Monthly Archives: November 2016

Plenty to like as Tai Webster and Jillian Harmon headline overseas efforts

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Jillian Harmon receives the plaudits this week, her 25 points haul for Le Mura Lucca earning the Tall Ferns forward the player of the week gong for performances by our international ballers overseas. Lucca thumped La Spezia 93-47 in Italian League action.

Overall second and best of the Tall Blacks overseas was Tai Webster. The combo guard scored 20 points at a pretty efficient 7 from 12 shooting as Nebraska opened its season with an 83-61 victory against Sacramento State.

Mike Karena earns third spot after scoring 16 points (8/9FG) as Sammic ISB beat the unfortunately named Moron 62-49 in the Spanish LEB Silver comp.

 Freshman Krystal Leger-Walker made a nice start for Northern Colorado Bears making 14 points in a 79-73 victory against Colorado.

The more experienced Stella Beck, two years under her belt at St Mary’s, had a nice stat line of 11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals but the Gaels went down to Penina Davidson’s (5 points, 2 rebounds) California Berkley 74-67.

Tall Ferns team mate Tessa Boagni conjured up 10 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists as Cal State Northridge Matadors accounted for Portland State 99-72.

Bubbling under last week:

 Jack Salt played 27 minutes as a starter as Virginia Cavaliers accounted for UNC Greenboro 76-51. The former Westlake centre produced 7 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a block.

Senior Kalani Purcell put together a sedate performance by her lofty standards as BYU Provo Cougars opened the season with a comfortable 68-50 victory against Utah Valley. Purcell snared a team high 9 rebounds to compliment 6 points, 5 assists and a pair of steals.

Mate v Mate

 A couple of Australian WNBL games matched Tall Fern against Tall Fern. Micaela Cocks and Jess Bygate both got in foul trouble as Townsville Fire just beat Melbourne Boomers 74-72 on Sunday in Melbourne. Cocks fouled out in 30 minutes for the Fire after contributing 5 points, 2 rebounds and a couple of steals. Bygate only disturbed the foul column on the stats sheet and perhaps came close to setting a Boomers record as she collected 4 personals in 3:57.

Jordan Hunter (3 points, 3 assists) and Adelaide Lightning are still winless after 6 rounds going down 75-63 to the table topping Perth Lynx at home on Saturday. Toni Edmondson contributed 4 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists to the Perth effort.

In other News

 Shout out to Matt Freeman. He is not a Tall Black yet but 15 points on his regular season debut for Oklahoma University in the 97-61 win against Northwestern State will have been noted. The swingman scored with 6 of his 7 scoring attempts including 3 from 4 threes.

 Sad to report that Brooke Blair suffered a serious injury just 5 minutes into Idaho State’s first game of the season. The Tall Ferns guard has a suspected ACL injury and awaits the outcome of an MRI scan.

Junior Tall Fern Tera Reed has committed to playing for Virginia Commonwealth University in the 2017-18 collegiate season. The Rams play in the Atlantic 10 Conference (A-10).

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Emondson takes the honours this week and College season tops off

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There was plenty of action overseas last week as the college season in the USA gears up for a start and Kiwis continue to shine in Australia and Spain.

 Toni Edmondson continued her good early season form and claimed top spot amongst Kiwi internationals overseas this week. The Cantabrian scored a season high 16 points as Perth Lynx secured a second consecutive one sided home win beating Melbourne Boomers 90-59. Edmondson shot a highly efficient 7 from 10 from the field and 2 of three at the foul line.

In second spot Mike Karena logged a game high 35 minutes as Sammic ISB won 80-76 at Agustinos in the Spanish LEB Silver comp. A nice 10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 blocks for the Canterbury Rams forward.

Isaac Fotu claimed third place with 9 points, 6 rebounds and three assists but Zaragoza surprisingly went down 80-63 at Obradoiro in Spanish League action.

 Bubbling under last week:

 Micaela Cocks scored 9 points (3/5 3PG) as Townsville Fire broke a three game losing streak defeating Sydney University Flames 85-83 in overtime.

 Reuben Te Rangi had his best outing of the season for Brisbane Bullets at Vector on Sunday – 7 points, 2 rebounds, a couple of steals and a block for the swingman.

 In other News

 The American college teams, or most of them, have been busy playing exhibition games (an attractive term for pre season fixtures) during the last week.

I’m not considering any of these encounters for player of the week status as it’s hard to get a handle on the competitiveness of some of the fixtures. For example Kentucky beat Aspury 156-65! Tai Wynyard was the beneficiary of 11 minutes court time as all the Wildcats got on the scoresheet – Tai had 10 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks in that time.

Nebraska had a blow out win as well – Tai Webster scored 10 points as the Cornhuskers blew away Chadron State 98-45.

Brooke Blair was also involved in a one sided affair. The Tall Ferns guard opened the season with 20 points as Idaho State Bengals beat Alaska-Fairbanks 88-46.

Kalani Purcell resumed where she left off last season with a stat line of 11pts/10rebs/4a/4stls/1block for BYU Provo Cougars as they disposed of Westminster 77-59. She followed that with 5 points and 10 rebounds against Colorado Mesa University later in the week.

Fellow Kiwi Shalae Salmon scored 7 points in each of the above games for BYU – her first two outings for the Cougars.

Jacinta Beckley notched 12 points and 5 rebounds as Seattle University beat Evergreen.

Penina Davidson landed 9 points and 4 rebounds as University of California, Berkley thumped Westmont 87-48.

Tessa Boagni snared 10 rebounds including 5 off the offensive glass as Cal State Northridge beat Masters Uni 74-53. Boagni added 7 points and 2 blocks for good measure.

Krystal Leger-Walker, in her first outing for Northern Colorado University, scored 8 points to go with 3 rebounds and 4 assists as the Bears beat Regis 71-56 in a pre season game. She followed this with 14 points as Black Hills State was beaten 79-73.

Other debutants included Izayah Le’afa at Sacramento State and Katelin Noyer (2 points/3 rebounds) for Fresno State.

The Jenkins sisters, Jillings and Pupuke-Robati shine in Mexicali League

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Sharne Pupuke-Robati

The 2016 Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam Women’s competition began on Saturday with some of the best age group players in Auckland demonstrating their abilities.

In the opening game The Suns were too good for The Sparks winning 62-53 on the back of a combined 25 points from the Jenkins sisters Tabitha and Annabelle.

Eight early points from former Tall Fern Amanda Buck and half a dozen from Yzabelle Tevao helped the Sparks to a 26-23 half-time lead. Tabitha Jenkins with 10 points led all scorers at the interval.

Mikayla Blair landed a brace of baskets and Shauna Povey connected with a triple and with the Sparks kept to ten points in the quarter the Suns rose to a 39-36 three-quarter time advantage.

Despite 8 points in the final quarter from Kaitlin Burgess the Sparks were left in the shadows of the Sun down the stretch – threes from Blair, Povey and Sylvia Wierzorek plus eight points from Annabelle Jenkins saw the Suns home.

Final score;

Suns 62 – Blair 16, T Jenkins 15, A Jenkins 10, Wierzorek 8, Povey 7

Sparks 53 – Buck 12, Burgess 11, Theyers 7, Tevao 6, Kelman-Poto 6

In game two Team Storm prevailed against Team Sky 79-70 with Junior Tall Fern Zara Jillings nailing 27 points for Storm.

Storm held a commanding 38-24 advantage at half-time with Jillings and Georgie Henare connecting from long range on a couple of occasion s each.

Team Sky, led by NZ Under 16 standout Sharne Pupuke-Robati, came back strongly in the second half to reduce the deficit. A three from Jordan Maddix and regular contributions from Ngapipi Herewini kept the Sky score ticking along.

However Jillings (five triples in the game), fellow Westlaker Keeley Tini and Under 15 Nationals MVP Jazz Kailahi were in no mood to allow their early advantage to evaporate holding on for the win despite being outscored 24-19 in the last period.

Final score;

Storm 79 – Jillings 27, Jazz Kailahi 13, Tini 11, Henare 11

Sky 70 – Pupuke-Robati 19, N Herewini 12, Maddix 9, Te Huia Taylor 9

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Close games were the order of the day in the second round of the Men’s 2016 Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam.

The Breakers Development team included all three SKYCITY Breakers D players Ethan Rusbatch, Sam Waardenburg and Derone Raukawa as well as rostered player Jordan Ngatai for their encounter with Mai FM 88 Sixers.

Raukawa, returning after a 6 week lay off with a badly broken finger, was quickly in the action combining well with Ngatai and knocking down a couple of trade mark jumpers as the Breakers forged a 41-35 advantage

Brook Ruscoe showed touches of class to keep the Sixers in touch as did the double B forward punch of Patrich Bolstad and Nick Barrow.

A couple of typical Manny Matambanadzo slashing penetrative drives were countered by Isaac Letoa and Rusbatch triples.

Johnny Fesolai edged Sixers ahead at half-time 57-55 as they continued to trouble the Breakers on the glass.

The Sixers opened the second half with a 9-2 run but quickly racked up fouls gifting the Breakers opportunities at the foul line, the Breakers drawing level 54 each courtesy of Rusbatch

Thomas Whyte and Kruz Perrott-Hunt sunk threes although a drive and the bonus from Ruscoe kept Sixers 80-77 to the good at three-quarter time.

A Sam Waardenburg put back tied the scores with four minutes to play.

It was 90 apiece with three to play but a couple of Dan Fotu defensive efforts turned the game in favour of the Breakers. On consecutive plays the swingman came up with an athletic block and a key defensive rebound allowing Ngatai the opportunity to score at the offensive end to open a narrow 93-90 lead.

Ana Haku took advantage of some sloppy Breakers defensive work to narrow the gap to a single point but the experienced Tall Blacks pair of Rusbatch and Ngatai sealed a narrow 96-94 win for the Breakers.

Final Score;

Breakers 96 – Ngatai 22, Rusbatch 17, Waardenburg 14, Fotu 11, Perrott-Hunt 9, Raukawa 7, Whyte 7

Mai FM 88 Sixers 94 – Ruscoe 24, Fesolai 16, Haku 14, McIntosh 11, Matambanadzo 9, Barrow 8

In the second game Justin Bailey, Carl Buck and Brandon Lucas, a senior last season at East Central University Tigers, made up an all American back court for The Birdmen, the trio helping them to remain in touch with 68a Nelson Street at half time.

Nelson Street held a 57-53 advantage with Marco Alexander and Lindsay Tait prominent.

Lucas led all scorers with 19 points at the break, Tait next best with 17 points for Nelson Street.

The in form Jaylen Gerrand and Lucas landed threes but a spinning drive from Liam Thornton and a couple of Joe Webb scores reduced the arrears before James and Bailey added buckets to keep Birdmen ahead at three-quarter time 89-82.

A Gerrand three brought up the 100 for Birdmen necessitating a time by Nelson Street – trailing by ten points with 5:35 to play and without the influential Dillon Boucher (fouled out early in the fourth quarter).

Joe Webb and Linus Jakszt gave Nelson Street some hope but Buck and Sam Aruwa took the advantage, in favour of the Birdmen, to 112-103 entering the last two minutes and that was enough to seal the win.

Final score;

Birdmen 116 – Bailey 26, Lucas 26,Gerrand 17, Buck 16, Sam Aruwa 13, Schipper 10

68a Nelson St 110 – Tait 31, Alexander 29, Boucher 14, Jakszt 14, Webb 12, Thornton 10

Double delight for Alex Pledger

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It has been a while coming but Breakers centre Alex Pledger is beginning to show the dominant form he displayed three or four seasons ago.

In season 2012/13 Pledger was a colossus as he averaged 10.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.5 rebounds per game playing a large part in the Breakers completing their third straight NBL championship win.

His numbers were equally good (10.0ppg, 7.4rpg and 1.6 blocks per game) in early 2013/14 but unfortunately his season came to an abrupt end 13 games into that disappointing campaign as injury sidelined the 2.16m defensive anchor.

Pledger has spent the last two seasons carrying various niggling injuries and his numbers have suffered accordingly averaging 6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks across 61 games.

The big man looked in great touch at the weekend, securing a brace of double doubles as the Breakers completed a tough weekend with a brace of W’s.

In Melbourne on Friday Pledger led all scorers with 20 points and snared 10 rebounds as United were beaten in overtime 98-92.

Less than 48 hours later he produced a balanced twelve rebounds and twelve points performance. He also came up with three blocks in addition to influencing the shots (or lack of them) taken by key Brisbane big men Bairstow and Kickert who were a combined 2 from 17.

Executing back to back double doubles for just the fourth time in his NBL career Pledger passed a couple of notable milestones over the weekend.

In Melbourne he took his total career rebound count to exactly 1,000 becoming just the third Breaker to record 1,000 rebounds for club after Vukona (2,054) and Abercrombie (1,061).

Then on Sunday at Vector Arena, with those three swats, he became the first Breaker to record 200 career blocked shots.

188 games into his Breakers career perhaps the best is yet to come from Alex Pledger.

Wins for Breakers & Birdmen in Mexicali Fresh League

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Ethan Rusbatch

Close games were the order of the day in the second round of the 2016 Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam Men’s competition.

The Breakers Development team included all three SKYCITY Breakers D players Ethan Rusbatch, Sam Waardenburg and Derone Raukawa as well as rostered player Jordan Ngatai for their encounter with Mai FM 88 Sixers.

Raukawa, returning after a 6 week lay off with a badly broken finger, was quickly in the action combining well with Ngatai and knocking down a couple of trade mark jumpers as the Breakers forged a 41-35 advantage

Brook Ruscoe showed touches of class to keep the Sixers in touch as did the double B forward punch of Patrich Bolstad and Nick Barrow.

A couple of typical Manny Matambanadzo slashing penetrative drives were countered by Isaac Letoa and Rusbatch triples.

Johnny Fesolai edged Sixers ahead at half-time 57-55 as they continued to trouble the Breakers on the glass.

The Sixers opened the second half with a 9-2 run but quickly racked up fouls gifting the Breakers opportunities at the foul line, the Breakers drawing level 54 each courtesy of Rusbatch

Thomas Whyte and Kruz Perrott-Hunt sunk threes although a drive and the bonus from Ruscoe kept Sixers 80-77 to the good at three-quarter time.

A Sam Waardenburg put back tied the scores with four minutes to play.

It was 90 apiece with three to play but a couple of Dan Fotu defensive efforts turned the game in favour of the Breakers. On consecutive plays the swingman came up with an athletic block and a key defensive rebound allowing Ngatai the opportunity to score at the offensive end to open a narrow 93-90 lead.

Ana Haku took advantage of some sloppy Breakers defensive work to narrow the gap to a single point but the experienced Tall Blacks pair of Rusbatch and Ngatai sealed a narrow 96-94 win for the Breakers.

Final Score;

Breakers 96 – Ngatai 22, Rusbatch 17, Waardenburg 14, Fotu 11, Perrott-Hunt 9, Raukawa 7, Whyte 7

Mai FM 88 Sixers 94 – Ruscoe 24, Fesolai 16, Haku 14, McIntosh 11, Matambanadzo 9, Barrow 8

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Brandon Lucas

In the second game Justin Bailey, Carl Buck and Brandon Lucas, a senior last season at East Central University Tigers, made up an all American back court for The Birdmen, the trio helping them to remain in touch with 68a Nelson Street at half time.

Nelson Street held a 57-53 advantage with Marco Alexander and Lindsay Tait prominent.

Lucas led all scorers with 19 points at the break, Tait next best with 17 points for Nelson Street.

The in form Jaylen Gerrand and Lucas landed threes but a spinning drive from Liam Thornton and a couple of Joe Webb scores reduced the arrears before James and Bailey added buckets to keep Birdmen ahead at three-quarter time 89-82.

A Gerrand three brought up the 100 for Birdmen necessitating a time by Nelson Street – trailing by ten points with 5:35 to play and without the influential Dillon Boucher (fouled out early in the fourth quarter).

Joe Webb and Linus Jakszt gave Nelson Street some hope but Buck and Sam Aruwa took the advantage, in favour of the Birdmen, to 112-103 entering the last two minutes and that was enough to seal the win.

Final score;

Birdmen 116 – Bailey 26, Lucas 26, Gerrand 17, Buck 16, Sam Aruwa 13, Schipper 10

68a Nelson St 110 – Tait 31, Alexander 29, Boucher 14, Jakszt 14, Webb 12, Thornton 10

 

Henare to bring up 350 for Breakers

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Paul Henare first stepped onto the court in a Breakers uniform for the club’s innaugural NBL encounter against Adelaide 36ers in Octber 2003. The fiesty point guard turned coach has been with the club for all but two of the fourteen seasons the Breakers have existed.

On Sunday he will make his 350th appearance in Breakers colours when he leads his charges at Vector Arena against Brisbane Bullets.

As a player Henare was the first Breaker to have his singlet retired following the club’s first Championship win in 2011. He appeared in 250 games over an eight season playing career with the club and holds the all time record for most assists. His mark of 902 is likely to stand for a considerable length of time.

He returned to the club in 2013, after just two seasons transitioning from player to coach in the New Zealand NBL. As assistant coach to Dean Vickerman he helped the club to a fourth title the following season and logged 92 appearances alongside his good friend during their three-year partnership.

When Vickerman left for the Sydney Kings this year Henare stepped into the hot seat and on Sunday will make his eighth appearance at the helm of the four times NBL champions.

It’s fitting that Sunday’s game is against Brisbane. The Bullets are led by Andrej Lemanis – the three times championship winning coach spent eight years in charge at the Breakers.

That is a tenure Henare would love to emulate.

Fotu pips Harmon and Karena for POW gong

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It’s hard to overlook a couple of 20+ points haul when handing out the overseas player of the week gong. Jillian Harmon and Mike Karena were outstanding for their respective clubs but the performance of Isaac Fotu, in the strongest league in the world outside of the NBA, is too compelling to ignore.

It was a contentious decision amongst the voting panel of one but Fotu earns this week’s gong.

The Tall Blacks forward came up with a double double of 14 points and 10 rebounds against Real Madrid, one of the major club sides in the world, shooting the ball at a highly efficient 7 from 11 shots. Unfortunately Zaragoza was caned 57-31 in the second half to go down 94-68 to top of the table Madrid. Real remain unbeaten with a 5-0 record whilst Zaragoza (2-4) sits in the bottom half on the Liga Endesa table.

Despite scoring 25 points Jillian Harmon is relegated to second spot. Harmon led all scorers as Le Mura Lucca won a third straight game in the Italian League beating Broni 71-63. For good measure the power forward added 9 rebounds and 6 assists.

Third place went to Mike Karena as he helped propel Sammic ISB to a tight 91-88 success against Cambados. Karena was impressive with 23 points (11/16FG), 7 rebounds and a brace of assists. Sammic are tied for top spot, with a 4-1 record, in the Silver section of the Spanish second division.

Fourth spot went the way of Perth Lynx swingman Toni Edmondson. She scored 13 points and added 5 rebounds and 6 assists as the Lynx protected home court with an emphatic 93-60 win against Jordan Hunter’s Adelaide Lightning 

Bubbling under last week:

Micaela Cocks scored 10 points but defending Australian WNBL champions Townsville Fire slipped to a third straight loss this time going down 74-62 on their own court to Bendigo Spirit

Tai Wynyard recovered from a left cheek fracture to take his place in the Kentucky University lineup on Monday (NZ time). Wynyard played 9 minutes for the Wildcats and scored 6 points (2/2FG, 2/2FT) as well as grabbing 3 rebounds – all off the offensive glass.

In other News:

This weekly roundup is largely reserved for reviewing the performances of overseas-based Tall Blacks and Tall Ferns.

However this week I feel the urge to give a mention to former Junior Tall Black Alex Talma.

Talma signed for Texas A&M for the 2014-15 season but was ruled ineligible after playing the 2014 NBL season with the Waikato Pistons.

The Westlake Boys High alumnus had an unhappy time at A&M and transferred to Biola University but was forced to sit out another season, this time red shirting due to the complex collegiate transfer rules in US college basketball.

Finally last Friday Talma’s patience and perseverance was rewarded. The ‘6 8” power forward produced a strong 15 points, 9 rebounds and 3 steals performance as Biola Eagles, the defending NAIA Golden State Conference Champions, thumped Sierra 85-53 in their opening game of the 2016-17 season.

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