Category Archives: NZ NBL

A Unique Opportunity

After four years of painstaking research, interviewing key individuals and compiling the text, ‘The History of New Zealand Basketball’, the official history of the sport in New Zealand to date, is being released .

Wellington based basketball historian and author Roger Booth will be available to sign individual copies of his unique and outstanding publication, “History of New Zealand Basketball” at the upcoming book launch.

When: Friday June 24, 4.30-6.30pm

Where: Kings Lounge, Eventfinda Stadium

Cost: Free

MC: Former Tall Blacks captain John Macdonald

Special Guests:  John Dybvig, Tom Abercrombie, Dillon Boucher, Leanne Walker, Kim Lucas, and Carolyn Grey.

The launch precedes the Auckland Tuatara v Nelson Giants NBL game being played at Eventfinda (tip-off 7.30pm) that evening.

Fundamentally a people story, individual interviews and subsequent comments are the heart of the text that has now emerged – Booth interviewed over 200 people to formulate this 570 page masterpiece.

The book, with a large quota of photographs, tells the story of the game in New Zealand, its key factor being coverage of every senior international game from 1947.

Please Tell Your Basketball Friends

This is the only full New Zealand history of our sport, and there will not be another one for many years. If you are unable to attend the launch but would like to purchase a copy of the History of New Zealand Basketball you can contact Roger Booth directly –

Sal’s NBL ’20 Draft – What do we know?



We are less than a week away from the Sal’s NBL naming its Top 14 players for the upcoming 2020 season.

The independent Panel will sit down next Friday and Saturday to pick those 14 players ahead of the inaugural NBL Draft on Thursday 11 June.

Player Registration doesn’t close until Friday June 5 so expect more names to reach the public domain in the coming days.

For now the Lowdown has sifted through the players named to date and come up with the following that will form the nucleus of the 14 to be chosen by Messers Boucher, Flavell, Beynon and Nelson.

We’ve also attempted to list the clubs that these players will be eligible to be pre-selected by given the four criteria that apply – apologies if this is not 100% accurate:

1) The player has lived in the team’s allocated region for no less than 10 years at any one time.
2) The player has attended school in the team’s allocated region for no less than 4 years.
3) The player has previously played the bulk of their NBL minutes for the team.
4) The player had previously signed for the team for the 2020 Sal’s NBL season.

1 Mika Vukona (Nelson Giants)

2 Jarrod Kenny (Auckland Huskies and Franklin Bulls)

3 Jack Salt (Canterbury Rams, Bulls and Huskies)

4 Tohi Smith-Milner (Giants, Bulls and Huskies)

5 Tom Vodanovich (None of criteria apply therefore a Free Agent)

6 Hyrum Harris (Free Agent)

7 Taylor Britt (Canterbury Rams)

8 Sam Timmins ( Otago Nuggets, Rams and Bulls)

9 Derone Raukawa (Free Agent)

10 Taane Samuel (Manawatu Jets)

11 Joe Cook-Green (Rams and Nuggets)

12 Everard Bartlett (Free Agent)

13 Mike Karena (Giants and Rams)

14 Dane Brooks (Taranaki Mountain Airs)

Bubbling Under

Dom Kelman-Poto (Bulls and Huskies), Tai Wynyard (Bulls and Huskies), Alex Talma (Rams, Bulls and Huskies), Shane Temara (Jets), Tom Ingham (Giants), Jackson Stubbins (Jets)

Additional US College returnees

Isaac Davidson (Bulls and Huskies), Kane Keil (Bulls and Huskies), Jayden Bezzant (Free Agent), Jordan Hunt (Free Agent).

At this stage you would imagine Tom Vodanovich would be the No 1 Free Agent with Hyrum Harris a close second.

The Giants will obviously select Mika Vukona as there No 1 pick but with options on Mike Karena (attended Nelson College) and Tohi Smith-Milner (played bulk of his NBL minutes with the Giants) and Tom Ingham who will be their second pick from the Top 14 players.

Equally intriguing will be the Rams top two choices – Salt and Britt you would imagine but Cook-Green’s return from the States makes him an intriguing proposition.

The Huskies and Bulls are new kids on the block and the Nuggets are an old kid returning. Bet the Nuggets would love to have Timmins and Cook-Green at the top of their playing roster but they may have to go for a draft pick or two if they are stymied by the Bulls and Rams.

More names will be released this week from the list of over 400 players that have registered for Sal’s NBL 20 to date.

For now it’s fun to speculate.

NBL coming to you live and free in 2017


 Basketball New Zealand is excited to announce a new media partnership with NZME and Maori Television, who have joined forces to broadcast the 2017 season of the New Zealand NBL.

NZME will continue to build on the success of the 2016 live streaming in 2017. At least two games a week will be livestreamed on The New Zealand Herald website, as well as all games during the Final Four weekend.

Maori Television will televise free to air live coverage of a NBL game every Sunday afternoon at 3pm, for the duration of the competition, and live coverage of the Final Four weekend comprising of the Semi Finals and Final. Maori Television will also show delayed coverage of a second game every week on a Saturday afternoon during the season.

Chief Executive of Basketball New Zealand, Iain Potter, says this unique media partnership recognises the growth of basketball in New Zealand, as more participants and fans are tuning their televisions and devices to the game.

“It’s an exciting agreement to have two strong media partners with big audiences recognising that their viewers are increasingly tuning into basketball. It’s sensational for the NBL and Basketball New Zealand, as our players, teams and brands are building on the increasing upsurge of Kiwi fanaticism in basketball.” says Potter.

Head of Sport Trevor McKewen says NZME are proud to be live streaming basketball to make it more accessible to New Zealanders.

“Streaming the games through The New Zealand Herald website allows Kiwis to tune into the games wherever they are, on whatever device they choose. NZME is excited to be partnering with Basketball New Zealand and bring the sport to New Zealanders up and down the country,” says McKewen.

Maori Television’s Head of Content, Mike Rehu, says they are equally proud to be getting in behind the ground swell of support for basketball.

“We are excited to be ramping up our collaboration with Basketball New Zealand and the NBL. We know basketball is growing in popularity with our rangatahi (youth) audience and we are happy to provide the fans with a league that weaves a mix of youthful exuberance with a proud legacy.”

The 2017 season will run for 14 weeks and finish with the Final Four weekend, 15-17 June. The opening game will tip off on Thursday, 16 March, between perennial powerhouses the Nelson Giants and the Southland Sharks.

Thoughts from coaches Green and Braswell after Saints beat Rangers


Kevin Braswell playing for the Southland Sharks last year

By Murray McKinnon

The Wellington Saints clinced an NBL  play-off spot with a 108-91 win over the James Blond Supercity Rangers at AUT, North Shore on Saturday evening.
Wellington were able to set the tone at the beginning, winning the first quarter by nine after a run of eight unanswered points and then winning both the second and third periods increasing their lead to 17. The Saints continued to pound the Rangers and three quarters through the final 10 minutes were out to 102-80.

It was the third win for the Saints over the Rangers this season and they were led by their leading scorer Torrey Craig who had a game high 30 to go along with nine rebounds and seven assists. Benny Anthony Jr had a big game with a season high 26 points which included 4/5 three pointers. Point guard Shea Ili also got in on the action with 19 points and seven assists for the Saints who have won six in a row with an 11-3 record.

The Rangers were led by their league leading scorer Eric Devendorf who scored 25. Lindsay Tait tallied 18 points, five rebounds and five assists against his former side, and Mika Vukona added 12. It was a relatively quiet night for former Saint Corey Webster who had 15 points on 4/14 shooting.
The loss puts the Rangers at 9-6, but they will have a chance to inch closer to the final four with their next game being in Whangarei on Friday 20 May against the Taranaki Mountainairs (5-9).

Kevin Braswell, 2010 Breakers player, who is coach of the Saints said despite the win his team has yet to show its best.
“We still have things to work on. We haven’t played our best basketball yet but we’re getting there. We don’t want to be playing our best basketball till the last two weeks. So hopefully next week we’ll play a better game,” he said.
As well as having an excellent shooting percentage during the game Braswell said that defence was also important.
“What I’ve been focussing on with these guys, not just playing one end, we don’t just score we actually play defence and we defend well. My whole aim coming into this game as the one number one scoring team in the League they have some great players on their team so for me it was just making sure that we come in here with a defensive mind sense instead of offence and the guys did a hell of a job tonight,” he added.
“They’re a good team and what I have been watching and witnessing since Corey came they haven’t lost a game so for me it was just making sure we took away the strengths to their team and try and hold them into a half court and we did a good job.”

Jeff Green, coach of the Ranges, lamented the Saints impressive shooting percentage in the first half and the standard of the refereeing.
“They shot the ball 72 per cent in the first half, and that’s where we lost it. I didn’t think we played bad defence in that first half, but they shot the ball 72 per cent. The last time we got an arse kicking like this was when Canterbury (April 23, 112-102) shot the ball 70 per cent in the second half. You can’t give a team like the Saints that much of a head start,” said Green.

Post game comments from Rangers v Hawks encounter


Corey Webster made an immediate impact for the James Blond Super City Ranges in his first game for the team since his signing last Tuesday.

Off the bench Webster led all scorers with 29, had five steals and four turnovers, assisting the Rangers to their 99-88 victory and at the same time sending the Indigo Hawks to their ninth straight loss at AUT North Shore  on Friday night.

The Hawks led after the first quarter 27-24 as the Rangers ran into foul trouble towards the end of the period allowing the Hawks to capitalise from the charity stripe.
The lead was maintained by the Hawks through most of the second quarter before Webster showed his brilliance from the arc to pull the local team out to a 52-46 advantage at the break.

The fast pace of the game continued into the third period with Eric Devendorf, who ended the game with 24, teaming up well with Terrance Roberts.

Given possession Hawks sole import Kareem Johnson’s low post moves were hard to stop. Johnson scored 23 for the game plus 11 rebounds with Luke Aston and Arthur Trousdell both on 12.
The Rangers were eight ahead into the final ten minutes but this quickly changed with Webster stealing possession at will and converting uncontested. The Hawks through Ashton, Alonzo Burton and Paora Wnitana tried to rescue the situation from the outside but the Rangers held on for victory. Egged on by the spectators the Rangers tried to score a ton but the ball just wouldn’t drop and Johnson and Joseph Blas had the final say scoring the final seven points of the game.

Jeff Green was pleased with the win and the Rangers great defensive effort ahead of a hectic schedule for his team over the next week.
“The way we play we have to play good D because we can score, everyone can score, and add in Corey so that’s a lot easier. So it’s not about whether we can score it’s whether we can stop the other team and that’s the key for us. It always has been right from the word go all season, play some defence and let’s go,” said Green.
He added that Webster was also a perfect fit for the team.
“Corey knows a lot of the guys and we run a lot of the Breakers stuff anyway so it was easy for him. So we just ran the place he knew.”

Webster said that he was using his time with the Rangers to keep in shape for the Tall Blacks.
“I’m here for the rest of the season just using it to stay in shape and we’ve got a tough schedule for Tall Blacks so just get my fitness up and keep playing basketball so I’m happy to be back on the court,” he said.
Webster will be taking part in the Tall Blacks FIBA’s Olympic qualifying tournament in Manila Philippines in early July.

Captain Dillon Boucher who had six rebounds and four assists was pleased with the teams’ strength right to the end.
“We had the legs in that last quarter we picked up the defensive pressure and felt like we got some good steals and some easy baskets and that blew the lead out which is nice and it gave the starters some chance to rest, ready for tomorrow night’s game,” he said.
Boucher was also pleased with Webster’s performance.
“He’s a real pro and he knows how to score and he made his 29 tonight look effortless and he got his hand on the ball multiple times, and got steals and did a good job. He had a pretty good debut for the team.
“He certainly can put the ball in the hoop that’s one thing he knows how to do. And his defence was good tonight he got after it and created some easy opportunities.”

Kirstin Daly-Taylor coach of the Hawks remained optimistic despite suffering yet another loss this season.
“We played three-quarters really well but just sticking it out with the physicality of the game is just mind blowing when you’ve only got one import, we’re quite small,” she said.
“I’ve been out three years and I have certainly forgotten how physical it is. So I’ve got a bit of work to do with the boys and that understanding part of protect the ball because we certainly gave a lot of ball away,” she added.
Daly-Taylor said there were a number of lessons to take away from the game.
“You want to shoot the ball but sometimes you’ve got to think about shooting, because if we can’t rebound they’re going to get it and go. There were a couple of patches where we didn’t shoot and we attacked and it was just brilliant and that’s how we have to play the Rangers. We’ve got to attack the rim not live or die on the outside shot. It was a really good game for us for us that’s a brilliant score and I’m actually quite happy.”

Thoughts from coaches Flavell and Green


Judd Flavell

By Murray McKinnon

The James Blond Supercity Ranges dug themselves out of a hole in the first quarter and went on to score their second win of the season beating the Zerofees Southland Sharks 87-79 at the AUT North Shore on Saturday.

The Sharks opened the scoring with a three from Ana Haku and with further shots from beyond the arc by Everard Bartlett and Derone Raukawa had the Rangers rattled to finish the first quarter ahead 31-18.


With a stern message from coach Jeff Green the Rangers set about rescuing the situation going on an unanswered 11 point run to level the score at 41 each. They went into the second half at 45 all.

Reuben Te Rangi set the stadium alight in the third quarter spurred on by a vocal group of supporters scoring 12 points, which included three threes. Just one point separated the teams the Sharks ahead 69-68 going into the final ten minutes.

The Ranges lifted their defensive intensity in the final quarter giving Eric Devendorf numerous scoring opportunities in transition.

Devendorf led the scorers with 28, Te Rangi collected 23 and Tait 17.

Jordair Jett sprained his left knee with minutes remaining in the game, but still was the top scorer for the Sharks with 19, and Alex Pledger had 16 and 11 rebounds with Haku on 14 and 12 rebounds.

Dillon Boucher said that defence in the second half was the key to the Rangers win.

“We gave up 31 points in that first quarter and no one was happy so we wanted to lock down that second quarter and I thought we actually locked down for the next three quarters and to only give up 79 point after 31 in the first quarter is a great defensive effort. We know we’re a potent scoring team and we know if we play a little bit of D we become very tough all of a sudden.”

He added that consistency is still an element that is missing.

“We needed to play well and I thought tonight we played well in patches, we weren’t consistent but we played well when we needed to. Unfortunately Jordair Jett went down injured and that helped our cause and we’re just looking forward to getting Mika Vukona back next week and to bolster our stocks a little and we feel like we need to go down to Taranaki and play a lot better than we did against them up here,” said Boucher.

Coach Green also emphasised the need to work on improving the defence.

“It is where we need to work harder and we got ourselves in a hole in the first quarter, but in the end it was our defence that brings us home because we can score with the best of them, but we’ve got to learn to stop people. 
From the second to the fourth quarter we did a good job we held them to 14 points in the second quarter and in that last quarter we just knuckled down defensively.”

Sharks coach Judd Flavell lamented the costly turnovers given up by his team.

“They’re a team that thrives on opportunities when we give them possession. We didn’t do a good job of looking after possession we gave up too many offensive rebounds in that second half and in that second quarter we had too many turnovers and we weren’t disciplined enough to keep the ball and look after it.

So hopefully we learn from that. And we need to because that’s definitely a game where I felt our own discipline let us down,” said Flavell.

The Sharks went on to Taradale where they beat the Indigo Hawks 101-87 on Sunday afternoon.

The Rangers next play Taranaki in New Plymouth on Sunday April 10.

Rangers v Rams post game thoughts


“At least I have a job for another week” says Jeff Green

By Murray McKinnon

The James Blond Super City Rangers are on the board, grabbing their first win of the NBL season with victory over the Canterbury Rams, 103-87, at the AUT Sports Centre on Saturday.

Play was even through the first quarter, with the Rangers left open from the arc, allowing Lindsay Tait, Reuben Te Rangi and right on the buzzer Brook Ruscoe to slot in three pointers. Rangers were ahead 27-25 going into the next 10 minutes.

With the score at 46-36 mid-way through the second quarter Canterbury, fresh from beating the Southland Sharks at home, burst into life with ten unanswered points, Ethan Rusbatch and new point guard Justin Graham pivotal in the run.
However the Rangers responded going to the break ahead 52-46 helped by a corner three  from Josh Bloxham.

The up tempo affair continued in the third period with the two teams trading baskets leaving the Rams still six points in arrears at three-quarter time.

It was a struggle for the Rams in the final quarter the Rangers winning the period 29-19. Terrence Roberts was in top form in the last few minutes for the Rangers putting on a great show of eight points in succession including a couple of dunks and a long range three.

Tait was outstanding with 19 points, 15 assists and five defensive rebounds. Devendorf ended with 21 points and five rebounds and Roberts 17 points and six rebounds.

Rusbatch was the Rams top scorer for the second straight game with 22 points, Marcel Jones had 20 points and 11 rebounds and Marcus Alipate contributed 15.


Rams coach Mark Dickel offers no excuses for loss

Coach of the Rams Mark Dickel said that the tough travel schedule was not a factor in losing.
“No excuses, Super City played really well they were desperate and they wanted the game more than we did and all credit to them they really deserved the win, we just didn’t play hard enough or well enough to deserve to win,” he said.
Dickel added that he has a good team if they put the effort in.
“We’re more than capable if we play the game right and we share the ball and everyone hustles, we’ve got good players but you gotta to put the effort out on the court.”

Rangers’ coach Jeff Green said it was great to get the monkey off their back and secure a win.
“At least I’ve got a job for another week, I’ve never started off 0-3 in my whole career whether it’s mini-ball or the NBL so it was new territory for yourself and the team and to start to think about what was going wrong,” said Green.

The Rangers coach said there were three factors that went into their win.
“It was a combination of the defence which we haven’t been able to play on a consistent basis. I think we played great defence which led to great offence so we got a lot of easy points off transition. So that put them under a lot of pressure and then I thought offensively in the half court our execution was outstanding we ran some plays that were good. And the third factor was our big guy Terrence Roberts came to play he showed he is 6ft 10in with a 7ft 2in wing span he didn’t foul out that’s because I took him out before he fouled out. But it was all about defence, we ran them off the three point line, they got hot for a little bit but then we kept extending it and they’d come back which is what basketball is all about, swings and roundabouts,” he said.

Green finally saw the team in action that he knew he had.
“When you’re consistent on both ends of the court that’s the sort of team that I know we’ve got. We’re undersized, they’re a beast they got seven offensive rebounds in that third quarter which kept them in it but if they hadn’t got those it would have been a bigger blow-out..”

Basketball duo tie the Knot

BAWARDS_083Shea Ili has had a frantic few weeks and things aren’t about to slow down anytime soon for the Breakers and Tall Blacks point guard. It’s his very own version of ‘March Madness’.

As soon as the Breakers season ended, following their Australian NBL Grand Final series loss to the Perth Wildcats, Ili was back on a plane heading for Wellington to link up with the Saints for the start of the local New Zealand NBL competition.

As if a heavy basketball schedule wasn’t challenging enough Ili returns to Auckland to marry fiancée Morgan Roberts today.

The pair have been sustaining a long-term relationship for the past seven months since Roberts began attending Oregon Tech University on a basketball scholarship last August. Roberts is an outstanding player in her own right earning a Tall Ferns trial last year after eye-catching performances for the North Harbour Under 23 and Harbour Breeze WBC teams.

Following the nuptials the pair will embark on a brief honeymoon before continuing their basketball careers on opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean and yet more time apart.

Ili made a strong impression on the Breakers coaching staff during the recent campaign and despite being a development player was preferred to the more experienced Shane McDonald in all five play-off games. The deciding third game in Perth was an experience the 23 year old admits caught him off guard.

“It was an experience to learn from but I felt like I wasn’t prepared to play in front of such a massive crowd. It was so loud you couldn’t even hear your teammates.”

Playing directly opposite Perth’s Damian Martin, the Grand Final MVP and five times NBL Best Defensive Player, enabled Ili to see first hand the level he wants to take his game to.

“It was definitely something to learn from playing against such a great defensive player. I look up to him and the way he plays, it’s how I want to be – a pest on defence.”

Taking his game to a higher level is the major motivation behind his move to the capital. At the Saints he falls under the guidance of former Breakers guard, now Wellington coach, Kevin Braswell.

“I’m enjoying playing for Wellington with the responsibility of being the starting point guard. My role is to lead the team and take them as far as I can. One of the main reasons for going to Wellington was to be mentored by Kevin, he’s been around the world playing basketball and I thought it was a good opportunity especially to help my scoring and offensive game.”

The Saints have given their point guard leave of absence to tie the knot, although not for long.

“We go to Fiji for four days then when we get back I head straight down to Southland to play the Sharks and Morgan heads back to college,” says Ili.

Having had his first taste of international basketball in 2015 the former Onehunga High School standout is keen to make the Tall Blacks team again but it could come at a price for the hoops duo.

“We will be together for a couple of weeks when Morgan’s academic year is finished in June but if I make the Tall Blacks I probably won’t see her again for over a year.”

It’s likely Skype will be keeping Shea and Morgan linked for some time yet.

Rangers snare Ruscoe and Alexander



Marco Alexander returns to Auckland for 2016 NBL season

The James Blond Super City Rangers have added depth to its guard stocks by adding Marco Alexander and Brook Ruscoe to its squad for the 2016 Bartercard NBL Season.

Ruscoe has had spells with a number of NBL clubs including the Nelson Giants and Auckland Pirates. Last season the 25 year old played for the Manawatu Jets averaging 20.4 points per game but the Jets having chosen to sit out the 2016 NBL season thus giving Ruscoe the opportunity to join the Rangers.

Alexander, a former Rangitoto College standout, returns to Auckland after an injury riddled 2015. His spell with Australian club Melbourne United was cut short due to a serious hip injury that required surgery. A slow recovery limited the 24 year old to just 11 appearances for the Hawkes Bay Hawks last season in the NBL.

Alexander is delighted to link up with the Jeff Green coached Rangers that will be looking to go one better than last season when the team was eliminated at the semi-final stage of the NBL. “I’m excited to join the Rangers and provide a spark for us. It’s great to be part of an experienced squad and we have the right pieces to go all the way”, said Alexander

Confirmed signings for the Rangers are Ruscoe, Alexander, Lindsay Tait, Dillon Boucher, Mika Vukona and Reuben Te Rangi.

The Rangers will open the NBL season with a trip to the Wellington Saints on Thursday March 10th, 2016.

Kiwi Coach attends FIBA Europe Coaching Certificate


 Nele Nikovic has been given the rare opportunity to join the prestigious three year FIBA Europe Coaching Certificate.

Every National Basketball Association in Europe is only allowed to nominate two coaches for every three year cycle to attend the certification. On occasions non FIBA Europe countries are permitted to send coaches to the course and Nele jumped at the chance when given the opportunity. Continue reading