Tag: manawatu jets

Rams deflate Airs early as Saints produce record-breaking third term

TWO separate stunning single quarter efforts from Canterbury Rams and Wellington Saints proved to be the difference in their respective New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) clashes overnight. The Rams deflated the Taranaki Mountainairs in the opening term with a 37-point quarter to all but suck the life out of the contest on the road on their way to an 18-point win, whilst the Saints blew the Manawatu Jets away in the third quarter with a dominant 43-point term to win by 23 points.

Canterbury Rams powered to an 18-point advantage at quarter time courtesy of a stunning 37-point first term, which ultimately proved the difference between the sides. The Rams pushed it out to 20 points at the half, and whilst the Airs did win the third term, the visitors settled in the last to run out 103-85 winners, not losing control of the lead from the midpoint of the first term, and almost getting out to a 30-point advantage.

The Rams shot at an impressive 55 per cent from the field, ahead of the Airs’ 47 per cent, shooting a massive 12 triples from 26 attempts, as the home team struggled from long-range, converting just three of 19. Taranaki also won the assists (23-18) and steals (17-13) in a high turnover game as the teams combined for 53 turnovers (27-26 towards the Rams). The Rams had 28 points from turnovers compared to the Airs’ 25, whilst also winning the bench points (22-18). Taranaki won the rebounds (36-33), blocks (4-2), points in the paint (56-42) and second chance points (17-8).

EJ Singler produced arguably the best performances of the season for the Rams, not missing a single shot from 16 field goals attempts for a massive 41 points – six triples – as well as nine assists, seven rebounds, three steals and no turnovers in a stunning effort. Deshon Taylor (20 points, five rebounds and five steals) chipped in, but by contrast had 10 turnovers. Alex Talma (12 points, five rebounds) and Mason Whittaker (10 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals) also hit double-figure points.

For the Airs, Tai Wynyard topped the scoring with 16 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals, while Marcel Jones notched up another double-double of 15 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and three steals. Haize Walker (13 points, three rebounds), Carlin Davison (12 points, five rebounds and two assists), Francis Mulvihill (11 points, three steals and two assists) and Dru-Leo Leusogi-Ape (11 points, three rebounds and three steals) all had double-figure points.

In the other match, the impressive Wellington Saints were well matched by the plucky Manawatu Jets for a half, before putting the foot down in the third term. Leading by just four points at half-time, the Saints stepped up the intensity for a stunning 43 points to 13 in the third term to blow it out to a game-high 34-point final break lead. The Jets to their credit did reel it in a little with a 30-19 term, but despite their strong finish could not cut the deficit back enough and the Saints won, 100-77.

The Saints were deadly from three-point range which was the difference, shooting at 41 per cent – 18 of 43 – to the Jets’ 28 per cent – eight of 28 – for a total efficiency of 47 to 45 per cent. They also lead the rebounds (45-32), assists (21-9), second chance points (16-14) and points from turnovers (19-13), and had three less turnovers (10-13). Manawatu won the steals (6-5), blocks (4-1) and bench points (32-23) and were at least impressive from inside the arc (20 of 34 for a 58 per cent efficiency).

Tohi Smith-Milner won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award for the night with 21 points – four of seven from long-range – nine rebounds and two assists. Kerwin Roach Jr also picked up a double-double of 14 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Dion Prewster (16 points, eight assists and six assists), Ken Tuffin (15 points, two assists) and Taane Samuel (11 points, eight rebounds) also stood out in a really strong starting five performance for the Saints.

Daishon Knight was the clear best for the Jets, putting up 25 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals in an all-round effort. Deandre Daniels hit 14 points, five rebounds and two assists, whilst coming off the bench, Nikau McCullough produced four of 10 from long-range for 16 points from 22 minutes, as well as four rebounds. Kalib Marsich-Mullins (10 points, two rebounds) also held his own in 20 minutes on court.

Canterbury Rams have a Thursday night road trip in a few days up against Auckland Huskies, whilst Wellington Saints take on Hawkes Bay Hawks on Friday night. In other matches, Taranaki Mountainairs then face the Saints on Saturday, before Manawatu Jets front up against the Hawks on Sunday.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Sharks circle late to grab win against Jets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sharks make it four consecutive wins as Rams punish Hawks late

SOUTHLAND Sharks and Canterbury Rams came away the winners in last night’s New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) contests, holding off Manawatu Jets and Hawkes Bay Hawks respectively to post victories. In what were relatively even contests, the Rams came from behind at the final break to overcome the Hawks, while the Sharks took control early and maintained that advantage in the second half to win by 12 points.

In the Rams-Hawks game, it was Canterbury that burst out of the blocks with a 27-17 first term to open up a double-digit advantage at quarter time. The Hawks started clawing their way back into the contest by cutting the deficit back to eight at the main break, before a dominant third stanza of 23-13 swung the momentum in their favour. With the lead now two points to the visiting team, the Rams needed something special, and they pulled it out with a 25-15 final term to run out 87-79 winners.

While the Hawks were more efficient from their shooting (41 to 38 per cent from the field and particularly 54 to 43 per cent from inside the arc), the Rams lead most key statistics. Canterbury finished ahead in the rebounds (51-41), steals (9-5), points in the paint (42-30) and bench points (22-9), with less turnovers (12-18) leading to more points from turnovers (20-14). The Hawks won the assists (19-15) and were the only team to produce any blocks (8-0).

Deshon Taylor was outstanding with 33 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and two steals in a double-double performance for the Rams. EJ Singler had 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals, while Quintin Bailey (10 points, seven rebounds) and Ben Constable (10 points, six rebounds) were also busy.

For the Hawks it was a triple threat of Ethan Rusbatsch (23 points, three rebounds and two assists), Devondrick Walker (18 points, five rebounds and two assists) and Rhys Vague (14 points, eight rebounds and three assists), while Jonathan Janssen (nine points, nine rebounds and five blocks) was prolific off the bench in the defeat.

Southland Sharks won three of the four quarters against Manawatu Jets to post a 12-point victory over their opponents at the Fly Palmy Central Energy Trust Arena. The Sharks got out to a two-point quarter time lead and extended that to nine by half-time, before the Jets managed to cut it back by one to remain in the contest at the last change. Southland steadied in the final term to post 26-22 and record a 100-88 victory.

The Sharks were deadly from long-range with a 45 per cent to 28 per cent shooting efficiency outside the arc, for an overall 48 to 46 per cent from the field. They led the steals (7-5) and second chance points (16-11), with less turnovers (8-14) allowing them to have more points from turnovers (18-10). The Jets had more rebounds (43-37), assists (16-12) and blocks (3-0).

Alonzo Burton put up 27 points, four rebounds and two steals for the winners, shooting six of 11 from long-ranger in the process. Dom Kelman-Poto (14 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals), Courtney Belger (15 points, seven rebounds and five assists) and Brayden Inger (19 points, three assists were all lively.

Daishon Knight picked up a team-high 22 points, as well as three assists and two rebounds for the Jets, while Deandre Daniels was the star with a double-double of 19 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Shane Temara (20 points, eight rebounds and three assists) was not too far behind, while Jayden Bezzant managed the 18 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals.

The Manawatu Jets are the first of the four sides to play again with a huge clash on June 3, with the Southland Sharks hosting Wellington Saints, and Hawkes Bay Hawks taking on Franklin Bulls on June 4. A day later, the Canterbury Rams host the Saints in a huge clash for the Rams.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Jets break winless drought as Sharks take care of Giants

MANAWATU Jets are on the board in the 2021 New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) season after downing Taranaki Mountainairs by eight points, while Southland Sharks took advantage of a weary Nelson Giants outfit to post a nine-point victory in the other game last night. In two exciting contests, both results were determined in very different ways, with the Jets storming home in the last term, whilst the Sharks held on despite a dominant final quarter from the Giants.

The Jets lead at quarter time by four points over the Airs, before Taranaki hit back with a dominant 29-19 second term to grab the advantage by six points at the main break. Manawatu clawed its way back to a four-point deficit at the final break, before a 19-7 final term resulted in the Jets’ defence standing up and helping the home fans leave pleased with a 85-77 victory.

The Jets shot at a 50 per cent clip from the field compared to the Airs’ 45 per cent, though the visitors lead the rebounds (40-32), assists (14-12) and second chance points (12-7). Manawatu took control in the paint (42-34 points), as well as points from turnovers (21-10) despite just the one less turnover. They also marginally won the steals (11-9) and blocks (3-2) in the process.

Daishon Knight top-scored with 20 points, four assists and three rebounds, as Deandre Daniels managed the 16 points, six rebounds, two steals and two blocks. All eyes were on developing talent Jake McKinlay however, as the 20-year-old knocked down 15 points – three of six from long-range – and picked up a whopping seven steals, seven rebounds and two assists in the process. Jayden Bezzant (11 points, four rebounds) and Nikau McCullough (nine points, four rebounds and two assists) were the other scorers for the Jets.

Marcel Jones had a typical double-double game of 23 points – including three of eight from long-range – and 15 rebounds, as well as two assists and two steals. Tai Wynyard (14 points, 10 rebounds) had a double-double of his own, while Haize Walker managed the 16 points- 12 of which came from three-point range with four of seven attempts – as well as four assists and two steals. Off the bench, Carlin Davison (seven points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals) was the most prominent of the Airs players.

Southland Sharks did all their best work in the first three quarters, taking control of play particularly in the middle two quarters to set up the nine-point win over Nelson Giants. The Sharks lead by two points at quarter time, but a 30-20 second term blew that lead right out to 12 by half-time. Another dominant showing of 29-18 in the third stanza meant the difference was an unassailable 23-point advantage, before the Giants hit back with a 28-14 final term to add some consolation points and cut the final deficit to nine, 101-92.

The Sharks were the more accurate shooters from teh field, primarily 54 per cent from two-point range compared to the Giants’ 43 per cent. The stats were almost identical across the board, with the Sharks having one more rebound (38-37), and the Giants having one more steal (9-8) and block (4-3), whilst the assists were tied at 21-apiece. It was in the paint where the Sharks took control, scoring 44 points to 22, the ultimate difference in the game. The Giants scored almost half of their points off the bench with 45-13 thanks to rotations.

Brayden Inger put on a show for the Sharks, shooting six of 11 from three-point range on his way to 27 points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Dom Kelman-Poto (22 points, eight rebounds and four assists) and Courtney Belger (19 points, nine assists and four steals) also racked up the numbers in a big way. Alonzo Burton helped himself to the 14 points, five rebounds and three assists, while Josh Cunningham (six points, five rebounds) and Sione Helu (seven points, three rebounds) were also busy.

For the Giants, Hunter Hale had 18 points, three assists and two rebounds, sharing the starters load with Donte Ingram (15 points, three rebounds and two assists). The bulk of the scoring off the bench came from Nic Trathen (17 points – five of 11 from long-range – and six rebounds) and Bronson Beri (16 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals).

In the upcoming matches, Nelson Giants host Hawkes Bay Hawks and Taranaki Mountainairs lock horns with Southland Sharks both on Saturday, while the Manawatu Jets host the Sharks on Sunday evening.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Saints reign supreme again, while Nuggets win grand final rematch in overtime

WELLINGTON Saints remained the benchmark team of the competition last night with a 26-point victory over Nelson Giants at TSB Bank Arena last night, whilst over at the Fly Palmy Central Energy Trust Arena, Otago Nuggets needed overtime to take home the points against a plucky Manawatu Jets outfit in the grand final rematch.

In the thrilling overtime victory, Otago Nuggets raced out to an early lead against the winless Jets, posting a 23-19 first term and 21-16 second quarter to lead by nine points at half-time. The second half was a reverse of the first, as the Jets started to build momentum to win the third term 26-21 and the final quarter 19-15 to be level by the final buzzer. In fact, if it was not for a buzzer-beater from the Nuggets’ Isaiah Moss at the end of the fourth quarter, then the Jets would have taken home the win.

With 3:37 left in the last quarter, the Jets – courtesy of a Daishon Knight triple – led by seven points, 80-73. What the Nuggets pulled off over the next three and a half minutes was remarkable, as the Jets could not hit a shot, and the Nuggets, through Moss, Sam Timmins and Gerasimos McKay levelled the score out of nowhere to force the game into overtime. The momentum carried into the extra period, with nine of the first 12 points going the way of the visitors, making it 16 of the last 19 points up until the final 90 seconds. From there, the Nuggets answered each Jets basket, and got the win, 92-85.

Otago Nuggets had the higher overall field goal percentage with 46 per cent from the field, though the bulk of their shots came from inside the arc (57 to 44 per cent), whilst the Jets’ success came from beyond it (33 to 23 per cent). The Nuggets won the rebounds (51-47), blocks (4-3), points in the paint (64-36) and second chance points (10-7), really taking control inside. The Jets had six less personal fouls (13-19) and were better with ball-in-hand thanks to 15 assists to 12 and eight steals to five.

Timmins was absolutely ridiculous with 29 points and 25 rebounds – 20 defensive – to really stand up in the crunch moments, collecting three assists and two blocks as well. Moss had the 19 points and 10 rebounds in another double-double effort, whilst McKay (10 points, five rebounds and three assists) and Richie Rodger (16 points, two rebounds) both made double-figure points.

For the Jets, Deandre Daniels had an impressive double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds, whilst Shane Temara had the 12 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks in an all-round effort. Three-point machine Nikau McCulloch hit five of eight from long-range for 15 of his 19 total points to come from that region. Knight (18 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals) also put up a big total, and Jake McKinlay (six points, nine rebounds, three steals and two assists) was influential off the boards.

In the more one-sided contest, it took a half to separate the sides, but when the game broke open, Wellington Saints were unstoppable. The teams went into the first two breaks unable to be split, with the Saints and Nelson Giants both scoring 19 and 20 points in those respective terms to be 39-apiece at half-time. After that though, it was all the Saints, piling on 56-30 in a complete domination, scoring 34 points in the third term to almost equal their first half score in half the time, for the 95-69 victory.

The Saints had a far greater efficiency from the field (51 to 35 per cent, and nailed 13 triples to the Giants’ eight, whilst easily winning the rebound (46-32), assist (20-10) and block (8-1) counts. They took control in the paint with 38 points to 30, and whilst the Giants had more second chance points (11-7), the Saints had more points from turnovers (21-18) and off their bench (27-15).

Taane Samuel scored the most points in the Saints’ win, picking up 24 (eight from 10 from the field including five of seven from long-range), four rebounds and three assists. Dion Prewster (14 points, four assists and three rebounds), Kerwin Roach Jr (12 points, nine rebounds, six assists and four steals) and Tohi Smith-Milner (10 points, nine rebounds, five assists and five blocks) were everywhere for the top of the table side. Ken Tuffin (seven points, 10 rebounds and three steals) was the most influential off the bench.

For the Giants, Hunter Hale racked up 26 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assts, while Donte Ingram (14 points, three rebounds) also contributed to the cause. Coming off the bench, Nic Trathen had the 11 points, while Thomas Ingham (six points, three rebounds and two assists) was also solid despite the loss. Sam Dempster only had the two points, but picked up a team-high nine rebounds, as well as two steals in defeat.

Both the Nelson Giants and Otago Nuggets have a quick turnaround with matches tonight, as the Giants travel to face the Hawkes Bay Hawks, while the Nuggets also hit the road in order to clash with Taranaki Mountainairs. The Wellington Saints host Franklin Bulls on May 20, whilst the Manawatu Jets have an extended break until May 23 where they host the Taranaki Mountainairs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

NBL21 season previews: Sydney Kings

ARGUABLY the best performing side during the 2019/20 regular season, the Sydney Kings have perhaps the biggest level of motivation going into NBL21, despite not finding championship glory in last year’s Grand Final series.

Finishing a game above the eventual reigning champion Perth Wildcats after 28 regular season outings and a record of 20 wins and eight losses, many had the Kings as heavy-handed favourites given their form heading into finals. Unfortunately, this was not the case for former gaffer Will Weaver’s playing list. Later on, some key departures during the Free Agency period have made Sydney’s plans to work their way back to the top-four slightly more difficult.

With Australian basketball legend Andrew Bogut announcing his retirement recently, the Kings will be without a key component in the frontcourt and on the defensive end. Furthermore, the omission of Kevin Lisch from this season’s roster will also mean a major hit to the team’s leadership structure, but not necessarily for the worse, as many more returning players will look to step it up into more prominent roles.

Key pickups for Sydney in the offseason domestically came by way of two up and coming prospects ready to hit the ground running. 23-year-old Dejan Vasiljevic has made his return back home to Australia after a successful collegiate career at the University of Miami, while 22-year-old Angus Glover has made a less sizeable move from Illawarra to the big city.

In what will be his fifth season in the NBL and his second campaign in Sydney, Casper Ware returns as an import for last season’s runners-ups after leading the team in points (19.7 per game) and assists (3.7 per game) and being selected to the league’s All-NBL Second Team at the conclusion of the fixture in 2020. The second of the Kings’ two imports is Louisiana native Jarell Martin, a former member of the Memphis Grizzlies and the Orlando Magic (192 games and 40 starts) in the NBA.

Other internationals to arrive to Sydney this season include the returning Next Stars nominee Didi Louzada, who averaged a respectable 10.3 points per contest in NBL20 and contributed a substantial amount to last season’s outfit in his rookie year, and reigning NZNBL MVP and member of the Manawatu Jets, Thomas Vodanovich, who transfers from the New Zealand Breakers for his sophomore season in the Australian counterpart of New Zealand’s top league.

Familiar faces predominantly round out the remainder of new head coach Adam Forde’s side. Brad Newley prepares for his fifth season at the Kings, veteran Daniel Kickert arrives for his third fixture with the side and Shaun Bruce gets ready to undertake his seventh NBL season (second at Sydney). Additional individuals to return to the franchise such as Jordan Hunter, Craig Moller and Xavier Cooks will also wear the Purple and Gold in NBL21.

Harbouring an abundance of coaching experience, Forde certainly knows the formula to winning NBL titles after playing a pivotal role within the coaching staff during the Wildcats’ 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2019 championships. However, only time will tell if the squad he has assembled this time around holds that “special” combination of physical and mental talent.

2020 Sal’s NBL Top 20 Players: #1 – Tom Vodanovich (Manawatu Jets)

IN our newest countdown series wrapping up the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) Showdown, we look at our top 20 players that took to the court this year. While it was an incredibly difficult list to create, we have had a mix of pure domination, defensive efforts and eye-catchers to form this list.

#1 TOM VODANOVICH

Top spot on our Top 20 Sal’s NBL countdown of the best players of season 2020 had to go to the Most Valuable Player (MVP). Vodanovich was a deserving winner of the award, and while the likes of Derone Raukawa and Jordan Ngatai both had deserving claims, the Jets power forward was absolutely enormous throughout the year as he often had to stand up with teammates such as Hyrum Harris out injured. When push came to shove, Vodanovich was not afraid to make his presence felt, and he was a hard man to stop up either end, a key reason why the Jets went all the way to the grand final.

The knock on Vodanovich not winning the award was often because of his low assist and steal numbers compared to some of the other top players in the competition. But that means little in the scheme of things when you factor in his influence on games. He was third overall for points (22.4) and fourth for rebounds (10.2), one of only four players to average a double-double in season 2020 alongside Marcel Jones, Harris and Leon Henry. But it was not only his sheer volume of numbers on the offensive end – where he also picked up the fourth most offensive rebounds (2.2) and the only player in the top 10 for that stat who averaged more than 18 points per game.

One cannot speak about Vodanovich’s impact without reciting his ridiculous accuracy from the field. Of the top 20 point-scorers, Vodanovich was the most deadly from outside the arc (44.9 per cent), and the second most deadly from inside it (63.7 per cent), for a total field goal accuracy of 52.1 per cent (fourth of those shooters). While statistics can lie, and players who rarely put up shots pick up high percentages, this was not the case with Vodanovich. The Jets forward had the most three-point marks in the league with 4.1 per game. To put that in comparison, that is more than one per game higher than his nearest competitor, and only 11 players averaged two or more per game – he doubled that feat. He actually put up more three-pointers than two-pointers which is rarely thought of considering the high percentage plays.

In season 2020, Vodanovich only dipped below double-digit points twice, and below five rebounds twice. One of these happened in the same game against Auckland Huskies where Vodanovich was managed leading into finals with second spot locked on the ladder and played just 15:45 minutes. Of his best games? It is hard to go past his competition-record 43 points, as well as 11 rebounds, three assists and one steal, dropping 10 triples on the Bulls in a devastating night. The Huskies could sympathise with the Bulls because he did it in the second game of the season against Auckland, recording 10 of 16 from three-point range on his way to 38 points and three rebounds as well.

Vodanovich had nine games of 20-plus points making him clearly one of the most dominant shooters, and when factoring in him being the most accurate of the lot, the Jets big man was a well deserving winner of the MVP Award and top spot in our Top 20 Sal’s NBL countdown.

STATS:

Points: 22.4
Rebounds: 10.2
Assists: 2.1
Steals: 1.1
FG%: 52.1
2P%: 63.7
3P%: 44.9
FT%: 71.4
Minutes: 32.6