Tag: nikau mcculloch

Jets destroy Bulls as Hawks grab narrow Huskies win

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

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

2020 Sal’s NBL June 25 night preview: Nuggets v Giants and Bulls v Rams

EVERY side in the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) Showdown has played now with some form behind them. For the Otago Nuggets, tonight marks their final game of the week as the only side with the two matches, whilst the three other teams – Nelson Giants, Franklin Bulls and Canterbury Rams – arrive for the second of three matches, and the last games before a day off.

OTAGO NUGGETS VS. NELSON GIANTS

The first game of the night pits a game one winner against a game one loser to see if one side can continue its fortunes or if the other side can reverse its opening day result. The Otago Nuggets come into the match fresh off a tight win 24 hours earlier against the Manawatu Jets, whilst the Nelson Giants went down to Taranaki Mountainairs on night one.

The Nuggets put up the third highest score of any team – Taranaki Airs had the two higher ones – with 104 points, but also conceded 100 points in a high-scoring contest. They were strong off the defensive boards, ranking second overall thus far, but are ranked sixth of the seven teams off the offensive boards. It was a shock to no one that Jarrod Kenny and Jordan Ngatai had sensational games leading Otago’s offence.

Kenny racked up 28 points and six assists, dishing off dimes with ease, whilst Ngatai had a field day across the board, recording 19 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in a huge performance himself. Kenny’s accuracy of 61.5 per cent from the field, including five of nine from outside the arc was particularly impressive. That is before you take into account the roles of Jordan Hunt (14 points, seven rebounds) and Josh Aitcheson (12 points, seven rebounds) who showed they can step up alongside that damaging duo.

The Giants still managed to score 96 points in the 16-point loss to the Airs, and considering the names out of the side – Mika Vukona, Mike Karena and Dane Brooks – most teams would struggle to get that close. With Vukona falling 90 minutes short of being available to join the group post-isolation, the veteran power forward will be a huge inclusion to the side, which struggled off the boards at both ends without their big men.

Without their top three draft picks, it was Nic Trathen (25 points, four rebounds), Tom Ingham (23 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Tysxun Aiolupotea (20 points, five rebounds and two assists) who did the bulk of the damage in a losing side. If the big three can return for the Giants, then watch out because their depth was seriously impressive in the opening game of the season despite the loss. But the big question mark will be getting the rustiness out after an extended break without a game behind them like their opponents.

This game has the potential to be huge, with the Nuggets showing their abilities off the defensive boards, whilst the Giants have the potential to do the same when at full strength. It will come down to accuracy when taking shots that could decide this game.

FRANKLIN BULLS VS. CANTERBURY RAMS

The second match of the night sees the league’s most cohesive club up against a side that is still learning how to gel over four quarters. Watching the Bulls last night, their best is capable of matching it with the best in the competition, they just were not able to do it for long enough to get the win. The Rams had everything thrown at them leading into the season with the losses of Jack Salt and Joe Cook-Green, but found a way to win against Auckland Huskies on night one.

In the 12-point loss to the Airs, the Bulls had some huge moments, both in the first term and charging home in the fourth to draw within five points at one stage early. But the middle two terms – where they conceded an extra 18 points – is what cost them against the Airs in Taranaki’s second clash of the week. The Bulls recorded the lowest rebound average of any side, an area that Liam Simmons will no doubt look to improve on in game two. They still managed to score 95 points despite the loss, which is a positive to take out of the club’s inaugural game.

Isaac Davidson led the way with 27 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals in a memorable match. Dom Kelman-Poto was strong off the boards with 10 points and four rebounds, sharing the load with Nick Barrow who finished with 11 points and five rebounds off the bench. Also coming off the pine to cause headaches on the scoring front was Nikau McCulloch (17 points, two rebounds), whilst Everard Bartlett was the key distributor with five assists to accompany 13 points.

The Rams could not have been much more impressive in their huge win over Auckland Huskies, dominating most of the key areas during the 102-70 victory. The Rams had 12 more defensive rebounds and seven more blocks, being incredibly in sync with each other throughout the match. They looked like a team that has played together for some time, and that is how they performed. If they bring that sam level of intensity on the defensive end into this match, they deserve to start favourites.

In game one, it was Toby Gillooly (25 points, six rebounds and two blocks) and Taylor Britt (22 points, eight rebounds) who led the way for the Rams, whilst Jack Exeter came off the bench for 13 points. What made Canterbury’s win so impressive was the shared load, with 10 players making their way on court, and nine of them scoring at least six points. With that kind of balance, it is hard to restrict the scoring and makes them a very damaging side.

Canterbury Rams head in favourites and deservingly so. The Bulls will look to make a few changes in this match to counter some of the impressive defensive efforts of the Rams, but Franklin will need to be at their best for longer in order for the Bulls to bounce back.