Tag: rionne papa

Gold Rush win back-to-back games as Dream starts to fade

OTAGO Gold Rush are running hot in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) 18IN18 competition, winning back-to-back games to level their condensed season at 2-2, whilst also handing reigning premiers Auckland Dream the same fate after downing them by 10 points last night. It was the third consecutive night with a 10-point differential between the sides, as Otago won 73-63 off the back of a dominant rebounding display.

Needing to start strong after their first loss a couple of nights ago, the Dream got off with the first basket to Amanda Wayment, and a triple to Sharne Robati. It would be Robati who scored seven of the first 11 points in the game, as Savanna Handevidt scored the only Gold Rush basket in the opening four minutes. The Dream were up 9-2 and looking hot from the get-go, but the next four points to Lisa Wallbutton settled the Gold Rush down.

Rionne Papa hit an an impressive hookshot with four minutes remaining in the term to extend the Dream’s lead out to five again, but back-to-back baskets – including a triple – from Otago’s Hannah Matahaere tied the scores. Olivia Berry put her side back in front, only for Tara Clement to hit a triple and regain the lead for the Gold Rush. From there, the Gold Rush managed to hold it for the rest of the term, as a second Clement triple in the final minute helped Otago lead 19-14 at the first break.

Straight out of the break it was Handevidt getting on the board and extending the Gold Rush’s lead out to seven, before Amanda Buck and Robati cut it to three in response. The teams traded baskets through Zoe Richards – who scored her first points of the night – and Wayment – though it was the red-hot Handevidt who hit the next five points and the Gold Rush raced to an eight-point lead with four minutes to play in the half.

A triple from Berry gave her side some hope, though both teams continually missed shots in the final few minutes of the second term. In fact it was just Jelena Vucinic with three free throws either side of the Berry basket that eventually counted, and the Dream were back within two points at half-time and it was game on.

Eight seconds into the third quarter and Bronwyn Kjestrup was on the board from a quick-fire jumper, followed by a Handevidt basket. Arielle Williams-Mackey had not been a factor in the first half, but she was quick on her long-range bomb to cut the deficit back to three within 90 seconds of the quarter. The Gold Rush seemed to do it the hard way with four points in the next couple of minutes, only for Casyn Buchman to land a three-pointer 20 seconds later and the seven-point lead was cut to four.

It was back to just one with another Williams-Mackey triple, though Matahaere responded in time as the term ticked past the midway point. It was not until the six-and-a-half-minute mark when the Dream hit the front following a third Williams-Mackey triple, and another Berry basket. Once again it was Clement who nailed a long-range attempt of her own to regain the Gold Rush the lead, though no sooner had she done that and Wayment had put the Dream back in front. It was a see-sawing contest to the end of the term, with the Dream in front with 1:45 on the clock, but the last six points of the quarter went to the Gold Rush to retake the lead by four at the final change.

Whilst many expected the Dream to come out firing in the last term, it was the Gold Rush that piled on the pressure early thanks to baskets from Kjestrup and Te Araroa Sopoaga, and the lead was out to nine. Robati, Williams-Mackey and Berry all struck back to continue their scoring run and reduce the deficit to three with 6:25 on the clock, though Richards hit back-to-back baskets through a layup and then jumper for the Gold Rush to be seven up with five minutes to play.

Katelin Noyer scored a crucial triple for the trailing side to get back within four points but each time the Dream got closer, the Gold Rush pulled away. They scored seven of the next eight points to go out to a 10-point lead and were never headed from there. Though the final two minutes from a frantic one, with the scores going from 66-56 to 73-63, as the Gold Rush maintained the rage and got up in a great performance to keep their semi-finals hopes alive and put doubt in Auckland’s chances.

Otago Gold Rush dominated the rebound count 56-39, whilst also capitalising on the second chance points (18-13) and having more points off the bench (25-20). Turnovers did hurt the winning side however, clocking up 24-18 which allowed the Dream to score off those turnovers, with just under half their score (28 points) come from Gold Rush turnovers. The assists were level and the Dream led the fast break points (13-11) and steals (11-9).

Handevidt scored at 60 per cent from the field, hitting six of 10 for 15 points, as well as nine rebounds – five offensive – and three steals. Teaming up well was Sopoaga who ended her night with 19 points, and had contribution off the boards with six rebounds and also seven assists in a starring role. Richards picked up 14 rebounds to go with her nine points, while Clement’s three triples totalled her entire nine points, as well as four rebounds and two steals, as Wallbutton (eight points, 10 rebounds) came close to a double-double.

For the Dream, Robati led all-comers with 15 points, as well as eight rebounds and two assists, while Williams-Mackey managed 13 points despite hitting just four of 20 from the field – all of which were long-range bombs. Buchman had seven points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals in an all-round game, while Wayment picked up six points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Off the bench Berry had 10 points and two steals.

Just four matches remain in the NZNZBL 18IN18 competition, with the Dream taking on the undefeated Harbour Breeze tomorrow night to try and remain in the semi-final hunt, while the Gold Rush lock horns with Canterbury Wildcats on Thursday in the final night of the condensed regular season.

Swish storm home in final term flurry to end Dream run

CAPITAL Swish have announced themselves as a genuine title contender, defeating reigning champions Auckland Dream in the 2020 New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) 18IN18 competition last night. The Swish came into the night with a 1-1 record having knocked off the Canterbury Wildcats, but lost to Harbour Breeze, while the Dream had also accounted for the Wildcats, as well as Waikato Wizards on opening night.

For the majority of the contest there was not much between them, but a sensational final term and the last seven points of the night went to the Swish, to celebrate a remarkable win. A big last term from Grace Simi Vaofusi – scoring 12 of her team’s 27 points – and a double-double from Letava Whippy were massive differences, leaving the Dream needing to regroup ahead of their final two matches and giving the Swish the upper hand when it came to a top two place in the semi-finals.

From the opening tip-off it was clear the Swish were not going to be pushovers, as Vaofusi and Maia Jean Watene both scored baskets in the opening two minutes whilst the usually reliable Amanda Wayment missed free throws, and three of her teammates also missed jump shot opportunities. Instead it was Wayment who got on the board as the time ticked down with eight on the clock, making the layup to make their fourth shot attempt through a layup, drawing contact and this time producing the And-One chance.

Wayment scored her side’s first five points of the match, as she levelled the scores following Whippy’s 50 per cent strike from the free throw line. Then Sharne Robati put her team in front with a couple of successful free throws, but it proved only temporary as Paris Lokotui and Watene got involved for the Swish to regain the lead. Arielle Williams-Mackey – who was he most prolific scorer in the opening two matches for the Dream – finally got on the board with a long-range bomb, and the teams traded blows.The Swish were a little more accurate later in the term to score seven of the last nine points, with Sariah Penese‘s last minute layup putting her side up by four at the first break, 16-12.

That momentum carried into the second with Vaofusi again having a red-hot start putting up the first four points of the quarter to blow the lead out to eight points and an upset was brewing. Casyn Buchman settled the nerves for the Dream with a vital layup, but again the Swish responded with the next five points including back-to-back layups through Dalen Pilitati and Jyodanna Davey respectively for the lead to hit double-figures midway through the quarter.

Needing a response, the Dream got it through a triple from Robati, an Olivia Berry layup and then four points from Williams-Mackey through free throws and a layup to roar back to within two points in an 9-0 run. Vaofusi halted that with an important basket, and a Pilitati triple following a Williams-Mackey layup and the Swish were back out to a five-point buffer. A last minute jumper from Rionne Papa cut the Dream’s deficit to three at half-time with the Swish up, 30-27.

Entering the third term, both teams traded baskets one after the other and each team the Swish managed to get some momentum, the Dream pegged them back. Whippy was providing plenty of resistance close to the basket, getting the layup, copping the contact and slotting the And-One chance to extend it out to six points, only for a Buchman triple to start a remarkable dream run of 12 consecutive points. Papa and Williams- Mackey added four of those each, and from a six-point deficit, the Dream were suddenly ahead by six points.

Despite it looking like the Dream were going to run away with the contest, Whippy and Lokotui had other ideas with back-to-back baskets before Taulelei hit the game-leveller with just over two minutes on the clock. Buchman responded with a triple, but was countered by Grace Gordon with a long-range success of her own. By the three quarter time buzzer, the teams could not be split at 49-apiece.

Initially Wayment hit the first jumper of the final term to hand her team the lead, but the next seven points of the game went the way of the Swish. The momentum-swinging contest went back the other way, as the Dream came from a five-point deficit to hit eight consecutive points of their own and lead by three with just over five minutes remaining. Back-to-back triples for the Swish just provided some breathing space, as Vaofusi and Lokotui were on song.

Williams-Mackey would produce a layup and then follow up with the And-One chance with 67 seconds left on the clock and her team just three points down. Only 22 seconds later, Te Huinga Selby-Rickett would score her first points of the night to extend the lead out to five for the Swish, and back-to-back three-point attempts went begging from Williams-Mackey and Buchman which proved costly. Gordon and Vaofusi had the final say of the contest, scoring the last five points of the game to lock in a 10-point victory 76-66.

The Swish were far more accurate from the field, hitting three more chances from six less shots, shooting at 42 per cent compared to 34 per cent. They also won the rebounds (52-47) and blocks (3-2), but were level in assists and second chance points, while the Dream had three less turnovers (15-18) and and an additional steal (11-10).

Vaofusi hit 21 points, and had four assists, three steals, two rebounds and a block in a big performance, but it was Whippy who notched up a stunning double-double of 15 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, four steals and one block. Lokotui had a big last term to finish with eight points and six rebounds, while Gordon (eight points, four rebounds) and Davey (seven points, three rebounds) were prominent off the bench.

For the Dream, Williams-Mackey finished with a team-high 16 points, accompanying two rebounds, two assists and one steal, while Robati had the most impact, shooting at a higher clip of 42 per cent to finish with 15 points. Robati also had nine rebounds – seven offensive two assists and two steals on the night. Buchman (13 points, six rebounds) and Papa (10 points, three rebounds and one steal) reached double-figure points, while Wayment (seven points, eight rebounds) provided support off the boards.

The Swish have the chance to back up with a match against Otago Gold Rush tonight, before the Dream return tomorrow night hoping to bounce back, also against the Gold Rush.

Picture: Photosport

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

NZNBL 18IN18 team preview: Auckland Dream

AUCKLAND Dream head into the condensed New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) 18IN18 competition in rare company. The Dream are coming off a title already in the Schick 3X3 Cup played over the weekend and will hope to add more silverware to the trophy cabinet when the game expands out to the full court five-player traditional game.

The four players involved in 3×3 Cup glory were Amanda Wayment, Arielle Williams-Mackey, Casyn Buchman and Darci Finnigan. Whilst Finnigan twisted her knee in the semi-final and had limited minutes in the 3×3 final, it is expected she should be right to go when the season tips off later this week. All four will play crucial roles in the team success, along with a list that will no doubt provide plenty of highlights throughout the year.

Wayment spent her college days at Brigham Young University in the West Coast Conference of the NCAA. The Cougars were the same college Tall Black and fellow Dream talent Kalani Purcell played at before graduating a year earlier in 2017. The 185cm forward is an athlete who will provide great leadership to the team having captained her college team in her senior year.

Fellow College talent Buchman returns to the Dream after playing there in 2019, averaging the 7.9 points from 19.9 minutes, shooting at an accurate 58.6 per cent. She also picked up the 3.2 rebounds, equally capable off the boards at either end, and is as tough as they come. Meanwhile 18-year-old Williams-Mackey is one to watch as a big-game player as she showed in the 3×3 final, with her accurate shooting and clutch baskets.

The turnaround between the 3×3 Cup and opening night of the NZNBL season is not long, with the Dream first up against Waikato Wizards on Thursday. Led by Tall Ferns assistant coach, Aik Ho the Dream have the talent to go deep in the 18-day tournament. There have been some crucial omissions from last year’s team in Tall Ferns talents, Natalie Taylor, Charmian Mellars and Jordan Hunter alongside Purcell, but other internationals to replace them in Katelin Noyer and Jelena Vucinic.

Both are coming off impressive college seasons, and added to the fact the exciting Sharne Robati will also run around for Auckland makes it a dream team. Rionne Papa and Tania Uluheua round out the 10-player squad, with the team one to watch in 2021 and hopeful of hitting the ground running from night one against the Wizards.

2020 Auckland Dream Full Team List:

Amanda Buck
Amanda Wayment
Casyn Buchman
Darci Finnigan
Jelena Vucinic
Sharne Pupuke-Robati
Rionne Papa
Arielle Williams-Mackey
Tania Uluheua
Katelin Noyer