Tag: nznbl results

Breeze dig deep in final term to blow away plucky Gold Rush

THEY did not have it all their own way, but one of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) 18IN18 title favourites in Harbour Breeze were able to maintain their intensity for longer and step up when it counted to post an important win over Otago Gold Rush. The 11-point win (58-47) allowed the Breeze to move to 2-0 for the season and join Auckland Dream as the other undefeated team thus far in the condensed season, needing all four quarters to finally shake off the fresh Gold Rush.

Coming off an impressive win the night before, Harbour Breeze started with a triple 90 seconds into the contest off the hot hands of Ashleigh Kelman-Poto to get them going. Zoe Richards responded a minute later to become the first official Gold Rush scorer in the 2020 season. A mistake-riddled first term saw few shots being made and a number of fouls being handed out, before Savanna Handevidt produced back-to-back free throws to nudge her team ahead 4-3. Jazzmyne Kailahi-Fulu responded a mere five seconds later off another foul, and midway through the term, the score was 5-4 in favour of the Breeze.

It picked up a little more in the final three minutes as Gabriella Fotu hit an important layup, but Tara Clement and Richards responded again and Gold Rush had the lead back. Clement’s two free throws extended that to three, which was quickly negated by an impressive Keeley Tini triple with less than two minutes on the clock. Scoring five consecutive points, the Gold Rush looked to be in firm control at 15-10 with 28 seconds remaining on the clock.

Unfortunately for the Gold Rush, a two-point jumper by Olivia Bell with two seconds on the clock, and then another layup, this time from Jessica Moors in the first 15 seconds of the second term cut the deficit to just one. Once again scoring was scarce in the first half of the quarter, as Kailahi-Fulu put her second lot of points on the board to tie the scores for the Breeze, before Moors got to the basket to hand her team the lead midway through the quarter.

Another 90 seconds off the clock and neither team could score credit to the defensive pressure, before Kelman-Poto headed to the charity stripe and pushed the Breeze’s lead out to a two-possession game. Richards and Te Araroa Sopoaga responded, with the latter’s three-pointer with 99 seconds left in the term hitting the front, only for Tini and then Foty to respond and the Breeze were back in front by free at half-time.

Not willing to let the game slip, the Gold Rush had the first eight points on the board, with Richards contributing four and not allowing the Breeze a score in the first three and a half minutes. Though as the good teams tend to do, the Breeze – this time through Fotu – found a way – and back-to-back layups from Fotu gave her side the lead in the blink of an eye.

A few minutes later Brooke Blair scored her first points of the night after a big evening the night before thanks to a three-pointer, but the Gold Rush kept coming. The teams traded blows with Tini, Tiarna Clarke and Kailahi-Fulu all adding baskets to push the lead out to a game-high six points. Not much in it at the final break, a Lisa Wallbutton layup with 10 seconds to go, an cut it to three, but it could have been even tighter with Wallbutton missing the And-One chance, then picking up the offensive rebounds but missing the jump shot allowing Moors to hold onto possession in the dying seconds.

Handevidt scored the first point of the final term with one of her two free throws, but the second miss would hurt as Fotu continued her hot streak with another couple of baskets and the lead was back out to six. Unlike the first three quarters, there was plenty of scoring in the first few minutes as Wallbutton hit back-to-back baskets either side of a Zara Jillings miss, and the Gold Rush were within two.

A series of attempts from Richards – where she picked up three offensive rebounds, had two shots and passed two other opportunities off – could not yield a score, and then Fotu drove the dagger in further with a great pass to an open Tini who nailed a triple and the lead was out to five with six minutes on the clock.

The Gold Rush again came hard, getting within two points with four minutes on the clock, but Blair was beginning to become a problem, answering each opposition basket with one of her own. When she dished off a dime to Tini for another three-pointer, the game was looking out of reach for the underdogs. It was fitting that after another series of chances from the Gold Rush that could not result in scoreboard pressure, it was Blair and Tini, off deliberate fouls, that officially put the final nail in the coffin as the lead went out to 12. A Richards jump shot in the last 10 seconds cut the final margin to 11, but it was the Breeze standing up in the final five minutes of the game that was the difference.

Tini’s long-range game yielded her the most points with 15, which saw her make four of seven from long range and pick up two rebounds off the bench. Fotu was a standout with 11 points and seven rebounds, while Blair was clean with a big second half including 11 points, three rebounds and three steals. Jillings’ shooting might have been off – none of 10 chances from the field – but she still was a solid contributor with seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and three blocks. Kelman-Poto (five points, six rebounds and three blocks) and Kailahi-Fulu (seven points, four rebounds and two steals) were both impressive.

For the Gold Rush, Richards hit 12 points, and could have been even more with just six of 18 from the field, but she was able to record eight rebounds, two assists and three steals on the night. Wallbutton off the bench was a standout with 10 points and 13 rebounds, while Sopoaga notched up eight points – only one from eight from the field – and had seven assists, five rebounds and two blocks. Handevidt also stood tall around the basket with seven rebounds to accompany her nine points.

The Gold Rush will look to bounce back tonight when they take on the similarly placed 0-1 Waikato Wizards, while the Breeze now set their sights on Canterbury Wildcats on Thursday.

Picture credit: Photosport

Airs tame Bulls, climb to second win in three-point shooting extravaganza

TARANAKI Mountainairs withstood a number of gallant charges by Franklin Bulls last night to earn a second consecutive win in Week One of the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) Showdown. The Bulls were in their inaugural game and raced out of the blocks early, but the consistency of the Airs throughout the match – including when Franklin hit back hard early in the fourth term – saw Taranaki claim the victory and remain unbeaten thanks to a 107-95 victory.

FRANKLIN BULLS 31 | 21 | 18 | 25 (95)
TARANAKI AIRS 25 | 30 | 27 | 25 (107)


Coming in for their first ever match, no one knew exactly what to expect from the Bulls. After Taranaki’s strong performance the night before, many expected the Airs to burst out of the blocks as Franklin would work its way into the match. Instead, it was quite the opposite. Dom Kelman-Poto scored the first ever point for his side with his second three throw after a foul, and then something no one would have predicted. Three consecutive triples – two from Isaac Davidson and one from Everard Bartlett – saw the Bulls race to a 10-0 lead courtesy of a few misses from the Airs.

The Airs worked their way back into the quarter, but the Bulls long range shooting was clearly going to be a problem as Bartlett sank another triple, and despite Marcel Jones and Shane Temara teaming up to steady the ship, it was Kelman-Poto’s turn to strike the dagger from long rage. In less than four minutes of action, Franklin had drained five triples and led 16-6. The match was seemingly starting to slip away from the Airs when Davidson hit back-to-back triples – making it four in a quarter – and the lead was out to 15. Tarananki worked its way back in after a few Franklin misses to cut the deficit as little as five, before Jackson Stubbins joined the part with a triple late. Luckily for the Airs, Tai Wynard made good on a two-point jump shot with three seconds remaining.

Returning to the court for the second quarter and a six-point deficit, the Airs needed to find something, and one positive was that Derone Raukawa (four points in quarter one) had not lit it up yet. Instead, Wynyard and Jones were working together to claw back the lead, as Sam Timmins scored his first points in Bulls colours early in the second quarter. The teams were trading blows until Davidson once again popped up to drain a fifth triple and Franklin had some breathing space with a seven-point lead.

On debut, Ken Tuffin scored his first points with a nice defensive rebound and move down the other end for a layup move. With the Bulls leading by eight points midway through the term, Raukawa stepped up with an important triple, and he, Jones and Tuffin went on a scoring spree. The latter drilled a three-pointer to hand Taranaki its first lead of the game thus far with just over four minutes remaining.

When Wynyard sank a turn around jumper a couple of minutes later, the crowd could hardly believe the side that was eight down, was not seven up in a 15-0 scoring run themselves. The Bulls managed to claw their way back, then the term fittingly ended with the teams trading triples, Francis Mulvihill for the Airs and eight seconds later, Bartlett for the Bulls. When it was all said and done, three points separated the sides in favour of the Airs.

Jones’ hot hand continued early in the third with five of the first six points to pick up the Airs’ form where they left off. The Bulls would not be done with yet, as Kelman-Poto and Nicholas Barrow drew the new team within a couple of points, but again it was the team work of Raukawa and Jones who went to work, seven consecutive points. The Bulls were not able to properly capitalise on their free throw shooting when getting the chance, with Barrow only scoring one of the two for the second time in the term, before Baxter Fenwick drained a three-pointer, and Raukawa drove the dragger in with another one of his own. When Tuffin joined the party with a long range bomb at the six-minute mark, the lead had blown out to 17.

Since the midway point of the second term, the Airs had scored 30-15 and were dominating on all fronts. Every challenge was answered by the team that has catapulted itself into genuine title contention. Whilst the Bulls finished the term on a high with a triple from Kelman-Poto – to cut the deficit to 12 – the Airs were firmly in control leading by 12 points, 82-70.

If anyone thought it would be over, then they were given something to seriously consider early in the fourth, as with the exception of a couple of Wynyard buckets for the Airs, the Bulls dug deep to turn it into a contest. Nikau McCullough decided he had not yet had enough of a say on the contest, so casually drilled three triples to start the quarter, as Bartlett joined him in that quest and Timmins managed to gain another couple of points. Within the first three minutes of the term, the Bulls were on parade and had bolted to a two-point deficit.

Jones decided enough was enough and reminded those at The Trusts Arena of his long-range prowess with back-to-back triples himself, the first six points of an 11-point stint. The Bulls could only score one point in that time and the Airs were well on their way to victory with a few minutes remaining and a 14-point lead again. Davidson tried to rally his side back into it with a couple of baskets, and whilst McCullough drilled another three – his fourth of the term – with seven seconds remaining, the Bulls would fall 12 points short as Taranaki headed to bench with a 107-95 victory.

Jones was the star of the show, putting up 29 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and three steals, shooting at 57 per cent from the field and draining four of nine from long range. Raukawa worked his way into the contest after a quiet start to finished with a strong 18 points, and whilst his accuracy was lower than his first night’s contributions, he dished it off six times to teammates. Tuffin’s 10 points, four rebounds and two assists was strong, whilst Wynyard also reached double-figure points thanks to 11 to go with a couple of rebounds.

The ridiculous long-range shooting of the Bulls saw them put up a remarkable 40 attempts, sinking 18 of them, which was more than their points from inside the arc. Davidson was the key architect for the Bulls with 27 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals, as well as six triples from nine attempts. His partner-in-crime, Bartlett had four long-range baskets for 13 points, five assists, three steals and two rebounds. McCulloch drained five of seven from beyond the arc – four in the final term – for 17 points and two rebounds coming off the bench. Kelman-Poto (10 points, four rebounds) and Barrow (11 points, five rebounds) were the other strong contributors.

The Airs now have a couple of days to rest before a blockbuster Saturday night clash with Canterbury Rams, whilst the Bulls will take on the Rams tonight, before facing the Auckland Huskies on Sunday.

Nuggets get it done in tight battle with Jets

IN the first game for both the Manawatu Jets and Otago Nuggets, it did not take long for the Jets to open the scoring. After getting into the groove and momentum of the game both sides found it easy to score, unleashing an enthralling battle to watch with neither side willing to take a backwards step. The game went down to the wire as number one pick Jordan Ngatai landed the match-winning three-pointer in the dying seconds of the game to give the Nuggets the first win of the season (104-100).

MANAWATU JETS 24 | 33 | 16 | 27 (100)
OTAGO NUGGETS 25 | 26 | 27 | 26 (104)


The Jets got off to a screamer, peppering away at the scoreboard and most importantly converting opening up a 6-0 lead. Tanae Samuels was the first to inflict pain on the scoreboard while the highly touted Tom Vodanovich got involved in the scoring moments later sinking a shot from outside the arc. Big man Ngatai inserted himself in the play for the Nuggets but was unable to hit the scoreboard the first couple of tries instead leaving it to Joshua Aitcheson who landed the first blow for his side with a well played layup.

However that was quickly overshadowed with Vodanovich displaying his long-range shooting and hitting back to back threes proving he was a force to be reckoned with. The Jets were not afraid to play the ball around and shoot from down town as Jayden Bezzant proved a key playmaker. The point guard left many in awe with his good handles and ability to dish off dimes in limited space. Bezzant and Vodanovich were combining for just about everything with the two lighting up the court while the Nuggets struggled to hit the scoreboard.

But the tables started to slightly turn as Otago well and truly worked their way back into the quarter thanks to Jarrod Kenny and his strong drive down court. Down 16-4 at one stage the Nuggets reduced the margin to 16-12 at the four minute mark before really putting their foot down and overpowering the Jets in the dying stages of the quarter to claim a one point lead. 

Holding the slimmest of leads at the break the Nuggets had every intention of maintaining that lead with Kenny driving the ball down the court. With the ball bobbling up and down the court it was the Nuggets who settled first claiming a couple of crucial shots before the Jets kicked it up a gear. Inspired by Hyrum Harris and his defensive pressure the Jets were able to generate some attacking forays that saw Samuels convert and take back the lead.

With a wealth of pressure on both teams the lead chopped and changed throughout the term coming to somewhat of a stalemate midway through the team with neither side able to add to their tally such was the inaccuracy and pressure. Ngatai jumped into the thick of things for the Nuggets knocking down a crucial three to push his sides lead out to five points.

Despite things seemingly being on their terms, the Jets stood up to the challenge as Bezzant got busy both on the scoreboard and in terms of playmaking while Vodanovich and Nicholas Fee also got involved, with the latter draining a three retaking the lead with less than three minutes on the clock. Heading into half-time with a six point lead Vodanovich had all but showcased his sheer dominance thanks to 17 points while Bezzant had 14 points. For the Nuggets, Ngatai led the way with 12 points, four rebounds and three assists.

Otago went on a scoring spree in the third quarter knocking back 27 points to 16 in what was an inspired effort. Controlling majority of the play the Jets were quick to add to the scoreboard in the third, with Vodanovich and Harris working well in offence. But the tables slowly started to turn as Jordan Hunt upped the ante for the Nuggets and Kenny got busy hitting the scoreboard.

Input from the likes of Kane Keil and Akiva McBirney-Griffin saw the Nuggets generate even more attacking power and slowly cut the deficit. As the quarter wore on Otago overtook their opponents to take a five point lead credit to their grit and determination to keep the Jets at bay and apply their own offensive masterclass,  

The last quarter delivered plenty of intensity with scores drawing level once again showcasing just how tight the game was. Kenny continued to star doing both the offensive and defensive things well for the Jets. the pace of the game did not let up with both teams streaming down the court and applying a wealth of offensive pressure.

Samuels was a prominent threat for the Jets in the last quarter but it was the efforts of Kenny that stood head and shoulders above everyone else on the court. The 35-year-old was simply in everything, seeming to have the ball on a string and was aggressive on the offensive end tying things up with two minutes left on the clock.

Missing the first free-throw, Darcy Knox did not make the same mistake twice, sinking the second with 44 seconds left on the clock. The ball streamed down the court with Bezzant missing the layup and the ball ending up in the hands of Ngatai who despite having a quiet second half, stood up to the pressure delivering the all important three-pointer. 

It is no surprise that Vodanovich secured a double-double with 28 points and a whopping 14 rebounds, Bezzant top-scored with 30 points and five rebounds while Samuels knocked back 20 points. Harris, while he did not have a huge impact on the scoreboard, managed to reel in 11 rebounds credit to his defensive positioning. For the victors, Kenny wowed with his 28 points and six assists while Ngatai slotted a double-double with his 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Canterbury overcomes setbacks to Ram home win against Huskies

TWO of your first three draft selections ruled out for the season in the week leading up the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) competition? No worries for Canterbury Rams who stepped up last night to post an eye-opening 32-point win over Auckland Huskies. The Rams had to rejig the look of their side in the wake of season-ending injuries to Jack Salt and Joe Cook-Green, but the most cohesive team – having played together more than any other side – looked in-sync and like a title threat this year. Aside from a second term fightback from the Huskies, the Rams were in control for the majority of the game, enjoying a 102-70 victory to kick-start their year.

CANTERBURY RAMS 29 | 17 | 24 | 32 (102)
AUCKLAND HUSKIES 12 | 20 | 16 | 22 (70)


The match started with experienced veteran and Huskies captain, Leon Henry reading an Alex Talma pass then giving it off to Marvin Williams-Dunn for the first score on the board. After missing a three-point attempt, Toby Gillooly produced a neat lay-up to register the Rams’ first score of 2020. Henry and Perth Wildcats development player, Taylor Britt both traded two-points, as Canterbury used its first substitution to bring on Thomas Webley. That decision paid dividends as he picked up a rebound almost immediately then sank a turnaround jump shot, whilst Britt ran the court and put up another layup.

The Rams were starting to take control as the Huskies could not manage to find their range with accuracy. When Gillooly drained a three-point jumper in the seventh minute of the term, the Rams’ lead was out to 12. In the last 90 seconds, Canterbury showed they were not content with a minor lead as they piled on nine points to two to head into the first break with a 29-12 lead.

The second term started as it had finished with Britt sinking two baskets, whilst veteran Rashid Al Kaleem scored either side of the break for the Huskies. Johnny Fesolai managed to get the Huskies back a little with a two-point layup and the and-one basket from the line, but again the Rams raced away to extend the lead by out to 22 points four minutes into the term.

Young gun Taine Murray started to make his presence felt with four consecutive points to drag it back to 18, but then Gillooly returned serve and the Rams were away to the largest lead of the game – 23 points. Back-to-back triples from Tohi Smith-Milner reminded the crowd the game was far from over as the Huskies clawed to within 14 at the main break, but Canterbury was still in control.

All the work the Huskies had done was threatened to be undone early as Sam Smith and Mac Stodart were the first two on the board in the second half. Smith-Milner came back with another converted and-one opportunity, before Gillooly’s superb game continued as he applied pressure to the opposition with an important layup, drilling seven points in the term. Each time the Huskies threw down a challenge, the Rams responded with some class of their own, and the 24-16 term resulted in Canterbury extending the lead out to 22 by the final break and needing a special effort from Auckland to get back into the contest.

Nathan Wilson and Jaylen Gerrand tried their best early with the first four points of the term to cut the deficit back to 18, but the star of the show in Britt stepped up again, and settled the team. The sides traded blows midway through the term, with 21 points in the fourth minute as close as the Huskies got from then on. Talma, Britt, Jack Exeter, Mason Whittaker and Webley scored 14 straight points for the Rams to put the final nail in the Huskies’ coffin.

Murray, Anamata Haku and Wilson managed to cut the margin back a little, with Gerrand’s trey with three seconds remaining – matching that of Whittaker’s triple four seconds earlier – ending the match with the Huskies going down by 32 points in the second game of the competition.

Britt was simply outstanding in a best on court effort, sinking 22 points at a 55 per cent efficiency, whilst also picking up eight rebounds and an assist. Gillooly was equally strong, adding a match-high 25 points, along with six rebounds, two blocks and a steal in the win. Exeter (13 points, two rebounds and two steals) was strong off the bench, whilst Webley had seven points and seven rebounds, and Smith with the seven points, six rebounds and four assists.

For the Huskies, they were missing their top selection in Izayah Mauriohooho Le’afa, but still struggled with connection compared to their rivals, understandable considering the minimal time the team has had together. Smith-Milner scored 15 points, four rebounds, two steals and one assist in the clear standout for Auckland, whilst Wilson finished strong with 10 points, four rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Both Murray (seven points at 20 per cent efficiency) and Henry (two points at 11 per cent efficiency) will be keen to sharpen up their shooting for the next game, though the pair still managed a combined 10 rebounds and five assists.

Canterbury have a night off today before fronting up against a Franklin Bulls outfit tomorrow night, whilst the Huskies have back-to-back matches on the weekend, starting with Manawatu Jets on Saturday.