Tag: nznbl 2020

Dream start to the 18IN18 season for Auckland

AUCKLAND Dream have built on the momentum of their dying seconds winner against Waikato Wizards to secure a more comfortable victory over Canterbury Wildcats only 24 hours later. The New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) 18IN18 tournament has gone exactly to plan thus far for the Dream, who have won their first two games of five in the condensed competition, earning a hard earned rest. Starting strong to lead by 13 points at half-time, they were able to maintain the age and get up by 15 in a thrilling contest.

The Wildcats were the first team on the board in the match, with Terai-Ma-Teata Elia dropping both free throws in the opening minute. That was soon countered by a red-hot Casyn Buchman who hit a triple, grabbed a defensive board off a Rosalia Samia long-range attempt, then made another two-pointer to grab her team the early lead. It set the tone for the Dream’s intensity as game one winner, Arielle Mackey-Williams got on the board, as did the Wildcats’ Brittany Richards for a high-scoring opening few minutes.

Leading by just a point four minutes in, the Dream started to take control and notched up back-to-back layups from Olivia Berry and Amanda Wayment, before a crucial Gemma Etheredge jumper reduced the deficit to four with just under two minutes left. Six seconds later, Jelena Vucinic drilled a triple off a Buchman assist, and despite both teams having chances, the margin was seven at the first break with the Dream ahead, 15-8.

The Dream certainly had the momentum heading into the second term, and Sharne Robati was quick on the trigger to grab four points in the opening 80 seconds, as Shea Crotty, Richards and Samia had multiple chances from long-range but could not get it happening despite consecutive boards. Wayment soon grabbed one and Robarti had scored the first six points for her side in the term, with only a Richards basket in between. For all the attacking nature of the Wildcats, it was Wayment who extended the lead out to 13 after two and a half minutes.

The high-scoring opening few minutes slowed a little as both teams had settled down defensively in the term, but for everything the Wildcats threw at the Dream, the in-form side had the answers. An Ekka basket was matched by Robati, and then a Wayment jump shot and Rionne Papa free-throw extended the lead out to 15. Etheredge quickly replied by Williams-Mackey went to work building towards another big performance with five consecutive points and handing her side an 18-point lead. The Wildcats had all the scoring in the final two minutes of the term thanks to a Katherine Jones triple and two success Etheredge free throws, but they still trailed by 13 points.

The Wildcats needed a spark in the second half and Richards and Elia were quick on the board, but back-to-back triples by Robati and Buchman either side of a Samia layup drove the dagger further in. Every challenge by Canterbury was suitably answered, with Etheredge becoming a problem close to the basket, but the likes of Robati and Vucinic standing up, with Buchman creating on offence. The Wildcats could not seem to get a crucial jump shot, instead Etheredge kept getting to the line and making the most of it.

Unfortunately for Canterbury, they could only get within 13 points, as the pairing of Williams-Mackey and Waynment were back on after a rest in the last couple of minutes and having an immediate impact. Jones put the deficit to within 14 with a minute to play, but a late Williams-Mackey basket extended it out to 16 at the final break.

Wayment was first on the board in the final term to all but end the contest. Emily Knight got her first points of the game for the Wildcats, as her second basket drove her team to within 12 points for the first time in two quarters. When Etheredge made a jump shot with 97 seconds left in the match, the deficit was still a tough ask, and then Mackey-Williams decided that was enough of that, draining back-to-back triples to put the final nail in the coffin. Despite Etheredge’s best work – sinking a triple in response, Wayment’s last basket in the final 30 seconds secured the 66-51 victory.

The Dream were once again the more efficient team on offence, shooting at 42 per cent compared to 26 from the field, and the Wildcats drained just three of 26 triples, compared to the Dream six of 15, showing their determination to look to secure baskets from close range. The rebound count was even, with the Wildcats ahead, as well as making the most of 19 second chance points thanks to their healthy work off the offensive boards. The Dream led the assist count (15-9), as well as the steals (14-13), blocks (2-0) and crucially, had four less turnover s (19-23).

Mackey-Williams backed up her game-winning performance on night one with a match-high 19 points, as well as five rebounds, one assist and two steals. Robarti had 14 points, five rebounds and two assists, while the best player coming off the bench was clearly Wayment, who had 13 points and 13 rebounds – including a massive eight offensive – to go with three assists and two blocks. Buchman played a crucial role with seven rebounds and four assists to go with her eight points.

For the Wildcats, Etheredge was by far the best player, dropping team-highs in points (17) and rebounds (12), particularly damaging off the offensive boards with nine. She also got to the free-throw line for 10 chances, making eight of them, and had three assists and two steals. Elia was the other double-digit scorer with 10 points, six rebounds, two assists and three steals, while Samia (five points, five rebounds and three steals) and Jones (six points, six rebounds) also tried hard across the board.

Now the Wildcats look to bounce back against Capital Swish tonight, while Auckland Dream earn a week’s break before also taking on the Swish next Friday, November 27.

Picture: Photosport

Vodanovich claims NZNBL MVP as All-Star Five announced

TOM Vodanovich was announced as the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) Showdown’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) last night after taking home the award at last night’s awards ceremony ahead of the Finals Series. Manawatu Jets’ Vodanovich polled 101 votes to finish four votes clear of Jordan Ngatai (Otago Nuggets, 97) who was a further vote clear of Derone Raukawa (Taranaki Mountainairs, 96).

The MVP Award was determined by votes from each coach after every game of the regular season and finalised once a panel of 11 people – including the seven head coaches – cast their final votes. The Manawatu Jets big man averaged 21.9 points (ranked third in the league) and 10.4 rebounds (ranked fourth) off 31.8 minutes, as well as two assists and one steal per game. Vodanovich told the New Zealand (NZ) NBL website he was honoured to be named as this year’s MVP.

“Just playing in this league has been awesome,” Vodanovich said. “People have come from all over the country and competed week in and out, and proven that there is some excellent talent here, so to pick up this is an absolute honour, especially with the calibre of players we have here.”

Along with the MVP, the League’s All-Star Five was announced, which unsurprisingly featured all three of Vodanovich, Ngatai and Raukawa. Joining the trio in there were Raukawa’s teammate Marcel Jones, and Auckland Huskies’ Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’Afa. A couple more awards handed out to players were Youth Player of the Year (Taane Samuels – Manawatu Jets) and Defensive Player of the Year (shared by Mauriohooho-Le’Afa and Otago Nuggets’ Jarrod Kenny).

Off the court, Nuggets’ coach Brent Matehaere won Coach of the Year for guiding his team to the minor premiership, while Canterbury Rams’ General Manager Caleb Harrison won the Team General Manager of the Year. Franklin Bulls’ social media team also received plaudits for its work, recognised as providing the League’s best social media content.

Sal’s NBL League General Manager, Justin Nelson said it was a fantastic night to celebrate the effort put in by all teams, players, coaches and staff on and off the court to make it happen.

“It has been a huge effort by the seven teams and all the players and coaches to be here for this year’s competition, so to be recognised by their peers is testament to what each award winner has achieved,” he said.

“Tom won a close race for the MVP, it’s an award that is mostly decided by the coaches, so congratulations to him, while what a night for the Nuggets with three award winners on their return to the Sal’s NBL.

“I’m also really pleased for Caleb Harrison. “He works very hard as an outstanding General Manager in the league and as a result we continue to see the Canterbury Rams take great strides forward as a professional organisation.”

NZNBL fans allowed in as season dubbed ‘Sal’s NBL Showdown’

IT is already a season that is unlike any other before a ball is tipped. For the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL), the 2020 season will be known as the 2020 Sal’s NBL Showdown to mark an unusual set of events that has seen the global pandemic suspend and alter the competition. The NZNBL had found a way to keep the season alive in a new modified format, and now Sal’s NBL Showdown will also feature the most important element of any sporting event for professionals – fans.

NZNBL General Manager Justin Nelson told the NZNBL website that he was “thrilled” that fans of the seven teams would be allowed to attend the six-week competition.

“The fans come first, that’s how we market the Sal’s NBL and to have them allowed into the Trusts Arena in Auckland means so much to all of us, especially the teams and players,” he said. “I’m thrilled they will get to see 28 nights of great basketball featuring players from across the country.”

Whilst some might be tempted to see the season reverting back to a regular home and away format, Nelson said it would not be possible despite the lowering to Level 1 restrictions by the New Zealand Government this week. Instead, he said it would be more risky for clubs if they had to pay for all the additional costs that come with playing in multiple areas across the country over a longer season.

“We’ve just had ten weeks of lockdown,” Nelson said to the NZNBL website. “Now that fans are allowed back does not mean we can return to a full-blown home-and-away season. “That will happen, but not this year. “If we did, teams would fall over financially through the cost of travel and accommodation, increased wages and paying for stadiums. It’s a fact that revenue streams for teams have not recovered and it just isn’t possible yet.”

“This year the League has had to cover the bills to the tune of over a million dollars, with no added support, which has added significant pressure. “However, that’s the reality of how the pandemic has hit our business. We are thrilled with how the teams and League has adapted. “We are going to meet our sponsor and broadcast arrangements, and we are going to see some great players on the court and returning to work. “We are doing all we can to support our teams and players financially. The competing teams, their boards, the players and staff should be commended for getting in behind this and achieving what felt like an impossible task two months ago.

“What is being achieved in 2020 is setting the scene for next year too. We are building back up and because of the hard work and sacrifices of many, 2021’s season will return with strength and games will be played across the country.”

As for the dubbed name of ‘Sal’s NBL Showdown’, NZNBL Chair Iain Potter said it was very fitting given the circumstances of the season.

“Over the last couple of years the League has grown incredibly well,” he said. “We reached new records for viewers last year and ran a fully sustainable event. “This year has been a whirlwind to try and meet our broadcast, sponsors and player expectations, but 2020 has come together despite all the barriers. It’s going to be a great show, it’s only fitting we called this year’s competition the Sal’s NBL Showdown.”

Vukona and Kenny headline late week entries as Sal’s NBL registration enters second week

MIKA Vukona and Jarrod Kenny were among the headline names who entered the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) draft, adding further top-end talent to the draft pool with more than 400 players registered.

The June 11 televised draft is set to be a huge one with the couple of Tall Blacks leading the way for registrations to end the first week. There are still five days of registrations available this week until the close on Friday, June 5.

Vukona has made the tough chose to leave his home and family in Australia whilst he takes part in the new-look competition. A New Zealand legend who played a whopping 162 games for the Tall Blacks, Vukona is a player who all seven teams will likely jostle to get. He does have ties with the Nelson Giants though and no doubt they will be keen to secure his services in the upcoming Pre-Selection or Draft period.

Fellow Tall Blacks talent, Kenny is another experienced and senior figure who most recently helped Cairns Taipans in the Australian NBL as the Snakes reached the finals in season 2019/20 after a bottom-placed finish the season prior. He brings with him very recent success, being apart of a Perth Wildcats dynasty and will know what it takes all the way.

One player who will certainly be in a new shirt this season is Dom Kelman-Poto who has enjoyed running around for the Southland Sharks in 2019, where he averaged 12.9 points and 8.3 rebounds as the Sharks finished fourth on the table. With Southland not competing in 2020, Kelman-Poto will line-up for another team this year.

2020 Sal’s NBL announces Auckland home base for season

TRUSTS Arena will play home to the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) competition after it was announced venue of choice for the six-week competition starting June 23.

In these unprecedented times with COVID-19 still looming large in the international community, New Zealand NBL taking no chances by limiting travel to a centralised location in Auckland.

Trusts Arena in Henderson, Auckland will have a dedicated show court for the entire season, which runs until August 1. NBL General Manager Justin Nelson said the Arena was used to host an Olympic Qualifying series event last November, so it was suitable for such a high-quality event.

“We are thrilled the NBL will be staged on this international-level court,” he said. “It’s also great for the players, knowing they will be competing on a fit-for-purpose show court. We are going to spending a lot of time at that venue, with a fully dressed court and a permanent broadcast-setup during that time.

“We will also have the venue’s gym available for players. “And once we announce our accommodation partner, I know the players are going to be even more excited about what will be a pretty exceptional competition.

“At this stage, it looks like we will not be able to have fans packing out the venue, but the broadcast on Sky Sport is still going to look fantastic. “Although we don’t know what the restrictions will be like during Finals Week – maybe we will be able to have some lucky fans in to see the show,”

The first two games out on Trusts Arena will be the Airs up against the Giants at 5.30pm local time on June 23, followed by the Rams taking on the Huskies straight after.

Teams will be determined by an NZNBL Player Draft which is held on June 11, followed by a short Trade Period.