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Think Tank Round 9

Photo credit: Rendercreative NZ

Auckland Tuatara 

If you THINK the Tuatara are sitting pretty at the top of the Sal’s NBL ladder THEN you may have noticed the nice run they have coming up. The Tuatara play their next four games at home, then travel to Franklin.  They don’t see an airport again until July 7 when they head to Taranaki to play the Airs before their final flight of the regular season when they visit Hawke's Bay. If they take care of their business and maintain their spot on the top rung of the ladder they will also claim home court advantage throughout the Final 6. Sitting pretty indeed. 

Franklin Bulls

If you THINK the Bulls will need to shuffle things around defensively after letting go of noted defensive force Jamaal Brantley THEN seeing the Giants score 105 points on the Bulls confirms there is an immediate defensive gap that needs filling. It was the largest score the Bulls have conceded this season, and well above the 85 points they surrendered to Nelson the first time around (albeit with vastly different squads for both teams) and the average of 84 points they usually give up. 

Tauranga Whai

If you THINK the Whai are a chance to make finals in their inaugural year THEN you better believe those chances are about to get better. A win against the Jets on Sunday was helpful, but an incoming import forward with previous experience in the Sal’s NBL has everyone excited in the Whai camp. Watch this space!

Taranaki Steelformers Airs

If you THINK the Airs need some tougher opposition right now THEN it you'll be forced to wait a wee bit longer before you get your wish. The Airs next four games include the Saints coming to visit Taranaki, but two games against the Nuggets and one against the Sharks should be easy pickings for the in-form Airs. That said, it’s the games you most expect to win that can cause the biggest problems and the Sharks are walking with a pep in their step following their 1st win of the year.

Property Brokers Manawatu Jets

If you THINK the Jets were happy to see new import Kahlil Whitney THEN his energy on the defensive end (including 4 blocks) as well 17 points on debut would have sparked a bit of joy. On the downside, the narrow 75-77 loss to the Whai puts an end to any realistic hope (bar mathematical) the green machine had of making this year’s Final 6.

Taylor Hawke’s Bay Hawks

If you THINK the Hawks need Keanu Rasmussen back in a hurry THEN hopefully you won’t need to wait too much longer. The Hawks have suffered back-to-back losses without their star shooting guard, and now a massive showdown with the Giants awaits in R10. If Rasmussen (ankle) can get back on court this week, the Hawks will head to Nelson and Canterbury in R10 with some added confidence that they can get some wins to stay within touch distance of the top 6. 

Mills Albert Wellington Saints

If you THINK the Saints have a few worries right now THEN you'll agree a visit to the injury ward is not what coach Zico Coronel wants to be thinking about ahead of four games over the next two rounds. Hyrum Harris (knee), Tohi Smith-Milner (hand) and Lat Mayen (ankle) will all be on limited duties this week, with Harris looking to be the worst of the trio and possibly sidelined for this stretch. The inclusion of Dion Prewster makes the pill a bit easier to swallow, but it remains bitter. 

NBS Nelson Giants

If you THINK one player can be of paramount importance to their team and what they accomplish as a team THEN take a look at what Dan Grida is doing right now for the Giants. The West Australian is having a fantastic season, and probably no better game has shown this than his masterful performance against the Bulls on Sunday evening (30 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals) in what may have been a season saving victory. It was a must-win game for the Giants and their main man (or mane man if you include his mullet) helped to ensure the team would be flying home with smiles on their faces.                                                                                                                     

Wheeler Motor Company Canterbury Rams

If you THINK the Rams are confident about going back-to-back this season THEN you wouldn’t know it based on the way they are taking care of  opponents. After a win in Tauranga, the Rams visited the capital and swept the Saints off the floor via a 23-point win, yet it was a business-like performance with the players rarely exiting from the game plan or showing any over-confidence. That’s eight straight wins, but despite the successful run Coach Judd Flavell has this team focused on their next appointment on the calendar, not the grand prize they are chasing at the end of the year.

Night 'n Day Otago Nuggets

If you THINK the form slump coming into Round 9 was as low as the Nuggets could sink  THEN you weren't ready for the depths reached when they had to travel back to Dunedin on Saturday night after an 18-point Southern Stoush loss to a team that hadn’t won a game this season. Tough times for the Nuggets right now, very tough, but they are about to get even tougher with a visit to the in-form Taranaki Airs on the horizon.

Southland Sharks

If you THINK the happy times were gone and forgotten from Invercargill this season THEN all of that was changed on Saturday when Sharks fans finally had a win to celebrate, their first this season after a run of 11 straight losses. Best of all, the Sharks joined the winner’s circle with a thumping victory against their closest neighbours, Otago Nuggets to claim the Southern Stoush. Whack!

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