Monthly Archives: June 2013

NBL Wrap: Round 11

Brian ConklinA remarkable final quarter meltdown by the Palmerston North Jets handed the Southland Sharks the last remaining semi final berth for the 2013 NBL season.

With 4:56 remaining, the Jets appeared to not only have the game completely under control but it also looked possible they could turn around the 29 points differential the Sharks had established by winning the first encounter 110-81 earlier in the month. Sharks coach Paul Henare called a time out at that point, his team trailing 84-68 and in need of some inspiration. Whatever was said had the desired effect as the Sharks piled in a remarkable 26 points in the remaining minutes and held the Jets to just 5 points of their own. Leon Henry (19pts) and Kevin Braswell (20pts) made nine points apiece during the run, the Sharks hitting a collective 82% (28/34) from the free throw line.

Earlier it looked as if Chris Hagan (27pts) and Marcel Jones (20pts) were pacing the home side to the win they required to keep their season alive but when the Jet’s key player Nick Horvath (11pts/15rebounds) fouled out with six minutes remaining the Sharks sensed an opportunity and pounced. The Sharks now look forward to a trip to the play-offs, the Jets reflect on a campaign that promised much but returned very little.

The other Friday night game pitched the third placed Nelson Giants up against the league leading Wellington Saints in the capital. The Saints were dealt a major blow before the game, point guard Lindsay Tait sidelined with a suspected broken thumb. Despite this set back the Saints were able to overcome the Giants, who had beaten them by a single point in round four.

The Giants were ahead by a single point at quarter time but it was the Saints with the advantage at the main break 55-48. Rick Rickert is looking like a terrific late season pick up for the Saints, he was virtually unstoppable in the low post scoring a game high 33 points at 81% from the field (13/16) plus 15 rebounds.  Corey Webster (32pts/5 assists) more than covered the points shortfall created by the absence of Tait and Casey Frank also had a strong game contributing 9 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists.

The Saints had built a healthy 99-84 advantage with just 3:30 remaining and appeared to be cruising to victory but Nelson caused a few anxious moments for the good crowd at TSB Arena by scoring a quick ten points courtesy of Mika Vukona (21pts) and Josh Pace (23pts) to reduce the deficit to four points entering the final minute. However, Webster and Frank scored a brace of free throws each to enable the Saints to close out the game.

The Giants travelled north to Napier for a game against the HBS Bank Hawks and despite their loss twenty four hours earlier started the stronger of the two teams, establishing a 24-18 first quarter advantage. Josh Pace (32pts/9rebounds) was a constant thorn in the side of the Hawks and aided by Mika Vukona (14pts/10rebounds) the visitors established a valuable 56-44 advantage. The Hawks, who had inflicted on Nelson their only home loss of the season back in round eight, had much the better of the third quarter as Everard Bartlett (17pts) and Brian Greene (19pts) found their range, ‘The Bay’ slightly ahead, 68-66 with ten minutes to play. With 4:17 remaining they still lead 77-74 but baskets from Vukona, Pace and Erron Maxey re-established the Giants advantage. Brian Greene nailed a three with just over a minute left to tie the scores, Pace and Bartlett exchanged baskets before a typical athletic two points from Pace edged the Giants ahead in the closing seconds.  Bartlett had the last shot of the game to win it for the Hawks on the buzzer but the near miss rather summed up the Hawks season, just four victories when much more was expected.

In New Plymouth Jack Leasure put on a show for the home fans scoring 33 points (14 from 22 from the field) to help his side to a 114-93 victory over the bottom placed James Blond Super City Rangers. Leasure was ably assisted by fellow import Kenny Gabriel (22pts/11rebounds). Brad Anderson and Ethan Rusbatch continued their recent fine form with 16 points each as the Taranaki Mountain Airs improved their record to 5-10.

Once again the Rangers had little trouble scoring, Duane Bailey had a season best 23 points, Carl Buck and Houston O’Riley 18 points apiece and Patrich Bolstad 12 points and nine rebounds but their defensive frailty has been their achilles heal all season as they have given up 97.7 points per game.

The feature game of the round pitched first versus second on the ladder, the table topping Wellington Saints visiting the Otago Nuggets. The hosts shaded the first quarter 19-16, centre Antoine Tisby contributing eight early points, his battle with Saints big man Rick Rickert one of the key match ups of the encounter. Mark Dickel gifted Corey Webster a couple of free throws early in the second quarter courtesy of a technical foul and when Webster nailed a three point attempt followed by another pair of freebies the Saints had regained the initiative, 32-26.  The Nuggets endured a barren four minutes in which they failed to score but the Saints collected eleven unanswered points before Akeem Wright broke the drought. The Saints were once again without injured playmaker Lindsay Tait but at half time they were travelling nicely without him, ahead 47-29, a massive twenty one points swing in just ten minutes. The Nuggets did make a better fist of things in the third quarter shading it by two points but they never looked like threatening the Saints who took out the win 97-72 and with it the regular season title. Tisby (22pts/13 rebounds) was outstanding for the Nuggets but the usually high scoring duo, BJ Antony and Akeem Wright were not at their best scoring 12 points and 11 points respectively. Once again Rick Rickert recorded a double double of 11 points and 16 rebounds, Casey Frank posted 18 points and Corey Webster had 21 points although his 6 from 18 from the floor was not up to his usual high percentage shooting.

In the final game of the round the lowly Waikato Pistons entertained the Southland Sharks in Hamilton. The Sharks, on a five game winning streak were trailing 41-38 at half time but had locked the scores at 67 all at three-quarter time before dominating the final quarter to win 96-85. A 13-2 surge by the Sharks to open the final stanza put paid to the Pistons resistance for whom Tai Webster scored twenty points. Fellow youngsters Anamata Haku (13pts/6rebounds) and Marco Alexander (14pts/8rebounds) also made useful contributions. Brian Conklin, a contender for this seasons MVP title scored 32 points at 86% from the field (12 from 14), Reuben Te Rangi was prominent with 20 points and Kevin Braswell and Leon Henry were also in double figures.

With just one round to go the semi finalists are already established, Wellington Saints (13-2), Otago Nuggets (11-4), Nelson Giants (11-4) and Southland Sharks (11-3). The Sharks play both the Saints and the Giants next weekend perhaps hoping they can move up into second or third spot thereby avoiding Wellington

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Don’t expect Steve Adams in the Tall Blacks

Steve AdamsWith Tall Blacks head coach Nenad Vucinic due to announce his trial squad any day now for the upcoming internationals against China and Australia, I thought it an opportune time to undertake a bit of crystal ball gazing.

Imagine if Vucinic could call on a starting five of Lindsay Tait, Kirk Penney, Tom Abercrombie, Mika Vukona and Alex Pledger backed up by the Webster brothers Corey and Tai, Leon Henry, Steven Adams and one out of BJ Anthony,  Casey Frank, Rob Loe or Jeremiah Trueman. Now that would be a team capable of giving the Australian Boomers a real run for their money.

Unfortunately, not all of the above will be available for the two games to be played in August. Adams, understandably has more pressing engagements with the NBA, Penney is resting from a strenuous season in Turkey and Loe (and Isaac Fotu) have US college commitments. Other fringe players like Everard Bartlett are carrying injuries therefore picking a team is not entirely straightforward.

Mika Vukona will again captain the team from the power forward position. Vucinic experimented by giving Vukona some game time in the three spot last year but that was largely forced on him because of Tom Abercrombie’s unavailabilty due to injury. Now, with Abercrombie restored to good health he, Vukona, Pledger, Tait and Corey Webster will make a small but balanced starting five. It was a bit of a concern watching the Saints v Giants game last night to see Tait sitting out the game due a thumb injury. Vucinic and his coaching team will be hoping this is not a long term injury as experience cover at point guard is not plentiful.

BJ Anthony was also unavailable for the 2012 international programme but he seems a certainty to be the back up to Vukona. BJ is having an outstanding season for the Otago Nuggets averaging 21.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. Casey Frank has served the Tall Blacks well over many seasons, he is playing as well as ever for the Saints and his experience and nous are well recognised within the team. He will be needed to play some minutes at centre and forward.Leon Henry is also having a good NBL season with Southland Sharks. He is averaging 16 points a game including an impressive 43% from behind the three point arc, form good enough you would imagine to retain the reserve swingman position. Tai Webster made a favourable impression on his Tall Blacks debut last year. Like his brother he can cover both guard spots so expect him and the dependable Jarrod Kenney to fill the remaining back court spots.

Vucinic’s options are limited but still expect a couple of surprises when the squad is announced for the trials to be held in Auckland, July 16-17.

Last year Tai Webster was catapulted from school basketball into the international arena and Isaac Fotu made the same jump in 2011. This year I expect Jack Salt to be the bolter. At 6’10” the Westlake Boys High School sports captain has the attributes to be a prominent player in the Tall Blacks programme over the coming years. Another young up and comer is Reuben Te Rangi. Last year’s Junior Tall Blacks captain has recently secured a full contract with the Breakers and is also coming of a good season with Southland Sharks where he has been under the tutelage of Tall Blacks assistant coach Paul Henare.  Other dark horses are Brooke Ruscoe, Rory Fannon (both Nelson Giants) and Brad Anderson (Taranaki).

Expect Josh Bloxham and Jeremiah Trueman to be in the mix along with Everard Bartlett if fit but don’t expect Hayden Allen to be named as he is unavailable due to personal reasons. Understandably the basketball news is all about Steve Adams and the Oklahoma City Thunder at the moment but it will soon shift to the Tall Blacks and a couple of new faces – which faces is the question.

Following the trial a squad will be announced for a tour to China departing July 22. The two week tour will be followed by the series against Australia.

SAINTS CRUISE PAST RANGERS

Lindsay Tait

The rearranged fixture between the Wellington Saints and the James Blond Super City Rangers kick started round 11 of the NBL. The game was cancelled four days earlier due to the extreme weather conditions in the capital that caused most flights into the city to be cancelled. Live streaming enabled many observers to get their first look at new Saints recruit Rick Rickert, playing in the NBL for the first time since 2010 when he turned out for the Harbour Heat. In that season Rickert averaged 18.2ppg and 9.1rpg, figures he looks likely to replicate in his second season in the league as he completed a double double of 22 points and 11 rebounds.

Second on the ladder versus last looked like a mismatch and so it proved as the Saints raced to an early 20-3 advantage, Lindsay Tait helping himself to 11first quarter points. A Houston O’Riley triple was the only scoring success for the Rangers in the opening seven minutes. Credit to the Rangers, they did stop the bleeding a little as the game progressed but with a 59-44 advantage the way of the home side at half time, the game was all but over as a contest. With Rickert and Bryant Markson dominating the glass, Corey Webster (23 points) and Tait (22 points/8 assists) picking holes in the Rangers defence, the Saints were in cruise mode. Guard Shea Ili (16pts/7 rebounds) was a shining light for the Aucklanders but their14 turnovers in the half didn’t help their cause.

Dillon Boucher missed the game due to suspension but it made little  difference to the Saints who eased their way to a healthy 81-64 lead at the end of the third period. An impressive Ili dunk following a steal got the Rangers under way in the final quarter but they were unable to put much of a dent in the hosts lead. With the Saints starters sitting on the bench the game became very loose in the final minutes enabling the Rangers to exercise some damage control courtesy of double digit contributions from Ili, O’Riley, Carl Buck, Chris Fahrensohn, Patrich Bolstad and Jack Salt. However, the Saints, playing the first of three games in six days would have been pleased to complete a comfortable 107-87 win and keep plenty of energy in the tank for the testing encounters against Nelson Giants and the Otago Nuggets later in the week.

NBL WRAP: ROUND 10

Reuben Te Rangi

Following the Waikato Pistons tense 69-64 victory over the HSB Hawks the NBL round 10 focus shifted to Napier. The Hawks had to quickly regroup for a home tie against the Taranaki Mountain Airs the following night. Captain Paora Winitana scored eight first quarter points to give the Hawks a 25-20 advantage. Kenny Gabriel showed great athleticism at both end of the court in the second period helping the Airs to even the contest 42-42 at half time. The Airs cause was not helped when Gabriel was forced to the bench after picking up his fourth foul early in the third quarter – he would foul out later after playing just 23 minutes.

Jarrod Kenny scored seven consecutive points for the Hawks and Dion Prewster nailed a three on the buzzer to give the Hawks a 73-65 lead with ten minutes to play. The Hawks failed to score in the opening four minutes of the final period but still led 78-74 with 4:08 remaining and although it was scrappy at times they held on to win 86-79 for a much needed win, just their fourth of the season. Prewster (21pts) and Brian Greene (17pts/10rebounds) were the best for the Hawks, the Airs getting good value out of Aaron Bailey-Nowell and the improving Ethan Rusbatch who scored 16 points apiece.
The James Blond Super City Rangers had a disruptive build up to their game against Nelson Giants on Saturday night. The Rangers were due to play the Saints in Wellington on Friday night but their flight was cancelled due to extreme weather conditions in the capital. The disruption didn’t seem to affect the Rangers early on, as they trailed by just a single point at quarter time and were still in touch at half time, 42-56. Nelson’s imports Josh Pace and Erron Maxey dominated the home team’s offensive output scoring 40 points between them in the half. The Rangers shaded the third period 19-17 but ran out of steam in the final quarter losing 97-84. Pace with a season high 35 points and Maxey (23pts) were the only Nelson players to reach double figures but Mika Vukona did secure 14 rebounds to go with his 8 points. Once again the guard trio of Carl Buck, Houston O’Riley and Shea Ili led the Rangers scoring.An astounding half time score-line emerged from snowy Invercargill – Southland Sharks 60- Otago Nuggets 30, the home town on fire shooting 56% from the field (22/39), led by Reuben Te Rangi with 19 points. Te Rangi couldn’t buy a basket against the Rangers last week but he showed his true ability in this encounter. Matters didn’t improve for the league leaders in the second half as they found themselves 90-44 behind at three-quarter time, eventually defeated 114-67. The Nuggets premier scoring duo of BJ Anthony and Akeem Wright were held to a collective 19 points more than 50% down on their usual output. The Sharks, led by the consistent Brian Conklin (27pts) had six players in double figures as they took their winning sequence to five, sending their full house support home happy.

In Palmerston North the TBH Jets entertained the Waikato Pistons in the final game of the round needing to win their last three games to have any hope of making the play-offs. The Pistons established an early 11-4 advantage but the Jets had eradicated that by quarter time and tied the game at 21-21. Centres Zack Atkinson and Nick Horvath were having a battle royal, both recording 10 points but Atkinson shading the rebounding count 8-4 and the Pistons shading the half 46-42. Marco Alexander was also prominent for the Pistons with 9 points including two threes. Garrius Holloman, playing against the team that released him earlier in the season made an athletic baseline drive to keep the visitors ahead 55-50 but a 12-2 run from the Jets got the home crowd excited and their team in front. The momentum remained with the Jets as they established a 66-61 three quarter time lead. The advantage quickly ballooned to 79-68 early in the final period as the Pistons offence struggled to break down the 2-3 zone of the Jets. A Holloman triple followed by  a free throw with two minutes remaining got the Pistons back within five points (84-79). However they gave up a transition basket to Jeremiah Trueman and despite a couple of free throws from Webster and a basket in traffic from Ana Haku the Jets held their nerve and recorded a much needed 87-83 win. Horvath (27pts) and Marcel Jones (16pts) were prominent for the Jets. Atkinson (21pts) and Webster (16pts) paced the Pistons and Holloman also scored 21 points for the Pistons but put up 22 shots in the process.

The Jets host the Southland Sharks next Friday, June 28 in a game that could well decide the final make up of the 2013NBL semi finalists.

WEBSTER LEADS PISTONS TO THRILLING VICTORY

Tai Webster

Round 10 of the NBL began with a thriller in Hamilton. In a low scoring affair the HBS Hawks led the Waikato Pistons 55-50 with 4:53 in the game remaining. Incredibly the Hawks failed to score again until Brian Greene made a three with 18 seconds to play. The Pistons took full advantage of the Hawks scoring drought, claiming fourteen unanswered points before claiming a 69-64 victory, just their second win of the season and one that was good enough to lift them off the bottom of the table.

Once again Tai Webster underlined his Rookie of the Year status claiming 21 points, nine of them in the final five minutes when the game was on the line.  Firstly he scored a basket, then grabbed a steal on the next Hawks play, was fouled and scored one of the two resulting free throws before Zack Atkinson (16points/17 rebounds) tied the scores.

Webster gave his team a four points buffer with a pair of freebies and another shot from the field with 2:03 remaining. Atkinson and Ana Haku pushed the lead out to nine points inside the last minute. Amazingly the Hawks scored nine points in the final 20 seconds after going scoreless in the previous four and a half minutes before Webster scored the last of his points, another pair of free throws, to seal the win. Webster shot 6 from 14 from the field (43%), 8 from 12 free throws, converted his only three point attempt and added 5 assists.

Greene (21pts) top scored for the Hawks who shot a paltry 30% from the field (26 from 87) and now stand only one win ahead of the Pistons.

ADELAIDE 36ERS SIGN BJ ANTHONY

BJ AnthonyToday, it has been confirmed that BJ Anthony has signed with the Adelaide 36ers for the 2013/14 iiNet NBL season (as speculated on Monday). Which other New Zealand players might be on the radar of the seven Australian clubs given that the Breakers have a full compliment of players?

Josh Bloxham has this week been working out with a number of other point guards at the Sydney Kings. Competition is fierce but we wish Josh well in his efforts to step up from a Development player at the Breakers to a fully contracted player.

Everard Bartlett has been a handy performer for the Perth Wildcats and Adelaide 36ers in the last couple of seasons. Having been released by the Wildcats, it would appear that Townsville is his best chance of being hired. New Crocs coach Shawn Dennis has been an admirer of Bartlett and previously coached the Kiwi guard at Hawks Bay in the NZ NBL.

Leon Henry could be a handy pick up, but his release by the Breakers was largely due to the fact that he was carrying too many player points. However, a rating of 5 doesn’t seem too high for a back up swingman.

Lindsay Tait is another who would still be worthy of a spot even though it’s a couple of seasons since he played for the Cairns Taipans. New Zealand’s premier point guard also carries a 5 points ranking but whether the Tall Black wants to play limited minutes as a back up player is questionable.

BJ’s signing, added to the six New Zealander’s on the Breakers team, takes the Kiwi count in the ANBL to seven. Hopefully these numbers swell in the coming months as the Australian clubs finalise their rosters.

TAI FOR TITLE

Tai Webster

The Waikato Pistons may be heading for the wooden spoon in the NBL following their home defeat to fellow strugglers the James Blond Super City Rangers but one player is certainly worthy of something a little less inglorious than the spoon. 18 year old Tai Webster has taken the weighty role of starting point guard on his young shoulders and stood tall. He has played big minutes; over thirty-six per game. He is in the top 15 players in the league in points (18.5 per game), assists (4,2pg) and steals (1.8pg). Surely he is a shoo-in for the Rookie of the Year Award. However, will the decision makers at NBL headquarters overlook the fact that Tai played a few minutes of garbage time for the now defunct Auckland Pirates last season? He played just eleven minutes over two games scoring just two points. Strictly speaking he may not be a rookie but in reality he is. It is to be hoped the decision makers make the sensible and correct decision in three or four week’s time.

THE WHISPERING ROOM

A couple of prominent New Zealand players are searching out the opportunity of playing for an Australian club in the iiNet Australian NBL next season. With the Sky City Breakers roster already full bar the import point guard spot, players are naturally eyeing the possibility of moving across the ditch to pursue their professional careers. One of the players has visited the Sydney Kings to work out under the close scrutiny of King’s head coach Shane Heal. The other is believed to be in negotiations with another club, with a contract already on the table. The Lowdown hopes to be able to name the players in the next few days.

NBL wrap: Round 9

Rick Rickert

Round nine began with the second placed Wellington Saints (10-2) entertaining the HBS Bank Hawks (3-8). New Saints import Rick Rickert made a telling contribution on debut scoring 17 points and gathering 14 rebounds in just nineteen minutes court time. The scores were level at the end of the third period but a 28-16 surge from the Saints in the final ten minutes saw them home. Dillon Boucher and Brian Greene (29 points) were ejected after a fourth quarter altercation and both face a one game suspension.

The table topping Otago Nuggets (11-1) secured their first visit to the play-offs since 1997, defeating the Jets in Palmerston North 110-102. The victory was built on a powerful first half performance, the Nuggets amassing 66 points to lead by 22 at the break. The Jets looked dead and buried but led by Chris Hagan (28pts/7assists/5 steals) and Marcel Jones (27pts) they clawed their way back into the game to trail by just five points entering the final four minutes. The Nuggets kept their composure in the closing stages, the NBL’s two leading scorers, Akeem Wright and BJ Anthony seeing them home. Wright scored 33 points (13 from 17 from the field) and Anthony 28 points. Anthony has obviously been working on his outside shot – his stroke looks far smoother than it did last year and 3 from 4 from behind the three point arc is evidence his hard work is paying off. Interestingly the Jets back up centre Miles Pearce managed to foul out in just 10:15 playing time.

The Waikato Pistons had recorded a comprehensive victory over fellow cellar dwellers the James Blond Super City Rangers last week but in Hamilton on Friday night the tables were turned. With both teams boasting just one victory each the result was likely to decide the recipient of the wooden spoon. Unfortunately for Waikato they made a dreadful start trailing 37-51 at half time – the home team were not helped by import Garrius Holloman shooting just one from nine in the half. He and the team did improve in the second half and in fact trailed by just one point (72-73) with 5:30 remaining. However the Rangers held their nerve and aided by a Duane Bailey three and six points from Shea Ili in the final three minutes secured an 87-77 win. The trio of guards, Houston O’Riley (19pts), Carl Buck (18pts) and Ili (16pts) were outstanding for the Rangers. Once again Tai Webster (24pts) led the Pistons scoring and Zack Atkinson was his usual efficient self (14pts/18 rebounds).

On Saturday the Taranaki Mountain Airs v Southland Sharks fixture tipped off at 5pm to avoid clashing with the televised All Blacks rugby test. Not sure if it worked in terms of crowd support but it certainly didn’t work on the score board as the Sharks secured a vital 101-93 win. Taranaki shaded the first period 21-19 but were overhauled in the second period, the Sharks ahead 49-45 at the main break. The visitors extended their lead in the third in front 76-64, the import duo of Kevin Braswell and Brian Conklin doing a lot of the damage. The Sharks were still nine points ahead with 4:12 remaining but a three from Ethan Rusbatch and a pair of buckets from veteran Link Abrams brought the Airs within three points with 2:50 remaining. The reliable duo of Conklin (27pts) and Braswell (23pts) steadied the Southland ship, Leon Henry (20pts) and Luke Martin made free throws, and the Sharks moved a step closer to the play-offs. Jack Leasure accumulated 24 points for the Airs but the loss means they can no longer make the play-offs.The HBS Hawks entertained the Jets without the suspended Brian Greene and injured Everard Bartlett. They made a promising start to lead 20-17 at quarter time, Alonso Burton scoring 8 points. The Jets upped their defensive intensity in the second quarter and aided by back to back threes from Troy MacLean established a four points half time buffer and a 50-59 advantage at three quarter time. Chris Hagan (16pts) eased the Jets into a ten point lead early in the final quarter and the visitors were able to keep a double digit advantage to close out a comfortable 80-66 win.  Dion Prewster had his most productive game for the Hawks, amassing 18 points and 16 rebounds and Nick Horvath was the best of the Jets knocking down 23 points and snaring 16 rebounds. The win keeps the play-off hopes of the Jets alive but the Hawks, whilst still have a mathematical chance of qualifying are realistically out of contention for 2013.

Josh Pace scored 10 first quarter points to help the Nelson Giants establish a 25-19 advantage over league leaders the Otago Nuggets in Nelson but there was a momentum reversal in the second period, the Nuggets taking it out 24-16 to lead by two points at half time. The third quarter was a tight affair, Otago ahead by the slimmest of margins, 63-62 with ten minutes to play. The teams were neck and neck in the final quarter the lead changing hands on several occasions. The Giants made their move with three minutes remaining; Mika Vukona blocked a BJ Anthony shot and then made a brace of free throws. Erron Maxey made a basket and suddenly the Giants were ahead 81-74 with just over two minutes to play. However the league leaders weren’t finished, Anthony and Wright making back to back baskets to trim the margin to 2 points. Brooke Ruscoe restored a four points advantage for the home side; Pace held his nerve at the free throw line and the Nuggets suffered just their second loss of the season going down 87-82. The Nuggets (11-2) remain top of the table and the Giants (9-3) strengthen their grip on third spot. Benny Anthony led all scorers with 24 points (9 from 14 from the field), Josh Pace, 22 points was key for the Giants as was Mika Vukona, 8 rebounds and 20 points including a perfect 10 of 10 from the charity stripe.

The only Sunday game of the round played at Trusts Stadium, Waitakere featured the James Blond Super City Rangers and the Southland Sharks, both teams seeking their second win of the round. The Rangers shaded the first quarter 24-21, the Sharks the second quarter 26-20. Four players had ten points at the main break – the lively Shea Ili and Patrich Bolstad for the home team and Kevin Braswell and Leon Henry for the southerners. The Sharks quickly stretched their lead, up by twelve points early in the third period as Brian Conklin found his range having sat on the bench for long periods of the first half after getting into foul trouble. Braswell committed a technical foul in the final seconds of the quarter to gift the Rangers a couple of points but the Sharks were still in control, 67-57with ten minutes remaining. The final quarter was a scrappy affair as turnovers increased and shooting percentages plummeted. Both teams shot below 40% from the field and  combined, just 17% (7 from 42) from behind the three point arc. Conklin (25pts/15 rebounds) led all scorers and he was ably supported by Leon Henry (19pts). Jack Salt (14 rebounds) and Carl Buck (18pts) spearheaded the Rangers effort and Ili, surely on the Breakers radar as a development player, finished with 11points, 6 rebounds and 3 impressive blocks. It may have been scrappy but the Sharks will be delighted with their weekend’s work. Two road wins and a cemented place in the top four will have pleased coach Paul Henare.

Profiles of new Breakers Signings

Darnell Lazare

DARNELL LAZARE

Darnell Lazare played last season for the Sydney Kings. The 28 years old power forward from Louisiana averaged 11.3 points and 7.2 rebounds helping the Kings to the semi finals of the ANBL last season. Ironically, his most productive game of the season was against the SKY CITY Breakers back in February when he scored 25 points and snared 11 rebounds. His 7.2 rebounds per game placed him 5th in the NBL leading rebounder category last season.Expect Darnell to share the power forward spot with Mika Vukona but he is also capable of helping cover the centre position if required. He will excite fans with his shot blocking and rebounding – has the potential to be the best 6th man in the league.

Darnell graduated from Louisiana State University in 2007 and had professional stints in Sweden, Ukraine, and the D League in the USA before linking up with the Kings.

Most points in a single game, 25 for Sydney Kings v Sky City Breakers, 9.2.13

REUBEN TE RANGI

Reuben Te Rangi has spent a number of years in the SKY CITY Breakers coaching set up progressing from the Academy to a Development player and now to his first season as a contracted player. In 2011 Reuben was a member of the 3on3 team that won a gold medal at the Youth World Championships in Rimini, Italy. In 2012 he was voted Rookie of the Year in the New Zealand NBL after averaging 8 ppg for the Harbour Heat and shooting 44% from behind the 3 point arc. Later in 2012 he captained the Junior Tall Blacks in their three game series against Australia before making his debut for the Breakers against Townsville Crocodiles in November. Still only 18 years old Reuben will provide cover for swing man Tom Abercrombie.

Club Statistics;

11 Appearances

20 Points at 1.8 ppg.

Most points in a single game, 13 v Melbourne Tigers, 14.3.13

JEREMIAH TRUEMAN

Jeremiah Trueman rejoins the club having played a season in Breakers colours back in 2009-10. Since then he has been an important cog in the Perth Wildcats team, helping them to two Championship Finals series against the SKY CITY Breakers. A current Tall Black, Jeremiah is currently playing in the New Zealand NBL for the Palmerston North Jets. A hard working, no frills operator, Jeremiahs character and skill set are perfect for the club’s requirements – he will provide back up for Alex Pledger at centre.

Club Statistics;

11 Appearances

33 Points at 3.0 ppg

Most points in a single game, 14 v Townsville Crocodiles, 15.2.13