A product of the Westlake Boys and Harbour Basketball programmes Yanni Wetzell shared some thoughts on college basketball and his Tall Blacks aspirations.
A number of Tall Ferns were in action for their club sides in Australia at the weekend with Micaela Cocks putting the player of the week performance together.
Cocks produced a triple double of 25 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists as Townsville Flames proved too hot for Rockhampton winning 101-67 in the Queensland Basketball League.
Also in QBL action Natalie Taylor had 8 points and 8 rebounds as South West Metro Pirates stole a 92-79 win from Sunshine Coast Rip City.
Both the Flames and the Pirates are unbeaten this season.
In Melbourne, Sunbury Jets fought of Eltham Wildcats in the Big V League winning 73-68 on the road. Josie Stockill scored 21 points for the Jets who sit fifth on the ladder with a 4-4 record. The Tall Ferns centre was impressive from the foul line scoring 14 points without missing a single attempt.
Also in Melbourne Jess Bygate scored 9 points (4/6FG) as Sandringham Sabres sped past Ballarast Rush winning 73-66. Sandringham are mid table in the SEABL competition with a 5-4 record.
Just below Sandringham on the table with a 4-5 record are Diamond Valley Eagles beaten 67-66 at Geelong Supercats. Chevannah Paalvast scored 4 points and added 6 rebounds and 4 steals for the Eagles.
In Adelaide Jordan Hunter scored 5 points as Sturt Sabres cut Southern Tigers down winning 77-68. Sturt are in second spot on the South Australia Premier League ladder with seven wins in eight games.
Further west in Perth Toni Farnworth produced 14 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists but Perry Lakes Hawks were sent crashing by South West Slammers losing 68-53. Perry Lakes are the defending champions but are having a poor time this season losing all but one of their opening ten games.
Tai Webster put up big numbers as Frankfurt Skyliners went down 85-72 to Bayern Munich in German League play-off action.
The Tall Blacks guard scored a team high 19 points on a pretty good shooting night where he went 6 from 10 from the floor and didn’t miss a free throw landing seven straight. Webster also produced 3 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal in 33 minutes of action.
The loss was the first in a best-of-three quarter-final series with the second game to be played on Saturday.
Isaac Fotu and Ratiopharm Ulm missed out on play-off action after finishing tenth in the regular season. Ulm lost seven of their last nine games to slip out of the top eight.
Most of the Tall Ferns that tasted success at the recent Commonwealth Games are back on court.
The quartet of Toni Farnworth, Micaela Cocks, Chevannah Paalvast and Kalani Purcell have been in China collecting more silverware at the FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup.
In Australia Jordan Hunter, Jess Bygate and Josie Stockill were in action in three different State Leagues last weekend.
Stockill plays for the Kennedy Kereama coached Sunbury Jets in the Big V League. She landed 18 points (8/11FG) and added 5 rebounds as the Jets beat Kellor Thunder 69-54. The defending champion Jets snapped a two-game losing streak to improve to 3-3 for the season.
“Everyone wants to beat the team that won it last year, so by default we have a target on our backs,” Kerama told the Herald Sun.
“We’re not going to surprise people like we did last year, so we’ve just got to be on our A-Game all the time,” he added.
Jess Bygate and Sandringham Sabres clinched the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL) Tasmanian road trip double with a 97-69 win in Launceston and a closer 97-90 victory win against Hobart. Bygate shot an impressive 17 from 24 (71%) from the floor over the two games on her way to 14 points against Launceston and 21 points in Hobart. The Sabres are up to sixth on the table with a 4-2 record for the season.
Jordan Hunter continued her good form from the Games with 11 points (4/9FG) as Sturt Sabres beat Woodville Warriors 75-63. Hunter was one of three players in double figures as the Sabres solidified second spot on the South Australia Premier League ladder with a sixth win in seven outings.
Meanwhile Deena Franklin (Harbour Breeze) and Charlisse Leger-Walker (Waikato Wizards) will be heading to Tauranga on Friday for the first round of games in the 2018 Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC).
Jillian Harmon was absent from the Tall Ferns successful Commonwealth Games campaign due to Italian League club commitments and things have been going well for the 31-year old power forward in the last couple of weeks.
During the Games Napoli safely negotiated their way through the best of three quarter-final series against Le Mura Lucca. Lucca were the club Harmon led to the title last year and she played a leading role in eliminating them from the 2018 title race.
Napoli lost the first game but bounced back to claim victories in the next two encounters with the Tall Fern averaging 16.3 points and 11.3 rebounds across the series. Napoli claimed game three 55-51 with Harmon producing a game winning double-double of 18 points and 16 rebounds.
Napoli are now locked in a semi-final series with perennial finalists Familia Schio who finished top of the league after the regular season with a 20-2 record.
It didn’t look good for Napoli when they dropped game one 72-57 but they bounced back in style in the second game winning 75-66 on the road with Harmon again prominent. She came up with 8 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and a couple of steals.
This is a five game series and the two teams will clash again on Wednesday in Napoli.
In Germany Tai Webster powered his way to a game high 26 points (8/14 2PG, 3/4 3PG, 1/2 FT) as Frankfurt Skyliners comfortably beat Mitteldeutscher 83-67. The Skyliners remain seventh on the Bundesliga table with a 16-12 record. In front of over 4,000 home fans Webster also had five rebounds and a couple of steals.
It was the seventh 20+ points haul of the season for Tai who is averaging 15.4 points per game and sits inside the top ten scorers in the Bundesliga.
Despite Ratiopharm Ulm going down 94-87 to Telekom Bonn, Isaac Fotu still managed to put together a fine individual performance. He went 8 from 12 from the floor and three from three from the foul line on his way to 20 points. In addition he swept up 11 rebounds (5 off the offensive glass) and effected a couple of steals.
It was his highest rebounding haul of the season and his first double-double of the campaign.
Ulm are ninth on the Bundesliga table with a 14-12 record.
Corey Webster put together a fine stats line adding 3 steals, 4 assists and 4 rebounds to 16 points but it wasn’t enough to stop Ironi Nahariya sliding to a sixth straight loss in the Israeli Winner League. Nahariya went down 99-81 to Hapoel Holon and have slipped to a share of bottom place on the twelve-team table with a 7-15 record.
In Italy Jillian Harmon and her Napoli team enjoyed an Easter break ahead of their quarter-final play-off series with her former club Lucca.
Due to her club commitments in Italy Jillian Harmon is unavailable for the Tall Ferns Commonwealth Games programme just getting underway in Australia.
Harmon and her Napoli team lost their final regular season game against Lucca 74-66. Lucca are of course the club Harmon won a championship with last year before signing with Napoli.
Harmon recorded an impressive 20 points (10/18FG), 8 rebounds and 5 assists in a game that proved to be a forerunner to the upcoming play-offs – the two teams are drawn to play each other in the Serie A quarter-final after Easter.
Corey Webster added 18 points (8/16FG) to a game high 7 assists but Ironi Nahariya slipped to a fifth straight loss going down 95-86 at Maccabi Tel-Aviv. Nahariya are now eleventh on the twelve team Israeli Winner League table with a 7-14 record.
Webster has become as much a facilitator as a scorer this season leading Nahariya in the assists category (4.0apg) as well as being the second highest scorer on the team averaging 13.6 points per game.
In Germany Frankfurt Skyliners moved up to seventh on the Bundesliga table after a valuable 79-75 win at Telekom Bonn. Tai Webster contributed 11 points and 3 assists as Frankfurt recorded a fourth win in the last five outings to further enhance their top eight standing with a 15-11 record.
Ratiopharm Ulm stayed a win and a place behind the Skyliners after a decisive 91-74 win at Wuerzburg. This was a fine road win considering Ulm were without the injured Isaac Fotu for the trip and Wuerzburg had the same number of wins (13) as their opponents before the game began.
It was a pretty good week for our leading Kiwi players in Europe with all four making major contributions.
In Israel, Ironi Nahariya went down 96-88 at home to Ironi Nes-Ziona but the loss couldn’t be blamed on Corey Webster. The Tall Blacks shooting guard scored a game high 27 points as well as dishing 6 assists. His shooting line made good reading – 3 from 5 threes, 11 from 15 in total from the floor and both free throws knocked down. Webster’s 27 points equaled his season best for Nahariya for whom he averages 16 points per game.
Frankfurt Skyliners guard Tai Webster was missing from action last week due to illness but returned to the court in the 90-82 Bundesliga win against Oettinger. Webster recorded 14 points (4/7FG), 2 rebounds, 4 assists and a pair of steals as the Skyliners improved to 14 wins -11 losses, holding 7th spot on the German League ladder.
Webster did well containing Sydney Kings star point guard Jerome Randle who had 14 points for Oettinger – that’s better than most Australian NBL guards managed this season.
Two places behind the Skyliners are Ratiopharm Ulm who beat bottom of the table Walter Tigers 95-82. Isaac Fotu was in good form for Ulm notching 18 points (8/11FG) and 5 rebounds. It was a much-needed win for Ulm as they had lost their previous four games.
In Italy Jillian Harmon produced 17 points (8/17FG), 7 rebounds and 2 assists as Napoli recorded a valuable 69-66 win against San Martino. Napoli had lost their previous two games but the win solidifies their 4th placed spot in Serie A with just one round of the regular season remaining.
The outstanding shooting form Corey Webster displayed for the Tall Blacks in the recent FIBA international window seems to have temporarily deserted him.
The shooting guard has made just 2 from 15 threes in the two games he has played for Ironi Nahariya since returning to the Israeli League following the New Zealand games in China and Korea.
Webster had 10 points, 5 assists and 2 steals in the 83-62 loss at Maccabi Ashdod and 13 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in the 89-79 home defeat to Maccabi Rishon.
With the two losses Irono Hahariya (7-10) have slipped to 10th on the 12-team Israeli League ladder.
Also suffering a pair of losses have been Isaac Fotu and Ratiopharm Ulm. In fact Ulm were absolutely pummeled on Fotu’s first game back from Korea going down 89-54 against Ludwigsburg – 4 points for the Kiwi forward.
Fotu top scored with 15 points (6/9FG) for Ulm in their latest game, a 90-67 loss to Brose Basket but an accumulated points differential of -58 points suggests there is a little work needed at the defensive end in practice this week.
Ulm have fallen to 10th on the Bundesliga ladder with a 12-11 record.
There was a little more joy for Tai Webster as he posted 16 points (5/15FG), 3 rebounds and 6 assists as Frankfurt Skyliners defeated Wuerzburg 78-72.
In their most recent game the Skyliners fell 95-92 in a thriller against Goettingen but were without Webster in the lineup with the Tall Blacks point guard missing due to sickness. The Skyliners are a couple of places above Ulm on the German League ladder with 13 wins and 11 losses.
After a four game winning streak Napoli have recently lost two games on the bounce – the most recent defeat a 70-49 loss at third placed Ragusa. Jillian Harmon was one of just two Napoli players in double figures scoring 14 points (5/15FG) and adding 8 rebounds. Napoli remains fourth on the Italian League ladder with an 11-9 record.
The Tall Ferns forward leads the Serie A in scoring (19.2ppg), is 3rd in rebounding (9.7rpg) and 7th in the assists category (3.5apg).
Prior to the last FIBA international window Tai Webster and Isaac Fotu went head to head for their respective clubs in Germany before boarding a plane to New Zealand for the Tall Black’s game against Korea.
Once again, ahead of the Tall Blacks trip to China and Korea, the Bundesliga fixtures pitched the two Kiwis in direct opposition.
The storyline was the same in both instances with the visitors getting the W on each occasion.
Back in November Fotu and his club Ratiopharm Ulm stole the win on Frankfurt Skyliners home court.
There was a reverse of fortunes on Wednesday night as the Skyliners pinched the narrowest of wins (78-77) at Ulm with Webster making 5 points (2/2FG, 1/1FT) and dishing 3 assists. Fotu had 10 points (5/6FG) and 5 rebounds for Ulm.
Ulm are in seventh spot on the German League ladder with a 12-9 record one place ahead of Frankfurt who have the same number of wins but have an additional loss.
Both Kiwis are in good form ahead of the internationals. Fotu scored 24 points in each of the previous two games for Ulm and Webster also nabbed 24 points a couple of games back for Frankfurt.
Webster is averaging 15.7 points and 4.8 assists per game for the Skyliners with Fotu claiming 13.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per outing for Ulm.
The pair will fly direct to China after the weekend to link up with their Tall Blacks teammates ahead of the Asian Zone World Cup Qualifiers against China next Friday and Korea in Seoul three days later. The bulk of the Tall Blacks team depart from Sydney on Monday following the Breakers game against the Kings on Sunday afternoon.