Round 4 of the Sal's NBL season provided plenty of highlights and no less than three one-shot games, one of which came in overtime. A quick look at the ladder as we pass the one-third mark of the season shows just how close this year's battle for the Final 4 is. One win separates 2nd to 8th!
As for what caught our eye? Let's take a look.
THE McKINLAY KID
He's just 20-years old and looked like he'd been on a Sal's NBL court for years, such was the performance of Property Brokers Manawatu Jets forward Jake McKinlay against the Steelformers Taranaki Airs on Sunday. While McKinlay dropped a handy 15 points at the offensive end, his defensive work, especially on Marcel Jones in the second half of the Jets win, was super impressive. Not to mention his league-wide season-high seven steals! It was certainly an eye-catching performance.
HAWKS INJURIES SOAR
The Taylor Hawke's Bay Hawks split their R4 double, firstly scraping past the Airs by a shot, before succumbing to mounting injuries and a hard-running Sky Tower Auckland Huskies team. A worrying sign for the Hawks is coming from their medical room which this week has included Deron Raukawa (calf), Devondrick Walker (back - pictured) and Ethan Rusbatch (foot). Will we see any of the star trio back for R5?
One of the key objectives of the Sal's NBL over the last few years has been competitive balance, the desire for a higher proportion of games to be competitive and for fans to always feel like their team has a chance of winning if they perform well. It's a mantra that is starting to come to life, as we witnessed in R4 where three games were decided by 3-points, including one that went into overtime. In fact, we have now seen three games go into overtime and it wouldn't be surprising if we saw a few more in the weeks ahead.
SLAM ANOTHER ONE DOWN
Wow! The slams keeping coming thick and fast, and the fans love it. Is it time to pose the question as to who is the best dunker in the Sal's NBL this season? Some of the best highlights above the rim in R4 belonged to Kerwin Roach (Saints), Shane Temara (Jets), Chris Johnson (Huskies), Nic Trathen (Giants), Carlin Davison (Airs - pictured), Dion Prewster (Saints), Romaro Gill (Saints) and Dane Brooks (Bulls). Keep watching - there's plenty more to come from this crew!
SAM TIMMINS ON THE RISE
Have you taken any notice of which player sits inside the top 10 right now for (per game average) points, rebounds and assists in games so far this season. There's only one and his name is Sam Timmins. Check out all the details HERE.
HUNTER HALE DOES IT AGAIN
Seems like we're talking about the Mike Pero Nelson Giants star every week, but for very good reason. The Giants came home with a 2-1 record after a gruelling three-game stretch in R4, which they had to endure due to venue availability issues at the Trafalgar Centre. American Hunter Hale starred with a collective return of 96 points, 17 rebounds, 10 assists, 12 steals and 13 treys.
THE RETURN OF RUSBATCH
It's been a while since we've seen the best of Taylor Hawke's Bay Hawks star Ethan Rusbatch as he's been held back with a foot injury over the last couple of years (which unformtunately sidelined him against the Sky Tower Auckland Huskies) last Friday night, but we did get to see some Rusbatch magic on Thursday night in New Plymouth. The shooting guard landed 33 points with 7 triples, reminding us all what he is capable of when he finds his stroke.
SELBY AND TAYLOR PUT ON A SHOW
The Wheeler Motor Company Canterbury Rams won the game, but it was the battle between Deshon Taylor (35 points) and Josh Selby (42 points) that had a packed house at Cowles Stadium in raptures. Going toe-to-toe, the American guards fed off the 'moment' and put on a show in a game that went down to the wire. The fans loved it!
(Photo Credits: PhotosportNZ)