Round 2 Talking Points – The Full Wrap

Round 2 has come to a close. Here's what we learnt.


Manawatu Jets 99 lost to Southern Huskies 100

Jets (Kuran Iverson 25pts & 10rbs, Taane Samuels 23pts, Wally Ellenson 18pts, Shane Temara 17pts)

Huskies (Craig Moller 27pts & 17rbs, Tre Nichols 30pts, Jalen Billups 26pts)

Stats That Matter - neither team relied heavily on their reinforcements as both sets of starters logged big minutes and delivered the bulk of the scoring. The Huskies bench contributed just 6pts for the game, while the Jets managed only 8pts off the pine.

Sal's Pizza MVP - Craig Moller (Huskies) with 27pts, 17rbs, 3ast, 2stl, 1blk, 4 treys. 


  1. The Southern Huskies will be just flat out relieved to get this first game out of the way, and of course a win made it all the better. Cancelled flights and late player clearances made for a taxing 24hrs leading into the game, and at one stage when they faced a 13pt deficit you may have thought that would be the back-breaker, but this team showed enormous grit to get back and win. That sort of character will stand them in good stead going forward.
  2. The three-headed Huskies monster that is Billups, Nichols and Moller showed us exactly what to expect this season, and with Marcel Jones still to come that monster will soon add a fourth head. Impressively, Moller also showed his value on the boards, dragging down a game-high 17.
  3. The Jets had their chances to win this contest and they will be kicking themselves. They did a lot right in this contest, but it slipped away and in the end they needed a long bomb on the buzzer from Ellenson to try and snatch the win. No doubt the video sessions will be intense this week.


Nelson Giants 91 lost to Southern Sharks 100

Giants (Jordair Jett 23pts, Rhys Vague 23pts, Daniel Grida 20pts)

Sharks (Mitch McCarron 20pts, Hyrum Harris 18pts, Tom Vodanovich 17pts)

Stats The Matter - When you shoot the risk at 62% for the game you're going to be hard to beat. Though they gave up a big lead early in the game, when the shots started dropping for the Sharks they did so at a big clip and it proved to be a decisive advantage.

Sal's Pizza MVP - Hyrum Harris (Sharks) with 18pts @ 100%FG, 7rbs, 1ast, 1stl


  1. The Sharks already look like a team worthy of top billing and they will be right in the thick of it come the business end of the season. They got jumped in this one, the Giants pushing to a game-high 17pt lead, but with sublime shooting and just a willingness to chip away, the 2018 champs found a way to win - and that's what good teams do.
  2. There is a lot to like about the Giants. A win in the opening round was backed-up by a very impressive performance here. Unfortunately, when needed their shots just wouldn't drop late in the game, but the recruitment of Grida, Vague and Jett looks spot on. Add Vukona and (maybe) Delaney to this group and you will have plenty of teams looking over their shoulder. Question is, if they get the two studs back, will there be enough games left to make a run at the championship?
  3. Speed was a big factor in this game. When the likes of Daniel Grida, Jordan Jett or Mitch McCarron turn on the afterburners and attack the rim they show blinding pace. Thrilling and exciting, the crowd came to see a contest and they got one. This was a fun game to watch and delivered a load of highlights, especially when it came to Grida, Jett and McCarron.


Wellington Saints 87 defeated Southern Huskies 60

Saints (Jordan Ngatai 21pts, Nick Kay 20pts, Shea Ili 19pts)

Huskies (Tre Nichols 18pts, 3rbs, 3ast, 1stl, 2 treys)

Stats That Matter - We already knew the Saints can deliver at the offensive end, but against the Huskies they showed a defensive edge that will no doubt have other teams sitting up and taking notice. Tough and dour, the Saints put the clamps on the Huskies in the second quarter, restricting the visitors to just 10pts while pouring in 24pts of their own. The defensive pressure helped deliver a margin that the Huskies never looked like reducing after the half-time break. Rarely did a Huskie shoot without pressure, the end result was just a 35% shooting clip for the visitors.

Sal's Pizza MVP - Jordan Ngatai (Saints) with 21pts, 6rbs, 1ast, 2stl, 1blk, 3 treys


  1. Jordan Ngatai is going to hurt a lot of teams this season. Going in against the Saints you know opposition teams will look at stopping the likes of Kay, Ili, Te Rangi and Loe, but if you sleep on Ngatai you will be doing so at your own peril. The formidable strongman again showed his versatility with an MVP performance. Question is how long will he sneak under the radar before opponents realise just how valuable he is to the Saints line-up?
  2. After a dramatic 100-99 win in Palmerston North the previous night, the Huskies won't be happy with the large loss to the Saints. However, they will be realistic and they will show a better hand when the two teams meet in a fortnight. After showing their worth in the first quarter, the Huskies simply could not match the Saints from that point, the weary travellers looking jaded for the most part. Once settled in, and with a few more players to come in and bolster the ranks, expect a close result when the two next meet.
  3. You can't help but feel the Saints are on a mission this season. After losing last year's decider in a dramatic game against the Sharks, the team from the nation's capital have only one thing on their mind. Some may say the Saints looked a little better in their first game of this season against the Hawks than they did on Good Friday against the Huskies, but the one thing that is clearly evident is that this Saints team is hungry, locked in and ready to work every time they hit the floor. Some formidable signs indeed.


Supercity Rangers 68 lost to Canterbury Rams 93

Rangers (Venky Jois 17pts, Nnanna Egwu 17pts)

Rams (Michael Karena 32pts, Cam Gliddon 18pts)

Stats That Matter - The Rams once again found their shooting stroke early and didn't look back, finishing the game with a 57% clip from the field. Importantly, in the first game of a two-game road trip, such was the dominance of the Rams that all 10 players saw at least 10-minutes of action and no player ticked past the 30-minute mark.

Sal's Pizza MVP - Michael Karena (Rams) with 32pts @ 84% in 24min & 9rbs.


  1. The Rangers are very thin and unless they can get some production from the bench they will be found wanting in many games this season. Just 6pts came from the pine in this one.
  2. The Rams again showed they are a very good team. Last week's narrow loss in Southland came with plenty of promise, which they carried into this game, finishing the contest with a 51-25 first half. Michael Karena was a powerful force inside the paint and no matter who the Rangers turned to, they just couldn't stop him. The Rams have put together a nicely balanced team, mixing a great blend of inside-outside strengths, which will prove hard to stop for many teams.
  3. Cam Gladden came in for his first game in Rams colours and took a while to get going, but once he found his groove he promptly dropped six triples at 75% for 18pts in the game. Based on that first outing, the star import has already sounded a clear warning that he will be a huge threat from beyond the arc.


Hawke's Bay Hawks 105 defeated Southern Huskies 95

Hawks (Ethan Rusbatch 33pts & 7 treys, EJ Singler 22pts, Shaquille Thomas 22pts & 10rbs)

Huskies (Jalen Billups 32pts & 15rbs, Tre Nichols 28pts)

Stats That Matter - The Hawks dropped 17 triples at 44%, seven alone coming from the hand of Ethan Rusbatch. Try as they might, overtime the Huskies closed to inside single digits down the stretch, the Hawks came up big with massive baskets from downtown. Lacking height right now, the Hawks have found a way to win and excitingly for the fans that way is by nailing long bombs.

Sal's Pizza MVP - Shaquille Thomas (Hawks) with 22pts, 10rbs, 4ast, 1st, 1blk


  1. Ethan Rusbatch is officially white-hot right now. After earning Player of the Week in R1, the Hawks guard didn't let-up against the Huskies, torching the Australian visitors for 33pts and 7 treys. It might only be early days, but 2019 has break-out season written all over it for Rusbatch.
  2. The Huskies will go home from the toughest road-trip of the NBL season for any team and assess what ended up delivering one win from three games. Once the dissection is complete expect the Huskies to respond hard, starting with a home game against the Rangers next week.
  3. There is a lot to like about the spirit of the Hawks. With Daniel Kickert to return and the potential inclusion of a big name (and big body) in the coming weeks, the Hawks have the right mix to go a long way this season. Can they get back to the Final 4 as they did in 2018?


Taranaki Mountainairs 74 lost to Canterbury Rams 107

Airs (Kevin Foster 18pts, Derone Raukawa 16pts)

Rams (Luke Aston 16pts, Emmett Naar 15pts, Cam Gliddon 15pts)

Stats That Matter - The Rams were on fire from the outset, shooting at a 75% clip in the first half before ending the game at 68%. It was a display that is sure to make others sit up and take notice. Tellingly, the Rams forced the Airs into 18 turnovers and then helped themselves to 27pts off those blemishes.

Sal's Pizza MVP - Emmett Naar (Rams) with 15pts, 4rbs, 5ast, 3 treys


  1. The Rams head home with two big wins in the bag after topping the Rangers by 25pts and easing past the Airs by 33pts. Full on confidence, look for a big hometown crowd in R3 when the Rams host Wellington Saints at Horncastle Arena. Are the Rams the real deal in season 2019? We'll know a lot more this time next week.
  2. Emmett Naar always looks in control. The talented playmaker is a brilliant distributor and can score himself if needed. The Rams continue to produce gaps and deliver the ball to wide open shooters, capable led by Naar and his exceptional passing skills.
  3. The Airs need to get more out of their key players. Import Kevin Foster continues to come off the bench and do the bulk of the scoring, but question marks loom over fellow import Daniel Gomis who was again well held (4pts) in this game.

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