebounds in a losing side, teaming up well with Josh Cunningham (15 points, 12 rebounds) off the boards once again. Courtney Belger (12 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Toby Gillooly (11 points, five rebounds) also hit double-figure points in the loss, while Alonzo Burton could not manage to find his range with just six points (two of 14 from the field) but had the three rebounds and three steals for his troubles.

Auckland Huskies and Southland Sharks face off in a battle of last night’s losers tomorrow night, whilst the Canterbury Bulls take on the Nelson Giants next Thursday night, and the Franklin Bulls travel to TSB Bank Arena on the same night to face the Wellington Saints.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL