Tag: Jayden Bezzant

2021 NZNBL team review: Manawatu Jets

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 Manawatu Jets.

SEASON SUMMARY:

Position: 9th
Wins: 4
Losses: 13

KEY STATS:

Points: 89.3 (3rd)
Rebounds: 35.5 (8th)
Assists: 12.4 (10th)
Steals: 6.2 (10th)
Blocks: 3.7 (1st)
Field Goal %: 44.7 (9th)

KEY PLAYERS:

Daishon Knight

Despite a disappointing season from the Jets, Knight was a consistent player throughout, playing every match and starting in all bar one of them. He led the team for points (23.5), assists (5.2) and steals (1.9), with the latter two being a huge issue for the Jets. They finished dead last in both areas, and after Knight, the next highest assist-maker was Jayden Bezzant (2.6), and only one other player had more than one steal per game. Knight shot at 51.1 per cent from the field, though only hit his three-balls at 28.6 per cent. Overall he was a reliable player across the season and one who consistently performed for the Jets.

The American finished the season like a house on fire, racking up a whopping triple-double of 30 points, 16 rebounds, 11 assists and three steals against Canterbury Rams on June 26. He went on to pick up another two double-doubles in the final three games, to really get cooking in the home stretch. He did come close to a triple-double against Franklin Bulls back on June 6, recording 16 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds in just 31 minutes, his lowest time on court all season. That was just one of three times where Knight scored less than 20 points for Jets, in a mirror of consistency.

Deandre Daniels

The other American up the front end took care of the rebounds, finishing second in the category with 86, as well as his 16.4 points and 2.3 blocks, the latter a team-high. It was his ability to deny the opposition time and time again at the basket that kept his team in contention, and as the number one blocking side. He was the only player on the Jets to average more than a block a game, but it was his versatility as a whole from a shooting perspective that was equally impressive. He was able to get in the paint, or get up the jumper, averaging 34.9 per cent from long-range. He did average less than an assist and steal per game however, synonymous with the team’s performance.

His eight points against Wellington Saints in the final game of the year was one of only three times he reached single-digit points, with the other two coming on back-to-back nights in the second round of the season. Showing his resilience, Daniels went from seven points and seven rebounds to 22 points and 12 rebounds against Otago Nuggets a week apart back in May, learning how to play his opponents. His best game came against Southland Sharks on June 11, where he played all 40 minutes and put up 34 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and two assists in a complete performance. He recorded at least four blocks in four games, with a block in all bar one match.

OTHERS:

Bezzant (15.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists) and Shane Temara (16.4 points,. 8.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks) were the other two consistent key contributors, with Jake McKinley‘s 6.8 points and 6.6 rebounds in 11 matches another healthy contribution.

SUMMARY:

Manawatu Jets ultimately struggled in season 2021, only picking up the four wins, though did have many tight contests, particularly early in the season. Had the Jets turned some of those losses into wins, it might have put them on a different trajectory. Whilst they were ranked third for points and first for blocks, their ball-handing skills with assists and steals showed they struggled to create scores from turnovers and playmaking efforts which is an improvement for the future.

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

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: Sunday

THE Auckland Huskies continued their winning ways in their second outing of the round in the New Zealand National Basketball League while the Hawks bounced back after a loss earlier in the round.

Manawatu Jets (66) defeated by Auckland Huskies (75)

In their second game of the round it was the Huskies that made it two from two with a hard-fought win over the Jets. The Huskies asserted themselves nice and early on the contest establishing a handy six-point lead credit to some late free-throws. Scoring was hard to come by in the first few minutes of the second term as the ball ping-ponged up and down the court before the Jets hit back to get within two points and then steal the lead. This seesawing affair continued until once again it was the higher placed Huskies that kicked things up a notch. Only two points separated the two sides at half time and within the blink of an eye the Jets were level once again and had the lead in a complete replica of the second quarter. Manawatu started to motor, pouring on the scoreboard pain and creating an eight-point lead but it was not enough to worry the Huskies who fought back in the dying stages. With the lead chopping and changing the final quarter was always going to be a heart in your mouth finish and it certainly was. Auckland quickly tied things up as the intensity in the game steadily lifted and they eventually stole the lead. the buffer grew from two points to four before blowing out to the winning total of nine.

The Jets had two predominant scorers with Daishon Knight and Deandre Daniels leading the way. Daniels was the topscorer for Manawatu producing 23 points in his 40 minutes out on court while also racking up nine rebounds, two assists and two steals. Knight finished with a double-double to his name credit to his 21 points and 10 rebounds all of which were defensive. Jayden Bezzant was the only other player to have a real impact on the scoreboard credit to his nine points and three rebounds. For the Huskies it was the work of Chris Johnson that stood out as he sunk 25 points but also amassed a staggering 20 rebounds with 16 of them defensive. Bigman Tom Vodanovich was also in strong form producing 20 points, two assists and four rebounds in the win. Justin Bibbs and Zach Riley were the other two that had a notable impact for Auckland draining 14 and 10 points apiece.

Southland Sharks (71) defeated by Hawkes Bay Hawks (97)

The Hawks reversed their fortunes from earlier in the round with a resounding 28-point win over the Sharks last night. Taking the court for the second time in as many days the Hawks managed to string together some clever basketball to outsmart the Sharks and get the win. They burst out of the blocks in the opening quarter piling on a whopping 37 points while keeping Southland to 18 at the first break. Their accuracy and proficiency was on full display as the visitors continued to put the foot down in the second, extending out to as much as 28 points at halftime. While the Sharks upped the ante somewhat in the third term the Hawks never lost control, able to consistently ride the wave and withstand any type of pressure thrown their way. The fourth quarter was much the same as the Hawks remained in the driver’s seat, controlling proceedings and finding easy avenues to the rim to keep the scoreboard ticking over and the Sharks at bay.

It was a tough day at the office for the Sharks but Dominique Kelman-Poto was up to his usual tricks scoring 27 points in his 29 minutes out on court. Kelman-Poto also managed two assists and four rebounds in the loss while teammate Joshua Cunningham was the next cab off the rank when it came to scoring with 13 points at 55 per cent from the field along with eight rebounds. Brayden Inger was the only other player to hit double figures for the Sharks with 10 points. For the Hawks, Jordan Hunt was the man proving to have the hot hand as he dropped 21 points at 44 per cent from the field. Hunt did not stop there as he also recorded four assists and two deflections as Devondrick Walker also found himself in the thick of things with his 17 points, four assists and three rebounds. Both Deone Raukawa and Ethan Rusbatch showcased their class with 12 points apiece as the latter also walked away with four assists and a steal.

Photo credit: NZNBL

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

Rare Air for Wynyard’s Taranaki with upset win over Jets

A DOMINANT double-double performance from Tai Wynyard has seen the Taranaki Mountainairs claim an impressive 11-point win over Manawatu Jets in last night’s New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) clash. The Airs only had one win coming into the match, but doubled that total in last night’s bottom two battle, overcoming a Jets side missing big man Shane Temara, resulting in Wynyard racking up a whopping 31 points and 17 rebounds, whilst Marcel Jones also collected a double-double in the 104-93 victory.

The Airs took control of the game early, racing out to a six-point quarter time lead. Making sure not to let the game slip, they really put the foot down in one of their most impressive terms of the year in the second stanza, piling on 31 points to 19 to hold a whopping 18-point advantage at the main break. Both teams were fairly even in the third term, before the Jets grabbed some consolation points to win the last term 32-25, but it was not going to be enough as Taranaki enjoyed the rare win, in front of home fans.

Aside from patches during the first term when the Jets held narrow leads, once the Airs took the advantage late in the term, they never looked back. At one stage the lead got out to 22 points midway through the second quarter, and whilst eventually the Jets reduced the damage by the final buzzer, it was always going to be tough to make up the first half difference.

The Airs hit 50 per cent of their field goal attempts to the jets’ 40 per cent, and nailed 44 per cent (12 of 27) from long-range compared to their opponents’ 24 per cent (eight of 33). Whilst their free throw percentage was shocking (41 to 80 per cent), they comfortably won the rebounds (51-42) and assists (24-13), as well as smashed the Jets in the pain (56-36) and from second chance points (20-12). Both teams had 16 turnovers, but it was the Jets who capitalised more with 23 points to 18, as well as having more steals (12-8) and bench points (17-13).

Wynyard unsurprisingly won Most Valuable Player (MVP) for his 31 points and 17 rebounds – 12 offensive – as he played arguably the best game from a second chance points perspective. Jones had the 23 points – three of eight from outside the arc – 11 rebounds – all defensive – six assists and five steals in an all-round game. Haize Walker (15 points, three assists and two rebounds), Carlin Davison (11 points, eight rebounds and six assists) and Scott Telfer (11 points, two rebounds and two assists) rounded out an overall strong starting five performance.

Daishon Knight was the prominent scorer for the Jets, picking up 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists to be the losing side’s best player. Jayden Bezzant (16 points, five assists, four rebounds and four steals), Deandre Daniels (13 points, six rebounds and two blocks) and the long-range shooting of Kalib Marsich-Mullins (14 points – four of 10 from three-point range – and six assists) all stood out. Nikau McCullough had his usual impact off the bench with 13 points, three rebounds and three steals.

Manawatu Jets will need to dust themselves off before a home clash against Canterbury Rams tonight, whilst the Airs will have until Friday to prepare for their home battle with top of the table Wellington Saints.

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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.

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Sharks circle late to grab win against Jets

SOUTHLAND Sharks have taken home the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) victory in their clash against Manawatu Jets at ILT Stadium last night, needing the full four quarters to take home the points. The home team had a see-sawing night which featured different leaders at different breaks, being level at the last change before an impressive final stanza which created separation on the opposition. Three players picked up double-doubles for the Sharks, and five starters hit double-digit points in a real team effort during the 104-97 win.

The Sharks raced out of the blocks in front of their home fans to put on a clinic of 31 points to 17 in the opening term, showing why they are one of the serious title contenders this year. Unexpected was the fact the Jets then took that momentum and completely reversed it to score a massive 35 points to 20 in the second term and hit the front by a point at the main break.

Manawatu managed to hold the lead for the majority of the third term, getting out to as much as a six-point lead early in the quarter, but could not build upon it as the Sharks stuck around. That proved vital for the home team’s chances, as the Jets lead early in he fourth by four points, but once the Sharks hit the front with seven minutes left on the clock, they never looked back, scoring 21 points to 15 from that moment. It was far from a one-sided finish though, with the Jets drawing to within one point with 1:44 on the clock at 96-95, but then the Sharks put up eight of the next 10 points to grab the seven-point victory.

Southland Sharks lead the field goal shooting percentage 52 to 48 per cent, as well as draining 12 triples to 10 in an effective effort from range. Manawatu Jets were better from inside the arc (61 o 55 per cent) and had more steals (5-3), less turnovers (6-7), less personal fouls and more points from turnovers (10-9), as well as more points in the paint (48-46). The Sharks lead the rebounds (42-36) and assists (23-22), as well as second chance points (8-5) and bench points (14-5) in what was a really even game across the board, but there could only be one winner.

Courtney Belger won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) on the night with 22 points and 11 assists in a double-double effort, one of three Sharks to reach the feat in the victory. Belger also hit an impressive four of five from long-range to showcase his accuracy from beyond the arc. Dom Kelman-Poto (22 points, 11 rebounds and four assists) was big once again, as was Josh Cunningham (19 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and two blocks). Brayden Inger (14 points, eight rebounds and two assists) and Alonzo Burton (13 points, two rebounds) both nailed three triples, whilst Sione Helu contributed 11 points in eight minutes off the bench.

Deandre Daniels was the star for the Jets, dropping a game-high five triples from seven attempts on his way to a huge 34 points in 40 minutes, also collecting 11 rebounds – nine defensive – four blocks and two assists. Daishon Knight knocked down 28 points and nine assists, while Shane Temara was also busy with 20 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Jayden Bezzant (10 points, six assists and three rebounds) and Nikau McCullough (five points, two assists) were the other scorers for the Jets in defeat.

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Jets destroy Bulls as Hawks grab narrow Huskies win

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL