Vodanovich claims NZNBL MVP as All-Star Five announced

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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