Game Previews – Wednesday July 23

It's Week 5 of the Sal's NBL Showdown and the road to the finals is becoming clearer as all teams try and find their best form ahead of Finals Week. Tonight sees the Steelformers Taranaki Mountainairs try and keep their top-two hopes alive in a tricky game against a Mike Pero Nelson Giants outfit desperate to grab a win before next week's action. The 7:30pm game features the Wheeler Motor Company Canterbury Rams, another team searching for form, up against the Auckland Huskies, who will be smarting after a loss to the Nuggets last night.

Catch all the action at Trusts Arena and remember, every night you get to watch 2 games for the price of 1.

Adults are $20, Students $10 and Children (U12) just $5. Tickets are available at the door, or can be pre-purchased online HERE.

When: 5:30pm / Wednesday July 22
Broadcast: Live on Sky Sport 3 in NZ / ESPN in United States / everywhere else
Tickets: Available at the door or online HERE / Adults $20, Students $10, Juniors $5

Airs Starters: Derone Raukawa, Kenneth Tuffin, Marcel Jones, Shane Temara, Tai Wynyard
Giants Starters: Tysxun Aiopulotea, Dane Brooks, Tom Ingham, Mika Vukona, Mike Karena

Preview: The focus here is on the Airs as they try and stay with the Nuggets and Jets in the battle for a top-two finish, which will provide an easier passage through Finals Week, but waiting for the Taranaki team is a Giants outfit desperate to find some winning form prior to what looks set to be an elimination final next Tuesday night against Canterbury. It's been a tough road for the Giants, injuries to key players have hampered their efforts, especially over the opening week when they were missing their top three draft picks for different reasons. Based on current form this looks a tough game for the Giants, but we must remember that the last time they met the Nelson outfit came from a long way back to force overtime, a period they ultimately lost. Mika Vukona is starting to look more settled after a couple of games back from having his appendix removed and he could move into the starting line-up tonight and help settle the Giants, who on paper look good if they can find some confidence. The Airs continue to be an intriguing team to assess, they have two high-scoring stars in Raukawa and Jones, but it continues to be a lottery after that. The Airs rely massively on their star duo scoring in every game, which they do consistently, but from here on if one of them skips a beat it is likely to prove costly. The likes of Tuffin, Temara and Wynyard need to deliver a big 10 days and should that happen the Airs will be right in the mix. Some more points off the bench would come in handy as well. As for this game, the Airs will start warm favourites, but any hint of complacency could lead to a tough night at the office.  

Last Time They Met
Airs 112 def Giants 96 / Airs 95 def Giants 88 (in overtime)

When: 7:30pm / Wednesday July 22
Broadcast: Live on Sky Sport 3 in NZ / ESPN in United States / everywhere else
Tickets: Available at the door or online HERE / Adults $20, Students $10, Juniors $5

Huskies Starters: Izayah Mauirohooho-Le'afa, Marvin Williams-Dunn, Nathan Wilson, Leon Henry, Tohi Smith-Milner
Rams Starters: Taylor Britt, Sam Smith, Reuben Te Rangi, Quintin Bailey, Alex Talma

Preview: The Huskies have had a very interesting few days, a roller coaster if you like that started with a record-breaking win on Sunday night against the Giants when they hit their first 17 shots, followed by a disappointing performance last night when they were humbled by the Nuggets. Replacing the scoring power of Taine Murray is going to continue to be a challenge for the offensively hot or cold Huskies, but if they can unlock some scoring consistency they will loom as a threat come Finals Week. As for the Rams, they look set to finish last through the regular season, however they too loom as a team capable of causing some upsets over the next 10 days. With a team returning to fitness, plus the inclusion of Reuben Te Rangi, the Rams are starting to look far stronger on paper, but the question remains if they have enough time to find form and go on a winning run? A good place to rediscover some form would be right here against a susceptible Huskies team. The two PGs will put on another good show, and you know Alex Talma will do everything possible to slow Smith-Milner, but it's Te Rangi who looms as the possible game-winner here. Throw in Toby Gillooly who is finding his feet after returning from injury, and you can sense an upset might be on the cards here. 

Last Time They Met
Rams 102 def Huskies 70 / Huskies 88 def Rams 81



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