Tag: Shane Temara

2021 NZNBL team review: Manawatu Jets

IN the wake of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) coming to a close over the weekend, Draft Central will run through each of the 10 competing sides to look at the key stats and players of the 2021 season. The series continues with Manawatu Jets.

SEASON SUMMARY:

Position: 9th
Wins: 4
Losses: 13

KEY STATS:

Points: 89.3 (3rd)
Rebounds: 35.5 (8th)
Assists: 12.4 (10th)
Steals: 6.2 (10th)
Blocks: 3.7 (1st)
Field Goal %: 44.7 (9th)

KEY PLAYERS:

Daishon Knight

Despite a disappointing season from the Jets, Knight was a consistent player throughout, playing every match and starting in all bar one of them. He led the team for points (23.5), assists (5.2) and steals (1.9), with the latter two being a huge issue for the Jets. They finished dead last in both areas, and after Knight, the next highest assist-maker was Jayden Bezzant (2.6), and only one other player had more than one steal per game. Knight shot at 51.1 per cent from the field, though only hit his three-balls at 28.6 per cent. Overall he was a reliable player across the season and one who consistently performed for the Jets.

The American finished the season like a house on fire, racking up a whopping triple-double of 30 points, 16 rebounds, 11 assists and three steals against Canterbury Rams on June 26. He went on to pick up another two double-doubles in the final three games, to really get cooking in the home stretch. He did come close to a triple-double against Franklin Bulls back on June 6, recording 16 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds in just 31 minutes, his lowest time on court all season. That was just one of three times where Knight scored less than 20 points for Jets, in a mirror of consistency.

Deandre Daniels

The other American up the front end took care of the rebounds, finishing second in the category with 86, as well as his 16.4 points and 2.3 blocks, the latter a team-high. It was his ability to deny the opposition time and time again at the basket that kept his team in contention, and as the number one blocking side. He was the only player on the Jets to average more than a block a game, but it was his versatility as a whole from a shooting perspective that was equally impressive. He was able to get in the paint, or get up the jumper, averaging 34.9 per cent from long-range. He did average less than an assist and steal per game however, synonymous with the team’s performance.

His eight points against Wellington Saints in the final game of the year was one of only three times he reached single-digit points, with the other two coming on back-to-back nights in the second round of the season. Showing his resilience, Daniels went from seven points and seven rebounds to 22 points and 12 rebounds against Otago Nuggets a week apart back in May, learning how to play his opponents. His best game came against Southland Sharks on June 11, where he played all 40 minutes and put up 34 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and two assists in a complete performance. He recorded at least four blocks in four games, with a block in all bar one match.

OTHERS:

Bezzant (15.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists) and Shane Temara (16.4 points,. 8.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks) were the other two consistent key contributors, with Jake McKinley‘s 6.8 points and 6.6 rebounds in 11 matches another healthy contribution.

SUMMARY:

Manawatu Jets ultimately struggled in season 2021, only picking up the four wins, though did have many tight contests, particularly early in the season. Had the Jets turned some of those losses into wins, it might have put them on a different trajectory. Whilst they were ranked third for points and first for blocks, their ball-handing skills with assists and steals showed they struggled to create scores from turnovers and playmaking efforts which is an improvement for the future.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

2021 NZNBL Round 11 preview: Ladder defining clashes take centre stage

IT is going to be another action packed round in the New Zealand National Basketball League with a couple of sides getting to ply their trade out on court twice this round as the ladder continues to shape up heading towards the back end of the season. The Saints will be keen to retain top spot while the Mountainairs have two chances to notch up a win.

Nelson Giants vs. Franklin Bulls
Thursday, July 8 @7:30pm
Trafalgar Centre

The contest between the Giants and Bulls is set to be an enthralling one as both sides have had a chequered run in their past few encounters. The Giants are coming in off a loss while the Airs will be riding a wave of success clinching a narrow win last round. Nelson Giants will be hoping to rekindle their form and steal the win to take the ledger to two wins apiece.

Hunter Hale has been one of the most consistent players to-date for the Giants, averaging 26.9 points, 4.7 assists and 4.1 defensive rebounds each time he steps out on court. Teammate Donte Ingram is also one to watch in this clash given he averages 18.8 points making him a handy target. Ingram is also more than capable of dishing off dimes averaging 2.3 assists a game while he also leads the way with 5.6 defensive rebounds. Speaking of rebounds, Samuel Dempster is a real eye catcher thanks to his 5.4 defensive rebounds and team-high average of 2.1 offensive rebounds. The Bulls will need the likes of Joshua Selby and Denhym Brooke to fire on all cylinders and create some real scoreboard presence if they are to defeat the Giants. Selby averages 24.4 points per game while Brooke boasts an average of 11.3 points along with four rebounds.

Southland Sharks vs. Otago Nuggets
Friday, July 9 @7:30pm
ILT Stadium Southland

The Sharks and Nuggets will engage in their second clash of the year with the latter hoping to reverse the fortunes of their previous meeting. Both sides are coming in with similar form guides having won three of their past five games, the only difference being the Nuggets enter the clash fresh off a win.

The combination of Isaiah Moss and Samuel Timmins will be one to watch given the two are the most prolific shooters for the Nuggets. Moss averages 22.2 points per game while Timmins is not far off the pace with 20 points of his own. Timmins is also crafty with ball in hand registering 4.6 assists a game and a whopping 10.7 rebounds highlighting his overall dominance. Gerasimos McKay is another player for the Nuggets that is able to change the course of a game with his ability to contest for the rebound averaging 4.7 a game while he is also able to create attacking forays credit to his 2.5 assists. For the Sharks there is no denying that Dominique Kelman-Poto is the main man to watch. Kelman-Poto tops the table for points with an average of 16.5 per game but will need the likes of Brayden Inger and Joshua Cunningham to ply their trade to impose a commanding score. Inger averages just over 14 points per game while Cunningham can influence both on the scoreboard and off the boards with 6.4 rebounds.

Hawkes Bay Hawks vs. Taranaki Mountainair
Saturday, July 10 @7:30pm
Pettigrew Green Arena

The first Saturday game of the round will see Hawkes Bay Hawks host Taranaki Mountainairs who have had less than a desirable season. The Hawkes will be hoping continue their winnings ways and really assert themselves on the lowly Mountainairs. Taranaki sit firmly at the bottom of the ladder while the Hawks are all the way up the ladder in second and will be eager to notch up a win to create some much needed ladder separation.

Unfortunately for the Airs it is a one man show with Marcel Jones proving to be that man. Jones can light up the court with his drive to the rim and is a force to be reckoned with credit to his average of 23.2 points, 3.8 assists and 8.9 rebounds falling just short of a double-double. If the Airs are any chance of causing a major upset they will need Tai Wynyard to be at his damaging best and apply the pressure on the scoreboard. Throw in the likes of Haize Walker and Aaron Bailey-Nowell who is renowned for his presence off the boards and the Airs have a strong core. But the Hawks are not short on star power with Devondrick Walker able to dominate as shown with his average of 19.1 points while Ethan Rusbatch can chime in with his average of 15.2 points. If those two are kept quiet then look to Jordan Hunt to step up to the plate while Hyrum Harris is also an option both on the scoreboard and with ball in hand credit to his 4.1 assists a game.

Manawatu Jets vs. Wellington Saints
Saturday, July 10 @7:30pm
Ballroom B and M Centre

It could be a blowout game if the top of the table Wellington Saints are able to bring their A-game against the lowly Manawatu Jets. The Jets only have four wins to their name while up the other end of the table the Saints have 12 to their name. The last time these two sides met it was Wellington that got the chocolates by 23 points and will be hoping to repeat those efforts in this outing to solidify their standings.

The Saints are brimming with talent as Dion Prewster, Kerwin Roach Jr and Tohi Smith-Milner are real livewires. Prewster leads the way with 21.1 points to accompany his 4.9 assists while Roach Jr is another dominant scorer credit to his 16.2 points and 4.1 assists a game. When looking at the Jets it is Daishon Knight that tops the table with is 23.3 points and will have to expect plenty of attention from the Saints to shut down his scoring ability. DeAndre Daniels is another exciting option for the Jets averaging 16.9 points per game along with 6.1 defensive rebounds. Shane Temara will need to up the ante for the Jets if they are to cause a boil-over while Jayden Bezzant has also proven to be a livewire at times.

Canterbury Rams vs. Nelson Giants
Saturday, July 10 @7:30pm
Cowles Stadium

A win here for either side will be monumental as the mid-table logjam continues to develop. The Rams will be hoping to capitalise on the Giants fatigue given they would have played only days earlier but Nelson need the victory to keep their finals hopes alive. The Giants pulled off the win the last time they played and will be keen to do it once again to generate some much needed momentum.

It will come down to the workload of Deshon Taylor and whether or not he can inspire the Rams to really get going. Taylor averages 22.1 points per game along with 4.9 assists and 3.9 defensive rebounds showcasing just how influential he is for the side. Another key cog for the Rams is Edward Singler who has proven to be handy on the scoreboard credit to his 18.5 points. It does not stop there for Singler as he also boasts 4.6 assists and 6.2 defensive rebounds. Keep an eye out for Samuel Smith to bob up every now and then for the Rams.

Auckland Huskies vs. Taranaki Mountainair
Sunday, July 11 @5:00pm
Eventafinda Stadium

The Mountainairs will be fronting up for their second game in as many days while the Huskies will be keen to take advantage of their fresh legs. Currently sitting in fourth spot on the ladder a win here could propel Auckland up the ladder and most importantly widen the gap between them and fifth place. Meanwhile for the Mountainairs, it will be a matter of pride as they look for their third win of the season.

Looking at the Huskies and they have a number of big contributors with Chris Johnson paving the way. He is the most prolific scorer for the Huskies averaging 20.1 points a game along with 2.9 assists and an impressive 8.4 rebounds. Meanwhile teammates Dontae Nance and Brook Ruscoe-Taiaroa are also right up there averaging 11.6 and 11.4 points respectively. Nance has also proven to be a handy contributor with ball in hand averaging 2.9 assists while Zach Riley has showcased his strength off the boards with 3.7 defensive rebounds. Throw in the services of American import Justin Bibbs and the Huskies have the makings for a big win if all of their structures fall into place. For the Mountainairs there is no denying that it is Jones that is the biggest threat. He is an imposing force across all aspects of the court and will need to have a mammoth performance if the last placed side are a chance to claim victory.

Wellington Saints vs. Otago Nuggets
Monday, July 12 @7:30pm
TSB Bank Arena

The final game of the round plays host to the top of the table Wellington Saints and fifth placed Nuggets. Both sides will be entering their second game for the round meaning the level of bench-depth from sides is sure to be the game changer. The two teams have played their fair share of games this season meeting five times already with Wellington walking away with the chocolates each and every time meaning it will be a matter of pride and redemption for the Nuggets this time around.

The Nuggets have the upper hand when it comes to defensive rebounds and assists and will be eager to get that style of play up and running early to catch the Saints on the back foot. But Wellington are much cleaner with ball in hand only averaging 13.85 turnovers a game in comparison to the Nuggets’ 14.93 which means they are able to capitalise when it counts. When it comes to top performers it is hard to go past the likes of Timmins and Moss for the Nuggets while Prewster, Roach and Taane Samuel are livewires for the Saints.

Photo credit: Joe Allison/Getty images via NZNBL

2021 NZNBL Round 10 preview: Top four battles headline the round

ROUND 10 of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) commences tonight with some ladder defining clashes headlining the round. With the finals inching closer and closer now is the time for the sides to hit their stride and start to rally some much needed momentum.

Canterbury Rams vs. Southland Sharks
Friday, July 2 @7:30pm
Cowles Stadium

Both sides are coming in off a loss and will be eager to get back to their winning ways in this contest. Canterbury Rams have won three of their past five encounters while Southland Sharks have won four of their past five making for an enthralling battle. In terms of ladder positioning the Sharks well and truly have the upper hand currently locked in at second spot while the Rams are stuck in the mid-table logjam at sixth so a win here could be a huge upset for Canterbury. However, the Rams do have two dominant scorers in Deshon Taylor and Edward Singler. Taylor averages 22.3 points a game along with five assists while Singler is not too far behind with 18 points. The scoring load is a lot more shared for the Sharks with the likes of Dominique Kelman-Poto, Brayden Inger and Joshua Cunningham all viable options. Kelman-Poto leads the pack for the Sharks with his average of 16.1 points while Inger averages 15. Cunningham is pretty well rounded thanks to his 13.4 points, 2.1 assists and 6.7 rebound average making him a key cog in the Sharks outfit and one the Rams will need to stop if they are to topple the second placed side.

Taranaki Mountainairs vs. Wellington Saints
Friday, July 2 @7:30pm
TSB Stadium

It is going to be a battle between first and last when the Mountainairs and Saints go head-to-head. The Saints are in blistering form up in top spot on the ladder with 11 wins to their name while Taranaki have struggled to find their mojo all season, glued to the bottom of the table. The last time these two sides met the Saints walked away with the chocolates in a one-sided affair and will be keen to replicate that output once again given they average a higher number of points, assists, rebounds and blocks than their opponents. Looking at key contributors, it is hard to go past the likes of Marcel Jones for the Airs with the bigman leading the way with his average of 21.5 points, 3.9 assists and nine rebounds to fall just short of a double-double. He will need a helping hand from the likes of Tai Wynyard and Haize Walker if the home side are any chance of upsetting the apple cart. For the Saints they have no shortage of scoring options with Dion Prewster, Kerwin Roach Jr and Taane Samuel all influential figures. Prewster averages 20.9 points along with 5.1 assists and 3.9 defensive rebounds. Roach Jr is also explosive thanks to his 16.7 points, 4.4 assists and 5.2 rebounds while Tohi Smith-Milner is also a force to be reckoned with off the boards.

Nelson Giants vs. Auckland Huskies
Friday, July 2 @7:30pm
Trafalgar Centre

The Giants and Huskies are both looking for ways to weasel their way out of that mid-table logjam and this is the perfect opportunity. A win here for the Huskies could boost them into fourth spot while if the Giants get the win they will close the gap between them and sixth on the ladder. The Huskies have won two of their three encounters so far this season against the Giants and will be wanting to make it three from four by taking advantage of their winning momentum. Both teams are relatively well-matched up with the only main difference coming in the blocks category with Auckland impressing down in defence. Hunter Hale is the main facilitator for the Giants with his ability to attack the rim thanks to his 26.6 point average plus his 4.5 assists and 3.8 defensive rebounds. He will need the likes of Donte Ingram to step up to the plate if the Giants are to keep their hopes alive. Meanwhile the Huskies have a couple of key points scorers with Chris Johnson topping the table thanks to his 20.3 points. He is also handy on the assists front with an average of three to his name along with 7.3 defensive rebounds. Brook Ruscoe-Taiaroa and Dontae Nance are also known for their ability to chime in and hit the scoreboard which the visitors will need in this contest.

Otago Nuggets vs. Hawkes Bay Hawks
Saturday, July 3 @7:30pm
Edgar Centre

It is going to be an enthralling top four battle as Otago Nuggets host Hawkes Bay Hawks in hope to solidify their standings on the ladder. The Hawks currently sit two games ahead of the Nuggets but a win here could shift things and give the home side some real confidence heading into the backend of the season. But Otago will have to pull out the big guns having gone down to Hawkes Bay by 30 points last time the two sides met. Both teams are coming in off a loss and will be looking to put their foot down with a strong showing here. Isaiah Moss and Samuel Timmins have been the most dominant scorers for the Nuggets with the pair averaging 21.6 and 20.6 points respectively with the latter also racking up 4.9 assists and 11.1 rebounds. The Hawks have a number of players capable of causing some scoreboard trouble with Ethan Rusbatch boasting an average of 19.4 points, Devondrick Walker averaging 18.9 and Hyrum Harris with 13.3. Harris is no slouch when it comes to assists picking up 3.6 per game while also imposing himself off the boards with a team-high 5.4 rebounds making him one to watch.

Franklin Bulls vs. Taranaki Mountainairs
Saturday, July 3 @7:30pm
Franklin Pool and Leisure Centre

The Mountainairs will be gearing up for their second game in as many days while the Bulls will be hoping their added break will give them the legs to overrun the struggling side. Not much separates the two teams with the Bulls sitting second last on the ladder but two wins ahead while Taranaki will be yearning for a win and this is probably their best opportunity. It was a blowout the last time they met with the Bulls claiming a 16-point victory but when looking at form it is the Mountainairs that hold the upper hand registering a win last round while the Bulls are on a four-game losing streak. Keep an eye out for Joshua Selby given he averages 24.4 points, 3.8 assists and 4.9 rebounds for the Bulls and expect Jones to do the heavy-lifting for the Airs. Denhym Brooke is also a crucial cog for the Bulls recording an average of 10.9 points as Francis Mulvihill will hope to be crafty with ball in hand.

Manawatu Jets vs. Auckland Huskies
Sunday, July 4 @3:00pm
Ballroom B and M Centre

Manawatu Jets are set to take on the Huskies as they look to bounce back from a shock loss last week. The Huskies got over the line by nine points back in April when the two sides locked horns and will be hoping to repeat that feat once again to continue their way up the ladder. Manawatu have been guilty of turning ball over and will need to treasure possession in this clash if they are to roll the Huskies. The Jets will need big efforts from Shane Temara, DeAndre Daniels, Daishon Knight and Jayden Bezzant if they are to post a competitive total and generate some real momentum. Knight tops the table with an average of 23.4 points while Daniels is also prolific thanks to his 16.5 points. Temara and Bezzant average 15.7 and 15.6 points apiece with the former also able to dish off dimes with ease thanks to his average of 3.2 assists.

Southland Sharks vs. Hawkes Bay Hawks
Sunday, July 4 @5:00pm
ILT Stadium Southland

The final game of the round is between Southland Sharks and Hawkes Bay Hawks – another top four battle. Sitting on 10 wins apiece heading into the clash, this one could prove to be ladder defining so expect both sides to leave nothing to chance. The two sides have played off three times this year and the Hawks have come out on top each time giving them a wealth of confidence and belief heading into this clash. Expect a high quality game with the likes of Kelman-Poto and Rusbatch renowned for their ability to hit the scoreboard with ease for their respective sides.

Photo credit: Shane Wenzlick/Photosport via NZNBL

2021 NZNBL Round 9 preview: Wellington match goes ahead as league adapts to COVID-19 restrictions

FOUR rounds remain in the hotly contested New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL), as the top four sides have created some separation from the remaining six, though a mid-table logjam means that some of those fifth-eighth teams could give it a shake with a lot of luck.

FRANKLIN BULLS vs. CANTERBURY RAMS
Thursday, June 24 @ 7:30pm
Franklin Pool & Leisure Arena

In what is simply a must-win for both sides, and particularly for Franklin Bulls in the scheme of their season, the eighth placed Bulls take on the fifth placed Canterbury Rams. The wounded Bulls are a loss away from having a line put through their season – if the ink was not dry already – whilst for the Rams, a win means they keep in touch with the top four, as Otago Nuggets sit just a win ahead. Franklin Bulls are 2-4 at home with the Rams 1-4 on the road, which shows neither side has been particularly successful in those areas. Kyrin Galloway (11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks) and Manuel Ayol (13.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals) are two who have come in and made an impact for the Bulls, whilst Isaac Davidson (8.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists) is just warming up. It will take quite an effort to beat the likes of EJ Singler (17.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.0 steals), Deshon Taylor (22.1 points, 5.1 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 3.0 steals) and Quintin Bailey (11.2 points, 4.5 rebounds).

TARANAKI MOUNTAINAIRS vs. MANAWATU JETS
Friday, June 25 @ 7:30pm
TSB Stadium

In the now standalone Friday night game, Taranaki Mountainairs will host Manawatu Jets in a bottom two clash. Back at home where they grabbed their only win this season, the Airs have a chance to double their win tally in season 2021, sitting at 1-11 from the year. The Jets are not much better with a 3-9 season, though they have come incredibly close to a number of other victories. The Airs are 1-5 at home and the Jets are 1-6 on the road, so one side will grab its second win from those parameters. Marcel Jones has been a lone hand for the Airs all season, racking up 21.4 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.3 blocks to lead his side in every statistical area. Carlin Davidson (8.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.2 steals) and Haize Walker (9.1 points, 3.5 assists and 3.3 rebounds) have been the next best for the Airs. The Jets have had no trouble finding some big scorers, with Daishon Taylor (22.8 points, 5.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals), DeAndre Daniels (16.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.3 blocks) and Shane Temara (15.7 points, 9.3 rebounds) all making their presence felt.

SOUTHLAND SHARKS vs. AUCKLAND HUSKIES
Saturday, June 26 @ 7:30pm
ILT Stadium

Another mid-table side desperate to keep in touch with the top four is Auckland Huskies, who will tackle the top of the table Southland Sharks. The Sharks are yet to lose at home, winning five straight at ILT Stadium, and will go in as raging favourites, having amassed a 10-3 record this season. Having played the 13 games compared to the second placed Hawkes Bay Hawks’ 12 (9-3) and third placed Wellington Saints’ 11 (9-2) they have less games in hand, so will be keen to keep winning and avoid one of those sides in the final four. The Huskies are 2-3 on the road, so will need to be at their best to cause an upset. The Sharks have had remarkable consistency, with all five of their starters playing every game, and starting in every match bar one the exact same way. Dom Kelman-Poto (16.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists), Josh Cunningham (12.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists) and Courtney Belger (13.1 points, 5.1 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.9 steals) are the red-hot trio to watch. Chris Johnson has been the star for the Huskies, averaging 20.9 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.8 blocks in 10 matches for Auckland. Teenage star Dontae Nance (13.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.6 steals) and Brooke Ruscoe (14.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.7 steals) have been other consistent contributors.

HAWKES BAY HAWKS vs. FRANKLIN BULLS
Saturday, June 26 @ 7:30pm
Pettigrew Green Arena

The second placed Hawks enter the round with a home game up against Franklin Bulls, With the Bulls coming off a match a couple of nights before, the Hawks will be keen to use fresh legs against the Bulls in the Saturday night fixture. They are yet to lose at home from six matches, so will be heavily favoured to pick up their 10th win of the season and keep touch with the top of the table Sharks. The Hawks have six players with double-digit point averages, led by Devondrick Walker (18.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.4 steals) and Ethan Rusbatch (18.65 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.2 steals), whilst Hyrum Harris (13.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.7 steals) has contributed across the board for the impressive Hawks.

MANAWATU JETS vs. CANTERBURY RAMS
Saturday, June 26 @ 7:30pm
Fly Palmy Arena

WELLINGTON SAINTS vs. HAWKES BAY HAWKS
Sunday, June 27 @ 5:00pm
TSB Bank Arena

Originally scheduled to be their second game of the round, the Wellington Saints now take on the Hawkes Bay Hawks first on Sunday evening at TSB Bank Arena. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions in Wellington, the Saints’ visiting clash against Nelson Giants was moved from Friday night to the following Wednesday night, whilst the Sunday night battle with the Hawks remained at the same venue and time, but with no crowds allowed in. Expect the Saints to create their own atmosphere in this massive top three clash, with both sides heading into the round with nine wins, though the Hawks could have notched up their 10th by this stage. The fresh legs and home court should hand the Saints a strong advantage. Dion Prewster has led from the front with 19.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.6 steals, whilst Kerwin Roach (17.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.7 steals) and Tohi Smith-Milner (12.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.2 steals) have also stood out.

OTAGO NUGGETS vs. AUCKLAND HUSKIES
Sunday, June 27 @ 5:00pm
Edgar Centre

Also on Sunday night is the fourth placed Otago Nuggets hosting the Huskies in what is a tough weekend for the sixth placed Huskies. Auckland will not want to lose both its games this weekend, whilst depending on results, the Nuggets can bridge their gap on the mid-table sides even further with a win in this game, though can close the gap right up with a loss. Sam Timmins is in some remarkable form for the Nuggets, hard to stop close to the basket at both ends, the big man is averaging 18.8 points, 12.9 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks from 12 games thus far in season 2021. Isaiah Moss (19.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 steals) and Geremy McKay (13.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists) have been others who have also amassed big points totals.

NELSON GIANTS vs. WELLINGTON SAINTS
Wednesday, June 30 @ 6:30pm
Trafalgar Centre

A five-day delay has seen Nelson Giants host the Saints at the Trafalgar Centre as a standalone Wednesday night fixture. The Giants are 5-7 and on the verge of being knocked out of finals contention, but a huge upset here and they are back on track. The Saints are 2-2 away from TSB Bank Arena, whilst the Giants are 3-3 at home, but it will take a huge effort to topple Wellington in this clash. American duo Hunter Hale (26.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.9 steals) and Donte Ingram (17.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.7 steals) have done the bulk of the damage this season, whilst Sam Dempster (6.5 points. 7.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists) has been a huge influence off the boards.

 

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

2021 NZNBL Round 8 preview: Top three clash among mid-table battles to open weekend of action

IT is getting towards the pointy end of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) season, and there is plenty on the line in Round 8 of the competition. Some mid-table clashes, a top three battle and some last chances for lower sides in a weekend that is sure to promise plenty of excitement.

AUCKLAND HUSKIES vs. CANTERBURY RAMS
Thursday, June 17 @ 7:30pm
Eventfinda Stadium

A mid-table clash between two sides with five wins takes place tonight in a standalone clash in Auckland. The Auckland Huskies (5-6) are hosting the Canterbury Rams (5-5), in what is literally a ladder-defining clash. It will be the Huskies’ only Round 8 outing this weekend, with the Rams suiting up again on Sunday evening to take on the Taranaki Mountainairs. At home the Huskies are an even 3-3 while the Rams have not been that great on the road, recording a 1-3 record to-date. Chris Johnson (21.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 blocks) has been the standout player for the Huskies, but now Tom Vodanovich is back from ANBL duties, putting up 22 points, five rebounds and two assists coming off the bench last match. The Rams American duo of EJ Singler (166 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.1 steals) and Deshon Taylor (22.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.8 steals) can do it all.

OTAGO NUGGETS vs. NELSON GIANTS
Friday, June 18 @ 7:30pm
Trafalgar Centre

Next up in one of two Friday night clashes is another mid-table showdown between the fourth placed Otago Nuggets (6-5) and sixth placed Nelson Giants (5-6). Much like the previous match, it is certainly a ladder-defining match with the reigning premier Nuggets able to create some separation on the mid-table logjam, whilst the Giants can keep in touch with those top sides by bringing home the points. At home the Nuggets are 2-3, whilst the Giants are 2-4 on the road. Nelson is playing its only game for Round 8, while Otago will host Franklin Bulls on Sunday. Sam Timmins is in ripping form this season, racking up a triple-double last week and now averaging 18.6 points, 12.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.3 steals. He has teamed up well with Isaiah Moss (18.9 points, 5.5 rebounds) and Geremy McKay (12.5 points, 6.1 rebounds) this season for the Nuggets. Speaking of red hot form, Hunter Hale continues to shoot the lights out with an average of 27.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.7 steals. Donte Ingram (18.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.7 steals) has been the other key scorer for Nelson.

HAWKES BAY HAWKS vs. WELLINGTON SAINTS
Friday, June 18 @ 7:30pm
Pettigrew Green Arena

The match of the round is likely to be between two top three sides as the Hawkes Bay Hawks (7-3) host the Wellington Saints (8-1). The third placed Hawks are yet to lose at home, and have strung together three straight wins to be sitting comfortably, while Wellington Saints have won their past two since dropping their first game to Southland Sharks a couple of weeks again. Wellington has only hit the road three times for a 2-1 record, but have proven hard to beat this season. Dion Prewster (21.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.7 steals), Kerwin Roach Jr (17.3 points. 6.7 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.9 steals), Tohi Smith-Milner (11.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.1 steals) and Taane Samuel (14.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists) have all been outstanding and contributed to the Saints’ phenomenal season. The Hawks have had their huge depth for support as well, with Ethan Rusbatch (20.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.3 steals), Devondrick Walker (17.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.7 steals), Hyrum Harris (13.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.4 steals) and Jonathan Janssen (13.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks) set to lock horns with those Saints talents.

SOUTHLAND SHARKS vs. FRANKLIN BULLS
Saturday, June 19 @ 7:30pm
ILT Stadium

Tipping off the weekend for one of two Saturday night clashes, the Southland Sharks (9-3) host the Franklin Bulls (4-7). After looking in serious trouble the past couple of weeks due to the injury toll starting to mount, the Bulls finally broke through for a win last start, and will be hoping to back that up with consecutive victories. They are 2-3 when on the road in season 2021, whilst the Sharks are yet to lose at home from four games and are on a seven-game hot streak since losing three consecutive games what seems an eternity ago. Dom Kelman-Poto has been outstanding with 17.8 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game, while Courtney Belger (13.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.8 steals) and Josh Cunningham (11.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists) have also been impressive. For the Bulls, injuries to Josh Selby and Zane Waterman have really hurt them in particular, as the two key scorers have been replaced by Kyrin Galloway (23.5 points, 14.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.5 blocks) in the past two games, and Manel Ayol (19 points, 11 rebounds and three assists) last match, with Denhym Brooke (11.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks) one of the few key features all season.

WELLINGTON SAINTS vs. TARANAKI MOUNTAINAIRS
Saturday, June 19 @ 7:30pm
TSB Bank Arena

Bottom of the table Taranaki Mountainairs have a mammoth task when entering Round 8, having to topple the second placed Wellington Saints on the road. The Airs (1-9) have sunk to six consecutive losses, and are yet to win away (0-4), whilst the Saints have a perfect 6-0 record when at home. The main hope for the Airs will be the fatigue for the Saints having played the night before. Marcel Jones has been the shining light this season, averaging 23.0 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks, whilst Carlin Davison (8.0 points. 4.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.3 steals) has impacted off the bench, and Haize Walker (9.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists) steadfast in all 10 matches.

MANAWATU JETS vs. HAWKES BAY HAWKS
Sunday, June 20 @ 3:00pm
Fly Palmy Arena

The third placed Hawks come in for their second game of the round, as the last match featuring a team playing its first game in the Manawatu Jets. Hosting the Hawks at Fly Palmy Arena, the ninth placed Jets must win to keep their finals hopes alive, sitting near the bottom with a 3-8 record, and only 2-2 at home. The Hawks are 2-3 on the road, which could give the Jets confidence of causing an upset. The American trio of Daishon Knight (23.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.9 steals), DeAndre Daniels (16.7 points. 9.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks) and Shane Temara (15.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists) have all been superb despite the Jets’ disappointing season thus far.

OTAGO NUGGETS vs. FRANKLIN BULLS
Sunday, June 20 @ 5:00pm
Edgar Centre

CANTERBURY RAMS vs. TARANAKI MOUNTAINAIRS
Sunday, June 20 @ 5:00pm
Cowles Stadium

 

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Sharks circle late to grab win against Jets

SOUTHLAND Sharks have taken home the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) victory in their clash against Manawatu Jets at ILT Stadium last night, needing the full four quarters to take home the points. The home team had a see-sawing night which featured different leaders at different breaks, being level at the last change before an impressive final stanza which created separation on the opposition. Three players picked up double-doubles for the Sharks, and five starters hit double-digit points in a real team effort during the 104-97 win.

The Sharks raced out of the blocks in front of their home fans to put on a clinic of 31 points to 17 in the opening term, showing why they are one of the serious title contenders this year. Unexpected was the fact the Jets then took that momentum and completely reversed it to score a massive 35 points to 20 in the second term and hit the front by a point at the main break.

Manawatu managed to hold the lead for the majority of the third term, getting out to as much as a six-point lead early in the quarter, but could not build upon it as the Sharks stuck around. That proved vital for the home team’s chances, as the Jets lead early in he fourth by four points, but once the Sharks hit the front with seven minutes left on the clock, they never looked back, scoring 21 points to 15 from that moment. It was far from a one-sided finish though, with the Jets drawing to within one point with 1:44 on the clock at 96-95, but then the Sharks put up eight of the next 10 points to grab the seven-point victory.

Southland Sharks lead the field goal shooting percentage 52 to 48 per cent, as well as draining 12 triples to 10 in an effective effort from range. Manawatu Jets were better from inside the arc (61 o 55 per cent) and had more steals (5-3), less turnovers (6-7), less personal fouls and more points from turnovers (10-9), as well as more points in the paint (48-46). The Sharks lead the rebounds (42-36) and assists (23-22), as well as second chance points (8-5) and bench points (14-5) in what was a really even game across the board, but there could only be one winner.

Courtney Belger won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) on the night with 22 points and 11 assists in a double-double effort, one of three Sharks to reach the feat in the victory. Belger also hit an impressive four of five from long-range to showcase his accuracy from beyond the arc. Dom Kelman-Poto (22 points, 11 rebounds and four assists) was big once again, as was Josh Cunningham (19 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and two blocks). Brayden Inger (14 points, eight rebounds and two assists) and Alonzo Burton (13 points, two rebounds) both nailed three triples, whilst Sione Helu contributed 11 points in eight minutes off the bench.

Deandre Daniels was the star for the Jets, dropping a game-high five triples from seven attempts on his way to a huge 34 points in 40 minutes, also collecting 11 rebounds – nine defensive – four blocks and two assists. Daishon Knight knocked down 28 points and nine assists, while Shane Temara was also busy with 20 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Jayden Bezzant (10 points, six assists and three rebounds) and Nikau McCullough (five points, two assists) were the other scorers for the Jets in defeat.

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2021 NZNBL Round 7 preview: Rams and Nuggets open round as Giants rest up

SIX games played out across four days will provide New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) fans with nine of the 10 teams running out on court this weekend, with Nelson Giants the only side putting their feet up this round. Otago Nuggets, Canterbury Rams and Manawatu Jets will all play a second match over Round 7 as the mid-table logjam is set to get a shake-up.

CANTERBURY RAMS vs. OTAGO NUGGETS
Thursday, June 10 @ 7:30pm
Cowles Stadium

First up in a standalone clash tonight at Cowles Stadium, Canterbury Rams host Otago Nuggets to try and bounce back from their disappointing loss to Wellington Saints last week. They had won three out of four coming into the clash, and will be keen to notch up an important win. For the Nuggets, they went down to Southland Sharks after impressive wins over Franklin Bulls and Auckland Huskies, but will gain some serious breathing space if they can take down the Rams in the match. Deshon Taylor (22.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists) has been the leading player for the Rams, with Jack Salt (17.0 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists and 1.7 steals) and EJ Singler (13.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.1 steals) other key players. Sam Timmins (21.9 points, 14.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.4 steals) will have a huge battle with Salt throughout the night, while Isaiah Moss (21.8 points, 6.2 rebounds) and Gerasimos McKay (12.4 points, 6.2 rebounds) have both been productive off the boards.

SOUTHLAND SHARKS vs. MANAWATU JETS
Friday, June 11 @ 7:30pm
ILT Stadium

The standalone Friday night clash between top of the table Southland Sharks hosting the eighth placed Manawatu Jets at ILT Stadium. Undefeated at home from three matches, the Sharks go in as strong favourites with an overall 8-3 record from 11 matches and a six-game winning streak. The Jets on the other hand had a 3-6 record, but have won three of their past five to be a big improver, though their loss in that time was 12 points to the Sharks at home. The evenness of the Sharks’ team is evident to see in their results, with Dom Kelman-Poto (17.5 points, 8.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists), Brayden Inger (14.4 points, 3.8 rebounds), Alonzo Burton (12.7 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.9 steals) and Courtney Belger (12.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.9 steals) all putting up good numbers to start the season. Daishon Knight (22.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.8 steals) has been influential for the Jets, while Jayden Bezzant (18.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists), Shane Temara (16.8 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists) and DeAndre Daniels (15.1 points, 9.4 rebounds) have all impressed.

HAWKES BAY HAWKS vs. OTAGO NUGGETS
Saturday, June 12 @ 7:30pm
Pettigrew Green Arena

The Nuggets will come in for a 48-hour turnaround for their clash against Hawkes Bay Hawks, with the top four battle having plenty on the line for both teams. The Nuggets have been good on the road with a 3-1 record, while the Hawks are unbeaten at Pettigrew Green Arena, winning all four clashes that have taken place there. Hawkes Bay grabbed back-to-back wins last round to head into the Round 7 contest with form, and they will hope to grab another victory here. Devondrick Walker (19.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.7 steals), Hyrum Harris (14.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.6 steals) and Derone Raukawa (13.4 points, 4.3 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals) are among seven players to average double-figure points for the Hawks this season.

AUCKLAND HUSKIES vs. FRANKLIN BULLS
Saturday, June 12 @ 7:30pm
Eventfinda Stadium

Action also takes place at Eventfinda Stadium on Saturday night, with the ninth placed and wounded Franklin Bulls trying to find something to upset a fifth placed Auckland Huskies. The Huskies head into the game with an even win-loss record of 5-5, and have a better-than-average 3-2 record at home. The Bulls are 1-3 on the road, and their last three matches have been 21, 37 and 32-point losses with the depth really tested, whilst the Huskies’ form has been up and down. Chris Johnson (21.5 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists), Brooke Ruscoe-Taiaroa (14.1 rebounds, 3.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.7 steals) and Dontae Nance (13.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals) have been impressive for the Huskies in 2021. Nicolas Fee (6.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists) and Denhym Brooke (11.5 points, 4.3 rebounds) have been the only two players to have started in all 10 games for the Bulls.

TARANAKI MOUNTAINAIRS vs. CANTERBURY RAMS
Sunday, June 13 @ 3:00pm
TSB Stadium

The Taranaki Mountainairs enter Round 7 with a clash against Canterbury Rams who played on Thursday night, as the Airs hope to double their win tally after grabbing just one victory in the first nine matches. That did come at home, but with 42, 22 and 14-point losses in the past three matches, the Airs will need to bounce back in a strong way to topple the Rams in front of home fans. Marcel Jones (23.9 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.3 steals) has carried the Airs throughout the season, whilst Tai Wynyard (13.7 points, 5.8 rebounds) has been an able support in that time.

WELLINGTON SAINTS vs. MANAWATU JETS
Sunday, June 13 @ 5:00pm
TSB Bank Arena

The second placed Wellington Saints will be looking to notch up another win at home, this time against the Manawatu Jets on Sunday evening. After losing their first match to the Southland Sharks last week, the Saints bounced back to defeat Canterbury Rams by 25 points the game after. No shortage of stars this season, Dion Prewster (22.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.8 steals), Kerwin Roach Jr (17.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.0 steals), Taane Samuel (14.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists) and Tohi Smith-Milner (13.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.3 steals) have all stood up and had some big numbers this year across multiple facets.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Jets destroy Bulls as Hawks grab narrow Huskies win

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jets produced Giant upset to grab second NZNBL win

MANAWATU Jets have claimed their second win of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) season, defeating Nelson Giants by a single point in a unique sort of match. The Jets only won the first quarter as the Giants clawed their way back, with even a three-point jump shot on the buzzer closing the margin to one, but it would not be enough, with the Giants going down 98-99.

The Jets were up and about in the opening term, scoring nine consecutive points to open up a seven-point advantage at the first break. The Giants refused to go away though, putting up 31 points to 29 in a high-scoring second quarter to reduce the deficit to five, and then again in the third when they made it 27-25 for the term and the difference was just three points.

Early in the fourth the Giants actually hit the front and made it an eight-point turnaround to lead by five, and even lead by three points with 2:58 on the clock, 92-89. From there, Jayden Bezzant capitalised off an And-One opportunity to level the scores, but was not finished yet, pouring on back-to-back free throws and then a three-point jumper with 22 seconds on the clock. All of a sudden, the Jets had scored another nine straight points to lead 97-92.

A Nic Trathen triple cut the deficit to two points, but Bezzant again held his nerve with a couple of free throws off a deliberate foul to ensure it was a two-play ball game. That was lucky considering Trathen then hit another long-range make on the buzzer, despite it being all in vain. Bezzant had scored the last 10 points of the game for the Jets to lead his team to victory in an impressive effort.

The Jets were more efficient from the field with a 52 per cent efficiency to the Giants’ 44 per cent, made more noticeable by the 60 to 47 per cent differential from inside the arc. Manawatu also won the rebounds (42-40), assists (19-17) and blocks (4-2), as well as their points in the paint (42-40) and second chance points (20-19). The Giants won the steals (12-7) and had less turnovers (11-17), therefore making more chances from turnovers (24-12), as well as having more contribution off the bench (19-9) and less personal fouls (12-14).

Bezzant won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) for the match following his late hot streak, also topping the points for the match with 30, as well as four rebounds, four assists and two steals in the game. Deandre Daniels was equally up there with impact for the Jets, almost playing the full 40 minutes as he picked up a double-double of 21 points and 15 rebounds. Between the pair, they hit seven of 13 from long-range to fo a lot of damage. Daishon Knight (19 points, eight assists, five rebounds and two steals), Shane Temara (12 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks) and Jake McKinlay (eight points, four rebounds and two assists) all held their own as starters for the winners.

Hunter Hale‘s shooting spree continued with 27 points – five of 11 from three-point range – 10 rebounds and five assists. Donte Ingram shared the load with Hale, also recording a double-double of 26 points, 10 rebounds, six steals and three assists. Anzac Risetto (12 points, six rebounds), Thomas Ingham (12 points, two assists) and Trathen (11 points, four rebounds) all chipped in with some good numbers despite the defeat.

Manawatu Jets will take on Franklin Bulls on Sunday, with Nelson Giants hosting Taranaki Mountainairs in a Monday night blockbuster.

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2021 NZNBL Round 6 preview: Top of the table clash highlights huge round of action

ROUND 6 of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) tips off tomorrow night with plenty of exciting action predicted across the weekend which features a top of the table clash.

NELSON GIANTS vs. MANAWATU JETS
Thursday, June 3 @ 7:30pm
Trafalgar Centre

Two sides in the bottom four, but with very different win-loss records open up Round 6 of the NZNBL competition. The seventh placed Nelson Giants have a 4-5 record to-date, but are theoretically a win off the top three sides, though have played an additional game. They will look to even up their record for 2021 when they take on the 1-6 Manawatu Jets who are yet to win on the road from four encounters. By comparison, the Giants are 2-1 when at home. Hunter Hale may well be the most in-form player in the competition, with the Giants’ guard averaging a whopping 28.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.0 steals from his nine games, shooting at 53.1 per cent from the field, and 36.8 per cent from three-point range. He has teamed up well with Donte Ingram (17.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists) this season as the pair wreck havoc on opposition defences. For the Jets, Daishon Knight (23.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.1 steals), Shane Temara (15.0 points, 10.4 rebounds) and DeAndre Daniels (13.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.9 blocks) have all been influential players.

TARANAKI MOUNTAINAIRS vs. AUCKLAND HUSKIES
Friday, June 4 @ 7:30pm
TSB Stadium

Looking to snap a three-game losing streak, Taranaki Mountainairs will be hoping to cause an upset in front of home fans against Auckland Huskies to jump off the bottom of the table. Holding a 1-6 record to-date, the Airs could move above the Jets with a win, whilst the 4-4 Huskies could put themselves back inside the top four with a victory. Marcel Jones has been a consistent threat for the Airs in terms of putting up double-doubles most weeks, and averaging 23.3 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.6 blocks per game. He has needed more support though, with Haize Walker (9.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists) the next highest Airs player. Chris Johnson is the man to keep an eye on from the Huskies, averaging 21.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.2 blocks, the American import has certainly stood out this season. Brooke Ruscoe (14.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.6 steals) has also had his fair share of action for Auckland.

SOUTHLAND SHARKS vs. WELLINGTON SAINTS
Friday, June 4 @ 7:30pm
ILT Stadium

Sitting pretty at the top of the table with effectively three games in hand, the Wellington Saints are yet to lose a match, with all their nearest rivals having dropped at least three games. That includes Southland Sharks, who dropped three on the trot, but have since strung together four consecutive wins to set up this top of the table clash with the Saints, holding a 6-3 record. The Saints have only hit the road once, whilst the Sharks are yet to lose from two previous matches at home making this a must-watch clash. Both these sides are littered with stars, but the two keys for the Sharks are Dom Kelman-Poto (16.8 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.2 steals) and Josh Cunningham (11.1 points, 7.,3 rebounds and 1.0 steals), while Courtney Belger (12.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.8 steals) has also been influential. For the Saints, their starting lineup has been sensationally consistent, lead by Dion Prewster (24.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.7 steals). Kerwin Roach (17.0 points. 6.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.3 steals) and Taane Samuel (15.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.0 steals) have also been ones to watch in 2021.

FRANKLIN BULLS vs. HAWKES BAY HAWKS
Friday, June 4 @ 7:30pm
Franklin Pool & Leisure Centre

In the third Friday night fixture, Franklin Bulls can try and break a three-game losing streak which put them at 3-5 for the season, and move up the table with a victory over Hawkes Bay Hawks. The Hawks are up in fourth spot compared to the Bulls’ eighth, but are theoretically only a win ahead – though with an extra game under their belt. This will give both sides a great chance to test where they are at midway through the season. The Bulls will need to look to their depth to replace Josh Selby (24.4 points. 5.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.9 steals) who has returned to the United States after copping an injury, with Zane Waterman (21.4 points. 11.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.0 blocks) and Joseph Nunag (11.0 points. 1.5 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.1 rebounds) the next best scorers. The Hawks look to the likes of Hyrum Harris (16.3 points. 8.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.4 steals) and Ethan Rusbatch (17.5 points. 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists) who have been among their top performers.

OTAGO NUGGETS vs. SOUTHLAND SHARKS
Saturday, June 5 @ 7:30pm
Edgar Centre

The Sharks will come in for their second game of the weekend, this time up against Otago Nuggets making it two top three clashes for the second placed Sharks. They can gain some separation on the Nuggets, whilst Otago can overtake the Sharks if Southland lose both clashes. Otago’s Sam Timmins (20.0 points, 11.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.0 blocks) has been the key talent close to the basket, while Isaiah Moss (17.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.0 steals) has been a jump shooter with an eye for long-range makes.

CANTERBURY RAMS vs. WELLINGTON SAINTS
Saturday, June 5 @ 7:30pm
Cowles Stadium

In the final game featuring a fresh side, Canterbury Rams host the top of the table Wellington Saints. The fifth placed Rams will hope to upset the unbeaten Saints who will also be coming off the quick turnaround from their clash with the Sharks the night before. Deshon Taylor (23.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.0 steals) has been the clear standout player for the Rams in 2021, while EJ Singler (13.9 points. 8.0 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 2.0 steals) has been a great supporting act for the team.

OTHER DOUBLE-UP MATCHES:

HAWKES BAY HAWKS vs. AUCKLAND HUSKIES
Sunday, June 6 @ 3:00pm
Pettigrew Green Arena

MANAWATU JETS vs. FRANKLIN BULLS
Sunday, June 6 @ 5:00pm
Fly Palmy Arena

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