Tag: joseph nunag

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

Sharks hand Saints first loss as Hawks and Huskies claim wins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

2021 NZNBL Round 6 preview: Top of the table clash highlights huge round of action

ROUND 6 of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) tips off tomorrow night with plenty of exciting action predicted across the weekend which features a top of the table clash.

NELSON GIANTS vs. MANAWATU JETS
Thursday, June 3 @ 7:30pm
Trafalgar Centre

Two sides in the bottom four, but with very different win-loss records open up Round 6 of the NZNBL competition. The seventh placed Nelson Giants have a 4-5 record to-date, but are theoretically a win off the top three sides, though have played an additional game. They will look to even up their record for 2021 when they take on the 1-6 Manawatu Jets who are yet to win on the road from four encounters. By comparison, the Giants are 2-1 when at home. Hunter Hale may well be the most in-form player in the competition, with the Giants’ guard averaging a whopping 28.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.0 steals from his nine games, shooting at 53.1 per cent from the field, and 36.8 per cent from three-point range. He has teamed up well with Donte Ingram (17.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists) this season as the pair wreck havoc on opposition defences. For the Jets, Daishon Knight (23.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.1 steals), Shane Temara (15.0 points, 10.4 rebounds) and DeAndre Daniels (13.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.9 blocks) have all been influential players.

TARANAKI MOUNTAINAIRS vs. AUCKLAND HUSKIES
Friday, June 4 @ 7:30pm
TSB Stadium

Looking to snap a three-game losing streak, Taranaki Mountainairs will be hoping to cause an upset in front of home fans against Auckland Huskies to jump off the bottom of the table. Holding a 1-6 record to-date, the Airs could move above the Jets with a win, whilst the 4-4 Huskies could put themselves back inside the top four with a victory. Marcel Jones has been a consistent threat for the Airs in terms of putting up double-doubles most weeks, and averaging 23.3 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.6 blocks per game. He has needed more support though, with Haize Walker (9.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists) the next highest Airs player. Chris Johnson is the man to keep an eye on from the Huskies, averaging 21.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.2 blocks, the American import has certainly stood out this season. Brooke Ruscoe (14.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.6 steals) has also had his fair share of action for Auckland.

SOUTHLAND SHARKS vs. WELLINGTON SAINTS
Friday, June 4 @ 7:30pm
ILT Stadium

Sitting pretty at the top of the table with effectively three games in hand, the Wellington Saints are yet to lose a match, with all their nearest rivals having dropped at least three games. That includes Southland Sharks, who dropped three on the trot, but have since strung together four consecutive wins to set up this top of the table clash with the Saints, holding a 6-3 record. The Saints have only hit the road once, whilst the Sharks are yet to lose from two previous matches at home making this a must-watch clash. Both these sides are littered with stars, but the two keys for the Sharks are Dom Kelman-Poto (16.8 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.2 steals) and Josh Cunningham (11.1 points, 7.,3 rebounds and 1.0 steals), while Courtney Belger (12.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.8 steals) has also been influential. For the Saints, their starting lineup has been sensationally consistent, lead by Dion Prewster (24.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.7 steals). Kerwin Roach (17.0 points. 6.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.3 steals) and Taane Samuel (15.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.0 steals) have also been ones to watch in 2021.

FRANKLIN BULLS vs. HAWKES BAY HAWKS
Friday, June 4 @ 7:30pm
Franklin Pool & Leisure Centre

In the third Friday night fixture, Franklin Bulls can try and break a three-game losing streak which put them at 3-5 for the season, and move up the table with a victory over Hawkes Bay Hawks. The Hawks are up in fourth spot compared to the Bulls’ eighth, but are theoretically only a win ahead – though with an extra game under their belt. This will give both sides a great chance to test where they are at midway through the season. The Bulls will need to look to their depth to replace Josh Selby (24.4 points. 5.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.9 steals) who has returned to the United States after copping an injury, with Zane Waterman (21.4 points. 11.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.0 blocks) and Joseph Nunag (11.0 points. 1.5 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.1 rebounds) the next best scorers. The Hawks look to the likes of Hyrum Harris (16.3 points. 8.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.4 steals) and Ethan Rusbatch (17.5 points. 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists) who have been among their top performers.

OTAGO NUGGETS vs. SOUTHLAND SHARKS
Saturday, June 5 @ 7:30pm
Edgar Centre

The Sharks will come in for their second game of the weekend, this time up against Otago Nuggets making it two top three clashes for the second placed Sharks. They can gain some separation on the Nuggets, whilst Otago can overtake the Sharks if Southland lose both clashes. Otago’s Sam Timmins (20.0 points, 11.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.0 blocks) has been the key talent close to the basket, while Isaiah Moss (17.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.0 steals) has been a jump shooter with an eye for long-range makes.

CANTERBURY RAMS vs. WELLINGTON SAINTS
Saturday, June 5 @ 7:30pm
Cowles Stadium

In the final game featuring a fresh side, Canterbury Rams host the top of the table Wellington Saints. The fifth placed Rams will hope to upset the unbeaten Saints who will also be coming off the quick turnaround from their clash with the Sharks the night before. Deshon Taylor (23.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.0 steals) has been the clear standout player for the Rams in 2021, while EJ Singler (13.9 points. 8.0 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 2.0 steals) has been a great supporting act for the team.

OTHER DOUBLE-UP MATCHES:

HAWKES BAY HAWKS vs. AUCKLAND HUSKIES
Sunday, June 6 @ 3:00pm
Pettigrew Green Arena

MANAWATU JETS vs. FRANKLIN BULLS
Sunday, June 6 @ 5:00pm
Fly Palmy Arena

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Nuggets storm past Bulls in four-quarter performance

OTAGO Nuggets have recorded a strong 21-point win over Franklin Bulls to record their fourth win of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) season and record a positive percentage base. The Nuggets won all four quarters against the Bulls in the Round 5 clash, getting up 103-82, with the first half doing the bulk of the damage. Sam Timmins was the monster off the boards, racking up 16 rebounds – 13 defensive – to go with his 31 points in 37 minutes to destroy the Bulls in an eye-catching performance.

From the tip-off the Nuggets were looking good in Franklin, scoring 28-20 in the opening term to skip away to an eight-point quarter time lead. They marginally increased that in the second term to double-digits as the Nuggets took a 54-44 lead into half-time. The third term opened up that margin into an unassailable lead. Doubling their advantage, Otago poured on 24 points to the Bulls’ 14 to suddenly sit 20 points clear of their opponents. The final term was a lot closer with the game wrapped up, though the Nuggets completed the match with a one-point advantage to win by 21, 103-82.

Otago generally dominated the starts with a higher shooting efficiency from the field (45 to 40 per cent) and had 13 more two-pointers than the Bulls, and made the most of their three-point opportunities with 13 of 33 compared to Franklin’s 16 of 42. Otago’s rebounding (59-33) was complete one-way dominance, as they doubled the steals count (10-5), and controlled not only the points in the paint (52-22), but the second chance points (24-4) and points from turnovers (23-9). Franklin’s rotations allowed the Bulls to have more points off the bench (20-11), but the only other positives were less personal fouls (9-10) and more blocks (8-2).

Timmins’ 31 points, 16 rebounds, three assists and three steals was huge, shooting at 63 per cent from the field, the majority of which came from inside the arc. He was supported by fellow dead-eye shooters Gerasimos McKay (23 points at 64 per cent efficiency, eight rebounds, two assists and one steals) and Isaiah Moss (24 points at 50 per cent efficiency, eight rebounds, two steals and one assist). Moss also drained six of 14 from long-range to make up 18 of his 24 points. Richie Rodger (eight points, seven rebounds and three assists) and Josh Aitcheson (six points four rebounds, three assists and three steals) were the other starters who stood tall throughout the game.

For the Bulls, Zane Waterman had 21 points, six rebounds, three assists and three blocks, leading the way in the loss. Denhym Brooks was efficient as that deadly three-point shooter, knocking down five of six from long-range to finish with 17 points, five rebounds, four blocks and three steals in an all-round effort. Isaac Davidson returned to the NZNBL with 10 points and two rebounds in 24 minutes of play, hitting two of four from beyond the arc. Josh Selby (seven points, four rebounds) injured his hamstring and played just one half, and Joseph Nunag (four points, two rebounds) had a lower output than usual, in a disappointing night for the Bulls.

The Nuggets will take on an Auckland Huskies side on Saturday which will be coming off a match the night before whilst the Bulls will have an eight-day break until taking on the Hawke’s Bay Hawks next Friday night.

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

2021 NZNBL Round 3 preview: Contenders likely to form after ladder-defining round

THE mid-table logjam of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) is likely to be broken up after Round 3 of competition, with some ladder-defining clashes having the potential to separate the contenders from the pretenders.

CANTERBURY RAMS vs. AUCKLAND HUSKIES
Friday, May 14 @ 7:30pm
Cowles Stadium

Opening up Round 3 of NZNBL action is the undefeated Auckland Huskies looking for their fourth straight win, this time on the road against a Canterbury Rams outfit starting to gel. The Rams won their last encounter after back-to-back losses, and will look to make it two on the trot in what will be their only game of the weekend. The Huskies will need to back up just under 48 hours later when they take on the Southland Sharks, so will look to grab some momentum in this match. The undefeated Huskies have been led sensationally by Jeremy Kendle who is averaging 28.3 points, 6.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals to be among the best players in the competition. Throw in a debut from Chris Johnson (30 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and one block) and teenage star Dontae Nance (15.3 points, 3.0 rebounds) and the Huskies have quite the formidable line-up. The Rams have had an even spread across the board led by EJ Singler (14.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.0 steals), while Daishon Taylor (16.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.3 steals) and Jack Salt (14.5 points. 7.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocks) have been consistent across multiple aspects on court.

FRANKLIN BULLS vs. SOUTHLAND SHARKS
Friday, May 14 @ 7:30pm
Franklin Pool & Leisure Centre

Turning the attention to the other Friday night clash two mid-table teams go head-to-head in the Franklin Bulls and Southland Sharks. Both sides are poised at 2-2 from four games this season, with the Bulls coming off a loss and the Sharks having dropped their past two games after winning their first two. They will look to arrest that mini-slide in this one, playing their fourth away game out of five for the season, whilst the Bulls are playing their fourth home game. Josh Selby is leading the Most Valuable Player (MVP) voting having put up 30.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.5 steals in season 2021. He has worked well in tandem with Zane Waterman (24.0 points, 14.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.0 blocks), while Joseph Nunag has come off the bench to contribute 14.3 points per game. The Sharks have a well-balanced unit, with Josh Cunningham (13.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals) and Dom Kelman-Poto (11.8 points, 7.0 rebound, 3.0 assists and 1.3 steals) teaming up well off the boards while Alonzo Burton has managed the 12.0 points and 2.3 steals per game in the front court.

MANAWATU JETS vs. OTAGO NUGGETS
Saturday, May 15 @ 7:30pm
Fly Palmy Arena

After four straight losses, Manawatu Jets will be hoping something has to give against the Otago Nuggets, having been relatively competitive in most of their clashes. The Jets are 0-4, but are playing their first home game of the season which might spark a revival, especially considering the Nuggets are yet to hit the road in season 2021. The reigning premiers lost their opening game of the season to the Wellington Saints, but have since strung together a couple of victories and will be going for win number three here. Despite the winless start, the Jets have had some shining lights, with back court players Daishon Knight (26.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.0 steals) and Jayden Bezzant (21.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists) having impressive shooting starts, while forward Shane Temara is averaging a double-double of 14.8 points and 12.0 rebounds. For the Nuggets, Isaiah Moss (17.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals) has been an impressive import, whilst Sam Timmins (13.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists) has shouldered the rebounding load, for Josh Aitcheson to assist (8.0 points, 2.0 rebounds) in the scoring.

WELLINGTON SAINTS vs. NELSON GIANTS
Saturday, May 15 @ 7:30pm
TSB Bank Arena

Much like Auckland Huskies, the Wellington Saints will be eyeing off a fourth straight win, and appear to be the team to beat. Much like most of the past decade, the Saints have set a ripping pace to start the season, whilst the Nelson Giants have begun a bit up and down, with one win from two games. At home, the Saints have won both their clashes and all up have a points differential of plus-75, whilst the Giants have been relatively even with minus-nine and are 1-1 on the road. The Saints do not have to worry about another game, whilst the Giants play the next day so will look to manage the roster. Dion Prewster is in MVP contention with a roaring start to the season putting up 28.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.7 steals per game. He is one of five players to average double-figure points, with Kerwin Roach (17.7 points, 5.0 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals) and Romaro Gill (10.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.3 blocks) among the other top performers in the top of the table side. Two Americans in Hunter Hale (22.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.3 steals) and Donte Ingram (20.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists) have lit up the NZNBL to-date, whilst Sam Dempster has provide good support off the boards with 6.7 points and 7.3 rebounds.

AUCKLAND HUSKIES vs. SOUTHLAND SHARKS
Sunday, May 16 @ 3:00pm
Trusts Arena

Having both played previously, Huskies and Sharks will be rotating players heavily in this one. The Huskies have had some fights along the way to their three victories, and the Sharks will be expecting to provide another one here, while the visitors will hope to end the round with a 4-2 record, and right back up with the top contenders in the league.

HAWKES BAY HAWKS vs. NELSON GIANTS
Sunday, May 16 @ 5:00pm
Pettigrew Green Arena

Coming in for their first game of Round 3, Hawke’s Bay Hawks will have been well prepared to take on a Nelson Giants outfit that played the night before. Fully rested from the week, the Hawks will be favoured to extend their win-loss record to 3-0, whilst the Giants have the tough ask of trying to knock off two unbeaten sides back-to-back or else slip to the unwanted record of 1-4 early in the season. In previewing the Hawks line-up, Jonathan Janssen has been the versatile power forward with 11.5 points, 12.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.0 steals per game, whilst players with ANBL experience, Hyrum Harris (13.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists) and Devondrick Walker (21.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals) have certainly started strongly.

TARANAKI MOUNTAINAIRS vs. OTAGO NUGGETS
Sunday, May 16 @ 5:00pm
TSB Stadium

The Nuggets will have no fears of the road after this round, playing a second consecutive away game for Round 3. After taking on the Manawatu Jets away, the reigning premiers head to TSB Stadium to face the Taranaki Mountainairs, of whom are in the bottom two like the Jets. The Airs will be desperate to get a win on the board before slipping to 0-4, whilst the Nuggets can really assert themselves as a chance to go back-to-back with victories over the bottom two sides. Marcel Jones has been a lone hand for the Airs this season, averaging a double-double of 22.7 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.3 blocks. Francis Mulvihill (9.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.3 steals) and Haize Walker (9.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists) have been the other two players to start every game and contribute to the Airs’ cause.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Selby and Waterman lead Bulls to win in Bailey-Nowell’s 300th

FRANKLIN Bulls have triumphed over Taranaki Mountainairs for the Bulls’ second win of the season thanks to a dominant second half at TSB Stadium last night. Celebrating veteran, Aaron Bailey-Nowell‘s 300th game, the Bulls managed to stand up when it counted thanks to huge efforts from Josh Selby and Zane Waterman cancelling out yet another double-double from Airs’ Marcel Jones. With a 56-39 second half, the Bulls got up by 16 points, 101-85.

The Bulls started off the night with an early lead, taking a one-point advantage into quarter time following a 24-23 opening term. The Airs, in front of a home crowd, were not going to lie down though, grabbing the momentum and the lead by as much as nine points. Having had narrow leads in the opening term, the nine-point advantage midway through the second quarter looked to have the home team on top. A late charge from the Bulls though cut it down to just the one point by the main break.

Taranaki started off strongly in the third to quickly hold momentum in the opening few minutes and lead by as much as four points, but once they surrendered the lead at the 7:19 minute mark of the third term, they never got it back. For the last seven minutes the Bulls piled on 19-10 to lead by nine points at the final break. Once the Bulls started to pile on the scoreboard pressure, there was no stopping them and they hit the double-digit lead early in the final term, never looking back, wining the last quarter 26-19 for a comfortable 101-85 victory.

The Bulls shot at a higher efficiency, with 58 to 50 per cent from two-point range, and nailing 15 three-pointers compared to the Airs’ 11. The Bulls also got to the free-throw line more often with 10 of 16 compared to a 100 per cent success rate from just four chances for the home team. Across the board the Bulls had the ascendancy with more rebounds (43-39), assists (17-15) and steals (11-5), but it was the personal fouls count that really stood out, as the Airs committed 20-6, and also had three more turnovers (15-12), with the Bulls punishing them from turnovers with 21 points to 15. The Airs were better in the paint though, picking up 44 points to 36, and had 11 second chance points to seven.

Selby won Player of the Match honours with 34 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals in an all-round performance, dropping a massive seven of 10 from three-point range for an overall efficiency of 65 per cent. Waterman was not far behind with a huge double-double of 27 points (57 per cent efficiency) and 16 rebounds – seven offensive – to go with four assists. Joseph Nunag was the other key scorer for the Bulls with 14 points and three assists, while Nicholas Fee put together a valued performance of eight points, six assists, five rebounds and two steals.

Jones was far and away the best for the Airs, picking up another double-double of 33 points (54 per cent efficiency and six of 11 from long-range), 10 rebounds and two assists. Tai Wynyard had 18 points, three rebounds and two steals, Haize Walker finished with 11 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Bailey-Nowell had the two points, eight rebounds, three assists and a steal in his milestone game.

Franklin Bulls have a short turnaround with a game against the Nelson Giants tomorrow, whilst the Airs have an extended break until Sunday, May 16 when they lock horns with Otago Nuggets.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

2021 NZNBL Round 2 preview: Top two sides do battle in Friday night blockbuster

THE top two sides will lock horns in a massive Friday night blockbuster clash in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL), with a number of undefeated matches, as well as winless head-to-heads set to shake up the ladder at the conclusion of Round 2.

TARANAKI MOUNTAINAIRS vs. FRANKLIN BULLS
Thursday, May 6 @ 7:30pm
TSB Stadium

In their first home game of the season, Taranaki Mountainairs will be hoping to break their back-to-back losses from Round 1 against the 1-1 Franklin Bulls. After dropping their opening game, the Bulls bounced back to win their second encounter, and sit in sixth with an almost identical points for and points against column, and will be keen to win for Aaron Bailey-Nowell‘s 300th NZNBL game. Marcel Jones has started off as one would expect for the Airs, averaging 17.5 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game, teaming up well with shooter Francis Mulvihill (10.5 points, 4.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals). The pair are the only players to average double-figure points after two matches, with Franklin Bulls by comparison having five. Josh Selby has proven to be one of the most prolific shooters in the competition, dropping 26.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 3.0 steals, whilst in his only match in Round 1, Zan Waterman managed 25 points and 14 rebounds. Joseph Nunag (17.0 points, 2.5 assists) and Denhym Brooks (12 points, four rebounds) are the other key scorers for the Bulls, and they will be favourites to win this clash.

WELLINGTON SAINTS vs. SOUTHLAND SHARKS
Friday, May 7 @ 7:30pm
TSB Bank Arena

A top of the table clash between two undefeated sides is set to light up TSB Bank Arena on Friday night, with the Wellington Saints and Southland Sharks making the perfect starts to their 2021 campaigns after missing the 2020 season. The Saints are the most successful team in the competition’s history, and they have started off on fire, with a points differential of 43. The Sharks are the next best side with a lower scoring output, but also conceding less to be plus-21 from their Round 1 clashes. Dion Prewster has been the top player in the NZNBL to start the season, earning two Player of the Match awards for his 31 points, five rebounds, 4.5 assists and two steals per game. Kerwin Roach (18.5 points, 4.5 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals) and Romaro Gill (11.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks) have also started the season in strong form. For the Sharks, they have a trio of dominant players off the boards who can also shoot, with Josh Cunningham (14.0 points, 9.5 rebounds), Dom Kelman-Poto (11.0 points, 7.5 rebounds) and Toby Gillooly (12.5 points, 7.0 rebounds) likely to stretch the Saints close to the basket.

CANTERBURY RAMS vs. MANAWATU JETS
Friday, May 7 @ 7:30pm
Cowles Stadium

A battle between two winless sides is the opposite Friday night clash, as the seventh placed Jets take on the last placed Rams. The Jets have come close and are only minus 10 for the points differential thus far, whilst the Rams have started off the season like they did last season – before charging up in finals – with a minus-35 points differential and sitting on the bottom. Quintin Bailey (16.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists) has shared the top points-scorer nod with import Deshon Taylor (16.5 points, 5.5 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals). The other two players to have impacted the scoreboard across both games are Ben Constable (11.0 points, 5.5 rebounds) and EJ Singler (11.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists). The Jets have had some prominent scorers, but not a lot from their depth, as Daishon Knight (26.5 points, 3.5 assists, 3.0 steals and 2.0 rebounds) has been impressive, shooting at 69.7 per cent from the field. Jayden Bezzant has been a deadeye himself with 22.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists with a 66.7 per cent clip, while Shane Temara (17.0 points, 12.0 points) and DeAndre Daniels (13.5 points, 10.0 rebounds) are averaging double-doubles. The Jets have the top-end talent to be favourites in this encounter.

FRANKLIN BULLS vs. NELSON GIANTS
Saturday, May 8 @ 7:30pm
Franklin Pool & Leisure Centre

Coming back for their second game of the weekend, the Franklin Bulls could build some momentum in Round 2 if they can string back-to-back victories against winless sides. The Bulls’ second match comes on Saturday night at home up against Nelson Giants, with the Giants relying a lot on import Donte Ingram in game one. The Giants suffered a 19-point loss last week, and Ingram was the only scorer in double-digits with 20 points, six rebounds and three assists. Sam Dempster (seven points, nine rebounds) helped off the boards, while Hunter Hale (eight points, six rebounds and three assists) did a bit of everything. It will be a tough ask for the Giants, but it was only one game, so they will be looking for a better effort here.

OTAGO NUGGETS vs. MANAWATU JETS
Saturday, May 8 @ 7:30pm
Edgar Centre

Having clashed with the Rams on Friday night, the Jets then face reigning premiers Otago Nuggets on Saturday night. The 2020 NZNBL Grand Final rematch will see the sides come in with no more than two wins between them, though the Nuggets looked impressive in their second game out. As mentioned above, the Jets have some serious top-end talent, but the Nuggets can match them in that department. They have only has three players score more than three points per game in the opening two matches, as Isaiah Moss (10 points, three rebounds), Sam Timmins (nine points, 4.5 rebounds) and Josh Aitcheson (seven points, 2.5 rebounds) the main focal points. They will need to share the load against a high-scoring Jets outfit.

HAWKE’S BAY HAWKS vs. SOUTHLAND SHARKS
Saturday, May 8 @ 7:30pm
Pettigrew Green Arena

It will be Southland Shark’s turn to do the double-up in what is a tough weekend for them against two other undefeated sides. With the premiership favourites Wellington Saints the Friday night clash, the Sharks then turn their attention to the fourth placed Hawke’s Bay Hawks on Saturday night. The Hawks have only played the one game, but their start power certainly fired, with Devondrick Walker having a night out with 26 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Hyrum Harris marked his return to the Hawks in style with 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Jonathan Janssen (12 points, nine rebounds) and Ethan Rusbatch (10 points, six rebounds) were also prolific off the boards, and the Hawks will really worry the Sharks in this Round 2 contest.

AUCKLAND HUSKIES vs. NELSON GIANTS
Sunday, May 9 @ 5:00pm
Eventfinda Stadium

The last undefeated side in Auckland Huskies host the final game of the NZNBL Round 2 up against the Nelson Giants who will be coming off a clash against Franklin Bulls the night before. The standalone Sunday evening game will be favoured for the Huskies who have ticked off both challenges in Round 1, and will be looking to take down the Giants in this one. Jeremy Kendle has been running hot in the league, putting up 31 points, 5.5 assists and five rebounds per game as one of the most dominant shooters thus far. Teenage star Dontae Nance made a statement in Round 1 with 22 points and four rebounds, while Brooke Ruscoe (15.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists) and Nick Barrow (11.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists) also impressive in the opening round of action.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Bulls hold on in thriller over Jets as Nuggets find gold with big win over Airs

TWO counter-contrasting matches in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) competition saw the Otago Nuggets and Franklin Bulls reign supreme to collect their first wins of the season. Whilst the Nuggets managed to do it fairly comfortably with a dominant 27-point win over Taranaki Mountainairs, the going was much tougher for the Bulls, surviving a momentum-swinging game and a tense final minute to salute by the barest of margins.

In the Bulls and Jets thriller, the Bulls led by as much as six points with 3:09 on the clock in the final term. Daishon Knight was threatening to spoil the party, with back-to-back baskets – and a Deandre Daniels block on Josh Selby – cutting the deficit to just two points with 2:29 left. Nicolas Fee‘s successful free throws just pushed the lead out to two baskets with 2:13 on the clock but no less than 12 seconds later, Daniels hit a three-point jumper and the Jets were back to within one point. Despite these baskets, the next two minutes would be a battle of nerves and attrition as neither side scored in that time. The Bulls had three shots and missed them all, with the Jets having two, as well as a couple of turnovers, and an offensive foul, with Knight’s dying seconds jump shot from inside the arc missing and Dane Brooks grabbing the defensive rebound, and the win.

Earlier in the match, the Bulls took a three-point lead into half-time after the teams could not be split following a quarter of action. The Jets were soon to take off though, piling on 29 points to 21 in the third term to race to a five-point advantage by the final break. Despite having the momentum, it was the Bulls who hit back early in the fourth and both teams were trading baskets – and the lead – until a Denhym Brooke triple with 4:09 on the clock gave the Bulls what would be the final lead change of the night. From there they got out to that six-point advantage before the last three minutes of tight basketball ensued.

The Bulls were costly from the field, shooting at just 42 per cent, though making up for it with 12 triples to the Jets’ six. They also took their chances from the charity stripe with 16 of 18 free throws made, whilst the Jets had the 15 of 20. The visitors led the rebound count by eight (50-42), as well as the blocks (5-1), though the winners had more assists (14-9) and steals (9-4) showing off their better ball-handing skills. The huge difference was Manawatu’s ability to punish the Bulls in the paint, with a whopping 60 points in there compared to the Bulls’ 38, who opted for the jumpers. The Bulls penalised the Jets off turnovers – despite having two more than Manawatu – with 19 points to 11 in that area.

Selby top-scored with 27 points, eight rebounds and four steals, whilst Zan Waterman was outstanding, collecting a double-double of 25 points and 14 rebounds. Joseph Nunag came off the bench for 20 points, while Brooks (10 points, six rebounds) was also handy. For the Jets, Jayden Bezzant was electric with 29 points – at 70 per cent from the field – as well as seven rebounds and two assists. It was the work of Shane Temara (18 points, 14 rebounds) and Daniels (15 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks) off the boards that kept the Jets in the contest, while Knight notched up 23 points, three rebounds and three steals in the loss.

In the more one-sided contest, the Otago Nuggets took control after quarter time and never really looked like losing against the Taranaki Mountainairs. The Nuggets took a two-point lead into quarter time – after trailing for the majority of the opening term – but never looked back once they hit the front late in the quarter, scoring 49 points to 26 over the next two terms to race out to a 25-point lead at the last change. It was a tighter fourth quarter, but the Nuggets still capitalised with 23 points to 21, winning 93-66.

The Nuggets dominated every facet of the game with a higher field goal shooting percentage (45 to 41), more rebounds (47-36), assists (23-12), steals (14-12), blocks (5-4) and less turnovers (19-24). They also had two less personal fouls (16-18), and won the battle of points in the paint (40-28) and points from turnovers (26-13), in what was a really complete performance from the Nuggets in front of home fans.

Sam Timmins was enormous in the win, picking up a double-double with 22 points, 12 rebounds – five offensive – five assists, three blocks and two steals, teaming up well with Isaiah Moss (28 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals). Richie Rodger (10 points, three rebounds, three assists and five steals) was also lively across the court, and Josh Aicheson (nine points, four rebounds and five assists) made the most of his 21 minutes on court. For the Airs, four players did most of the damage, with Marcel Jones (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Tai Wynyard (11 points, 10 rebounds) picking up double-doubles in defeat. Baxter Fenwick (12 points, three rebounds) and Francis Mulvahil (11 points, four assists and three steals) were the others who tried hard.

Of the four sides, both the Bulls and Airs back up the quickest, set to clash on Thursday night, with the Jets to take on the Canterbury Rams on Friday night, while the Nuggets meet the Jets in Manawatu’s second game of next round on the Saturday evening.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL