Monthly Archives: July 2013

Breakers beaten by visiting Indiana Wesleyan University

The Breakers Academy were beaten by Indiana Wesleyan University 96-83 at Atlas Place on Wednesday night. The Wildcats were ranked 7th in the NAIA National Championships with a 26-7 record last season and their cohesion and unity were in evidence from the opening jump ball. Continue reading

Busy at Breakers

Breakers Academy head coach and Sky City Breakers assistant coach Judd Flavell is gearing himself up for a busy few days.The Academy team, minus Jack Salt of course (in China with the Tall Blacks), are this week playing a couple of games against the Indiana Wesleyan University team.  Continue reading

Stone Adds To Title Haul

Coach Stone adds to his title collection

Coach Stone adds to his title collection

Kenny Stone won his first national title as an age group coach today. I’m not sure how many NBL titles Stone  won as both player and coach but today in Wellington he guided the North Harbour Under 15 boys to a come from behind victory over Canterbury, 80-77. His son Cameron is a memeber of the Harbour team and he, like his team mates, had to dig deep for the win as they trailed by double figures at quarter time and 51-46 at half time.

The Under 15 girls final was won by Rotorua. They defeated Waikato but I am unable to bring you the score as it has not yet been posted on the BBNZ website. Continue reading

Do You Agree?

I have a lot of sympathy for Basketball New Zealand, under resourced, under funded and mostly under the radar. But what was someone in their head office thinking when they decided to award the ninth placed finishers at last weekend’s Under 17 Nationals a trophy.

I was staggered when they called forward the captain’s from both the Boys and Girls competitions to receive an award for failing to make the top eight in the tournament. The losing semi finalists received no recognition but it was decided the team with the best record in the losing half of the draw should be rewarded – absurd. If you are not good enough to be in the top two teams in a pool of five you are an average team at best. BBNZ might think it’s PC, i believe it’s Poppycock and should be scrapped as soon as possible. National Tournaments are about finding the best and providing a pathway for future elite players, not for rewarding mediocrity. What do you think?

Under 17 National Champions Found

Otago boys secure under 17 title in overtime

Otago boys secure under 17 title in overtime

The Finals of the Under 17 National Championships hosted by North Harbour Basketball Association and supported by James Blond Vehicle Rentals were played out at North Shore Events Centre on Saturday.

The Girls Final featured local neighbours and arch rivals North Harbour and Waitakere West Auckland. The girls from the West had a largely untroubled path to the final dominating all opponents including their semi final opposition, Wellington who they defeated 87-64. Harbour was also unbeaten but needed a final quarter surge to beat a defiant Taranaki team 68-56 in their semi final.

Waitakere,  coached by Tall Ferns assistant coach Aik Ho scored the first points of the game but Harbour responded in kind. A fast paced, high quality first quarter ended with the scores tied 24-24, both teams shooting over 50% from the field. Harbour’s Tera Reed led all scorers with 11 points in the period.

Tournament MVP Maia Wilson and small forward Faanana  Sula (10 points each in the half) began to dominate for Waitakere in the second quarter, 40-31 they led with 2:57 remaining in the period. Further transition baskets in the final two minutes saw Waitakere draw further ahead their lead 47-32 at half time.

Threes from Georgia Perrott-Hunt and Tiana Clarke just about kept Harbour  in touch in the third quarter before a 7-2 run inspired by Zara Jillings cut the three quarter time deficit to 12 points. Six points from Georgie Henare early in the final quarter reduced the lead to single digits before Maria Milani scored a welcome basket for the ‘Westies’. Lavinia Solomon made an ‘and one’ play and Waitakere had a double figure cushion, 76-54 with 3:34 remaining and everything apparently under control. However, the impressive Tera Reed embarked on a ten point scoring blitz and with 90 seconds left Harbour trailed just 78-76. The two teams exchanged free throws in the final minute, Lyric Taurua-Wolframm icing the game with three from four from the charity stripe to earn Waitakere an exciting win.

Final score:

Waitakere West Auckland 85 (Wilson 20pts/10 rebounds, Milani 16, Michelle Nicholls 13/11, Sula 12). North Harbour 79 (Reed 32pts/10 rebounds/6 steals, Clarke 13, Perrott-Hunt 13/10).

The game was an excellent advert for girls basketball, very well officiated by Brendan Menhennet and Luke Chnielewski


The Boys Final was a classic North v South match up, Auckland versus Otago.

Otago had beaten Waikato 84-72 in their semi final, Auckland overcoming the slightly more fancied Waitakere West Auckland 72-61 in their encounter.

Auckland was the quickest out of the blocks. 17-10 ahead midway through the opening quarter and 25-14 at the first break.

Otago were far more composed in the second quarter, Joseph Cook-Green leading their offence with eight points in the period and excellent team defence drying up the Auckland offence. 38-32 to Auckland at half time, Yuat Aluk leading all scorers with 14 points.

Both teams struggled to score early in the second half but back to back baskets from Otago’s Richard Rodger and a long two from Timmins reduced the Auckland lead to just four points, 45-41 with 4:50 to go in the period. Aluk came to life again late in the period, Kane Keil added a couple of baskets and Auckland had restored a ten point advantage 52-42 with 3:02 remaining. A Timmins spin and score helped the Otago cause as did another brace of Cook-Green baskets but Auckland still held sway – just, 54-49 at three quarter time.

Again Auckland started a period slowly and a pair of Otago free throws brought the blue and gold’s level 54-54 with 7 minutes remaining. 59-59 with 5 minutes remaining, 61-61 with 4 minutes remaining, the sizeable crowd were on edge of their seats as Auckland attempted to secure their first Under 17 title.

What transpired was a grandstand finish culminating in Otago having possession with 18.4 seconds remaining and trailing 68-66 – under extreme pressure Timmins banked in a basket to tie the scores with 13.5 seconds to go.  Auckland were unable to score with their buzzer beater, overtime resulting.

Rodger put Otago ahead for the first time in the game and when Auckland’s  Aruwa Samuel fouled out with a technical foul the resulting free throws enabled Otago to stretch out to a six point lead. Luke Wilson scored a pair of baskets for Auckland but Otago were the more composed outfit in overtime and took out a very good championship game 81-74.

Yuat Alok was unlucky to finish on the losing team, his fouling out with 1:20 to go in regular time was a critical moment in the game.

Final Score:

Otago 80 (Rodger 22 points,/14 rebounds, Josh Peterman 16, Cook-Green 14, Timmins 14/16). Auckland 74 (Alok 22 points/19 rebounds/3 blocks, Keil 20, Aruwa 16, Wilson 7).

Good news for those living south of the harbour bridge

Vector ArenaThe Sky City Breakers will be announcing in the near future that half of their regular home games will be played at Vector Arena in the upcoming NBL season. This decision reflects the increased corporate support that the club have enjoyed since their move to the larger more hospitable downtown venue. The players also enjoy the atmoshere at Vector – who wouldn’t enjoy playing in front of between six and ten thousand supporters!

Two schoolboys in the Tall Blacks.

Izayah Le'afa will be a surprise inclusion in the Tall Blacks squad being named tomorrow

Izayah Le’afa will be a surprise inclusion in the Tall Blacks squad being named tomorrow

The Tall Blacks team , due to be announced tomorrow will include  four debutants. Thirteen players will make the trip to China next week. Tom Abercrombie will meet up with the team on tour therefore 12 are to be named from those that attended the trial over the past two days. An additional place has opened up due to the likely unavailability, at least for the China tour, of Alex Pledger.

All the players with international experience will be named:

Forwards – Mika Vukona, Jeremiah Trueman, BJ Anthony and Casey Frank

Guards – Jarrod Kenny, Corey Webster, Josh Bloxham and Everard Bartlett

Centre Jack Salt, the tallest player in the squad and Reuben Te Rangi are certainties.

That leaves five guards vying for two spots – Dion Prewster, Brad Anderson, Brooke Ruscoe,Marco Alexander and late addition to the squad Izayah Le’afa.  Ruscoe will gain one the place as he has more experience than the other three at playing the point guard spot. Cover for the point position looks light following the withdrawal of Lindsay Tait due to injury, therefore the coaching staff will be looking to develop another player to assist with the ball carrying duties. But the bolter will be Wellington schoolboy Le’afa the son of former Wellington Saints point guard George Le’afa. Le’afa will join Salt in having to ask for time off school!

More Bad News For Vucinic

Lindsay Tait has been ruled out of the Tall Blacks 2013 International campaign

Lindsay Tait has been ruled out of the Tall Blacks 2013 International campaign

The Tall Blacks 2013 international campaign was this morning dealt a major blow with the news that Lindsay Tait has a fractured hand. The injury means that Tait will miss the trip to China and the series against Australia. Head coach Nenad Vucinic has now been robbed of his two premier backcourt players, Kirk Penney having already made himself unavailable for selection.

With exciting prospect Tai Webster fulfilling university obligations in the US, the onus will now fall heavily on Corey Webster and Jarrod Kenny to provide the on court leadership for the upcoming games.

Tall Blacks Defections Mount

Nick Horvarth the latest to withdraw from Tall Blacks trial

Nick Horvarth the latest to withdraw from Tall Blacks trial

The number of Tall Blacks unavailable for the upcoming tour to China seems to be increasing by the day. Already deprived of the services of Kirk Penney, Rob Loe, Leon Henry and others, Nick Horvath is the latest player to pull out. Horvath’s wife is expecting a child in the near future and the big centre has opted to remain at home in Palmerston North rather than committ to this year’s international programme.

Of more serious concern was the absence from the first training session today of Lindsay Tait and Alex Pledger. Tait is having further scans on his injured hand, a suspected fracture would almost certainly rule him out of the China tour and the home and away series against Australia. Pledger’s absence was less clear, Tall Blacks management citing personal issues being the reason for his none presence.

A couple of new caps in the international team looked likely when the squad was first  announced – they now look certain. The team will be announced on Thursday morning.

Who Are The New Faces At Tall Blacks Trial?

Jordan Ngatai

With Tall Blacks trials being held in Auckland on Tuesday and Wednesday I thought it appropriate to give some background to the new boys on the block.

With a number of first choice players unavailable for selection I expect two or three of the players below to be chosen for their first taste of full international duty when the squad for the tour of China is named later in the week. Jack Salt and Reuben Te Rangi seem almost certain to be chosen and I expect one of the young guards to also get the nod.

Seventeen years old Jack Salt is yet another product of the Westlake Boys High School system following the likes of Tai and Corey Webster and Tom Abercrombie into the Tall Blacks programme. Salt played for the New Zealand Under 20 team earlier in the year and has just completed a season with the James Blond Super City Rangers in the NBL. The 6’10” centre averaged 8.6 points and 5.4 rebounds for the Rangers in his rookie season.

Shooting guard Marco Alexander has risen through the North Harbour age group basketball programme. The 22 year old made his debut in the NBL for the Dean Vickerman coached Waikato Pistons in 2011 followed by the Harbour Heat in 2012. With the Heat unable to field a team this season Alexander returned to the Pistons and has averaged 22 minutes court time contributing 11.3 points per game.

In 2011 Reuben Te Rangi 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. Attracted by the proposition of being coached by Tall Blacks assistant coach Paul Henare, Te Rangi has spent the recent season with the NBL Championship winning Southland Sharks scoring 13.1 points per game. Still only 18 years old Reuben looks set to provide the back up for swing man Tom Abercrombie.

Another player originating from North Harbour, guard Brad Anderson had a four year stint in the Breakers Academy before graduating in 2011. Anderson has enjoyed a productive season with the Taranaki Mountain Airs after previously playing for the Auckland Pirates and Harbour Heat. This season he has averaged 12.7ppg, shooting the three ball at 37%.

Swing man Dion Prewster was a prodigious talent as a junior player captaining the 2009  Junior Tall Blacks at the World Championships held in Auckland that year. Prewster was a development player at the Breakers in 2012 having spent three years in the US prior to that. This season he has played for the Bay Hawks in the NBL averaging 13.6points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

A shooting guard, Brook Ruscoe was also a member of the 2009 Junior Tall Blacks, a starter, he enjoyed a good tournament averaging 16.2ppg. In 2012 he was a member of the NBL Champion Auckland Pirates before moving south to play for the Nelson Giants this season. Playing a significant amount of time as a point guard he has averaged 11.8ppg and 2.5 assists. Ruscoe has international pedigree, uncle Matt Ruscoe was a Tall Black in 1977 and cousin Kate McMeeken-Ruscoe has been a long time member of the Tall Ferns.

Forwards Jordan Ngatai and Tom Vodanovich are surprise picks as neither has played in the NBL this season. Both forwards hail from Wellington and are due to embark on US College careers shortly. Tom, a JTB last year will be heading to James Madison University, Virginia and Jordan who played for the Wellington Saints in 2012 is off to BYU-Hawaii.