Tag: nic trathen

2021 NZNBL team review: Nelson Giants

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

SEASON SUMMARY:

Position: 7th
Wins: 6
Losses: 10

KEY STATS:

Points: 80.7 (9th)
Rebounds: 29.9 (10th)
Assists: 14.1 (9th)
Steals: 7.7 (5th)
Blocks: 1.3 (10th)
Field Goal %: 45.0 (eq. 7th)

KEY PLAYERS:

Hunter Hale

His side might not have had a great season, but it was hard to fault the consistency of Hale, who night-in, night-out put up a ridiculous amount of points for his side. Earning a place in the All-Star 5, Hale also averaged the most points in the NZNBL. In season 201, Hale averaged 26.9 points per game, shooting at 48.5 per cent from the field including a 35.9 per cent clip from long-range and draining a total of 52 three-points in the season. He was also reliable when he got to the line, averaging 82.6 per cent from the charity stripe. With 5.2 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.6 steals to go with his high-volume shooting, Hale was the complete player.

One might not have guessed his season would pan out the way it did with just eight points in 27 minutes against Southland Sharks in the opening match. From then on, he would only play less than 30 minutes twice, and would only dip below 20 points once, in a mirror of consistency. He kept putting up huge records and breaking them, with a 37-point outing against Canterbury Rams on May 20 eclipsed two days later with a 41-point performance against Otago Nuggets in overtime. He had another 41-point effort a week later, and recorded an additional 30-plus points on four occasions. Whilst never recording a triple-double and in fact only one double-double, Hale came within reach of that feat twice, against Franklin Bulls on May 8 (26 points, nine rebounds and nine assists) and Auckland Huskies on July 2 (30 points, nine rebounds and eight assists).

Donte Ingram

The other dominant shooter for the Giants was Ingram with the fellow American averaging 18.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals in 2021. Playing the perfect tandem support role to Hale, Ingram was huge off the boards, teaming up with Sam Dempster as Nelson’s two key rebounders. His overall balance was impressive, shooting at 35.7 per cent from outside the arc and 45.3 per cent from the field, hitting the second most threes (35) in his side. Much like Hale, Ingram was a regular fixture in the Giants’ starting five and a key contributor throughout the year.

The versatile utility only had single-digit points once – against Otago Nuggets on June 18 when he put up six points – and had 20 or more points on five occasions. Whilst a consistent 15-20 point shooter on his night, Ingram exploded against Auckland Huskies on July 2, knocking down 38 points and picking up 10 rebounds. The night feature five of eight from long-range, and was 12 more points than his next highest score. That 26 points came against Manawatu Jets on June 3, which triggered back-to-back double-doubles, with the Huskies double-double making it four for the year in total.

OTHERS:

Dempster’s rebounding was important for the side, putting up more rebounds (7.8) than points (7.3), but providing that extra big body close to the basket. Tom Ingram (10.9 points, 2.5 rebounds) and Anzac Risetto (7.3 points, 3.3 rebounds) also contributed well, whilst Nic Trathen came off the bench with his deadly three-point shooting of 45 per cent accuracy to average 9.3 points and 2.9 rebounds.

SUMMARY:

Whilst the season was not ideal for the Giants who struggled at times, there was no shortage of highlights with the likes of Hale and Ingram going to work. They had some solid supporting roles, but not enough depth to match the top sides, which culminated in their overall eighth placed finish in 2021.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Hawks swoop against Saints as Nuggets’ Giant first half secures win over Nelson

HAWKES Bay Hawks swooped on the Wellington Saints early to post an impressive win in the 2019 New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) finals rematch, whilst the Otago Nuggets spoiled the Nelson Giants’ 40th birthday celebrations in the other match. Both games saw the eventual winners storm to a big lead early, and shake up the ladder, as the top four teams now sit a game clear of the rest of the competition.

In the top three clash, Hawkes Hay Hawks leapfrogged the Wellington Saints to hand their opponents only their second loss for the season. Moving into second spot on the ladder, the Hawks did so by taking control from the opening tip-off and leading 23-12 at the first break. The Saints predictably clawed their way back into the contest, winning the second term by six points and the third by three, but the home team steadied when it counted to win the last stanza by four, and the match by six, 88-82.

Hawkes Bay shot at a more accurate 49 per cent from the field, compared to the Saints’ 41 per cent. They won the rebounds (39-37), points in the paint (38-34) and second chance points (15-8) on the night. The Saints had their fair share of the ball, with one more assists (18-17) and steals (6-5), as well as more blocks (6-1) and less turnovers (10-13), leading to an even share of the points from turnovers (11-11), but the Saints produced more points off the bench (17-9).

It was an even team performance from the Hawks, with Devondrick Walker (20 points, four rebounds) marginally winning the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award from the match, shooting four of seven from long-range. Hyrum Harris (18 points, seven rebounds and four assists) was not far behind, whilst Rhys Vague (15 points, three rebounds and two assists), Derone Raukawa (14 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Ethan Rusbatch (12 points, five rebounds and three assists).

For the Saints, Tohi Smith-Milner top-scored with 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists, whilst the long-range shooting deadeye of Taane Samuel managed four of five from beyond the arc to finish with 14 points, four rebounds and two blocks. Kerwin Roach Jr (18 points, six rebounds and five assists) and Dion Prewster (14 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals) also impressed from the starting team, while Leon Henry contributed all the team’s bench points with 17 – five of nine from three-point range – as well as seven rebounds and four blocks in the loss.

The Otago Nuggets silenced the crowd early on a night where the Nelson Giants were celebrating 40 years in the competition, piling on 31 points to 19 in the opening term, then 23-18 in the second quarter to lead by 17 points at the main break. The home team sprung to life in the second half, winning it 47-40, but it was a case of too little, too late, with the visitors getting up by 10 points, 94-84.

Otago shot the lights out with 56 per cent of their attempts from the field going in, compared to the Giants’ 34 per cent. What made it all the more impressive was that the Nuggets had 25 less shots, but nailed four more than their opponents, including the same amount of triples (11) despite 19 less attempts (21-40). They also won the rebounds (43-41), assists (23-15) and blocks (5-0), and had more points in the paint (40-28). The Giants committed less turnovers (10-20) and therefore had more points from turnovers (22-12), as well as more second chance points (16-13) and steals (10-4).

Isaiah Moss won MVP with 24 points – five of nine from long-range – eight rebounds, two assists and two steals to lead the way, whilst Gerasimos McKay picked up 21 points, nine rebounds and two assists on the night. Sam Timmins continued his hot streak with a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds – 11 defensive – as well as five assists, two steals and two blocks, while Richie Rodger had the 11 points, seven assists and two rebounds.

For the Giants, Hunter Hale had 21 points, five assists, five steals and two rebounds, just ahead of Sam Dempster (19 points, seven rebounds and two assists) Thomas Ingham (11 points, four rebounds) also hit double-figure points from the starting line-up, whilst Nic Trathen contributed his usual long-range shooting from the bench with three of five going in from long-range on his way to 13 points and three rebounds.

Wellington Saints front up tonight up against the Taranaki Mountainairs, whilst the Hawkes Bay Hawks take on Manawatu Jets tomorrow, whilst the Otago Nuggets also play then against Franklin Bulls. The Nelson Giants have an extended break until lJune 25 when they lock horns with the Saints.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Giants deflate Airs with big win on Queen’s Birthday

NELSON Giants have produced a commanding performance to defeat Taranaki Mountainairs by 14 points on a Queens Birthday afternoon clash in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) competition. After going down to Manawatu Jets by one point in their last encounter, the Giants started strongly and never looked back, dominating the Airs to run out 100-86 winners at the Trafalgar Centre.

Nelson took control from the first tip-off, putting on 29 points to 16 in the opening term, before going out to a 22-point half-time lead. With a commanding 57-35 advantage heading into the third term, the Giants found the going a little tougher after getting out to as much as a 34-point lead. Taranaki Mountainairs roared to life to outscore the Giants by 20 points in the run home, being competitive in a high-scoring third term, before winning the last quarter 27-14. It was a case of too little, too late however, as Nelson got the win.

The Giants nailed 16 triples to 11 in the match, and whilst their shooting efficiency was lower (46 to 50 per cent) from the field, they made up for it with a high volume of shot, putting up 38 of 81 compared to 34 of 67. They also won the rebounds (44-34), assists (24-20) and steals (12-8). With less turnovers (12-19), they capitalised on points from turnovers (33-22), and also had more second chance points (18-12) and bench points (40-16). The Airs had an extra two blocks (4-2), more points in the paint (42-36) and less personal fouls (15-17).

Donte Ingram (22 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and three assists) lead the way, teaming up well with Hunter Hale who had 20 points, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals. Ingram dropped five of six from long-range in a three-point scoring clinic, as Tyler Marsh had four from four off the bench for eight points and two assists, whilst Riley Bensemann hit both his three-point attempts for six points and two rebounds. Sam Dempster (five points, seven rebounds), Anzac Risetto (eight points, three rebounds and two assists) and Nic Trathen (10 points, two rebounds) all contributed in an even team performance across the board.

For Taranaki Mountainairs, Marcel Jones again carried the team, putting up 32 points – including four of nine from long-range – as well as six rebounds, three steals and two assists. Tai Wynyard played a support role with 17 points, four rebounds and three assists, whilst Dru-Leo Leusogi-Ape had 10 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals. Carlin Davison (nine points, eight rebounds and five assists) was the other lively player, with support from Haize Walker (six points, four assists and three rebounds) and Francis Mulvihill (six points, two rebounds and two assists).

Taranaki Mountainairs next play on Sunday against Canterbury Rams, as the Nelson Giants wait until June 18 in an 11-day break before hosting the Otago Nuggets.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Jets produced Giant upset to grab second NZNBL win

MANAWATU Jets have claimed their second win of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) season, defeating Nelson Giants by a single point in a unique sort of match. The Jets only won the first quarter as the Giants clawed their way back, with even a three-point jump shot on the buzzer closing the margin to one, but it would not be enough, with the Giants going down 98-99.

The Jets were up and about in the opening term, scoring nine consecutive points to open up a seven-point advantage at the first break. The Giants refused to go away though, putting up 31 points to 29 in a high-scoring second quarter to reduce the deficit to five, and then again in the third when they made it 27-25 for the term and the difference was just three points.

Early in the fourth the Giants actually hit the front and made it an eight-point turnaround to lead by five, and even lead by three points with 2:58 on the clock, 92-89. From there, Jayden Bezzant capitalised off an And-One opportunity to level the scores, but was not finished yet, pouring on back-to-back free throws and then a three-point jumper with 22 seconds on the clock. All of a sudden, the Jets had scored another nine straight points to lead 97-92.

A Nic Trathen triple cut the deficit to two points, but Bezzant again held his nerve with a couple of free throws off a deliberate foul to ensure it was a two-play ball game. That was lucky considering Trathen then hit another long-range make on the buzzer, despite it being all in vain. Bezzant had scored the last 10 points of the game for the Jets to lead his team to victory in an impressive effort.

The Jets were more efficient from the field with a 52 per cent efficiency to the Giants’ 44 per cent, made more noticeable by the 60 to 47 per cent differential from inside the arc. Manawatu also won the rebounds (42-40), assists (19-17) and blocks (4-2), as well as their points in the paint (42-40) and second chance points (20-19). The Giants won the steals (12-7) and had less turnovers (11-17), therefore making more chances from turnovers (24-12), as well as having more contribution off the bench (19-9) and less personal fouls (12-14).

Bezzant won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) for the match following his late hot streak, also topping the points for the match with 30, as well as four rebounds, four assists and two steals in the game. Deandre Daniels was equally up there with impact for the Jets, almost playing the full 40 minutes as he picked up a double-double of 21 points and 15 rebounds. Between the pair, they hit seven of 13 from long-range to fo a lot of damage. Daishon Knight (19 points, eight assists, five rebounds and two steals), Shane Temara (12 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks) and Jake McKinlay (eight points, four rebounds and two assists) all held their own as starters for the winners.

Hunter Hale‘s shooting spree continued with 27 points – five of 11 from three-point range – 10 rebounds and five assists. Donte Ingram shared the load with Hale, also recording a double-double of 26 points, 10 rebounds, six steals and three assists. Anzac Risetto (12 points, six rebounds), Thomas Ingham (12 points, two assists) and Trathen (11 points, four rebounds) all chipped in with some good numbers despite the defeat.

Manawatu Jets will take on Franklin Bulls on Sunday, with Nelson Giants hosting Taranaki Mountainairs in a Monday night blockbuster.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

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

2021 NZNBL Round 1a preview: Trio of matches to tip off new season

A TRIO of highly-anticipated matches will tip-off the 2021 New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) season, which has come around quickly after what was seemingly an eternal wait since last year’s successful NZNBL during a time where most of the world was in lockdown. The top New Zealand basketballers took centre stage across the globe due to the nation’s success with handing the COVID-19 pandemic, and the six teams from that competition – Taranaki Mountainairs, Franklin Bulls, Nelson Giants, Auckland Huskies, Manawatu Jets, Otago Nuggets and Canterbury Rams – are back. They are joined by successful franchises, Wellington Saints, Southland Sharks and Hawke’s Bay Hawks.

OTAGO NUGGETS vs. WELLINGTON SAINTS
Saturday, April 24 @ 7:30pm
Edgar Centre

It is absolutely fitting that the first match of the brand new season pits the reigning premiers up against the most successful team in history. In what was a challenging year for everyone, the Otago Nuggets took out the title in 2020, and will be hungry to go back-to-back with a full season, and complement of teams back in action for 2021. There might be a score to settle for Wellington Saints fans, who will no doubt want to remind the Nuggets of the superiority they have held over the competition in the past decade, winning six titles between 2010-19, and having another three runners-up efforts. In short, 2013 was an outlier as the Saints went to reach every deciding playoff final in that time.

The last time these teams played was way back in 2013 before the Nuggets disbanded, which saw the Saints win 97-72 in that encounter. Sam Timmins was a big driving force for the Nuggets in 2020, and whilst the reigning premiers will be missing some of their stars, the likes of Darcy Knox and Richie Rodger will be ones to watch this season. Tohi Smith-Milner, Taane Samuel and Ken Tuffin were unsurprisingly amongst the top players last year for their various sides, and they all team up for the Saints in this clash, making it a mouth-watering encounter.

FRANKLIN BULLS vs. AUCKLAND HUSKIES
Sunday, April 25 @ 7:30pm
Franklin Pool & Leisure Centre

Two of the newer sides in the competition, the Franklin Bulls and Auckland Huskies both showed some serious potential in 2020, and whilst they fell short of making the final, they could be proud of their efforts. The Huskies have had quite the journey in terms of relocation of the past couple of years, but they got the Auckland faithful behind them, and will be keen for another Battle of the North which is a fledgling rivalry between the sides.

Who could forget the long-range shooting and overall class of up-and-comer Isaac Davidson, as the Bulls have a number of players to keep an eye on in 2021, such as Dane Brooks and Denhym Brooke. Josh Selby is the big inclusion, with the ex-NBA guard set to light up the court for the home side. Tom Vodanovich was outstanding last year and he returns to the Huskies lineup in 2021, though he will be around some fresh faces. After a promising season in 2020, Nick Barrow and Reuben Fitzgerald will be among the names to keep an eye on, though another ex-NBA talent in Chris Johnson is a huge get for the club.

NELSON GIANTS vs. SOUTHLAND SHARKS
Monday, April 26 @ 2:00pm
Trafalgar Centre

Unfortunately 2020 did not go to plan for either of these sides, with Southland Sharks opting not to compete in the NZNBL, while the Nelson Giants copped injury after injury early in the season which derailed their season. They ended up losing in the first elimination final to Canterbury Rams after finishing fifth at the end of the regular season, so the Giants will be keen to improve on that effort in 2021. The Sharks have had plenty of time out at sea and will be ready to feast, having had success in 2013, 2015 and 2018 amongst the Saints’ golden era.

Donte Ingram is the name that everyone will be keen to see front up for the Giants, as the excitement machine has headed to the NZNBL after representing Loyola Ramblers to the NCAA Final 4. Otherwise predominantly local, the likes of Tom Ingham and Nic Trathen were some talents who really stood out in 2020. The Sharks are one of the teams to beat with Dom Kelman-Poto‘s emergence from impressive player to star in 2020 and then returning back to the Sharks for the 2021 season will be a storyline in itself. Toby Gillooly‘s finals campaign for the Rams wrote itself last year in a match-winning effort against Auckland Huskies, while veteran guard Courtney Belger and Alonzo Burton are other names to remember this season.

Picture credit: NZNBL