Tag: Josh Aitcheson

Timmins’ triple-double leads Nuggets to win over Rams

A MASSIVE triple-double to big man Sam Timmins has helped Otago Nuggets grab an important win on the road and keep in touch with the top few sides in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL). Sitting fourth heading into the contest, the Nuggets needed to grab the points to stay within striking distance of the top three sides and hold off their nearest rivals. Those rivals included their opponents Canterbury Rams, who sunk to a 4-5 record following last night’s loss, with Otago securing the 13-point victory, 95-82.

In front of almost 1400 fans, the Nuggets silenced the crowd early with a dominant 27-15 quarter to race out to a 12-point lead at quarter time. They maintained that control early in the second term, extending their advantage out to 15 points, before the Rams stormed home to cut the deficit back to just three points at half-time. In a surprise turnaround, Canterbury actually hit the front early in the third and looked like they were going to start building momentum at Cowles Stadium.

Instead, it was the Nuggets who then took hold of the contest, with a dominant run to get back out to a 13-point advantage at the final break following a 28-18 third term. While the Rams managed to get it back into a single digit deficit early in the fourth stanza, they could not sustain it as the Nuggets blew the lead right out to 20 at one stage. The Rams did hit back to cut the final margin to just 13, it was too little, too late and they went down.

Otago Nuggets shot at 51 per cent from the field, higher than the Rams’ 46 per cent. Neither side was particularly dominant from long-range, but both were highly effective from inside the arc. In particular, the Nuggets piled on 60 of their 95 points from inside the paint, whilst the Rams added 48 from 82 in the same area. Canterbury lead the points from turnovers (16-15), but otherwise it was the Nuggets all the way, winning the rebounds (40-37), assists (25-19), blocks (4-2), second chance points (11-9) and bench points (13-12).

Timmins was the clear best on the court with a whopping 18 points, 18 rebounds – 15 defensive – 10 assists, three blocks and two steals in an enormous performance from the Nuggets. They had plenty of contributors though, with Isaiah Moss (24 points, four assists, two rebounds and two steals) and Gerasimos McKay (21 points, eight rebounds and two assists) both putting up good numbers. Richie Rodger (12 points, five assists and three rebounds) and Josh Aitcheson (seven points, four assists) also looked strong from the starting line-up.

For the Rams, Deshon Taylor had another big night with 21 points, six rebounds, six assists and five steals, leading the way from Quintin Bailey (18 points, five rebounds and two assists) and EJ Singler (16 points, six rebounds). Derek Albertsen (11 points, three rebounds and two assists) also hit double-figure points, whilst Alex Talma was influential off the boards with six rebounds to go with his four points.

Otago Nuggets will have a 48-hour turnaround to face Hawkes Bay Hawks tomorrow night, while the Rams travel to take on last placed Taranaki Mountainairs on Sunday afternoon.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Giants and Nuggets secure nail-biting wins as Sharks deflate Airs

TWO absolutely thrilling contests and one blowout were the summation of last night’s triple treat of New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) contests. Both the Nelson Giants and Otago Nuggets claimed victories in tight battles over Hawkes Bay Hawks and Auckland Huskies respectively, whilst the Southland Sharks showed no mercy in a 42-point hiding of Taranaki Mountainairs.

In a tight see-sawing contest, Nelson Giants came up trumps despite a third term fightback from Hawkes Bay Hawks to win by three points, 112-109. After the teams were level at quarter time, Nelson piled on 32 points to 26 to take a six-point half-time lead, before the Hawks hit back with a 29-25 third stanza to cut the final break difference to two points. A tight final term saw the lead change nine times, before the Giants sunk 11 of the last 17 points to grab the win.

Hunter Hale made it rain with another ridiculous performance of 41 points – four of nine from long-range – as well as seven assists and three steals. Sam Dempster (19 points, five rebounds and three assists), Thomas Ingham (17 points, five rebounds and two assists), Donte Ingram (11 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Nic Trathen (12 points, five rebounds) were the other key scorers for the winners.

The Hawks’ starting five had plenty of say in the contest, lead once again by Hyrum Harris who had 25 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals, sharing the load of scoring with long-range shooter Devondrick Walker (25 points, five assists and two rebounds). Ethan Rusbatch (23 points, six rebounds), Derone Raukawa (16 points, two rebounds) and Jonathan Janssen (13 points, six rebounds and five assists) were also busy.

The other thriller saw Otago Nuggets come from behind to defeat Auckland Huskies and hand their opponents a second consecutive loss for the round. The Nuggets trailed by two points at quarter time, hit the front by four points at the main break, then lead by six heading into the last quarter. Whilst the Huskies returned serve with 21 points to 17 in the final term, they fell two points short as the visitors saluted, 73-71.

Sam Timmins was again a difficult man to stop in the paint, knocking down 21 points and eight rebounds, whilst Gerasimos McKay (12 points, 10 rebounds and two assists) picked up a double-double. Isaiah Moss (14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Josh Aitcheson (12 points, six rebounds) also stood tall in the victory.

For the Huskies, Chris Johnson top-scored on court with 22 points and 11 rebounds in a sensational double-double. Brook Ruscoe-Taiaroa (11 points, three rebounds and three steals) and Chris McIntosh (10 points, three rebounds and three steals) both reached double-digit points, while Zach Riley (nine points, seven assists) tried hard all night.

The sole blowout of the night was Southland Sharks’ massive 42-point shellacking of Taranaki Mountainairs. The Sharks never looked like losing, winning every quarter by at least seven points, racing out to a 16-point advantage after one quarter. From there, the lead increased to 25, 35 and 42 at each break before the final buzzer proved a salvation for the disappointing Airs who were not match for the outstanding Sharks.

Dom Kelman-Poto (22 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals) lead the way, sharing the scoring load with Toby Gillooly (22 points, four rebounds and two steals) and Brayden Inger (21 points, six rebounds and two steals). Courtney Belger (14 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals) did a bit of everything on the night, while Josh Cunningham (eight points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals) was ultra-impressive.

Marcel Jones was again the standout talent for the Airs, notching up 17 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks, as he and Tai Wynyard (13 points, four rebounds and two assists) took the load for the majority of the scoring. Baxter Fenwick and Carlin Davison both finished with nine points, as Davison also notched up six rebounds, two assists and two steals having an impact off the bench in a losing team.

Hawkes Bay Hawks and Southland Sharks are the first teams to have the quick turnaround, playing tonight against Canterbury Rams and Manawatu Jets in away clashes. The Nelson Giants host the Jets on June 3, with the Taranaki Mountainairs and Auckland Huskies facing off on June 4. The Otago Nuggets have the longest break of the six sides, hosting the Sharks on June 5.

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

Double delight for NZNBL as three-point thrillers leave crowds on edge of their seats

TWO absolute thrillers left crowds on the edge of their seats in both Otago and Canterbury, with the Nelson Giants and Canterbury Rams winning their respective New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) matches against Otago Nuggets and Franklin Bulls. In what was a coincidental moment, both games finished with the score at 89-86, though the Nuggets-Giants clash needed an overtime period to decide the result.

In the overtime thriller, Nelson Giants started strongly to race out to an eight-point quarter time lead, then built on that to put up a 14-point buffer at the half. Just when it looked like the visitors were going to run away with the contest, the Nuggets roared to life and piled on 21 points to 13 in the third. That cut the deficit back to six points, and in a counter contrasting second half to first half, scored 14 more points all-up compared to their opponents.

Despite drawing level at the final buzzer courtesy of an Isaiah Moss fade away triple in the final 30 seconds, and Sam Timmins handing his side a two-point lead to begin overtime, the Giants scored five of the last six points when the teams were level at 84-apiece to win by just the three, 89-86. The Nuggets actually shot more effectively with 51 per cent of their attempts from the field going in (compared to the Giants’ 41 per cent), whilst they also had more rebounds (43-42), assists (18-10) and points in the paint (52-36), whilst the Giants had more steals (13-5) and less turnovers (11-17), punishing their opponents from turnovers (27-7).

Hunter Hale was far and away best on court with 41 points for the Giants, dropping six of 13 from long-range, as well as picking up nine rebounds, five steals and three steals. Donte Ingram (17 points, three rebounds and five steals) and Nic Trathen (15 points, four rebounds) also had plenty of it, whilst Sam Dempster (11 rebounds) had plenty of impact off the boards.

Moss (21 points, five rebounds and three assists) and Gerasimos McKay (21 points, seven rebounds and three assists) shared the top-scoring duties, whilst Timmins dominated off the boards with 14 rebounds – 12 defensive – to go with 18 points and eight rebounds. Richie Rodger (11 points, three rebounds) and Josh Aitcheson (seven points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals) were the others who stood out in defeat.

Meanwhile in the other match, Canterbury Rams managed to overpower Franklin Bulls with a dominant second half. It was a similar match to the Nuggets-Giants, with one team taking control in the first half, before the other team swung the momentum back in their favour for the second half. On this occasion it was the Bulls who raced out to an 11-point half-time lead, which did not prove enough as the Rams poured on 50 points to 36 in the second half to pip them at the post. They did lead by six with 25 seconds left, but the last three points went the way of the Bulls to cut the final margin to three, 89-86.

The Rams proved to be more effective shooting with 43 per cent from the field – including 34 per cent from long-range – compared to the Bulls’ 38 per cent, whilst the Rams also lead the rebounds (46-42), assists (19-9) and points in the paint (38-28). The Bulls won the steals (10-6) and blocks, and also had a remarkable 19 less personal fouls (12-31), but could not get the job done.

Deshon Taylor knocked down 35 points, seven rebounds and four assists in the win, but it was EJ Singler (17 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and four steals) who almost picked up a triple-double in a complete performance. Sam Smith (12 points, 10 rebounds and two steals) managed a double-double, whilst Quintin Bailey (12 points, five rebounds) was also busy for the Rams.

Josh Selby was a lone-hand for the Bulls, knocking down a remarkable 42 points in a bid to drag his team across the line, whilst also recording seven rebounds, two assists and two steals. Zane Waterman (19 points, 14 rebounds and four assists) had a double-double and Jaylen Gerrand (10 points, four rebounds) also reached double-figure points in the loss.

Nelson Giants have the quickest turnaround of the four teams, playing their third game of the round tomorrow against Southland Sharks, whilst the Franklin Bulls and Otago Nuggets go head-to-head on Thursday night. Canterbury Rams have an extended break until May 30, when they host Hawkes Bay Hawks.

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

Hawks, Nuggets and Giants secure wins in Saturday night triple treat

THERE was no shortage of available basketball around in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) last night, with three clashes taking pace across the country. Hawke’s Bay Hawks handed Southland Sharks their second consecutive loss, as the Otago Nuggets sent the Manawatu Jets to 0-4, and Nelson Giants grabbed their first win of the season with a victory on the road against the Franklin Bulls.

Starting off at the Pettigrew Arena, Hawke’s Bay Hawks kept in touch with the top of the table Wellington Saints by remaining undefeated this season thanks to a victory over Southland Sharks. The Hawks started strongly to lead by two points at the first break and then nine at half-time. By the final break the home team had blown the lead out to 16, and while the Sharks had cut the eventual deficit back to 12 with a spirited final term, it would not be enough.

Derone Raukawa was the star, earning Player of the Match honours thanks to 28 points, five assists and three rebounds, while Jonathan Janssen was enormous off the boards, racking up a massive double-double of 11 points, 15 rebounds and two assists. Devondrick Walker (16 points, two rebounds and two steals) and Everard Bartlett (14 points, three rebounds) also hit double-figure points, and Hyrum Harris (nine points, eight rebounds) and Ethan Rusbatch (seven points, four rebounds and two assists) also contributed on the scoreboard.

Josh Cunningham was the star for the Sharks once again, knocking down 21 points – including all three attempts from long-range – as well as 11 rebounds. Dom Kelman-Poto (14 points, seven rebounds and three assists) and Alonzo Burton (14 points, two steals) both hit the scoreboard well, while Courtney Belger (seven points, two rebounds) and Toby Gilloolly (five points two rebounds and three steals) were also steadfast in defeat.

The Hawks next play the Nelson Giants next Sunday night, while the Sharks travel to Franklin to take on the Bulls on Friday night.

Otago Nuggets grabbed their second win of the season with the reigning premiers stringing back-to-back victories since an opening night loss to Wellington Saints, knocking off Manawatu Jets to sentence them to their fourth consecutive defeat. The Nuggets dominated the opening term to race out to a 25-12 lead at quarter time. An explosive high-scoring second quarter saw the Jets slam home 37 points to 29 to cut the deficit to five points, before the Nuggets again took control to win the third term 29-20 and hold a 14-point advantage with a quarter to play. Refusing to throw the towel in, the Jets kept fighting and scored 27-25, but would fall short to the Nuggets, 108-96.

Isaiah Moss was named Player of the Match, putting on a shooting clinic with seven of 13 long-range attempts dropping as he went on his merry way for 33 points in 33 minutes, as well as seven rebounds and three steals for the Nuggets. Sam Timmins crashed the boards and set up the offence on his way to a double-double and almost triple-double of 23 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and two blocks, while Gerasimos McKay (18 points, five rebounds) also stood strong. Josh Aitcheson (10 points) hit double-figure points starting, while Darcy Knox (11 points, six rebounds) came off the bench to have an impact in 19 minutes.

For the Jets, Daishon Knight scored 29 points, six rebounds, four steals and two assists, creating a damaging tag-team with Jayden Bezzant (23 points, four assists and three rebounds). Shane Temara (14 points, 15 rebounds) had enormous impact off the boards, while Jake McKinlay (13 points, eight rebounds and two steals) and Deandre Daniels (seven points, seven rebounds) also did well. The Jets will now have to tweak some things before a fixture quirk sees them taking on the Otago Nuggets again in their next game on Saturday night, but this time they return to their home court.

In the third game on the night up at Franklin Pool and Leisure Centre, Nelson Giants proved too strong for Franklin Bulls, getting up by 13 points in a four-quarter performance. The Giants won three of the four quarters, but most of the damage was done early, racing out to a nine-point lead after one quarter of play. They extended it to 12 by half-time, and whilst the teams were fairly even in the second half, the Bulls could not make inroads further and went down, 107-94.

Hunter Hale won Player of the Match honours with 26 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and five steals in an outstanding performance that almost netted him a triple-double. He was one of five Giants players to hit double-figure points as the starters all shared the load. Donte Ingram (19 points, 10 rebounds and four assists) picked up a double-double, Thomas Ingram (15 points, four rebounds and two assists) contributed across multiple facets, while Anzac Risetto (14 points, two rebounds) and Sam Dempster (13 points, four rebounds) were both busy.

For the Bulls, Josh Selby continued his remarkable start to the season playing every minute in the loss and put up 36 points – including six of 11 from three-point range – along with six rebounds and four assists. Zane Waterman had a double-double of 20 points, 12 rebounds and two assists, while Jaylen Gerrand came off the bench for 10 points, two rebounds and two assists. Others contributed in small parts, but it was the duo of Selby and Waterman who really stepped up to the plate in the loss.

The Bulls next host the Southland Sharks on Friday night, with the Giants not having much time to recover, taking on Auckland Huskies tonight, before a clash with another undefeated side in the Wellington Saints next Saturday night.

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

2020 NZNBL 3×3 Cup: Men’s preview

NEW Zealand basketball is set to have a big month in November with the 2020 New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) 3×3 Cup taking place next weekend prior to the much anticipated 18in18 NZNBL women’s competition. There are 10 teams vying for the 3×3 title in the men’s competition, with the teams split into two pools of five sides, which will be held from November 12-14.

There are a number of differences with the 3×3 competition compared to a regular basketball match, including a court size of 15x11m and a maximum team size of four player. There are just 10 minutes per game with the first team to 21 announced the winner. The regular shot clock time of 24 seconds is also halved to 12.

The schedule sees each of the five teams play the other four teams in their pool once over November 12-13. From there, the two lowest finishers will face off against the team in the opposite group for fourth against fifth matches. The winners from there will progress to the quarter finals where the top three sides in each group will face off. The top placed teams will take on the winners from those fourth and fifth clashes, whilst second will take on third in their opposite groups. It is knockout from start to finish, with the teams advancing through until the two top teams play off in the grand final. That decider will be held at 10.11pm local time on November 14.

GROUPS:

Men’s Pool A:

Hawke’s Bay Hawks
Manawatu Jets
Otago Nuggets
Taranaki Mountainairs
Tasman Suns

Men’s Pool B:

Auckland Huskies
Canterbury Rams
Franklin Bulls
NZ Select
Southland Sharks

A number of familiar teams are competing in the shortened competition, with this year’s Sal’s NBL premiers Otago Nuggets in Pool A alongside their grand final opponents Manawatu Jets. Taranaki Mountainairs are the other side to have competed earlier this year that falls into Pool A, whilst Hawke’s Bay Hawks and Tasman Suns also join the party.

In Pool B, a special NZ Select side will help even the numbers at 10 teams, whilst Southland Sharks also return to the competition after not competing in the shortened NZNBL format this year. The three other sides are Auckland Huskies, Canterbury Rams and Franklin Bulls who will all be looking to add some silverware to their cabinets after missing out in the NZNBl season.

Southland Sharks would be one of the favourites for the title with some serious firepower including teaming up Hyrum Harris and the much-improved Dom Kelman-Poto. The pair will make it difficult for opposition teams given their size and range, whilst Alex Pledger showed he could impress in bursts during the NZNBL season, and Alonzo Burton rounds out the four.

Franklin Bulls are also a danger team with Mr Double Double himself, Marcel Jones returning to the club for the 3×3 tournament and is joined by a trio of Bulls’ teammates. Isaac Davison was the star of the competition in the early rounds of the NZNBL season, and can shoot from range with ease. Nikau McCullough is also a known three-point shooter, as Joel Vaigangina rounds out the list.

Hawke’s Bay Hawks cannot be discounted with Derone Raukawa leading the charge after a mammoth NZNBL season. He can just about do anything, and he teams up with veteran Everard Bartlett, as well as Ethan Rubatsch and Taane Te Kira Samuel. Otago Nuggets will be keen to do the double and back up their NZNBL win with a 3×3 Cup victory, and they had a strong four. Sam Timmins is the big body close to the basket, whilst Josh Aitcheson, Kane Keil and Richie Rodger are all underrated scorers with plenty of talent.

Looking across the board, the Manawatu Jets will have the talents of Jayden Bezzant and Haize Walker, while the Taranaki Airs have gone with experience thanks to Aaron Bailey-Nowell and Tai Wynyard. Jordan Hunt is a crucial cog for Auckland Huskies this tournament, with Canterbury Rams sticking to what they know with Ben Carlile-Smith, Jack Exeter and Mason Whittaker all named in the side. NZ Select will have players to watch such as Samuel Aruwa, whilst the Tasman Suns welcome the talented Tom Ingham who will prove hard to stop.

TEAMS:

Auckland Huskies:

Jordan Hunt
Chris McIntosh
Sean Murphy
Dru-Leo Leosogi Ape

Canterbury Rams:

Mason Whittaker
Jack Exeter
Ben Carlisle-Smith
Ben Hall

Franklin Bulls:

Marcel Jones
Nikau McCullough
Isaac Davison
Joel Vaigangina

Hawke’s Bay Hawks:

Derone Raukawa
Ethan Rusbatch
Everard Bartlett
Taane Te Kira Samuel

Manawatu Jets:

Kalib Mullins
Jayden Bezzant
Haize Walker
Matangirei Hipango

NZ Select:

Dane Karel Brooks
Denhym Brooke
Pafe Momisea
Samuel Aruwa

Otago Nuggets:

Sam Timmins
Kane Keil
Josh Aitcheson
Richard Rodger

Southland Sharks:

Hyrum Harris
Dom Kelman-Poto
Alonzo Burton
Alex Pledger

Taranaki Mountainairs:

Aaron Bailey-Nowell
Karl Noyer
Tai Wynyard
Thomas Allan

Tasman Suns:

Sam Dempster
Tom Ingham
Tysxun Aiolupotea
Bronson Beri

2020 Sal’s NBL review: Otago Nuggets

OTAGO NUGGETS are next up in our team-by-team review series of the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) Showdown. The Nuggets had a season to remember returning to the competition, finishing on top of the table at the end of the 14-game regular season and then going all the way to premiership glory. We take a look at their season.

Played: 17
Won: 12
Lost: 5

KEY STATS:

Points: 92.6 (3rd)
Rebounds: 40.6 (6th)
Assists: 20.2 (1st)
Steals: 9.2 (2nd)
Blocks: 3.0 (4th)
FG%: 47.4 (2nd)

BEST WIN: defeated Manawatu Jets by 2 points

What else could it be? The match that guaranteed Otago Nuggets premiership glory. It was far from a straightforward win though despite beating the Jets on the previous four occasions. In the tightest match between the teams, fitting for a grand final, the Nuggets had to fight back from a four-point deficit at half-time to cut it to three by the final break and run over the top of their opponents thanks to a 27-22 final term to win, 79-77. Jordan Hunt topscored with 21 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals, as five players recorded six or more rebounds. Josh Aitcheson (16 points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocks), Kane Keil (15 points, seven rebounds, three assists and one block), Jordan Ngatai (11 points, six rebounds, four assists and two blocks) and Jarrod Kenny (six points, seven rebounds, eight assists and two steals) were phenomenal on a memorable night for the organisation.

WORST LOSS: lost to Auckland Huskies by 12 points

While the final day of the regular season was by far the worst loss in terms of points, considering the obvious man management factor and that top spot was secured, you have to wind back to when the Nuggets went down to the Huskies on July 7 in a 12-point defeat. Trailing at every break and losing each quarter – albeit by no more than five points, it was just one of those games where the opposition team was better on the night. The usually accurate Nuggets were simply terrible from the field, shooting at just 32.4 per cent, including Kenny (30 per cent), Ngatai (22.7) and Richie Rodger (22.2). Meanwhile the Huskies were led by Taine Murray (19 points, five rebounds and three assists), Tohi Smith-Milner (17 points, 10 rebounds), Izayah Mauriohooho Le’afa (12 points, six rebounds, three assists and six steals) and Leon Henry (11 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and two steals) on a big night for them.

TOP PLAYERS:

Jordan Hunt 19.6 points, 6.1 rebounds 0.9 assists, 1.0 steals
Jordan Ngatai 18.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.5 steals
Kane Keil 11.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.0 steals
Jarrod Kenny 11.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.4 steals
Josh Aitcheson 10.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.3 steals

WHAT WENT RIGHT?

Everything if you look back in hindsight. That is not to say they did not have their challenges, but in terms of their list, they predominantly had their best team out on the court each night, they followed team structures and just did all the team things perfectly. From the start to finish of the season, they were consistently in the top few teams and deserved the title by season’s end. While not many top teams end up following through after winning the minor premiership, the Nuggets did just that, and can celebrate their first ever franchise title.

WHAT WENT WRONG?

In the counter opposite to the above, nothing that could be considered serious enough to derail a season. They can look back and be proud of their year, because aside from the odd hiccup here or there in terms of losses, they legitimately were one of the contenders all season.

SUMMARY

Otago Nuggets were the premier team of the 2020 Sal’s NBL and were well coached by Brent Matehaere to lead his team to a memorable title. They had first pick in the Player Draft, and Ngatai paid them back in spades, with their second choice who slid in Kenny, also paying dividends. What a year to remember for the Nuggets.

2020 Sal’s NBL review: Manawatu Jets

MANAWATU JETS are next up in our team-by-team review series of the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) Showdown. The Jets finished second on the ladder and backed up their regular season with an impressive finals series to reach the decider and only agonisingly fall short of glory. We take a look at their season.

Played: 17
Won: 9
Lost: 8

KEY STATS:

Points: 94.6 (2nd)
Rebounds: 43.3 (4th)
Assists: 18.2 (3rd)
Steals: 8.7 (4th)
Blocks: 2.5 (6th)
FG%: 45.3 (3rd)

BEST WIN: defeated Taranaki Mountainairs by 10 points

There were plenty more wins that might have been better in terms of quality difference, but the win against the Airs was one that would have been relieving for the side that lost the last three games heading into the do-or-die semi-finals clash. A topsy-turvy contest, the Jets led by 11 points at quarter time, but found themselves trailing by three at the final break, before steadying with a dominant 38-25 final term to win 105-95. Tom Vodanovich stepped up to record 28 points, seven rebounds and an assist, with Taane Samuel’s 23 points, five rebounds and four assists also impressive. Hyrum Harris did his thing in a clear standout performance of the night though, almost picking up an unheard of quadruple double thanks to 17 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and seven steals. Jayden Bezzant (17 points, five assists and three steals) and Ashton McQueen (11 points, three rebounds and four assists) were also busy.

WORST LOSS: lost to Otago Nuggets by 2 points

There was only one it could be, and it was not for lack of effort nor intensity, but rather the stakes and knowing they came so close to taking home the 2020 Sal’s NBL title. Entering the grand final against Otago Nuggets, the Jets were 0-4 so not many expected them to change that, but they showed up on the night, turning it on from early to lead by two and four points at the first couple of breaks. The Nuggets stayed with them and cut the deficit to three by the final change, then the ladder leaders finished stronger with a 27-22 final term to win 79-77. Jordan Hunt (21 points, seven rebounds), Josh Aitcheson (16 points, six rebounds), Kane Keil (15 points, seven rebounds) and Jordan Ngatai (11 points, six rebounds) helped the Nuggets dominate off the boards, as Vodanovich (24 points, 10 rebounds and four steals) and Harris (19 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three steals) did all they could to sway the momentum.

TOP PLAYERS:

Tom Vodanovich 22.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.1 steals
Taane Samuel 17.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 0.7 steals
Jayden Bezzant 17.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.9 steals
Hyrum Harris 14.9 points, 11.6 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 2.7 steals
Nelson Kirksey 11.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.3 steals

WHAT WENT RIGHT?

The Jets put themselves in a title-winning position with a fairly consistent season, always being thereabouts. They had the point-scoring and rebounding machine in Vodanovich who won the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, as well as Harris who was the only player to pick up a triple double in the competition. The late inclusion of Kirksey was a good one, and they almost went all the way to the title, but could not quite get there.

WHAT WENT WRONG?

Realistically, they just could not beat the Nuggets. While they were strong against all the other sides, no matter the lineups, the Nuggets had them when it counted. Five matches, five losses, and it was arguably the one side the Jets did not want to face in the final. They got close and almost upset them, but were pipped at the post.

SUMMARY

Manawatu Jets can be proud of their efforts in 2020, especially considering they have struggled in recent years. They drafted well, used the combinations effectively, and the key will be whether they can keep these combinations together in future years when the other teams return. If they can, then watch out, but the Jets have some quality coming through for the future years as well.