Think Tank: Round 8

Photo credit: Monica Toretto


If you THINK the Tuatara are locked on cruise control right now THEN their southern swing in R8 confirms it. Though the Aucklanders returned home with two wins against the Nuggets and Sharks, neither victory was all that impressive. In both games, when needed, the Tuatara flicked a switch and their class rose to the top to take care of business. The same can be said for their recent game against the Hawks. More difficult contests are ahead and that might be exactly what this team is looking for (and needs) right now.


If you THINK the Bulls are championship material this season THEN they’ll need to prove it with some wins against the top teams. Losses so far to the Tuatara, Airs and now the Saints have shown us the lads from the Stockyard aren’t quite there just yet. They have put away teams when they have a decided talent advantage but haven't been able to impose their will when more evenly matched. To take things a step further than 2023's semi-final appearance that will need to change.


If you THINK the Whai made a strange move letting go of their leading scorer THEN all that matters is what’s going on inside the four walls because since Vance Jackson Jnr departed the Tauranga boys have taken down both the Nuggets and Giants. Sunday night’s win in Nelson was arguably the fledgling team’s best yet. With the 14-point victory and as the battle for the Final 6 starts to heat up, the Whai reminded us all they are more a contender than they are a pretender.


If you THINK the Airs love a bit of razzle dazzle THEN they made sure the Jets copped a full whack with Flynn Cameron, Tobias Cameron and Carlin Davison adding plenty of ‘showtime’ to their team’s 38-point win against the green machine. Is there a team that deserves to be ‘Rated E’ more than the Airs this season?


If you THINK the Hawks could scrape into the Final 6 with the squad they have THEN a serious knee injury to Tommy Fergusson in R8 was not what the doctor ordered. Fergusson missed last season with a similar injury and has been one of the success stories of 2024, dominating the Sky Broadband Rapid League, and playing key minutes in the Sal’s NBL. The Hawks will need to beef up their roster in a hurry. That might even mean Jarrod Kenny dusts off the kicks and steps back on court to add depth to a team in need of it.


If you THINK the Jets rebuild was on track THEN you might need to wait a bit longer until that train comes into the station. Player injuries and departures this season haven’t helped their cause, and for the most part this is a young squad, but the Jets look as far off the pace in 2024 than they did a few years ago when the current rebuild began.     


If you THINK the Saints might have been a bit worried going up against the Bulls without star Izayah Le’afa THEN someone forgot to tell dynamic guard Ben Ayre. The Aussie playmaker ran rings around the Bulls with 30 points in the bruising 87-85 win, leading a Saints team that also welcomed back Hyrum Harris who was in his regular ‘triple-double-watch’ zone (17 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists).


If you THINK the Giants were exultant after beating the Saints in Wellington last week THEN then you would have noticed a different mood as the Nelsonians crashed back to earth with a massive thud on Sunday night when the Whai paid them a visit and reminded the Giants no team can be taken lightly in the Sal’s NBL. The Giants now face a daunting northern trip in R9 to face the Tuatara and Bulls. Are we about to find out if the Giants are firmly in the contender or pretender category this season?


If you THINK the Rams are hitting their stride THEN take a closer look at their recent run of form. Six straight wins has the Rams well placed ahead of the second half of the season. A 20-point win against the Whai in R8 was solid with all five starters scoring in double digits. The 2023 champs are looking good and have yet to lose a game with Lachie Olbrich in the lineup but with two road games in round 9 including a trip to the capital that record will be tested. 


If you THINK the Nuggets have fallen  of a cliff THEN you know there is no better motivation than a looming clash with the Sharks to get their mojo back. The Nuggets started the season 3-0 but the slide from there has been dramatic with just one win coming from their last seven games. Will this week’s showdown with arch-rival Southland get the Nuggets back up and firing?


If you THINK the Sharks are building towards a win THEN yo would hope there is a growing optimism amongst the camp after a strong showing against the Tuatara in R8. Unfortunately, the last quarter effort from the Sharks was below par, but there was a heap of positives to take away from the first three quarters. A ‘Southern Stoush’ against the struggling Otago Nuggets in R9 might see the Sharks finally hit the winner’s column.


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