Think Tank: Round 14

Photo credit: Masanori Udagawa/Photo Wellington


If you THINK the Tuatara were happy to pick up Charlie Dalton and Braydon Iuli mid-season THEN that happiness turned to pure elation in R14 as the two young guns continued to shine in the absence of Vodanovich, Te Rangi and Webster. This time it was the Bulls copping plenty of Dalton and Iuli punishment as the dual amateurs combined for 45 points of the Tuatara’s 89 points in the win.


If you THINK the Bulls were on target for a home final after beating the Saints in R12 THEN it’s turned to custard since with the Bulls suffering three straight losses while dropping to fifth on the ladder. R14 proved to be a challenge with a dramatic loss to the Whai on the buzzer (remember Jayden Bezzant Bulls fans?) a bitter pill to swallow, and then despite Luther Muhammad’s 41 points the Bulls were never really in it against the Tuatara. While Sebastian Gleim’s men will make the Final 6, the question mark right now is whether they are contenders or pretenders?


If you THINK Jayden Bezzant deserved a bit more love at the Bulls last season THEN you would have enjoyed JB reminding his former team what he’s capable of with a buzzer beating triple to get the Whai up for a huge win at home. As his Whai teammates and fans swarmed around him to celebrate, his former Bulls fans were left to ponder whether Bezzant’s shot had resigned them to missing out on securing a home final.


If you THINK the Airs were about to make a big charge into the Final 6 THEN the last thing they wanted was to run into the Rams. After taking care of business in Hawke’s Bay early in R14, the Airs returned home to take on the top team in the hope of staking their claim on a home Semi-Final. However, this was anything but a close contest as the Airs were pushed aside with ease, the Rams winning 111-83. While the Airs are unquestionably a contender, the ease in which the Rams took care of business must be of concern to the Airs, as is the now unlikelihood of a top 2 finish and the home semi-final that would have come with it. 


If you THINK the Hawks are capable of winning their last three games and making the Final 6 THEN you must have seen their first half performance against the Airs when they led by as many as 17 points, before succumbing to a third quarter scoring bonanza. The Hawks will need a lot to go right for them from here, which includes beating the Bulls, Jets and Tuatara, while relying on the Giants to lose to both the Nuggets and Airs. Possible, yes. Probable, no.  


If you THINK the Jets are searching for anything positive from what has been a horrible season THEN one bright spot might be the 94 points they scored against the ladder-leading Rams on Sunday afternoon. Yes, it was another loss, but it was the Jets’ highest score since April 5 when they put 103 points on the board in Dunedin. We’ll take anything we can get at this stage.


If you THINK the Saints need to fix anything ahead of the Final 6 THEN surely technical fouls must be at the very top of the list. Week after week the Saints continue to rack up technical fouls and give away free shots to the opposition, while also placing themselves in foul trouble from time to time. In recent seasons the Saints have collected more techs than any other team and it looms as a thorn in their side that could bite them in their quest for a 13th championship. Time to clean things up, Saints.


If you THINK the Giants are making hard work of making the Final 6 THEN spare a thought for their avid fans who have now seen their team lose a whopping seven games at home this season, including their last five on the trot. The Giants latest defeat at Trafalgar Centre came against a vastly improved and surging Sharks but the winless drought on home turf extends back to April 17. With a must-win home game against the Nuggets coming up this Friday the Giants where their fans will be hoping for a reversal in fortune. 


If you THINK the Rams are unbeatable THEN you might need to stand in line behind the other 10 teams in the Sal's NBL to sing their praises. The Rams ripped the Airs apart in R14 less than a week after doing the same against the Saints. With MJ Walker (concussion) and KJ Buffen (ankle) sidelined, the Rams then poured in 121 points against the lowly Jets. The Rams have now locked in a home Semi Final while securing the inside track to the top seed (and a possible home final) and are red hot favourites to go back-to-back.  


If you THINK the Nuggets were dreaming of finals after winning their first three games this season THEN those dreams ended with a rude awakening with 12 losses from their past 15 games. Though they have been hampered by injuries and absences, wild inconsistency on the court has been a big problem for the Nuggets, which will see them miss the postseason for the first time since 2021.


If you THINK the Sharks might be enjoying swinging the wrecking ball late in the season THEN it showed on Sunday against the Giants as big Cal McRae dropped the season’s first triple-double and the Sharks got the win. Finally this is a team that looks settled, enjoying their basketball and eager to create a bit more havoc with games to come against the Rams, Jets and Saints.


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