The thirteenth and final round of the Batercard NBL accorded many of the rookies around the league a little extra court time as senior players were given some time on the bench.
Most the top four teams took the opportunity to rest some of their starters ahead of Finals weekend and some of the lower placed teams took the opportunity to reward bench players for ‘services rendered’ during the season.
Pacific Jewellers Saints fell into the first category. Corey Webster was rested for both the home game against Good Home Taranaki Mountain Airs and the trip to Hamilton and Lindsay Tait also missed the Pistons encounter. Saints guard Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa scored 10 points and dished 3 assists against the Airs and followed that up with a very accomplished performance against the Pistons. Playing 28 minutes he scored a season high 12 points including the game winning ‘jumper’ with 24 seconds remaining. What was most impressive however was Le’afa’s ability to defend Pistons guard Corin Henry, probably the quickest player in the League.
The 18 year old may be back to bench warming duties when the Final Four weekend begins on Friday but he is one to watch for the future and certainly worthy of the Tall Blacks trial invitation.
For the Airs Kaye Mckee had a very useful 11 points and 7 rebounds outing for the Mountain Airs against the Saints.
The Breakers Manawatu Jets continued their recent run of good form defeating the visiting OceanGold Otago Nuggets 106-97 on Friday. For the Nuggets Tony Tolovae was outstanding, scoring a career high 22 points and snaring 7 rebounds.
The Nuggets had a second outing the following night and again suffered a loss this time against the top of the table IMS Payroll Hawks. Micah Lepaio had an n eye catching stat line for the Nuggets – 17pts/6rebs/5assists/3steals/6 turnovers.
Richie Edwards scored 20 points as the Canterbury Rams made it four wins from their last six outings, defeating the Zerofees Southland Sharks 90-87. Edwards only shot 5 from 16 from the field but saved his best until late contributing 9 points in the critical fourth period as the Rams withstood a Sharks three point frenzy.
The final Rookie of the Week award goes to Otago’s Tony Tolovae for his career high 22 points against the Jets.