Tag: Marvin Williams-Dunn

Draft Central’s NZNBL Top 10 Moments: #6 – Auckland’s historic start against Nelson

THROUGHOUT the month and a half of basketball that we witnessed in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL), there were an abundance of impressive quarters. However, there is one that stands out unmistakably.

Auckland’s opening quarter against the Nelson Giants sits at the pinnacle of the season’s most productive and efficient periods, and as a result waltzes into number six on Draft Central’s Top 10 Moments.

For the full Match Report of the Huskies’ clash against the Giants– Click HERE

In their previous matchup, the Huskies held off a persistent Taranaki Mountainairs side and looked to carry momentum over into their next contest. Additionally, Auckland was also on the cusp of securing their third win in a row, which when coupled with a late charge to finish high in the postseason rankings, Kevin Braswell’s side had plenty of motivators before the opening tip-off on July 19.

As Joshua Leger won the tip, it marked the only time that the Giants would be ahead for the entirety of the game, as Dane Brooks turned the ball over, and Leon Henry threw the alley-oop to Tohi Smith-Milner for the first bucket of the game. Smith-Milner’s finish signified the start of arguably one of the best starts in NZNBL history.

Reuben Fitzgerald’s three kept the ball rolling as it were, while Smith-Milner and Henry continued to pile it on down low in the post. It was not until the fourth minute of the first quarter that a fourth player got on the scoreboard for Auckland, as Izayah Mauriohooho Le’afa converted on a fast-break layup for the Huskies’ seventh made field goal in as many attempts.

Fitzgerald kept his foot on the pedal, whereas Smith-Milner started to find his range, knocking down his first triple of the game thus extending his side’s lead to 12. Leading comfortably 21-9 before the midway point of the term, it was a temptation for the Huskies to start and rest on their laurels. But Auckland did the exact opposite, as the four-man combo of Henry, Fitzgerald, Le’afa and Smith-Milner would account for their team’s opening 34 points while successfully shooting 14 straight shots to begin the game.

A fifth scorer would eventually get their name on the scorecard, with Marvin Williams-Dunn knocking down the Huskies’ 15th straight. Whereas Le’afa and Fitzgerald capped off a flurry of six threes concluding an 18-3 run, leading the Giants 43-12. Fitzgerald’s second shot from deep marked Auckland’s seventeenth straight field goal to start the game.

Finally, with 80 seconds left, Nate Wilson’s three-point attempt would not find its target, ending the season’s most impressive shooting display, and one of the best starts to a single game in the League’s history. Nevertheless, the miss did not seem to sway the 19-year-old, as just 30 seconds later he dunked the ball with two hands to end proceedings in the first.

A lone miss by Anamata Haku brought the Huskies’ shooting average down to 90 per cent (18/20), but no one was too bothered, as Auckland went into the first intermission leading 45-12, essentially winning the game before the start of the second term had even begun.

In a slow paced remaining three quarters, Auckland would walk away with the 96-67 win as a result of the opening period and string together a nice three-game winning streak in the late portion of the season.

Despite their field goal percentage dropping down to 52 per cent by the final buzzer, the Huskies would shoot a productive 46 per cent from deep, nailing 13 triples compared to Nelson’s six.

While the majority of their points came in the first quarter, the combo of Le’afa, Henry, Fitzgerald and Smith-Milner made up most of their team’s total over four periods of play. For Smith-Milner, he led the way with 20 points off of 80 per cent shooting, meanwhile Fitzgerald followed up with 14 of his own. Le’afa proved himself as the squad’s facilitator, producing 12 points alongside six assists and four rebounds, as Henry accumulated a game-high seven rebounds next to 13 points.

Even though there were some mistakes in the second, third and fourth quarters during their clash against the Giants, the Huskies could not be faulted for a single thing in the first. Opening up the second term with a 33-point lead, Auckland never looked back and after witnessing such a dominant stretch of basketball, how could you not see this moment appear in Draft Central’s Top 10.

Huskies slide into third ahead of finals, outlast Jets

IN an extremely tight-knit rendezvous of two of the top four teams in the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) Showdown, the Auckland Huskies have held on just long enough to see off a tenacious Manawatu Jets side, to lock up third spot ahead of Finals Week.

The 93-82 win sets the Huskies up for a meeting with the winner of Tuesday’s elimination final between the Nelson Giants and the Canterbury Rams.

AUCKLAND HUSKIES 25 | 19 | 24 | 25 (93)
MANAWATU JETS 24 | 21 | 21 | 16 (82)

[ … FULL MATCH STATS … ]

Leading up to last night’s encounter, the Huskies had some writing on the game. A win would see them take on the winner of the first elimination final between the two bottom teams in the league, whereas a loss would see them face the Franklin Bulls, a team they only beat by four points last time out. So, it was safe to assume that Kevin Braswell’s side was looking for a victory against the second-seeded Jets.

Both teams made their shots count in the infant stages of the match, with each side seeing more than 60 per cent of their shots drop early on in the first half of the opening period, perfectly encapsulated by a beautiful turnaround fadeaway from Nelson Kirksey five minutes in. With both teams deadlocked through nine minutes of basketball at 20 points apiece, a pull-up three by Izayah Mauriohooho Le’afa would give Auckland the one-point lead at quarter-time, 25-24, also thanks to the Huskies’ five second chance points and Leon Henry’s seven.

Continuing into the second term, neither side could effectively pull away from the other in the quarter. However, a couple of buckets from guards Haize Walker and Jayden Bezzant helped squeeze out a momentary lead just before half-time. Succeeding this, another three from Le’afa tied up the joust with 90 seconds yet to be played, tying the game at 43. A lovely running floater by a crafty Ashton McQueen, put the Jets up two with less than a minute to go in the half, shortly before a lone Isaac Miller-Jose free-throw cut the difference by one, rounding out a seesawing affair through 20 minutes.

In total, 11 lead changes took place in the first half, and it did not look like the pattern of scoring would not change anytime soon. With little to separate the two teams at the halfway point, it was the efforts of Le’afa and Hyrum Harris leading the way for their respective teams. Le’afa’s 15 points and three assists, shone through with a couple of triples, as Harris was putting in work early, stacking up the stat sheet with 11 points, seven rebounds and four steals.

Two quick buckets got the Huskies up and running, as they kicked off the second half with a 12-4 run and therefore putting themselves in the driver’s seat with 16 minutes to play. Each side struggled profusely to be accurate from three-point range and because of this, the contest would be a grind. Both sides had to fight for tooth and nail to get even a decent look at the rim, forcing scorers to earn their points more often than not in the key.

Eventually a breakthrough arrived and both offences started to flow, as Kirksey knocked down two consecutive threes, therefore returning command over the game back to Manawatu. Marvin Williams-Dunn answered back with one of his own to initiate a 7-0 run finishing off a strong response by a crafty Auckland side.

The Huskies grasped the slightest of leads with a quarter to go and only a strong, focused and diligent line-up would be needed to take the team to the finish line. Two layups in a row for Aaron Bailey-Nowell put the Huskies back on the right track, but for every attack Auckland made, Manawatu had a counterattack own – like Nicholas Fee’s three to answer back to Auckland’s.

But the exit of McQueen due to too many personal fouls and an early departure for Vodanovich, the Jets were without one of their best defenders and one of their best offensive threats, which made obtaining the win drastically more difficult. A beautiful assist to Fee and steal from Harris was a critical point in the contest with three and a half minutes left, taking a huge chunk out of their deficit.

Two further free throws from Harris tied the game, but Tohi Smith-Milner and Henry went for the jugular with two minutes remaining, fabricating an 8-0 run out of thin air and in the space of three possessions ending the game. Finding their form in the fourth and final quarter, the 93-82 result did not reflect the true character of the game for Auckland. The character could be described as an extremely close grinded out contest, with the Huskies only blowing the game out of the water in the last couple of minutes.

Nevertheless, the Huskies eighth win of the campaign equals the record of the Taranaki Mountain Airs, but due to percentage, Auckland now lifts itself into the third seed. Because of this, the team now looks forward to facing either the Rams or the Giants on Wednesday night.

For the Jets, they conclude their NZNBL regular season with an overall record of eight wins and six losses and look to earn a semi-final position with a win over the minor premier Otago Nuggets on Tuesday.

Auckland had five players in double-digit figures for scoring, headlined by Le’afa who continued his terrific run of form in the late portion of the season. The 23-year-old locked up 26 points and six assists, as well as four shots from deep (40 per cent efficiency). Smith-Milner (19 points and 10 rebounds) and Henry (13 points and 13 rebounds) both enjoyed the spoils of war with each Husky nabbing themselves a double-double, whereas Bailey-Nowell and Nathan Wilson produced 12 and 11 points respectively.

For the season’s runners-up Jets, Harris collected another unconventional stat-line, falling three assists and one steal short of a quadruple-double in another all-around effort. The Illawarra Hawk from last season tallied 16 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and nine steals. Meanwhile Taane Samuel strung together a team-high 25 points through 33 minutes.

Nuggets reverse Huskies first quarter fortune, cruise to 109-83 victory

OTAGO Nuggets gave Auckland Huskies a taste of their own medicine with a huge first term to set up an impressive 109-83 victory to maintain top spot on the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) Showdown ladder. After a mammoth 45-point opening term in their last game, the Huskies were considered a danger early, so the Nuggets went to work from the first tip-off and came away with the win.

AUCKLAND HUSKIES 23 | 21 | 18 | 21 (83)
OTAGO NUGGETS 34 | 25 | 31 | 19 (109)

[ … FULL MATCH STATS … ]

A few loose possessions started the match before a Reuben Fitzgerald three opened the scoring account, with Jarrod Kenny driving down low to lay it in making it a basket each.

The Huskies’ first quarter on Sunday set up their win with a prolifically efficient shooting performance. Because of this, the Nuggets knew they had to fire early, and they did, scoring seven three-pointers from ten attempts through the first 10 minutes of action. Auckland seemed to lack that flow offensively that they had in abundance on Sunday.

Kane Keil was at his best early on knocking down two of those seven shots from deep with Jordan Hunt, Josh Aitcheson and Kenny stepping in with triples of their own. The lead was suddenly at double digits, a lead the Nuggets held until the first break, but was also a lead that threatened to explode with Otago’s offensive efficiency and Auckland’s offensive deficiency (36 per cent shooting). Izayah Mauriohooho Le’Afa’s 12 first quarter points and Aaron Bailey-Nowell’s hustle on both ends kept the deficit at bay, while preventing its extension.

Most teams would be content with the 23-point first quarter the Huskies had; however, Otago’s hot hand ensured a 34-point first quarter as they enjoyed an 11-point lead at the first break.

Some easy fixes for the Huskies on the offensive end seemed to be tweaked at the break as they come out on an 8-0 run to start thanks to five Tohi Smith-Milner points and a Jaylen Gerrand three. Having a chance to tie the game, an Isaac Miller-Jose offensive foul stopped the momentum, and Aitcheson free throws stopped the scoring run. Aitcheson would get to the line again and hit some corner threes as he was on his way to 18 first half points.

Despite Smith-Milner’s best efforts, a Matthew Bardsley layup gave Otago a double-digit lead again, another one they wouldn’t squander, but this time for the rest of the game.

Defying the Huskies low shooting percentage was Fitzgerald whose four makes from as many attempts helped him to 11 points, thriving in Taine Murray’s absence. Jordan Ngatai’s first points came with a minute and a half left in the second quarter as Aitcheson fittingly ended the half’s scoring. The Nuggets led 44-59 at the main break with many thanks to their 61 per cent shooting from beyond the arc and 17 assists from 21 makes on the floor.

Otago boasted many scorers but for the Huskies, it was Mauriohooho Le’Afa and Smith-Milner leading the way with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Leon Henry was down on his usual efforts with just two points until half time.

The second half begun the same way the first half ended with Aitcheson laying it in, setting the tone for another dominant Otago quarter with Kenny and Keil scoring from three-point territory early in the third. Not to be outdone, Mauriohooho Le’Afa replied after being held scoreless in the second quarter. More players stepped up for the Nuggets despite him to stretch the lead to 30 which they managed to hold on to for much of the game. The point of difference was Hunt whose three-pointer ended the third quarter in which he scored 14 points.

Auckland’s physicality picked up with their bench unit towards the end of the quarter which provided a positive to coach Kevin Braswell, but physicality is far less valuable than points on the board. They trailed 62-90 heading into the last break with the game all but over.

Both teams put their key players away after a couple of minutes of fourth quarter action, giving an opportunity for some bench players to stake their claim in the rotation as we approach the business end of the competition.

It was almost an end-to-end scrimmage as the Huskies won the quarter 21-19. Marvin Williams-Dunn took the opportunity to gain some confidence offensively as the Nuggets boasted 10 individual scorers on the night.

The final score was 109-83, an emphatic win to keep Otago at the top of the ladder with Manawatu.

The Nuggets shot 54 per cent from the floor including 57 per cent from deep with Hunt (31 points, five rebounds, six three-pointers) playing a big part in both percentages. Aitcheson (22 points, six rebounds) slowed down after half time while Kenny was named MVP with his 20 points, four rebounds and seven assists. The microwave Keil missed his first shot in the last quarter as he made his way to 16 points, while Ngatai was kept quiet while playing a role with two points, six assists, four steals and five turnovers.

The Huskies missed Murray’s offensive output tonight as the reliable Mauriohooho Le’Afa led the way with 17 points and four assists. Fitzgerald did his best to fill Murray’s shoes with 13 points on five for five shooting while Smith-Milner put up 13 points and five rebounds in just under 20 minutes of play. Bailey-Nowell (12 points, two steals) has proved a valuable addition to this Huskies line-up as Henry (four points, six rebounds) just couldn’t get it going.

Auckland will look to move on with a much better performance Wednesday night against the last-placed Canterbury Rams while Otago get ready for a mouth-watering top-of-the-table clash with the Manawatu Jets on Thursday night.

Huskies’ 45-point first quarter squashes Giants with huge win

AUCKLAND Huskies produced the most efficient first quarter of the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) Showdown season, sinking 17 consecutive baskets without a miss on their way to 45 points in their 96-67 victory over Nelson Giants. Despite missing Taine Murray whose season ended with a broken hand in their last outing, the Huskies’ first quarter was the difference in building a staggering 32-point quarter time lead that was never really challenged.

NELSON GIANTS 12 | 19 | 23 | 13 (67)
AUCKLAND HUSKIES 45 | 17 | 23 | 11 (96)

[ … FULL MATCH STATS … ]

The Huskies showed no signs of missing Murray’s valuable offence in the first quarter as they exploded for an offensive barrage of 45 points. Even more staggering was their efficiency as their first missed shot came with 1:20 left on their eighteenth shot.

If the start of the game was a sign of things to come, it never looked good for the Giants as big man Josh Leger was caught sleeping on defence, before Leon Henry lobbed it in to Tohi Smith-Milner for the finish inside to open the game’s scoring.

Reuben Fitzgerald started in the place of Murray and grabbed the opportunity with both hands hitting a corner three, on his way to 12 first quarter points.

It was clear early that Henry was looking to attack the smaller Nelson outfit in the paint which opted to start without Mike Karena or the returned Mika Vukona. Once Karena was substituted in, Smith-Milner was able to stretch him to defend the perimeter, leaving Henry unleashed with the size advantage inside.

Every starter got involved for the Huskies with a deep three from Izayah Mauriohooho Le’Afa following a Marvin Williams-Dunn triple. Nate Wilson missed the first shot of the game for Auckland, but the Huskies were even able to grab the offensive board, rubbing salt into the wound for Nelson.

A Dane Brooks air ball accurately represented the quarter for the Giants as Wilson made up for his blemish with a big transition dunk. The first quarter ended 12-45 as the Huskies shot an incredible 90 per cent, including 89 per cent from deep.

There was no real offensive determination out of the gates for Nelson as they struggled to 22 per cent shooting, recording one assist compared to Auckland’s nine. Henry led all scorers with 13.

If the Giants were any chance of making it a respectable margin, they had to respond immediately. Besides a Karena technical foul, two Brooks blocks and a Tysxun Aiolupotea three gave them that start they needed. A Jaylen Gerrand three and a Wilson and-one quickly put a stop to that as the Huskies would not let any inroads be made into their huge lead. They passed 50 points with seven minutes to go in the second quarter and managed to continue to trade baskets with Nelson having made a very comfortable lead for themselves.

Karena’s shot was not falling as it usually does while Isaac Miller-Jose was trying to match his frustrated physicality for much of the game as the match threatened to heat up at times in the second quarter.

A Zeb Lovell and-one brought the lead below 30 until Mauriohooho Le’Afa dropped a deep two, and Murray replacement and New Zealand basketball veteran Aaron Bailey-Nowell scored his first competition points.

Smith-Milner barrelled his way to the hoop to close out a dominant first half for the Huskies which saw them lead 31-62, still shooting 56 per cent from beyond the arc. Though their burning hot hand couldn’t maintain their ridiculous first quarter shooting, they still attacked the paint, scoring 18 more points inside than Nelson.

Henry and Fitzgerald did not add to their quarter time tally as Lovell and Aiolupotea led the scoring for the Giants with seven points each.

Coming out of the locker room much later than their opposition, you had to wonder what Nelson were looking to achieve in the second half. Whatever it was, Smith-Milner was not having any of it as he scored 11 points in the first three and a half minutes which included two three-pointers and an and-one.

Theo Johnson and Brooks both put up athletic finishes inside as Mauriohooho Le’Afa did what he does, knocking down a beautiful step back mid-range jumper.

Williams-Dunn and Aiolupotea went head to head down the stretch until Karena imposed himself on the game with a spin out of the post for the reverse baseline dunk, only to follow it up with another one-hand dunk not long after.

With four seconds left, Fitzgerald burst out of the half court inbound for the layup, but another Miller-Jose offensive foul prevented it from counting. Though they showed better signs, the Giants were unable to take a big enough chunk out of the margin as they trailed 54-85 heading into the last break.

The Huskies did not play Mauriohooho Le’Afa, Smith-Milner or Henry in the final quarter giving some bench players good minutes.

Unfortunately, the game ended with little excitement as Nelson won the quarter scoring just 13 points to Auckland’s 11. Karena showed some fight out of the post but it was too little too late with them losing 96-67, a loss they will be keen to move on from as soon as possible having not been in the game after the first quarter deficit they gave up.

With 11 out of their 12 players scoring, Smith-Milner led the way with 20 points with Fitzgerald the next best with 14. Mauriohooho Le’Afa (12 points, four rebounds, five assists) and Henry (13 points, seven rebounds, four assists) enjoyed well-rounded performances as the Huskies fired on all cylinders offensively for much of the night. Their final week of NZNBL action will start when they face the Otago Nuggets on Tuesday and if they can mirror their first quarter in any way, it will go a long way toward them winning.

A disappointing night saw Nelson shoot just 38 per cent with Karena (15 points, eight rebounds) and Aiolupotea (13 points) the only players to reach double figures. The loss sees them sit at sixth place as they will want to start fresh against the first-placed Taranaki Mountainairs on Wednesday.

Huskies claim huge upset over second placed Bulls

IT was a Battle of the North with the Franklin Bulls and Auckland Huskies going head to head in the first game of Week 4 for the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) competition, with the latter clenching a huge upset over the second placed Bulls (86-82). With the Bulls getting out to a strong lead in the opening term the Huskies were forced to play catch-up throughout the game but that did not seem to faze them, steadily building into the match and eventually overrunning their opponents. There was over seven lead changes throughout the course of the game testament to how even the contest was on the night.

FRANKLIN BULLS 26 | 20 | 22 | 14 (82)
AUCKLAND HUSKIES 14 | 28 | 29 | 15 (86)

[ … FULL MATCH STATS … ]

The Bulls got out to a flyer in the first quarter piling on a wealth of pressure and flexing their muscles on the scoreboard to hold a commanding 12-point lead. Despite Tohi Smith-Milner opening the account with a jump-shot for the Huskies, it was all one-way traffic from then on as the Bulls simply could not be denied. Dominique Kelman-Poto was on song from the first minute sinking a triple before partner-in-crime Sam Timmins chimed in. The influence of Nicholas Barrow was undeniable with the big man able to hit the scoreboard with great ease for the Bulls and cause all sorts of havoc across the court. A late burst from the Bulls saw them go on a scoring rampage with the Huskies simply unable to generate any form of rhythm in attack or defence.

Up by 12 points at the quarter break the Huskies were determined to reduce the deficit and impose themselves on the contest. Their increased intensity across the court and willingness to drive to the basket became increasingly more evident as the quarter progressed cutting the margin down to five points. But it was their three point shooting that stunned both fans and the Bulls, with the Huskies sinking four straight treys with Reuben Fitzgerald, Jaylen Gerrand and Smith-Milner dishing up the goods. Back to back threes from Smith-Milner and a huge steal from Izayah Mauriohooho Le’Afa  got the Huskies back within two points before Timmins answered to steady the ship.

The game was played with great speed as the ball ping ponged up and down the court with Mauriohooho Le’Afa finding his stroke and causing all sorts of havoc. With the pressure mounting on the Bulls it was up to Timmins to once again stand up, laying a huge block while Taine Murray showcased his dash with a fast break and clever assist to none other than Smith-Milner. The out of contract Melbourne United big man impressed throughout the quarter, knocking back shots from inside the paint, beyond the arc and at the charity line. With a tick over three minutes left in the term Marvin Williams-Dunn evened things up for Auckland and despite the Bulls bigs in Barrow and Timmins dominating on the scoreboard with the latter finishing the half with a double-double 14 points and 10 rebounds the Huskies seemed to have all the momentum. A triple on the buzzer to Jackson Stubbins gifted the Bulls a four-point lead after what was a see-sawing term.

Known as the premiership quarter, the Bulls immediately extending the lead with Everard Bartlett sinking all three shots from the charity line. Smith-Milner quickly responded with a couple of points his own but neither side was able to claim any real ascendancy as the ball bubbled about. Out to a six point lead the Huskies dug deep to stay in the contest  and claw their way back to within two points. Williams-Dunn and Mauriohooho Le’Afa upped their workload with the two looking to the rim and scoring. Barlett continued to be the go to man for the Bulls draining them from range while Nikau McCullough tried to inject himself into the contest with a couple of strong rebounds.

With five minutes on the clock, Auckland hit the front thanks to Smith-Milner. After a relatively quiet half of basketball, Isaac Davidson found his stroke with a nice three, while Timmins also got busy to create a five-point buffer once again. Unfazed by the increased pressure, Mauriohooho Le’Afa upped the ante sinking them from range. Stepping back on the three, Mauriohooho Le’Afa put his side ahead while Tohi Smith-Milner delivered once more, coming up strong with a rebound and streaming down court with Nathan Wilson the beneficiary to hold a three point lead heading into the final change.

With the game on the line the big names for each side stood up with the Huskies getting an early with a forced turnover in the opening stages of the quarter. The defensive pressure was palpable with both sides going three and a half minutes without a score. The physicality of the contest did not disturb either team with the Bulls almost enjoying the challenge and slowly working their way into the contest. Kelman-Poto was involved in everything, swinging the momentum back to the Bulls with a crucial rebound and layup to regain ascendancy on the scoreboard.

After going quiet in the middle stage of the game Gerrand found his stroke forcing the lead to once again change hands. The lead chopped and changed and was cut down to as much as two points with less than three minutes remaining. Timmins hit a timely triple to retake the lead albeit by one point and followed it up moments later spiking the ball out of play and denying the Huskies easy avenue to the basket. With Kelman-Poto fouled out of the game for the Bulls, Huskies big man Mauriohooho Le’Afa delivered once again. With a minute left on the clock Stubbins hit his second three pointer of the game to snatch the lead off the Huskies but it went all downhill from there for Franklin with Smith-Milner reeling in a rebound and Murray making them pay with a triple of his own. Mauriohooho Le’Afa all but ended the chances of a final seconds comeback coming up huge with a steal to take home their fourth win.

Timmins was the main playmaker for the Bulls finishing the game with 21 points, 15 rebounds (11 defensive) and two blocks. Teammate Kelman-Poto also managed double digits with 15 points and eight rebounds while Barrow and Stubbins also recording 10 points each. It is no surprise that Mauriohooho Le’ Afa dominated on the scoreboard amassing a whopping 25 points, seven assists and six rebounds. Smith-Milner also had a stats stuffing performance with 22 points and 13 rebounds while Murray was the only other player to make into double digits with 11 points.

Murray’s 35 points not enough to ground Jets, Manawatu wins 105-100

MANAWATU Jets have held off a fast-finishing and determined Auckland Huskies outfit to win by five points in the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NZNBL) competition last night. The Huskies were looking to make it three wins in a row and even their season record. The Jets were coming off a rough performance against Otago where they suffered a 36-point defeat. Manawatu was always going to be fired up, and with their form coming into the night you knew the Huskies were ready as an entertaining matchup saw the Jets win 105-100, recording their fifth win for the season.

MANAWATU JETS 27 | 27 | 25 | 26 (105)
AUCKLAND HUSKIES 26 | 17 | 28 | 29 (100)

[ … FULL MATCH STATS … ]

The anticipated Izayah Mauriohooho Le’Afa and Jayden Bezzant matchup was not to be as Ashton McQueen took Mauriohooho Le’Afa defensively, but that would not stop him from getting involved for the first time against Manawatu having missed their week one matchup. A Mauriohooho Le’Afa board and fast break led to a Taine Murray reverse layup which would begin an 18-point first half for him. Taane Samuel opened the Jets’ scoring account with a three which ignited a three-point bonanza for the first half for both teams. Tohi Smith-Milner entered the box score soon after, backing down Samuel for a left-hand hook finish inside which he would use to great effect as the game wore on.

An up and down start to the game saw both teams missing good shots early as it was clear that fans were going to be treated to an offensive barrage. Despite his career night, the rim would block a Murray dunk attempt and from there, the three-point party began. Murray, Kalib Mullins, Mauriohooho Le’Afa, and Samuel all knocked down triples in what was a high-scoring first quarter of action. Manawatu took a 27-26 lead heading into the first break as 24 three-point attempts were put up from both sides. The Huskies scored the only five points in the paint out of the 53 scored in total.

Tom Vodanovich opened the second quarter with a nice cut over the defence for a contested finish at the rim, before the Huskies provided some showtime basketball. Fresh off eight steals in their last outing, Mauriohooho Le’Afa ripped the ball from the Jets, passed to Jaylen Gerrand, who lobbed it up to Isaac Miller-Jose for the big slam.

A Samuel throwdown would then spark an eight to nothing run for Manawatu before Nelson Kirksey invited himself to the three-point party, knocking down three triples to give them a 13-point lead heading into half time.

The quarter would end the way it started with a Vodanovich layup as no points were scored in the last two minutes of the half.

Manawatu’s 55 per cent from deep gave them a 54-43 lead at half-time, with Auckland only shooting 29 per cent from beyond the arc.

Though they found success attacking the paint having scored 10 more points inside than the Jets, the Huskies were still intent on competing with their opposition from deep. Not making their shots, their eight second chance points were keeping them in the game thanks to some Miller-Jose hustle.

A poor third quarter in their last outing all but ended the hopes of a win for Manawatu, one they could not afford again despite enjoying a handy lead.

After 37 total three-point attempts for the first half, it was only natural the second half was going to start the same way with Vodanovich knocking it down from deep. Bezzant finished a left-hand layup high off the glass as Leon Henry immediately threw an outlet inbound pass leading to an open layup for Marvin Williams-Dunn, bringing the lead back single digits.

Neither team would give an inch throughout the third quarter until two Tia Temata-Frost free-throws would regain a 10-point lead for the Jets. A sequence of a Mauriohooho Le’Afa blow-by layup, a Samuel travel, and a Miller-Jose layup would bring the lead back down to six. Henry then had two opportunities at the rim, but such was his night, they did not go. Smith-Milner finally brought the lead back down to four at the charity strike.

Two Vodanovich triples down the stretch would ensure Manawatu held their lead as he found his way to 15 points. The Jets went into the last break leading 79-71. Auckland tried to get into the lane more as their points in the paint differential now stood at 20, however, the sharp shooting of the Jets from the three-point line maintained the margin.

Another Smith-Milner post hook would start the quarter before he landed awkwardly and injured his ankle. He would take no further part in the game but returned to the bench later with ice on the ankle.

A Miller-Jose swat leading to a Murray three brought the lead back down to three points, the closest it had been since the first quarter. Henry would score his first points from the floor before back-to-back threes from Manawatu stretched the lead back out to nine with seven and a half minutes left to play.

Separate technical fouls for Samuel and Anamata Haku disrupted the flow for either team as the Huskies could not find a way to at least tie the game. Henry fouled out of the game with Samuel converting an and-one not long after which just about iced the game.

An entertaining affair saw Manawatu win 105-100, despite Murray exploding for a massive 35 points. Mauriohooho Le’Afa also had a great game with 25 points, four rebounds and eight assists as Smith-Milner also impressed with 16 points and six rebounds. Henry will be looking to bounce back after shooting 2-18 from the field when the Huskies take on Franklin on Tuesday night.

The Jets shot 51 per cent from deep for the night and boasted strong performances from their starters with Vodanovich (26 points, eight rebounds) and Samuel (26 points, five rebounds, four assists) leading the way. Kirksey (17 points, 10 rebounds, five assists) and Bezzant (14 points, four assists) both enjoyed big games, with the hopefully nearby return of Hyrum Harris providing Manawatu with a dangerous starting five moving into the second half of the season.

2020 Sal’s NBL July 11 night preview: Jets v Huskies and Nuggets v Giants

WEEK three comes to a close tonight with Manawatu Jets and Auckland Huskies battling for that top four spot, while Otago Nuggets hope to continue the brilliant form of last night against a Nelson Giants side desperate for some consistency.

MANAWATU JETS vs. AUCKLAND HUSKIES

The opening game of tonight’s two big clashes sees a battle between fourth and fifth, with the Jets potentially jumping up to third and making up for their forgettable 36-point loss to Otago Nuggets last night. The Huskies on the other hand have been in good form of late with three wins from four games and starting to find their rhythm. A win here could see them leap into the top four and put themselves in a good position for the run home.

Both sides are strong rebounding teams with the Jets ranked second overall with an average of 45.4 rebounds per game, just ahead of the Huskies (44.6). They have both been solid in terms of assists with Manawatu recording a league third place of 17.9, compared to Auckland’s fourth place (16.1). In most other areas Manawatu ranks much higher as the second top scorer on average, putting up 94.5 points per game to Auckland’s competition-low 79.6 per game. It is the same story when it came to two-point percentage with the Jets sitting at a competition-high 57.1 per cent to the Huskies’ competition-low 43.5. It is closer from outside the arc with the Jets ranked third and Huskies sixth, whilst in overall field goal percentage, the Jets are third and Huskies seventh.

In the last match between the teams on June 27, the Jets easily accounted for the Huskies in a 28-point win. Dominating the first half, Manawatu raced away to a whopping 54-21 lead by half-time, including 31-8 in the second term. Auckland managed to get back some pride in the second half by scoring five more goals than its opposition, but still went down 67-95. In that match it was all about Tom Vodanovich who piled on a competition season-high of 38 points, as well as three rebounds ad four steals. Jayden Bezzant (17 points, four rebounds and five assists) and Haize Walker (11 points, two rebounds) both reached double figures, but it was Hyrum Harris‘ ridiculous game that was an impressive as Vodanovich’s shooting display, racking up 21 rebounds to accompany 13 points, six assists, four steals and one block.

For the Huskies, Taine Murray finished with a team-high 16 points – though shot at just 33.3 per cent from the field – as well as three rebounds, while Jaylen Gerrand (10 points) was the other Auckland player to reach double-figure points. Leon Henry (eight points, nine rebounds and two assists) and Tohi Smith-Milner (five points, seven rebounds) both contributed off the boards, while Marvin Williams-Dunn (eight points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals) also tried hard.

The Jets will start favourites given how they performed against the Huskies last time, but will have to pick up the effort from last night. The Huskies have been in good form of late and are building nicely to take a big scalp here and move up the ladder further.

OTAGO NUGGETS vs NELSON GIANTS

After a huge 36-point win and record 130 points – including 73 in the second half – last night, Otago Nuggets are raring to go for their second consecutive match-day. They take on Nelson Giants who have had an up and down season thus far but technically only sit a win behind the Nuggets – albeit with one less game played. A Huskies loss in the earlier game and a win here could see the Giants move into the top four.

When looking at the game statistically, Otago has the advantage across most facets of the game so far. From a points perspective, the Nuggets average 93.9 points per game to rank third in the competition, ahead of the Giants’ 85.4 (fifth). In terms of accuracy Otago is ranked second and fourth respectively in two and three-point shooting, with Nelson fourth and seventh in those areas, though not much separates the teams when it comes to shooting percentages. Overall from the field, Otago is 44.9 per cent to Nelson’ 43.7 per cent for a fourth and fifth ranking respectively. One area where the Giants have the upper hand is in rebounds, with Nelson sitting fifth thanks to 41.5 per game compared to Otago’s 39.4, though the Nuggets are elite at passing the rock around with a competition-high 19.3 assists compared to the Giants’ 14.8 (sixth).

The last time these teams played way back in week one on night three, the Nuggets got the better of a Giants side still trying to find its feet with the loss of Mika Vukona, Mike Karena and Dane Brooks. After being competitive early but not able to really keep consistently close to the Nuggets, the Giants faded in the final term with Otago running away courtesy of a 107-82 victory. In the absence of the big three, it was Nic Trathen (21 points, seven rebounds and two steals) who tried hard for the Giants, while Tom Ingham shot at an elite 85.7 per cent from the field to end the game with 17 points and eight rebounds. Zeb Lovell also was productive with eight points, seven rebounds and three assists.

For the Nuggets, Jordan Ngatai put up a game-high 23 points, three rebounds, three assists, three steals and one block, including nailing five of 11 from outside the arc. Jordan Hunt (19 points, two rebounds) and Kane Keil (11 points, four rebounds, two assists) and two steals) were also productive from the starting team, as Josh Aitcheson (13 points) and Richie Rodger (11) reached double-figure points off the bench. Jarrod Kenny did not put up a shot after 28 points the game before, but still had six assists and two rebounds, opening up chances for teammates.

This could be a thrilling contest, though Otago should head in as favourites The key is trying to stop Karena and what he is capable of doing on a regular basis, and after Otago’s big win last night, the Nuggets are in great form to keep the run going.

Huskies claim upset win over second placed Nuggets

THE Auckland Huskies stunned the second place Otago Nuggets in a full four quarter performance to run out 12-point victors (81-69) in the Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) last night. The Huskies led throughout the game, stopping the normally free scoring Nuggets in their tracks and controlling the tempo of the game with their attacking prowess.

OTAGO NUGGETS 18 | 20 | 13 | 18 (69)
AUCKLAND HUSKIES 23 | 21 | 17 | 20 (81)

[ … FULL MATCH STATS … ]

Jordan Ngatai struck first for the Nuggets with the big man converting the first layup of the game before Marvin Williams-Dunn delivered for the Huskies with a triple. From there on in the play seemed to lie with the Huskies as Leon Henry chimed in with a three-pointer to push his side out to a solid lead. The ball ebbed and flowed across the court with neither side able to capitalise on their chances with Taine Murray and Otago Nuggets star, Jarrod Kenny missing a couple of shots. Ngatai seemed to be the only one able to apply any sort of scoreboard pressure for the Nuggets, while Auckland shared the load around with the likes of Izayah Mauriohooho Le’Afa and Tohi Smith-Milner asserting themselves on the contest. It was not until the six-and-a-half-minute mark that someone other than Ngatai hit the scoreboard for the Nuggets with Jordan Hunt stepping up to the plate to cut the deficit to one point. With the Nuggets pushing hard, Smith-Milner upped the ante in attack dropping back-to-back points to re-establish a four-point lead. The insertion of Darcy Knox into the game worked wonders for Otago with the Nuggets attacking the basket and using his frame to have an influence across the boards. With just over three minutes left in the quarter Kane Keil converted from a free-throw, keeping his side within striking distance of the Huskies, before a big final couple of minutes saw Auckland blow the lead back out to five points mainly thanks to Nathan Wilson.

The second quarter delivered very similar results for the Nuggets, who were unable to implement their signature style of play instead succumbing to the pressure of the Huskies. In the opening minutes of the quarter Richie Roger showcased his ability to shoot from range, sinking a triple with teammate Josh Aitcheson quickly following up on his good work to also slot a triple and reduce the margin to one point once again. Steadily drawing closer, Wilson held his nerve laying an impressive dunk and the converting again moments later for the Huskies. Despite the best efforts of Kenny, Auckland seemed unfazed, going about their business until Akiva McBirney-Griffin slammed one home for Otago to level the scores with just under seven minutes remaining in the term. The increased intensity saw the ball bubble around with both teams struggling to hit the scoreboard but it was Murray to break the stalemate first and send his side somewhat into a scoring spree. Murray was involved in everything, while Henry also chimed in, pushing the Huskies out to an 11-point lead but the Nuggets refused to give in stringing together a solid couple of minutes to dwindle the lead back down to six at half-time.

Continuing their hot start to the game, it did not take long for Mauriohooho Le’Afa to convert and extend the lead for Auckland. Having somewhat of a quieter quarter, Smith-Milner quickly got back into the thick of things while the Nuggets struggled to maintain possession with a couple of sloppy passes and missed shots at goal. Murray found his stroke from beyond the arc, sinking a nice three while for the Nuggets, Ngatai and Aitcheson stood up under the pressure to draw back the lead. The combination of Mauriohooho Le’Afa and Murray was proving too hard to handle for Otago, with the duo running rings around their opposition. Much like the patch in the second quarter, both sides were at a standstill unable to knock back points and feeling each other out. But it was the Nuggets that blinked first, gifting the Huskies with a chance to stream down court and convert for the first time in over two minutes. With the lead out at 13 points, the Nuggets looked to the bench to provide some fresh legs but it was Rogers that delivered sinking a much needed triple before Ngatai got his side back within seven points. But a big shot from Reuben Fitzgerald, stopped the Nuggets in their tracks heading into the final change.

Kenny upped the ante in defence with a clever block finished off by Ngatai who gobbled up the rebound but simply could not convert. With a sense of urgency in their play and desperation to win ball back and score the Nuggets line-up contested everything that came their way but were plagued by inaccuracy, while the Huskies withstood that rush of momentum as Smith-Milner continued his merry way nailing back-to-back threes. Extending the lead to 14 points at the half way mark of the final term, Ngatai and Aitcheson took control for the Nuggets but it was simply not enough to offset the Huskies who could sense their second win. Despite a strong couple of minutes from Otago to reduce the margin to a mere eight points the closest they had been in the second half, Williams-Dunn crushed any hopes nailing the next four points.

Ngatai dominated for the Nuggets, sinking a team high 19 points along with eight rebounds and three assists. The next closest for the Nuggets was Hunt with 12 points and seven rebounds while Aitcheson managed a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. For the Huskies, Murray showcased his scoring prowess with 19 points, five rebounds and three assists to his name. Teammate Smith-Milner was hot on his tail when it came to scoreboard contribution with 17 while his 10 defensive rebounds capped off a stellar performance. Mauriohooho Le’Afa and Henry also managed double digits for their side with 12 and 11 points respectively but it was Henry’s rebounding ability that really shone recording 14 for the night, in what was a team effort from the bottom of the table Huskies.

Nelson’s giant third quarter puts down Huskies

NELSON Giants’ big third term saw them accelerate away from Auckland Huskies and ensure they won back-to-back games thanks to an eight-point win last night. The Giants scored 28 points, but held their opponents to just 11, handing them a 23-point lead at the final break, enough to hold off a fast-finishing Auckland side that won the last term, 29-14. There were some big outs for either side with Mika Vukona still sidelined following appendix surgery and Leon Henry serving his one-game suspension he suffered in the Huskies’ solitary win against Taranaki. In the end, the Giants were a touch better for longer winning 91-83.

AUCKLAND HUSKIES 20 | 23 | 11 | 29 (83)
NELSON GIANTS 20 | 29 | 28 | 14 (91)

[ … FULL MATCH STATS … ]

Continuing his hot form since his return, Mike Karena won the tip for the Giants and found himself with the ball inside where Henry’s replacement starter Nathan Wilson met him at the cup with a big block, although Karena recovered it and scored the game’s first points with a baseline jumper. Building some momentum in his first start on the season, Wilson would make his away inside with a silky drive which drew the foul and his one for two makes at the line would be the first for Auckland.

Having shaken off his quarantine rust in his last game, Izayah Mauriohooho Le’afa would open his scoring account with a pretty floater which would ignite the spark on his incredible first half of play. Not so prettily, however, Karena would find himself with two fouls early as big man Tohi Smith-Milner would draw the charge on the next play, with some Karena displeasure with the official drawing a technical foul next to his name. After just two minutes of play, Nelson’s star player would find a spot on the pine.

Back-to-back triples from Mauriohooho Le’afa and young gun Taine Murray saw the Huskies gain an early lead, as a smaller and more athletic starting five inevitably resulted in faster transitions from Auckland. The Giants would slowly start to claw their way back into the game through Josh Leger – who came in for Karena – and his seven-point opening term. He kept his spot in the team despite Thane O’Leary returning from injury, with the decision paying off for Mike Fitchett and his Giants.

A Mauriohooho Le’afa steal would lead to a huge baseline cut and slam for Wilson on the back of a no-look pass from Marvin Williams-Dunn, a beautiful highlight play in what was otherwise a quiet night for him. Trading buckets for the remainder of the term, Smith-Milner made a tough finish inside which finished the quarter with the scores tied at 20. Poor shooting from Nelson allowed the early deficit, but some rigid defence kept them in the game as they forced six turnovers from Auckland early.

Dane Brooks would start the second quarter athletically with a big block, a steal and a layup setting the tone for the Giants’ next two quarters. With small ball paying off early offensively for the Huskies, the Giants knew they had to take advantage of the absence of Henry on Auckland’s defensive end. Zeb Lovell targeted a leaner Wilson in the post on multiple occasions, a clear indication of the Giants desire to attack the paint going forward.

Nelson come hard out of the gates despite another athletic defensive play from Wilson. Their scoring continued to come from inside the paint as the Huskies were playing too tight defensively on the perimeter despite Nelson’s inefficiency from deep, with the Giants blowing past the defenders. The start saw them get out to an eight-point lead, with the return of Karena leading you to believe it would get worse for the Huskies. Mauriohooho Le’afa did not care for that as he would steal the show, scoring on the Huskies’ next four possessions which included three triples and a long two. The game began to heat up physically alongside the scorching hot Mauriohooho Le’afa who would end the first half with a whopping 26 points, courtesy of six threes.

The two teams would continue to trade baskets down the last stretch of the first half, although some Brooks hustle with the Giants small ball would end the half and the second quarter the way he started with a big swat, a steal from the inbound and an assist to a Josh Bloxham layup taking us into half time. Despite Mauriohooho Le’afa, the Giants would lead 49-43 with 20 points from the bench no doubt a contributing factor, as well as attacking inside as they got to the line and earned 22 points in the paint for the half.

A one-man show for the first half, the Huskies needed more contributions in the absence of Henry, but contributions from anyone was scarce for the third quarter. Karena would start the quarter having just played three and a half minutes in the first half and his impact was on display immediately with a steal and assist leading to a Bloxham three. A nine-point scoring run would take the lead out to 15 before a Murray triple would settle things down. The settling was only momentary, however, as their next score would not come for another three minutes.

The Giants played deny ball defence on Mauriohooho Le’afa early as the performance of the two teams went in opposite directions. Nelson’s active ball movement was quick and efficient as Auckland’s one-on-one offense was not paying dividends.

Leger’s five points and a corner three from Johnson down the stretch would give Nelson a near insurmountable 23-point lead heading into the last break, ending an abysmal 28-11 quarter the Huskies would rather forget.

Mauriohooho Le’afa missed his only two shots for the quarter as Williams-Dunn remained scoreless on the game. The Huskies were beginning to wonder where their next points would come from as Karena would re-enter the game – an even more worrying sign for them.

Needing to throw whatever they had left at the Giants if they wanted to have any chance of coming close, the Huskies got the start they were after with Nicholas Brophy getting to the line, and a Wilson steal following that and resulting in a Mauriohooho Le’afa three. Their newfound momentum was quickly halted with Brooks being fouled on a three-point attempt, as the Huskies struggled to string together consecutive stops.

Trading baskets for most of the final quarter, the Huskies found a final gear as they managed a 10-0 run within a minute, but it was too little too late. Despite the single digit loss, it was a convincing win for the Giants as they now find themselves third on the ladder at the conclusion of week two having won 83-91.

Leger (14 points) and Tom Ingham (14 points, two steals) were among the best for the Giants as Karena (10 points) was kept quiet due to foul trouble.

Mauriohooho Le’afa was fantastic with 32 points at 50 per cent from the field, while Wilson (10 points, seven rebounds) and Murray (16 points) were also serviceable. The return of Henry will be welcomed for their match against the Nuggets on Tuesday as they will look for more performers to scrape them off the bottom of the ladder.

Bulls prevail in inaugural ‘Battle of the North’

THE second-last game of the first week back in the NZNBL (New Zealand National Basketball League) gave us the inaugural ‘Battle of the North’ matchup as the two Auckland teams faced off in the Franklin Bulls and the Auckland Huskies. With both teams looking for their first victory, a desperate battle beckoned in what is hopefully the start of an enthralling rivalry for years to come.

The two lowest scoring teams in the competition provided a low scoring affair from the beginning, however, fans were still treated with the Bulls recording a tight four-point victory.

FRANKLIN BULLS 16 | 8 | 22 | 17 (63)
AUCKLAND HUSKIES 13 | 12 | 17 | 17 (59)

[ … FULL GAME STATS … ]

The Bulls enjoyed a two-day break, as the Huskies did not have much to enjoy after suffering a 28-point loss to the Jets the previous night. Auckland would be boosted with the introduction of Izayah Mauriohooho Le’afa who was coming off a 14-day quarantine period after returning from Sacramento State University.

Melbourne United big man Tohi Smith-Milner would open the scoring with an elbow jumper, but a slew of missed shots and scrappy play wouldn’t see another score for almost two minutes. Dom Kelman-Poto then asserted himself into the game with a defensive rebound turning into an and-one opportunity. His missed free throw would spark a run of seven consecutive missed free throws from both teams, typifying a low-scoring game with a 16-13 opening quarter the Bulls way. Even though Isaac Davidson and all-time league three-point record holder Leon Henry provided some excitement briefly trading buckets, there wasn’t lots to cheer about early on.

Taine Murray would start the second quarter on the bench having played the whole first quarter, ending with a neat hop-step layup. Bulls big man Sam Timmins started the second quarter with a big block, setting the tone with his inside presence. Mauriohooho Le’afa would air ball a jumper, missing his sixth shot in a row, with the next score coming two minutes later in the form of a Henry layup. He would then give the Huskies the lead with a triple before Kelman-Poto tied it up with a put back layup. Another big block from Timmins and score from Kelman-Poto would force Huskies coach Kevin Braswell to call a timeout.

Perhaps hoping to ignite the rivalry, the Bulls’ mascot stomped on Henry’s jersey as he was initially a Franklin recruit prior to the Coronavirus shutting the league down. Almost three minutes later, Kelman-Poto would find himself in foul trouble, subbing out of the game. Young guns Davidson and Murray would then go head-to-head stealing the ball off each other before Smith-Milner would close the quarter out with an unconverted and-one opportunity and a three to give the Huskies a one-point lead, 24-25, heading into the main break.

Despite Timmins’ four blocks, it wasn’t stringent defence causing the low scores, both teams were just shooting poorly. The Bulls were shooting 33 per cent while the Huskies were shooting 28 per cent for the half and there was only one made free throw from 11 attempts from both teams. Also, the Bulls found themselves shooting early in their possessions with few passes, recording just one assist compared to the Huskies’ six.

Henry would start the third quarter with a mid-range fade from the post, setting himself up for eight points for the quarter, including two straight from deep. Timmins continued to give the Huskies nightmares defensively, taking his blocks tally to six, guarding the paint vigilantly in the Bulls’ 2-3 zone. Though he would have liked to have had more influence scoring, he would set some strong screens for his teammates to score from. Marvin Williams-Dunn scored his first and only points for the game with a silky cut down the middle of the lane for a layup giving the Huskies a one-point lead with three minutes left in the quarter.

The momentum would swing Franklin’s way from there as point guard Chris McIntosh would grab a huge offensive board leading to a foul. He made four free throws in less than two minutes, as an Mauriohooho Le’afa mid-range jumper would get wedged between the ring and the backboard. Timmins then took his presence outside to finish the quarter with a triple. The Bulls would go into the last quarter with a four-point lead.

Mauriohooho Le’afa made his solitary bucket at the start of the last quarter as he would end the night shooting one for 15. Franklin’s Everard Bartlett would be important down the stretch with his third of four three pointers in the game giving the Bulls a game-high eight-point lead. The Huskies worked their way back into the game on the back of Smith-Milner. His best effort at the line would tie the game up, before Davidson’s go-ahead step-back jumper would give the Bulls the lead again. Davidson’s two free throws would end the game giving the Bulls a hard-fought four-point victory and their first for the season.

His 19-points would leave him the game leader to go with his seven rebounds. Bartlett’s accurate 13-points proved important at the end, while Jackson Stubbins and Kelman-Poto each recorded eight rebounds. Henry’s 16 points, 15 rebounds, six assists and three steals kept Auckland in the game at times, along with Smith-Milner’s 18 points and Murray’s 12.

Despite the exciting finish, both teams will be looking to shoot the ball a lot better which should come with more practice. The Bulls move to fifth place on the ladder and will be looking to add to their wins tally when they face the Nelson Giants on Tuesday, while the winless Huskies will prepare for the best scoring team in the league in Taranaki Mountainairs.