Tag: nznbl results

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

Hawks hold off Giants in thriller as Sharks, Airs bounce back

IT was a triple treat for New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) fans last night with three games in action across the competition. In the biggest thriller of the night, the Nelson Giants had to claw their way back from a 17-point half-time deficit, only for the Hawke’s Bay Hawks to hold on by two points. Meanwhile Southland Sharks snapped a three-game losing streak to hand Auckland Huskies their second straight loss of the season, and Taranaki Mountainairs got on the board in season 2021 with a big upset win over the in-form reigning premiers, Otago Nuggets.

In the electric game at Pettigrew Green Arena, Hawke’s Bay Hawks race out to a 27-10 lead at quarter time, a 17-point advantage they maintained at the half. Nelson Giants mounted a challenge in the second half to pour on 28-20 and put the deficit back to single digits, then raced home but could not get closer than two points in a match where the Giants never held the lead. Aside from the Giants being more clinical with their shots (13 of 32 triples and 48 per cent overall field goal efficiency), the Hawks dominated all the other states, particularly the points in the paint (50-32) and second chance points (20-11).

Hyrum Harris was clinical with his shooting, knocking down nine of 13 from the field to finish with 23 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals in a double-double effort. Jonathan Janssen (23 points, eight rebounds) and Ethan Rusbatch (nine points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals) also came close to a double-double, as did Derone Raukawa (13 points, eight assists, five rebounds and four assists.

For the Giants, Hunter Hale lit up the scoreboard again with 24 points – three of nine from long-range – five rebounds, five assists and two steals. Donte Ingram (16 points, six rebounds and two assists) and Thomas Ingram (16 points, three steals) also scored plenty of points, whilst Bronson Beri (11 points, four assists and three rebounds) was impressive coming off the bench in 27 minutes of action.

After three consecutive losses, Southland Sharks got back on the winners list with a 15-point triumph over Auckland Huskies. The Sharks dominated the first term 31-20 to take an early lead, and then were never headed from there, building on that lead in the second half to win the third term 25-21 and fourth quarter 27-25 for an overall 102-87 victory. The Sharks shot at an elite 60 per cent from the field including 15 of 29 from long-range compared to the Huskies’ 43 per cent and six of 25. The winners also dominated the assist count (27-12) in a key to the win, leading from start to finish in the match.

Dom Kelman-Poto notched up a double-double in the victory, pouring on 21 points and 14 rebounds – 13 defensive – as well as six assists. Alonzo Burton managed the 20 points, of which 18 came from long-range in a six of eight shooting display. He also picked up five assists, the same amount as Courtney Belger who helped himself to 12 points and six rebounds in the process. In a shared effort across the board Brayden Inger (13 points, five rebounds and three assists), Josh Cunningham (10 points, three rebounds and three assists) and Sione Helu (13 points, three assists and two rebounds) also all picked up double-figure points.

In the other drought-breaking win, Taranaki Mountainairs got on the board with a 29-point victory over Otago Nuggets. Previously winless heading into the clash, the Airs came to play in the first quarter with a 29-13 term. Whilst the Nuggets hung around in the second to cut the deficit back to 13 points at half-time, the Airs finished the second half the stronger outfit, dropping 43 points to 27 to run out comfortable 91-62 winners. Aside from the rebounds that went in the favour of the Nuggets (41-39), the Airs had their measure across the board, particularly dominating the assist count (29-11), steals (11-5), points in the paint (50-36) and points from turnovers (33-11) in an all-round superb performance.

Marcel Jones was again the man to stand up for the Airs, continuing his season with a double-double of 25 points – including four of nine from three-point range – 10 rebounds and five assists on the evening. Tai Wynyard scored 18 points and five rebounds in 21 minutes, while Haize Walker (10 points, seven assists, five rebounds and two steals), Aaron Bailey-Nowell (nine points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Dru-Leo Leusogi-Ape (eight points, eight assists, three rebounds and two steals) also added contributions in the win.

Otago’s Akiva McBirney-Griffin (23 points, five rebounds) was the leading scorer, with Isaiah Moss (12 points, two rebounds) also hitting double-figure points, In 20 minutes off the bench, Robert Coman had seven points and 11 rebounds, while Gerasimos McKay stood tall with six points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals in the loss.

Round 4 of the NZNBL sees the Nelson Giants first host the Canterbury Rams before travelling to face the Otago Nuggets, whilst the Taranaki Mountainairs host Hawke’s Bay Hawks, with the Hawks also having to travel to Auckland to meet the Huskies. Meanwhile Southland Sharks have an extended break until next Sunday where they host Nelson Giants at ILT Stadium.

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Hawks, Nuggets and Giants secure wins in Saturday night triple treat

THERE was no shortage of available basketball around in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) last night, with three clashes taking pace across the country. Hawke’s Bay Hawks handed Southland Sharks their second consecutive loss, as the Otago Nuggets sent the Manawatu Jets to 0-4, and Nelson Giants grabbed their first win of the season with a victory on the road against the Franklin Bulls.

Starting off at the Pettigrew Arena, Hawke’s Bay Hawks kept in touch with the top of the table Wellington Saints by remaining undefeated this season thanks to a victory over Southland Sharks. The Hawks started strongly to lead by two points at the first break and then nine at half-time. By the final break the home team had blown the lead out to 16, and while the Sharks had cut the eventual deficit back to 12 with a spirited final term, it would not be enough.

Derone Raukawa was the star, earning Player of the Match honours thanks to 28 points, five assists and three rebounds, while Jonathan Janssen was enormous off the boards, racking up a massive double-double of 11 points, 15 rebounds and two assists. Devondrick Walker (16 points, two rebounds and two steals) and Everard Bartlett (14 points, three rebounds) also hit double-figure points, and Hyrum Harris (nine points, eight rebounds) and Ethan Rusbatch (seven points, four rebounds and two assists) also contributed on the scoreboard.

Josh Cunningham was the star for the Sharks once again, knocking down 21 points – including all three attempts from long-range – as well as 11 rebounds. Dom Kelman-Poto (14 points, seven rebounds and three assists) and Alonzo Burton (14 points, two steals) both hit the scoreboard well, while Courtney Belger (seven points, two rebounds) and Toby Gilloolly (five points two rebounds and three steals) were also steadfast in defeat.

The Hawks next play the Nelson Giants next Sunday night, while the Sharks travel to Franklin to take on the Bulls on Friday night.

Otago Nuggets grabbed their second win of the season with the reigning premiers stringing back-to-back victories since an opening night loss to Wellington Saints, knocking off Manawatu Jets to sentence them to their fourth consecutive defeat. The Nuggets dominated the opening term to race out to a 25-12 lead at quarter time. An explosive high-scoring second quarter saw the Jets slam home 37 points to 29 to cut the deficit to five points, before the Nuggets again took control to win the third term 29-20 and hold a 14-point advantage with a quarter to play. Refusing to throw the towel in, the Jets kept fighting and scored 27-25, but would fall short to the Nuggets, 108-96.

Isaiah Moss was named Player of the Match, putting on a shooting clinic with seven of 13 long-range attempts dropping as he went on his merry way for 33 points in 33 minutes, as well as seven rebounds and three steals for the Nuggets. Sam Timmins crashed the boards and set up the offence on his way to a double-double and almost triple-double of 23 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and two blocks, while Gerasimos McKay (18 points, five rebounds) also stood strong. Josh Aitcheson (10 points) hit double-figure points starting, while Darcy Knox (11 points, six rebounds) came off the bench to have an impact in 19 minutes.

For the Jets, Daishon Knight scored 29 points, six rebounds, four steals and two assists, creating a damaging tag-team with Jayden Bezzant (23 points, four assists and three rebounds). Shane Temara (14 points, 15 rebounds) had enormous impact off the boards, while Jake McKinlay (13 points, eight rebounds and two steals) and Deandre Daniels (seven points, seven rebounds) also did well. The Jets will now have to tweak some things before a fixture quirk sees them taking on the Otago Nuggets again in their next game on Saturday night, but this time they return to their home court.

In the third game on the night up at Franklin Pool and Leisure Centre, Nelson Giants proved too strong for Franklin Bulls, getting up by 13 points in a four-quarter performance. The Giants won three of the four quarters, but most of the damage was done early, racing out to a nine-point lead after one quarter of play. They extended it to 12 by half-time, and whilst the teams were fairly even in the second half, the Bulls could not make inroads further and went down, 107-94.

Hunter Hale won Player of the Match honours with 26 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and five steals in an outstanding performance that almost netted him a triple-double. He was one of five Giants players to hit double-figure points as the starters all shared the load. Donte Ingram (19 points, 10 rebounds and four assists) picked up a double-double, Thomas Ingram (15 points, four rebounds and two assists) contributed across multiple facets, while Anzac Risetto (14 points, two rebounds) and Sam Dempster (13 points, four rebounds) were both busy.

For the Bulls, Josh Selby continued his remarkable start to the season playing every minute in the loss and put up 36 points – including six of 11 from three-point range – along with six rebounds and four assists. Zane Waterman had a double-double of 20 points, 12 rebounds and two assists, while Jaylen Gerrand came off the bench for 10 points, two rebounds and two assists. Others contributed in small parts, but it was the duo of Selby and Waterman who really stepped up to the plate in the loss.

The Bulls next host the Southland Sharks on Friday night, with the Giants not having much time to recover, taking on Auckland Huskies tonight, before a clash with another undefeated side in the Wellington Saints next Saturday night.

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Selby and Waterman lead Bulls to win in Bailey-Nowell’s 300th

FRANKLIN Bulls have triumphed over Taranaki Mountainairs for the Bulls’ second win of the season thanks to a dominant second half at TSB Stadium last night. Celebrating veteran, Aaron Bailey-Nowell‘s 300th game, the Bulls managed to stand up when it counted thanks to huge efforts from Josh Selby and Zane Waterman cancelling out yet another double-double from Airs’ Marcel Jones. With a 56-39 second half, the Bulls got up by 16 points, 101-85.

The Bulls started off the night with an early lead, taking a one-point advantage into quarter time following a 24-23 opening term. The Airs, in front of a home crowd, were not going to lie down though, grabbing the momentum and the lead by as much as nine points. Having had narrow leads in the opening term, the nine-point advantage midway through the second quarter looked to have the home team on top. A late charge from the Bulls though cut it down to just the one point by the main break.

Taranaki started off strongly in the third to quickly hold momentum in the opening few minutes and lead by as much as four points, but once they surrendered the lead at the 7:19 minute mark of the third term, they never got it back. For the last seven minutes the Bulls piled on 19-10 to lead by nine points at the final break. Once the Bulls started to pile on the scoreboard pressure, there was no stopping them and they hit the double-digit lead early in the final term, never looking back, wining the last quarter 26-19 for a comfortable 101-85 victory.

The Bulls shot at a higher efficiency, with 58 to 50 per cent from two-point range, and nailing 15 three-pointers compared to the Airs’ 11. The Bulls also got to the free-throw line more often with 10 of 16 compared to a 100 per cent success rate from just four chances for the home team. Across the board the Bulls had the ascendancy with more rebounds (43-39), assists (17-15) and steals (11-5), but it was the personal fouls count that really stood out, as the Airs committed 20-6, and also had three more turnovers (15-12), with the Bulls punishing them from turnovers with 21 points to 15. The Airs were better in the paint though, picking up 44 points to 36, and had 11 second chance points to seven.

Selby won Player of the Match honours with 34 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals in an all-round performance, dropping a massive seven of 10 from three-point range for an overall efficiency of 65 per cent. Waterman was not far behind with a huge double-double of 27 points (57 per cent efficiency) and 16 rebounds – seven offensive – to go with four assists. Joseph Nunag was the other key scorer for the Bulls with 14 points and three assists, while Nicholas Fee put together a valued performance of eight points, six assists, five rebounds and two steals.

Jones was far and away the best for the Airs, picking up another double-double of 33 points (54 per cent efficiency and six of 11 from long-range), 10 rebounds and two assists. Tai Wynyard had 18 points, three rebounds and two steals, Haize Walker finished with 11 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Bailey-Nowell had the two points, eight rebounds, three assists and a steal in his milestone game.

Franklin Bulls have a short turnaround with a game against the Nelson Giants tomorrow, whilst the Airs have an extended break until Sunday, May 16 when they lock horns with Otago Nuggets.

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2021 NZNBL Round 2 preview: Top two sides do battle in Friday night blockbuster

THE top two sides will lock horns in a massive Friday night blockbuster clash in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL), with a number of undefeated matches, as well as winless head-to-heads set to shake up the ladder at the conclusion of Round 2.

TARANAKI MOUNTAINAIRS vs. FRANKLIN BULLS
Thursday, May 6 @ 7:30pm
TSB Stadium

In their first home game of the season, Taranaki Mountainairs will be hoping to break their back-to-back losses from Round 1 against the 1-1 Franklin Bulls. After dropping their opening game, the Bulls bounced back to win their second encounter, and sit in sixth with an almost identical points for and points against column, and will be keen to win for Aaron Bailey-Nowell‘s 300th NZNBL game. Marcel Jones has started off as one would expect for the Airs, averaging 17.5 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game, teaming up well with shooter Francis Mulvihill (10.5 points, 4.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals). The pair are the only players to average double-figure points after two matches, with Franklin Bulls by comparison having five. Josh Selby has proven to be one of the most prolific shooters in the competition, dropping 26.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 3.0 steals, whilst in his only match in Round 1, Zan Waterman managed 25 points and 14 rebounds. Joseph Nunag (17.0 points, 2.5 assists) and Denhym Brooks (12 points, four rebounds) are the other key scorers for the Bulls, and they will be favourites to win this clash.

WELLINGTON SAINTS vs. SOUTHLAND SHARKS
Friday, May 7 @ 7:30pm
TSB Bank Arena

A top of the table clash between two undefeated sides is set to light up TSB Bank Arena on Friday night, with the Wellington Saints and Southland Sharks making the perfect starts to their 2021 campaigns after missing the 2020 season. The Saints are the most successful team in the competition’s history, and they have started off on fire, with a points differential of 43. The Sharks are the next best side with a lower scoring output, but also conceding less to be plus-21 from their Round 1 clashes. Dion Prewster has been the top player in the NZNBL to start the season, earning two Player of the Match awards for his 31 points, five rebounds, 4.5 assists and two steals per game. Kerwin Roach (18.5 points, 4.5 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals) and Romaro Gill (11.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks) have also started the season in strong form. For the Sharks, they have a trio of dominant players off the boards who can also shoot, with Josh Cunningham (14.0 points, 9.5 rebounds), Dom Kelman-Poto (11.0 points, 7.5 rebounds) and Toby Gillooly (12.5 points, 7.0 rebounds) likely to stretch the Saints close to the basket.

CANTERBURY RAMS vs. MANAWATU JETS
Friday, May 7 @ 7:30pm
Cowles Stadium

A battle between two winless sides is the opposite Friday night clash, as the seventh placed Jets take on the last placed Rams. The Jets have come close and are only minus 10 for the points differential thus far, whilst the Rams have started off the season like they did last season – before charging up in finals – with a minus-35 points differential and sitting on the bottom. Quintin Bailey (16.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists) has shared the top points-scorer nod with import Deshon Taylor (16.5 points, 5.5 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals). The other two players to have impacted the scoreboard across both games are Ben Constable (11.0 points, 5.5 rebounds) and EJ Singler (11.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists). The Jets have had some prominent scorers, but not a lot from their depth, as Daishon Knight (26.5 points, 3.5 assists, 3.0 steals and 2.0 rebounds) has been impressive, shooting at 69.7 per cent from the field. Jayden Bezzant has been a deadeye himself with 22.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists with a 66.7 per cent clip, while Shane Temara (17.0 points, 12.0 points) and DeAndre Daniels (13.5 points, 10.0 rebounds) are averaging double-doubles. The Jets have the top-end talent to be favourites in this encounter.

FRANKLIN BULLS vs. NELSON GIANTS
Saturday, May 8 @ 7:30pm
Franklin Pool & Leisure Centre

Coming back for their second game of the weekend, the Franklin Bulls could build some momentum in Round 2 if they can string back-to-back victories against winless sides. The Bulls’ second match comes on Saturday night at home up against Nelson Giants, with the Giants relying a lot on import Donte Ingram in game one. The Giants suffered a 19-point loss last week, and Ingram was the only scorer in double-digits with 20 points, six rebounds and three assists. Sam Dempster (seven points, nine rebounds) helped off the boards, while Hunter Hale (eight points, six rebounds and three assists) did a bit of everything. It will be a tough ask for the Giants, but it was only one game, so they will be looking for a better effort here.

OTAGO NUGGETS vs. MANAWATU JETS
Saturday, May 8 @ 7:30pm
Edgar Centre

Having clashed with the Rams on Friday night, the Jets then face reigning premiers Otago Nuggets on Saturday night. The 2020 NZNBL Grand Final rematch will see the sides come in with no more than two wins between them, though the Nuggets looked impressive in their second game out. As mentioned above, the Jets have some serious top-end talent, but the Nuggets can match them in that department. They have only has three players score more than three points per game in the opening two matches, as Isaiah Moss (10 points, three rebounds), Sam Timmins (nine points, 4.5 rebounds) and Josh Aitcheson (seven points, 2.5 rebounds) the main focal points. They will need to share the load against a high-scoring Jets outfit.

HAWKE’S BAY HAWKS vs. SOUTHLAND SHARKS
Saturday, May 8 @ 7:30pm
Pettigrew Green Arena

It will be Southland Shark’s turn to do the double-up in what is a tough weekend for them against two other undefeated sides. With the premiership favourites Wellington Saints the Friday night clash, the Sharks then turn their attention to the fourth placed Hawke’s Bay Hawks on Saturday night. The Hawks have only played the one game, but their start power certainly fired, with Devondrick Walker having a night out with 26 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Hyrum Harris marked his return to the Hawks in style with 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Jonathan Janssen (12 points, nine rebounds) and Ethan Rusbatch (10 points, six rebounds) were also prolific off the boards, and the Hawks will really worry the Sharks in this Round 2 contest.

AUCKLAND HUSKIES vs. NELSON GIANTS
Sunday, May 9 @ 5:00pm
Eventfinda Stadium

The last undefeated side in Auckland Huskies host the final game of the NZNBL Round 2 up against the Nelson Giants who will be coming off a clash against Franklin Bulls the night before. The standalone Sunday evening game will be favoured for the Huskies who have ticked off both challenges in Round 1, and will be looking to take down the Giants in this one. Jeremy Kendle has been running hot in the league, putting up 31 points, 5.5 assists and five rebounds per game as one of the most dominant shooters thus far. Teenage star Dontae Nance made a statement in Round 1 with 22 points and four rebounds, while Brooke Ruscoe (15.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists) and Nick Barrow (11.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists) also impressive in the opening round of action.

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Hawks swoop to claim impressive win over Rams

HAWKES Bay Hawks have swooped in the bookend terms to post an impressive 14-point win over Canterbury Rams. The Hawks dominated the opening term, racing to a 13-point lead at quarter time over the Rams, and whilst the Rams did managed to claw back some of the deficit, another standout fourth term sealed the deal and the home fans went home happy with a 104-90 victory.

The Hawks tipped off the game in style with a dominant 30-17 opening term to bolt to a 13-point advantage at the first break. Canterbury hit back by cutting the deficit to single digits at the half, and then both teams could not be separated in the third term. In the end though, a 29-24 final quarter ultimately pushed the result beyond doubt as the Hawks won by 14 points.

Canterbury actually shot more effectively from the field, knocking down 49 per cent of the field goals the Rams took, with a 57 per cent two-point percentage. Near-identical three-point range accuracies cancelled each other out, though the Hawks’ ability to get to the free throw line and convert (21 of 22 to six of 11) really counted. In the end, the Hawks scored 42 rebounds to 33, five steals to three and punished the Rams off turnovers with 24 points to seven. The Rams also topped the assist count (19-16), and had double the points off the bench (26-3), but the Hawks were too consistent across the board.

Devondrick Walker knocked down a game-high 26 points, as well as five rebounds and five assists, whilst Derone Raukawa shone thanks to his 25 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Hyrum Harris (18 points, seven rebounds and three assists), Jonathan Janssen (12 points, nine rebounds and two assists) and Ethan Rubatsch (10 points, six rebounds and two blocks) were also strong contributing starters. The experienced Everard Bartlett was the only scorer off the bench, but held up his own with 13 points – including three of five from long-range – two rebounds and two assists.

For the Rams, Quintin Bailey had the most points with 21, as well as five rebounds and two assists, but had plenty of help despite the loss. EJ Singler had the 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists – though seven turnovers – while Deshon Taylor also shared with 15 points, as well as four assists and two rebounds. Sam Smith (10 points, five rebounds and four assists) and Derek Albertsen (10 points, two steals) reached double-figures, though it was the work of Ben Constable from three-point range (four of five) which saw the deadeye shooter finish with 16 points and six rebounds.

Hawkes Bay Hawks next play on Saturday night when they take on the unbeaten Southland Sharks, while the Rams will play the night before against Manawatu Jets.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Saints and Huskies get up to create early ladder separation

ALL three Round 1 winners have now made it 2-0 from the opening six games, leaving the six other sides winless in their respective opening encounters. The Wellington Saints proved too strong for Canterbury Rams, winning 95-74 last night, while Auckland Huskies had a tougher assignment on the night against Manawatu Jets but eventually got the job done by nine points, 106-97.

In the Saints game, Wellington won three of the four quarters against the Rams, starting strongly to take a three-point advantage over Canterbury at quarter time, before blowing out the margin to lead by a whopping 13 points at the main break. The 26-16 second term was a huge factor in the win, though the visitors did hit back with a high-scoring 27-23 third quarter. That cut the deficit to just six at the final break, but a dominant 23-11 final term saw off any chance of a comeback from the Rams.

The Saints who shot more effectively, hitting 55 per cent of their chances from the field, having one less shot, but six more makes as the Rams recorded a 45 per cent efficiency. Neither side was particularly good from the charity stripe (63 to 55 per cent in the Rams’ favour), whilst both teams hit nine triples. The Saints did win the rebound count (38-32), as well as the steals (6-3), blocks (3-1) and dominated the points in the paint (48-36) and from turnovers (21-8), while the Rams had more assists (16-13).

Dion Prewster backed up his enormous Round 1 effort with another huge night out, picking up 31 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists while Kevin Roach Jr (18 points, seven assists and five rebounds) and Romaro Gill (17 points, seven rebounds and two blocks) were also strong players from the starting tip-off. Ken Tuffin nailed 13 points – including three of five from long-range – while Tohi Smith-Milner proved a problem off the boards with nine rebounds and three assists to accompany eight points.

For the Rams, Deshon Taylor started his season with a team-high 18 points and seven assists as well as two rebounds and three steals. Jack Salt finally made it onto an NZNBL court and hit up 16 points and five rebounds in 25 minutes, while Quintin Bailey (12 points, three rebounds) and Alex Talma (nine points, three rebounds) were also steadfast in defeat.

Meanwhile in the other match, the Huskies outlasted the Jets in a high-scoring thriller, coming from seven points down at the first break to post a 106-97 victory. The Huskies found themselves trailing 24-17 at quarter time, but slowly turned it around with a 27-22 second quarter to head into half-time trailing by just two points. They hit the front in the third term courtesy of a 29-22 quarter, then held on with a high-scoring 33-29 final term to win by nine points.

The Jets made the most of less chances, shooting at 51 per cent from the field to the Huskies’ 49 per cent, but that was largely due to a high two-point range efficiency, knocking down 66 per cent of their shots to the Huskies’ 53 per cent. From long-range the Huskies capitalised with 11 triples to the Jets’ five, and only missed one of 14 free throws. The Huskies led the rebounds (44-40), assists (16-15), steals (9-7) and points from turnovers (20-10), having just the eight turnovers to the Jets’ 12. Manawatu did dominate in the paint with 60 points to 52, and had 15-10 second chance points.

Two players knocked down 30 points on the night, with Jeremy Kendle again being a key contributor in the Huskies’ win. He hit 30 points – at 58 per cent efficiency from the field – as well as eight rebounds, recording four of nine three-point attempts. Dontae Nance came off the bench for 26 points and four rebounds, as Sean Murphy picked up a double-double himself of 14 points and 11 rebounds. Brooke Ruscoe-Taiaroa was the other big points scorer with 14 , as well as four assists, three rebounds and three steals.

For the Jets, Daishon Knight came off the bench for an equal game-high 30 points, as well as six assists and three steals, nailing every one of his 13 attempts from two-point range. Shane Temara (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Jayden Bezzant (15 points, three assists) were others who stood out from the starting perspective, while Deandre Daniels (12 points, five rebounds) was strong off the bench.

Manawatu Jets have he quickest turnaround of the four sides, taking on Franklin Bulls tonight, with the Canterbury Rams playing Hawkes Bay Hawks tomorrow. Wellington Saints host fellow undefeated side Southland Sharks next Friday night, while the Auckland Huskies wait until Sunday week to take on Nelson Giants at home.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Cunningham’s jumper saves Sharks in thriller with Airs

A TWO-point jump shot from Josh Cunningham in the dying seconds has saved Southland Sharks from surrendering a 13-point half-time lead, just getting past a determined Taranaki Mountainairs by that exact jump shot, 78-76. The Sharks dominated the opening term to race out to a 12-point lead, and held the 13-point advantage at the main break, before the Airs hit back. Over the next two quarters, the visitors piled on 42 points to 31 to race back into contention, even levelling the scores with 12 seconds on the clock, before Cunningham hit the winning shot with seven seconds to go.

The Sharks took control from the first tip-off, scoring the first five points through Dom Kelman-Poto (two) and Courtney Belger (three), while the Airs missed their first three long-range attempts before Tai Wynyard struck true from inside the arc. It was not long before Brayden Inger made his presence felt, worrying the Airs’ defence and getting to the line. His two successful free throws in the final few minutes put the lead out to 19-9, and whilst Marcel Jones did get a basket back, the Sharks secured the last four points for a 23-11 first term lead.

The game was much more even after quarter time, as the Sharks got out to a 15-point lead, but Jones continued to be a problem, and for each of the home team’s baskets, the Airs responded with five different players scoring midway through the term. Jones and Francis Mulvihill added five consecutive points to drag the deficit back to within 10, but Toby Gillooly and Kelman-Poto quickly stretched that out again, with only a Jones triple in the final seven seconds making it a 13-point half-time deficit.

Southland started the third like they had the first half, scoring the first seven points of the match to race out to a game-high 20-point lead. It looked like it might end up a blowout, but a timeout when the Airs were down by 18 points with five minutes on the clock changed things. Led by Haize Walker, and cameos from Wynyard and Nelson Kirksey, the Airs scored 13 consecutive points and with a 61-54 scoreline at the final break, it was well and truly game on.

The Airs got within five when Walker nailed back-to-back free throws, but a run of five consecutive points for the Sharks pushed the lead back out to 10. The largest margin of the final term was 12, when Alonzo Burton nailed a triple with 6:15 on the clock and the score read 71-59. Six straight points saw that lead halved until Cunningham stepped up. He delivered with the layup as well as the And-One chance, and the Sharks were out to a nine-point lead with 3:41 on the clock.

Then came the Airs. Wynyard quickly responded with a turnaround jump shot, and when Jones nailed a triple with 89 seconds on the clock, the deficit was just five points. Belger (twice) and Burton both missed chances in the final minute, and when Calin Davison successfully delivered off the alley-oop, it was three points the difference and all of a sudden, the tension in the building was sky high. Gillooly stretched it out to a two-play game with only one of two free throws with 17 seconds on the clock, and Jones returned to the action to hit a jump shot with 13 seconds left. He unluckily missed the And-One chance off the foul, but when Wynyard scooped up the offensive rebounds and hit the jumper, scores were level with 12 seconds on the clock.

In a change up, Jones was subbed out with Walker subbed back in, only for Cunningham to be the hero with seven seconds on the clock. His jumper handed the Sharks the lead, and whilst Jones was quickly brought back on for Kirksey and chosen as the man to try and win the game from long-range, his shot missed and the buzzer sounded with the Sharks victorious, 78-76.

In the end, the Sharks were not as accurate as they could have been – shooting at 34 to 43 per cent from the field, but their work in winning the ball back – 14 steals to two – was phenomenal, whilst the Airs wasted possession with 18 turnovers to eight. The Sharks also punished the Airs for their turnovers, delivering 24 points to 10, though the visitors won the rebounds (51-47) and had six more points in the paint (44-38).

Cunningham was named man of the match thanks to his game-winner and the highest points for the Sharks, picking up 18, as well as eight rebounds and two steals. He was well supported by Burton (15 points – three of seven from long-range – four rebounds, three assists and two steals), Gillooly (13 points, 11 rebounds and two assists) and Kelman-Poto (11 points, eight rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocks).

For the Airs, Jones lived up to his double-double ability with 23 points and 10 rebounds, as well as six assists and a block. Walker finished with 15 points, five rebounds and four assists, hitting four of eight from three-point range, while Wynyard (11 points, nine rebounds and two assists) and Mulvihill (10 points, six rebounds and five assists). Kirksey was also prominent off the bench with seven points and seven rebounds in 17 minutes on court.

The Airs take on Otago Nuggets tomorrow night in a quick turnaround, while the Sharks will have a break until May 7 when they lock horns with the Wellington Saints.

Picture credit: NZNBL

Sharks bite hard for final quarter frenzy

SOUTHLAND Sharks returned to the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) in style, posting a 19-point win over last year’s wooden spooners, Nelson Giants. The teams were engaged in a tight battle throughout the first half, but eventually the visitors overwhelmed their opponents, smelling blood in the water in the final term to blow out an eight-point advantage at three quarter time to win, 84-65.

The first quarter was neck-and-neck as Giants’ Sam Dempster hit a three-pointer in the opening 13 seconds on the game, which was matched by Sharks’ Dom Kelman-Poto‘s long-range success not long after. There was not much between the teams all term, as a Brayden Inger triple late in the quarter put the lead out to five, before Nicholas Trathen picked up a board off his own floating jump shot to produced a clean layup and cut the Giants’ deficit to three at the first break.

Inger was quick out of the blocks with yet another triple as the long-range makes were hitting their mark, and the Sharks’ ability to counter any two-point response with a triple was building their lead ever so slightly. Five consecutive points from Donte Ingram reduced the deficit to just two points after two minutes in the quarter, but this time it would be back-to-back triples from Toby Gillooly off two assists from Tom Cowie, who punished the home side and the lead was out to a game-high eight points.

Each time the Giants would close in, the Sharks would find a way to keep them at arms-length. Neither team could seemingly score for the midpoint of the quarter, and at one point, there were six consecutive free throws between the sides, and the Giants drew to within two points at the 1:48 mark. The exciting Alonzo Burton quickly put a stop to that with a floating jump shot, but nonetheless the four-point margin at half-time had the teams delicately poised.

The scoring woes continued through the third term, which just 22 combined points scored – 13-9 in favour of the Giants – after there had been 39 points scored in the first and second terms. Similar to the first two quarters, the Giants drew to within three points with two minutes on the clock, but missed chances from the home team saw the Sharks score six of the last seven points to increase the lead out to eight the final change.

The last stanza was counter contrasting to the low-scoring scrap of the third, as the Sharks led loose from the get-go. Aside from a Hunter Hale response in the first 20 seconds, the Sharks piled on 10 of the first 12 points for a 16-point lead by the 8:14 minute mark. From there, they were never headed despite the best efforts of the Giants, as the lead stretched out to its final margin by midway through the term, and even ticked over to the 22 points in the final two minutes. To the Giants credit, they scored seven of the last 11 points, but it would be too little, too late as the damage was done in the first few minutes of the quarter.

In a real even team performance where six players hit double-figure points, Josh Cunningham earned Player of the Match honours with a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds. Inger topped the scorers for the Sharks with 15 points, four assists and four rebounds, while Courtney Belger had 14 points, three assists, three rebounds and two steals. Gillooly (12 points, three points), Kelman-Poto (11 points, seven rebounds) and Sione Helu (10 points, two assists) were the others to hit double-figure points.

For the Giants, Donte Ingram was the standout shooter, putting up 20 points for his side, as well as six rebounds and three assists, while Tom Ingram also managed the nine points and three rebounds. Dempster was lively off the boards and close to a double-double thanks to nine points, nine rebounds and two assists, while Hale had the eight points, six rebounds and three assists.

Southland Sharks play this Friday night against Canterbury Rams back at home at the TSB Bank Arena, while the Giants have an extended break until Round 2 when they lock horns with the Franklin Bulls on Saturday, May 8.

Picture credit: NZNBL