Tag: josh selby

2021 NZNBL team review: Franklin Bulls

IN the wake of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) coming to a close over the weekend, Draft Central will run through each of the 10 competing sides to look at the key stats and players of the 2021 season. The series continues with Franklin Bulls.


Position: 8th
Wins: 5
Losses: 13


Points: 83.6 (7th)
Rebounds: 35.9 (7th)
Assists: 14.3 (8th)
Steals: 7.0 (8th)
Blocks: 3.1 (3rd)
Field Goal %: 42.2 (10th)


Denhym Brooke

The only player in the side to start in every single match of the season, Brooke averaged the 11.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 1.4 assists and 1.3 steals. With the team fluctuating greatly due to injury, Brooke was one of the few that the Bulls could rely upon each day, able to deliver from inside and outside the arc. Though his shooting percentage was lower than some with 32 per cent from three-point range and 40.7 per cent overall, he was still able to contribute in a multitude of ways. He was the glue that held the team together when they lost both Zane Waterman and Josh Selby midway through the season.

Aside from a 16-point opener, Brooke had a quiet start to the season, with single-digit points in the next six games. Once the damaging duo left, Brooke had to step up and he hit two games of 17 points, and then a season-high 23 points in a clash against Manawatu Jets. He had just the three more double-digit point scoring efforts, but did pick up an impressive double-double against Taranaki Mountainairs on July 3 with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Overall, Brooke was someone the Airs could count on to be there and play a role.

Isaac Davidson

Playing the other half of the season to Selby and Waterman, Davidson returned from his ANBL commitments to play nine games and have an impact straight away. He averaged a team-high 13.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists in that time to be the dominant player for the Bulls. After bursting onto the scene in 2020, Davidson showed his potential once again, even if he was a little rusty with his shooting. Finding himself under more pressure this season, Davidson shot at 27 per cent from outside the arc and 39.7 per cent overall, which was indicative of his entire team’s shooting efforts.

After a slow start to the season returning from the ANBL – Davidson averaged just eight points per game across his first four outings, but still just over six rebounds per match. Once he hit his straps, the final five games yielded a much higher 17.8 points and 6.4 rebounds, shooting at a much more consistent rate. Whilst it was not enough to consistently see wins ticking over for the Bulls, Davidson did what he could for his side each night.


Selby (24.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.9 steals) was in MVP contention before he left, with Waterman (21.4 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.0 blocks) not far behind. Kyrin Galloway joined Davidson late in the season, to average an impressive 16 points and 12 rebounds from seven games and be the star talent also returning from the ANBL.


Franklin Bulls started brightly with some standout performers, but once Selby and Waterman were ruled out, they struggled. The return of Davidson with Galloway provided a bit of a spark, but ultimately it was too little, too late, and the final game – a 60-point shellacking at the hands of Wellington Saints – ended their year in the worst possible way.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

2021 NZNBL Round 8 preview: Top three clash among mid-table battles to open weekend of action

IT is getting towards the pointy end of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) season, and there is plenty on the line in Round 8 of the competition. Some mid-table clashes, a top three battle and some last chances for lower sides in a weekend that is sure to promise plenty of excitement.

Thursday, June 17 @ 7:30pm
Eventfinda Stadium

A mid-table clash between two sides with five wins takes place tonight in a standalone clash in Auckland. The Auckland Huskies (5-6) are hosting the Canterbury Rams (5-5), in what is literally a ladder-defining clash. It will be the Huskies’ only Round 8 outing this weekend, with the Rams suiting up again on Sunday evening to take on the Taranaki Mountainairs. At home the Huskies are an even 3-3 while the Rams have not been that great on the road, recording a 1-3 record to-date. Chris Johnson (21.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 blocks) has been the standout player for the Huskies, but now Tom Vodanovich is back from ANBL duties, putting up 22 points, five rebounds and two assists coming off the bench last match. The Rams American duo of EJ Singler (166 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.1 steals) and Deshon Taylor (22.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.8 steals) can do it all.

Friday, June 18 @ 7:30pm
Trafalgar Centre

Next up in one of two Friday night clashes is another mid-table showdown between the fourth placed Otago Nuggets (6-5) and sixth placed Nelson Giants (5-6). Much like the previous match, it is certainly a ladder-defining match with the reigning premier Nuggets able to create some separation on the mid-table logjam, whilst the Giants can keep in touch with those top sides by bringing home the points. At home the Nuggets are 2-3, whilst the Giants are 2-4 on the road. Nelson is playing its only game for Round 8, while Otago will host Franklin Bulls on Sunday. Sam Timmins is in ripping form this season, racking up a triple-double last week and now averaging 18.6 points, 12.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.3 steals. He has teamed up well with Isaiah Moss (18.9 points, 5.5 rebounds) and Geremy McKay (12.5 points, 6.1 rebounds) this season for the Nuggets. Speaking of red hot form, Hunter Hale continues to shoot the lights out with an average of 27.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.7 steals. Donte Ingram (18.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.7 steals) has been the other key scorer for Nelson.

Friday, June 18 @ 7:30pm
Pettigrew Green Arena

The match of the round is likely to be between two top three sides as the Hawkes Bay Hawks (7-3) host the Wellington Saints (8-1). The third placed Hawks are yet to lose at home, and have strung together three straight wins to be sitting comfortably, while Wellington Saints have won their past two since dropping their first game to Southland Sharks a couple of weeks again. Wellington has only hit the road three times for a 2-1 record, but have proven hard to beat this season. Dion Prewster (21.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.7 steals), Kerwin Roach Jr (17.3 points. 6.7 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.9 steals), Tohi Smith-Milner (11.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 steals) and Taane Samuel (14.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists) have all been outstanding and contributed to the Saints’ phenomenal season. The Hawks have had their huge depth for support as well, with Ethan Rusbatch (20.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.3 steals), Devondrick Walker (17.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.7 steals), Hyrum Harris (13.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.4 steals) and Jonathan Janssen (13.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks) set to lock horns with those Saints talents.

Saturday, June 19 @ 7:30pm
ILT Stadium

Tipping off the weekend for one of two Saturday night clashes, the Southland Sharks (9-3) host the Franklin Bulls (4-7). After looking in serious trouble the past couple of weeks due to the injury toll starting to mount, the Bulls finally broke through for a win last start, and will be hoping to back that up with consecutive victories. They are 2-3 when on the road in season 2021, whilst the Sharks are yet to lose at home from four games and are on a seven-game hot streak since losing three consecutive games what seems an eternity ago. Dom Kelman-Poto has been outstanding with 17.8 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game, while Courtney Belger (13.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.8 steals) and Josh Cunningham (11.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists) have also been impressive. For the Bulls, injuries to Josh Selby and Zane Waterman have really hurt them in particular, as the two key scorers have been replaced by Kyrin Galloway (23.5 points, 14.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.5 blocks) in the past two games, and Manel Ayol (19 points, 11 rebounds and three assists) last match, with Denhym Brooke (11.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks) one of the few key features all season.

Saturday, June 19 @ 7:30pm
TSB Bank Arena

Bottom of the table Taranaki Mountainairs have a mammoth task when entering Round 8, having to topple the second placed Wellington Saints on the road. The Airs (1-9) have sunk to six consecutive losses, and are yet to win away (0-4), whilst the Saints have a perfect 6-0 record when at home. The main hope for the Airs will be the fatigue for the Saints having played the night before. Marcel Jones has been the shining light this season, averaging 23.0 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks, whilst Carlin Davison (8.0 points. 4.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.3 steals) has impacted off the bench, and Haize Walker (9.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists) steadfast in all 10 matches.

Sunday, June 20 @ 3:00pm
Fly Palmy Arena

The third placed Hawks come in for their second game of the round, as the last match featuring a team playing its first game in the Manawatu Jets. Hosting the Hawks at Fly Palmy Arena, the ninth placed Jets must win to keep their finals hopes alive, sitting near the bottom with a 3-8 record, and only 2-2 at home. The Hawks are 2-3 on the road, which could give the Jets confidence of causing an upset. The American trio of Daishon Knight (23.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.9 steals), DeAndre Daniels (16.7 points. 9.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks) and Shane Temara (15.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists) have all been superb despite the Jets’ disappointing season thus far.

Sunday, June 20 @ 5:00pm
Edgar Centre

Sunday, June 20 @ 5:00pm
Cowles Stadium


Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Jets destroy Bulls as Hawks grab narrow Huskies win

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


Sunday, June 6 @ 3:00pm
Pettigrew Green Arena

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

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

Saints and Hawks continue unbeaten runs as Giants win first of three matches

WELLINGTON Saints and Hawkes Bay Hawks remained undefeated, and Nelson Giants won their first of three Round 4 matches in a blockbuster night of action in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) last night. The trio of clashes provided plenty of individual highlights and high-scoring efforts, with the Saints defeating Franklin Bulls by 29 points, Giants knocking off Canterbury Rams by 12, and the Hawks winning in a nail-biter against Taranaki Mountainairs by three points.

In the Saints’ win over the Bulls, Wellington always looked in control and showed why they are the team to beat this season, winning every quarter by at least four points. The home team created some great separation in the first half to race out to a 55-38 lead. Whilst the Bulls managed to keep it closer in the second half, the Saints again poured on back-to-back quarters of 28 points to race past the hundred point mark and win 111-82.

Kerwin Roach Jr had a match-high 22 points and nine rebounds, as well as five assists and three steals in the win, shooting four of 10 from beyond the arc. Dion Prewster (13 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals) did not have the same success from long-range with none from four attempts, though still contributed strongly. Tohi Smith-Milner (14 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists) and Taane Samuel (12 points, six rebounds, three assists) were both impressive, whilst Romaro Gill (17 points, six rebounds and two steals) and Isaac Miller-Jose (10 points, five rebounds, and two assists) averaged a point a minute coming off the bench.

Josh Selby led the way with 16 points and four assists for the Bulls, sharing the team-high points with Dane Brooks (16 points, two rebounds, three steals and two blocks). Jaylen Gerrand (12 points, two assists) and Jett Thompson (10 points) both reached double-figure points, as Zane Waterman had a quiet night by his standards with shooting (seven points) but still managed the team-high six rebounds and five assists in the loss.

In a much tighter contest, Hawkes Bay Hawks ground out a three-point win against a fast-finishing Taranaki Mountainairs. The Hawks led by five points at quarter time and raced out to a 14-point lead by the main break, looking well on their way to maintaining their unbeaten streak. The Airs refused to give in however, piling on 51 points to 40 in the second half to come close, but fall short, with a Marcel Jones triple attempt for a bid to level the scores in the last few seconds missing and consolidating the Hawks’ victory.

Ethan Rusbatch dominated for the Hawks, knocking down 33 points – including a whopping seven of 14 from three-point range – and five rebounds, whilst Jonathan Janssen picked up a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds. Derone Raukawa (10 points, seven assists) reached double-figure points, while Hyrum Harris (eight points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals) did it all, and Everard Bartlett finished with seven points, four assists and three rebounds.

Francis Mulvihill (14 points) and Tai Wynyard (13 points, five rebounds and three steals) contributed to the Airs’ cause, but it was another dominant performance from Jones that kept them in the contest. Mr Double Double piled on 30 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and three blocks in another big performance. Haize Walker managed the five points and six assists, while Aaron Bailey-Nowell contributed nine points and two rebounds off the bench.

Meanwhile Nelson Giants grabbed their second win of the season and first of a heavy schedule this round, defeating the Rams after a strong second term. The Giants only lead by one point at quarter time, but then piled on 30-16 in the second quarter to race out to a 15-point advantage at the half. That lead increased to 17 at the final break, before the Rams made inroads in the final term to reduce it to 12, but it was a case of too little, too late, going down 91-79.

Hunter Hale dropped 37 points, six rebounds, six steals and four assists in a remarkable effort to drag his side to victory. Donte Ingram (19 points, eight rebounds and four assists) and Thomas Ingham (15 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals) also impressed, whilst Sam Dempster (five points nine rebounds and two assists) was dominant off the boards. Nic Trathen contributed seven points off the bench.

Deshon Taylor was the top scorer for the Rams with 19 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals, well supported by a dominant double-double effort from EJ Singler (18 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and two steals). Alex Talma had the 14 points, eight rebounds and two steals off the bench, as Sam Smith (seven points, three assists) and Ben Constable (six points, four rebounds) also contributed on the 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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