Opening Week Wrap – Kiwi Men playing NCAA Div I hoops


Taki Fahrensohn

Slightly delayed but below is all the Kiwi news and numbers from the first few days of NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball.

Catching up with Ben Johnson, University of Portland Assistant Coach , at Schick Secondary Schools Nationals last month he said he was confident Taki Fahrensohn would make an impact this season.

“Taki is now in his third year on the programme and we are looking forward to him having a big year for us. He’s put on about fifteen pounds of good muscle and can really shoot the ball,” said Johnson.

Well Fahrensohn enjoyed a start for Portland in their opening game scoring 7 points and adding 3 rebounds as the Pilots navigated past Willamette 86-36. He followed that with 10 points and 6 rebounds in the loss to USC (76-65) to emphasise the confidence Coach Johnson has in him.

Also starting was UC Riverside and former Palmy North Boys High centre Callum McRae.  He didn’t disappoint filling the stats line with 9 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a bock as the Highlanders won at Nebraska 66-47.

A third starter was Miami’s Sam Waardenburg who came close to a double double as the Canes beat Florida Atlantic 74-60. The former Rangitoto man finished with 9 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, a block and a steal.

Yanni Wetzell made every post a winner in his debut game for San Diego State. Having transferred from Vanderbilt the former Westlake big man posted 8 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block as San Diego defeated Texas Southern 77-42.

Matt Freeman has also had a change of scenery for his final collegiate year. Freeman has moved from Oklahoma to University of California Santa Barbara and he scored 12 points making 3 from 6 from beyond the arc as the Gauchos fell 77-61 to UCLA Bruins.

Izayah Le’afa scored 9 points for Sacramento State Hornets in a one sided win against Simpson (76-27).

Senior guard Jackson Stent had 7 points and 6 rebounds as Houston Baptist fell 80-72 at Tulsa.

Freshman Kruz Perrott-Hunt has scored his first college points as South Dakota Coyotes carried off the Rainbow Classic trophy in Hawaii after recording three straight wins. Perrott-Hunt had two points and 2 rebounds in the third win (85-82 against Florida A&M) and also had the final say of the game getting a deflection on a shot from a Florida player as he attempted to tie the game as time expired.

Another freshman Max de Geest debuted for Long Beach State in their 74-62 defeat of San Diego. The shooting guard played 4 minutes collecting a rebound in that time but was a standout in his second game notching 13 points (7/3 3PG) in 20 minutes as Lon Beach fell to Stanford

Quinn Clinton and St Mary’s College Gaels coaching staff have decided it best he redshirts this year to overcome some injury problems incurred in pre-season. He will therefore defer his sophomore year until 2020-21.

Better news for Angus McWilliam who has been cleared to play for UC Riverside, alongside Callum McRae, following his transfer from TCU.


Canterbury Wildcats appoint Dene Robinson as Head Coach

Dene Robinson

Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats fielded applications from both within New Zealand and overseas but have chosen to go with home grown talent in appointing Dene Robinson to the position of Head Coach. 

Wildcats Chair Murray Kennedy is delighted to have secured Robinson’s services.

“We received applications from all over the world for this role but we’re very happy that Dene’s name was among them. He’s a real basketball guy with a passion for the game, a born and bred Cantabrian and he has a great track record as a coach. We’re looking forward to working with him”.

Robinson takes over the Wildcats head coach position from Lori McDaniel who relinquished the role at the end of the 2019 season.

Robinson, the Canterbury Basketball Association Coach of the Year in 2012, has won a number of titles at club and provincial level and was also Assistant Coach to the Canterbury Rams between 2002 and 2006.

In addition, Robinson has also had plenty of experience coaching women’s basketball having had stints at the helm of the University of Canterbury Women’s Premier team and as assistant to the Canterbury U19 Women’s team.

“I’ve had a long term involvement in basketball, particularly in Canterbury and had some great experiences coaching women’s basketball,” said Robinson.

During her five years at the helm of the Wildcats McDaniel was arguably the most successful Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) coach in the country. 

In her first year in charge the Wildcats finished sixth then in 2016 and 2017 they won back to back championships with McDaniel winning WBC Coach of the Year honours on both occasions.

“I’m looking to build on the great culture that has been put in place by Lori and Murray so really looking forward to stepping in to that opportunity,” said a delighted Robinson.

“I’m really impressed with what has taken place with the Wildcats in the last five years and I’m looking forward to catching up with Lori and picking her brain a little bit. I think the way she and Murray have set up the team in a semi-professional way is an outstanding achievement.

“I know some of the players. I was assistant coach of the Canterbury U19 Women’s team that won the national title in 2014. Laken (Wairau) and Tessa Boagni were in that team. I’ve also coached against players like Shea Crotty in club basketball and then Sapphire Wairau, when she was younger, was in my club team.

“So I know some of the players and I look forward to catching up with them,” added Robinson.

The new Wildcats mentor is also delighted with the new direction of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL).

“I think the league is going to be really exciting next year with the innovation of the live Wednesday night games on Sky Sport. I think we will have a lot to learn from that.

“I’m also really pleased to hear about the D League which will again help women’s basketball and I believe Canterbury have put in an expression of interest for that. The opportunity to link the Wildcats with a D League team, and maybe North Canterbury and South Canterbury as well, would be another great innovation. I’m looking forward to seeing how that develops.

“It’s good that there is new stuff going on and building the profile of women’s basketball.”

Robinson is anticipating that the nucleus of the 2019 Wildcats team will again be available for the 2020 season.

“That would be a big advantage for me if I can keep some of that experience and leadership. I’m looking forward to talking to the players in the near future.

“I’m keen to get an experienced assistant coach and would also like to find a development coach – in basketball and work I have always been keen on succession planning and development. 

“The way the team is set up we have young development players so if I could extend that to coaching I would be very pleased,” added Robinson.

The 2020 Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) season is set to commence in May.


Amiee Book the star – NCAA Div I women’s weekly wrap.

Aimee book

The best performance by a Kiwi woman in the opening week of the NCAA Division I season went the way of Amiee Book.

The former Waimea College and Middleton Grange guard scored a career high 27 points on 10 from 16 shooting for Cal State Fullerton in their 79-63 loss to Southern Utah. Last season Book knocked down the three-ball at 43.2% (the third best three-point shooting in UCSF history) and she was back in the groove making 6 from 9 from beyond the arc in against Southern Utah. Book also added 7 rebounds for good measure.

There were a number of ther noteworthy performances in the opening week.

Kendell Heremaia posted a fine double despite Fordham University losing their opening two games. Heremaia logged 14 points (5/7 3PG) and 9 rebounds as Fordham fell 60-55 to #16 Notre Dame. She followed that with 13 points and 4 rebounds in the 70-51 loss at Columbia.Also doing damage on the boards was BYU centre Shalae Salmon. The Cougars senior pulled down 7 rebounds and added 11 points and a pair of blocks in the 105-52 win against Antelope Valley.

Also doing damage on the boards was BYU centre Shalae Salmon. The Cougars senior pulled down 7 rebounds and added 11 points and a pair of blocks in the 105-52 win against Antelope Valley.

Michelle Nicholls, having transferred from La Salle University has made a successful start to her career at Purdue, Fort Wayne. She led all scorers with 18 points 3/5 3PG) as Purdue beat University of Illinois at Chicago 61-50.

McKenna Dale missed all of last season with an ACL injury but showed no signs of rustiness making 9 points and 5 rebounds as Brown University lost a low scoring encounter with Bryant 45-44.

Kayla Manuirirangi began the season with 10 points (3/6 3PG) as Tulane University Green Wave cruised past Jackson State 82-48.

Sophomore guard Sariah Penese came up with 5 points, a couple of assists and 3 steals as Maryland Baltimore defeated Gettysburg 92-50.

Shout-out to the freshmen who made their Division I debuts. Tara Manumaleuga who produced 3 points, 2 rebounds and an assist on debut for Arizona in the 74-42 demolition of North Dakota.

Kaylee Smiler knocked down a free throw to score her first point as BYU had little trouble in beating Antelope Valley 105-52.

Charlotte Whittaker (3 points and a rebound) saw 13 minutes of action as University of Colorado opened the season with a comfortable 80-57 win against New Jersey Institute.

Akiene-Tera Reed has missed a couple of games with a hand injury but she is expected to make a return in the near future.

Mexicali Fresh Round 2 wrap

2020 Summer Jam Poster V2

In the second round of the 2019 Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam, held at HoopQuarters in New Lynn, Gauchos and Blue Chips recorded wins.

Gauchos enjoyed a strong start and finish to outlast Railsplitters winning 101-89 with Sam Mennenga (39 points) and Ryan Laumatia (27 points) leading the way.

Tinashe Matambanadzo and Dru Leo Leusage-Ape scored early points for Railsplitters but they trailed 25-14 to the Dillon Boucher led Gauchos.

Casey Frank and Shalom Broughton were to the fore in the second as Railsplitters closed to within three (46-43) at half-time.

A trio of triples from Matambanadzo and a couple of athletic finishes from Broughton cancelled out triples from Matt Lacey, Kevin Gan and Laumatia – Railsplitters only two points behind (74-72) with ten minutes to play.

Mennenga, the Davidson College commit, was the go-to man in the fourth as he totalled 39 points for the second week running. With Laumatia a more than capable ally Gauchos opened up a ten point advantage early in the final period and comfortably controlled proceedings in the closing minutes to win 101-89.

Gauchos 101– S Mennenga 39, R Laumatia 27, M Lacey 13

Railsplitters 89– D Leusage-Ape 20, S Broughton 18, T Matambanadzo 17, Z Te Puni 11


In the later game Blue Chips claimed a 124-114 win against Birdmen despite trailing 73-53 at half-time.

Blue Chips unleashed a withering 23-4 run to open the second half as Alex McNaught, on his way to 32 points, Kevin Braswell, Sean Murphy and Dom Kelman-Poto wreaked havoc on the Birdmen defence.

Outscored 40-11 in the frame Birdmen did arrest the slide in the fourth courtesy of Taine Murray, Jaga Mete and Joel Vaiagina but the damage had already been done and Blue Chips maintained a double-digit lead down the stretch.

In the first half Birdmen had given a fine exhibition of team basketball as led by Jaylen Gerrand and Conor Ngan they continually found the open man to stretch the Blue Chips defence and give themselves a significant lead.

The second half was a different story.

Blue Chips 124  A McNaught 32, K Braswell 24, S Murphy 15, L Kerr 13, Z Riley 11

Birdmen 114–  T Murray 33, J Mete 16, C Ngan 15, J Gerrand 14, J Vaiagina 12

The Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam is supported by HoopQuarters, SAS and ABSL.

Abercrombie one shot away from significant milestone

Tom Abbo

Tom Abercrombie is just 2 points shy of becoming the first Breakers player to break the 3,500 points mark to further extend his all-time leading scorer record for the club.

In addition Abercrombie will play his 69thconsecutive NBL game passing his personal previous best unbroken run of 68 games. Abbo last missed a game in January 2017 when he was forced to miss seven games with a broken hand.

He sits 15thon the Breakers all-time list of consecutive games played, a list headed by Mika Vukona’s unbroken161 game run (2010-15).

Other Sky Sport Breakers numbers:

v Cairns Taipans at Spark Arena last Thursday.

Brandon Ashley produced the second Breakers double-double of the season pulling down 11 rebounds to go with 14 points.

RJ Hampton, playing in just his fifth professional game, scored a season high 18 points.

Corey Webster moved up to 6th on the Breakers all-time assists list with a career high 8 assists followed by 6 dimes in the game against Perth Wildcats on Sunday.

All-Time Breakers Assists

901 Paul Henare

834 Cedric Jackson

655 Mika Vukona

635 Dillon Boucher

466 CJ Bruton

385 Corey Webster

374 Kirk Penney

374 Tom Abercrombie

v Perth Wildcats in Invercargill last Sunday.

Brandon Ashley scored 21 points, his best points haul to date in his short Breakers career.

Corey Webster became the first Breakers player to score 100 points this season – 113 points at 18.8ppg.


Glen Rice Jnr, an injury replacement for Scotty Hopson, will become Breaker #115 if as expected he debuts against Melbourne United.

Kiwi Men and Women at Junior College in the States

Sharne P-R

Sharne Pupuke-Robati 

Below is the list of Kiwis playing Junior College basketball in the States in the 2019/20 collegiate season.


Kaitlin Burgess (College of Southern Idaho) ex Rangitoto College and Riverton High, USA.

Grace Hunter (South Plains College, Texas) ex Queen Mary’s College, Wellington.

Awatea Leach (Collin Community College) ex Rotorua Girls High

Leah Mafua (Otero Junior College) ex Hutt Valley High

Lauryn Mapusua (Hutchinson Community College) ex Brisbane State High

Jada Menasa (Mineral Area College) ex Mt Albert Grammar.

Rionne Papa (Mineral Area College) ex Auckland Grammar.

Kyra Paniora (Hutchinson Community College)

Kay-Hauata Phillips (?)

Sharne Pupuke-Robati (Utah State Eastern) ex Mt Albert Grammar.

Riana Rangi-Brown (Mineral Area College) ex Mt Albert Grammar.

Connie Taylor (Cowlie College) ex Rangi Ruru Girls


Daniel Christensen (Barstow College) ex Taradale College

Mattson Darrah (Herkimer College) ex Wellington College

Nico Hill (Missouri State – West Plains) ex Opunake High.

Vincent Keremete-Davies (West Valley College) ex Impact Academy

Thabo Manyere (Barstow College) ex Westlake Boys – redshirt 2019/20 due to injury

Jake McKinlay (Mineral Area College) ex Palmerston North Boys High

Dylan Ryburn (Nebraska) ex Hamilton Boys High.

Josh Tawhiao (Barstow College) ex Rangitoto College

Mexicali Fresh Round 1 wrap


2020 Summer Jam Poster V2

The opening round of the 2019 Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam, held at HoopQuarters in New Lynn, saw wins for Gauchos and Rail Splitters.

Gauchos, with Junior internationals Jaga Mete (21 points), Sam Mennenga (39 points) and Sean Murphy (19 points) to the fore, always headed an under-strength Birdmen eventually winning 106-95.

To their credit the Birdmen, despite being down 54-42 at half-time, stayed in the contest until the closing couple of minutes.

When Ryan Laumatia knocked down a three Birdmen were only seven points down (95-88) with five minutes to play.

Nate Wilson added further points but Tall Black alumnus Dillon Boucher orchestrated proceedings down the stretch as Gauchos continually went inside to the dominant Mennenga who scored 16 of his game high 39 points in the final period.

Birdmen guard Zach Riley lit up the opening frame draining four consecutive treys, with Jaylen Gerrand the aggressor in the second making a dozen points to keep his team’s score ticking over.

An even third quarter preceded Birdmen’s push for victory in the fourth which was stymied by Mennenga’s dominance.

Gauchos 106– S Mennenga 39, J Mete 21, S Murphy 19, O Hayward 9

Birdmen 95– J Gerrand 28, Z Riley 23, N Wilson 13, T Murray 11, F McClure 11


In the earlier game Rail Splitters earned a 90-87 win against Blue Chips.

That result appeared highly unlikely in the early stages as the perimeter shooting of Kevin Braswell and the inside presence of Dom Kelman-Poto and Zack Te Puni carried Blue Chips to a 33-14 opening quarter advantage.

The Chips lead was still 51-38 at half-time but with Nick Barrow and Shalom Broughton achieving parity on the boards and Tinashe Matambanadzo and Dru Leo Leusage-Ape getting some outside shots to drop the Rail Splitters led 66-61 at three-quarter time.

Kelman-Poto and Joel Vaiagina got busy at the beginning of the fourth to give Blue Chips an 80-79 lead with under four minutes to play.

An eye-catching reverse dunk from Broughton restored Rail Splitters lead and although Braswell and Vaiagina made threes Matambanadzo, and Leusage-Ape made critical plays in the closing two minutes to clinch a meritourious win for the Splitters.

Rail Splitters 90– T Matambanadzo 25, N Barrow 17, S Broughton 14, D Leusage-Ape 14, M Williams-Dunn 11

Blue Chips 87– D Kelman-Poto 26, K Braswell 26, Z Te Puni 11, J Vaiagina 11

The Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam is supported by HoopQuarters, SAS and ABSL.

Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam Preview

2020 Summer Jam Poster V2

It’s at a new location but the Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam is back.

The 2019 edition will be held at HoopQuarters in New Lynn with the first round of games played on November 2nd.

Once again the four participating teams will showcase some of the best high school talent in Auckland with a sprinkling of Tall Blacks and NBL players out to keep the youngsters in line.

Four members of the St Kentigern College Schick National Championship winning team – Levick Kerr, Shalom Broughton Kazlo Evans Jnr and Alex McNaught will be suiting up.

Former Tall Blacks Casey Frank and Dillon Boucher will provide veteran leadership whilst Tinashe Matamabnadzo, Dominique Kelman-Poto, (both Southland Sharks) along with Nick Barrow and Jaylen Gerrand (both Super City Rangers) played in the NBL in 2019.

The opening game at 1.00pm will feature Railsplitters against Blue Chips followed by Birdmen taking on Gauchos at 2.30pm.

Railsplitters will be led by Frank, Barrow and Matamabnadzo with the young backcourt of Marvin Williams-Dunn (Rosmini College) and Kazlo Evans Jnr sure to push the pace. Tautoko Wynyard (Rangitoto College) will be the youngest forward on show.

If Wynyard is the youngest forward then 2019 U17 Nationals MVP Dante Nance is the youngest guard. Playing for Gauchos he will have the Boucher’s (Jayden and Dillon) plus Junior Tall Blacks Jaga Mete (Auckland Grammar) and Sam Mennenga (Westlake) amongst his teammates.

Blue Chips will have player/coach Kevin Braswell pulling the strings alongside Kelman-Poto, Reihana Maxwell-Topia (Rosmini) and the Rangitoto College pair Harry Payne and Ethan Skelton.

Former Westlake standout Jaylen Gerand will be at the point for Birdmen and will be joined in the backcourt by Sataan Tawera (MAGS), Zach Riley (Rangitoto) and Rosmini and Tall Blacks wing Taine Murray.

Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam Co-ordinator Lindsay Tait is looking forward to the seven week season.

“Summer is when real hoopers work on their individual deficiencies to improve their future standing in the game. The players recruited are a mix of the top young talent available alongside the top available men. From our targeted pool of athletes we have selected the four most competitive teams possible in order to get better as a collective in an enjoyable, competitive environment.

“Our youngsters need to learn off our veterans. Our veterans need good quality competition during the summer period,” Tait added.

The Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam is supported by HoopQuarters, SAS and ABSL.

Kiwi Men in College – NCAA Div III and NAIA

Joe Cook-Green

Joe Cook-Green

Below is a list of Kiwi Men playing NCAA Division III College basketball plus those playing National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).



Joe Cook-Green (Texas Wesleyan University after attending Otago Boys High)

Jordan Hunt (Southern Oregon University out of Hutt Valley High)

Kane Keil (University of Antelope Valley after attending Auckland Grammar School)


Carl Isitt (Central Methodist University after attending Papanui High)

Corey La’aupepe (Menio College after attending St Pat’s Town)


Maxim Stephens (Rocky Mountain College, Montana after attending Hamilton Boys High)

Travis Wright (Florida National University after attending Napier Boys High)


NCAA Division III


Sam Lees (Whitworth University after attending Middleton Grange School

Liam Wilby (Allegheny College out of Wellington College)


Harrison Williams (Castleton University, formerly at St Kentigern College)


Will Harrison (St Lawrence University after attending Christ’s College)

Trent Smith (Blackburn College after attending Palmerston North Boys High)

Aidan Phizackerley (Linfield College after attending St Kentigern College)

Harry Wall (Shenandoah University after attending Scots College)

Noah Watson (Muhlenberg College after attending Archbishop Walsh School)


Fletcher Arnold (Knox College after attending Ashburton College)

Ben Reeves (St Joseph’s College after attending Otago Boys High School)

RJ edges LaMelo and Abercrombie nearing another milestone

RJ Hampton

The official attendancefor the Sky Sport Breakers opening home game against Illawarra Hawks last week at Spark Arena on Sunday was 8,338 – the 6thhighest crowd all-time for the Breakers and the third largest ever for a regular season fixture.

The reaction of the crowd during the game showed that many were there to see future NBA players LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton in action.

So who won the first round of that matchup between the two? Being biased I give Hampton the verdict but only just.

I had both players in my fantasy team with Ball scoring 32 points and RJ 37 points emphasizing how close the contest was.

Fortunately we get to see them go head to head on three more occasions this season with the next round back at Spark Arena on November 30th.

The largest crowd the Breakers have ever attracted was 9,238 for Game 3 of the 2012 Grand Final series against Perth Wildcats. The biggest regular season crowd was 9,157 on February 1st2013, when the Breakers won a 10th straight game defeating Perth 98-81 with Corey Webster scoring 14 points to back up Cedric Jackson’s 22 points.

Largest Regular season crowds:

9,157 v Perth Wildcats, 1.2.2013

8,500 v Adelaide 36’ers, 28.2.2013

8,338 v Illawarra Hawks, 24.10.19

7,979 v Sydney Kings, 27.1.2012

7,947 v Cairns Taipans, 21.3.2014

7,597 v Perth Wildcats, 13.12.2013

7,494 v Sydney Kings, 20.10.2019


v Illawarra Hawks at Spark Arena

Scotty Hopson produced the first Breakers double-double of the season pulling down 10 rebounds to go with 17 points.

Development Player Terry Li, afforded a couple of minutes of action, became Breaker #114 and the first Chinese national to play for the club.

Ethan Rusbatch played his first game for the Breakers since January 2017 – he made three brief appearances in the 2016-17 season (when a Development player). Nice to see the Tall Black guard knock down a pair of threes.

Corey Webste moved up to 7th on the Breakers all-time assists list with a dozen dimes over the two games against Illawarra and Melbourne. He replaces Tom Abercrombie at No 7 and has 6thplaced Kirk Penney in his sights.

All-Time Breakers Assists List

901 Paul Henare

834 Cedric Jackson

655 Mika Vukona

635 Dillon Boucher

466 CJ Bruton

374 Kirk Penney

371 Corey Webster

369 Tom Abercrombie



Tom Abercrombie is 17 points shy of becoming the first Breakers player to break the 3,500 points mark. The club’s all-time leading scorer could well pass that milestone during the upcoming round with games against Cairns and Perth set down for Thursday and Sunday.