Thursday Night Lights – Hawks vs Giants

Thursday Night Lights heads to Hawke's Bay this week with the high-flying Hawks searching for an eighth straight win against the Giants, who ironically have only won once in their last eight games. While the Giants can still mathematically make the Final 4, they need wins coupled with the Sharks and Huskies above them falling over. It's a lot to ask.

Broadcast: Live on SKY Sports and Prime TV from 7:30pm


Here's 10 Talking Points for our next dose of Thursday Night Lights.

  1. Offensive Excitement - are the Hawks the most fun of all Sal's NBL teams to watch? When the afterburners are flicked on the Hawks deliver a style of basketball that has the fans in raptures. While the Saints remain unbeaten and continue to be title favourites, there is no doubt the Hawks are coming and they look ready to swoop.
  2. Daniel Kickert - the Hawks have had the luxury of resting Kickert in recent weeks, but the star import looks ready to return for this game and has been named. It continues to be a worry for the Hawks that Kickert can't shake this niggling  back injury. Having rested in recent weeks Coach Coronel will be hoping he has his star for the rest of the way now.
  3. Confidence Restored - finally after a long run of outs the Giants have found a win, albeit against a banged-up Rangers outfit last week with Venky Jois sidelined and mounting pressure on Tim Quarterman to carry his team. However, the Giants did what they had to do and with the win comes an internal belief they are still in the finals mix. Can that belief last another week?
  4. Rhys Vague - the Giants forward has been rock solid this season and continues to sit amongst the top five in the TAB MVP voting. He'll have his hands full this week with the like of Brandon Bowman, Daniel Kickert and EJ Singler waiting for him. Who Vague will have to stop will be interesting. That match-up will be pivotal in deciding a winner.
  5. The Long Bomber - Ethan Rusbatch is starting to warm-up again and his long range shooting is back on track. Rusbatch is having a break-out season and is one of the most improved players in the Sal's NBL. After hitting 7 triples last week he looks set to stay on a roll and looms as a dangerous player the Giants will need to quell.
  6. The Big Three - the Hawks have three players in the race for the TAB MVP with EJ Singler, Ethan Rusbatch and Brandon Bowman all amongst the top 10 players right now. Will they all stay in there? Will they take votes from each other?
  7. Mika Vukona - one of New Zealand's most loved players is finding his feet and increasingly stepping it up for the Giants. Chances are we'll see Vukona ramping up his workload over the coming weeks and there is no better time because the Giants need their champ delivering if they hold any hopes of making the Final 4.
  8. Jett vs Kenny - great match-up between two of the league's very best PGs. Who will get the upper-hand? Who will lead their team to victory? This promises to be one of the best match-ups of the game. Kenny is more of a distributor, Jett is a great scorer. Enjoy the clash between two the league's very best court leaders.
  9. Dion Prewster - with Kickert named to return it will mean Prewster will go back to his sixth-man role and it's a job he relishes in a classy outfit. Prewster continues to be one of the hardest match-ups in the league, he can drive with ferocity and also land the big blows from downtown. Is he a chance for sixth man of the year?
  10. The Bowman Show - if you've seen Brandon Bowman in recent weeks you will have loved every second of it. The Bowman Show is up and going, the crowds are enjoying it and the highlight reels are filling up. The tireless forward is also racing up the TAB MVP leaderboard and could be a sneaky league MVP candidate if he keeps his current form going.


Game Preview
Are the Giants out of the Final 4 race? Are we all said and done? Or is the flame still flickering after last week’s drought-breaking win? What we do know is if the Giants somehow manage to upset the Hawks in this week’s dose of Thursday Night Lights, just maybe that belief will return and the Final 4 flame will flicker a little brighter. The Hawks have continued crushing teams of late, the last two to be steamrolled were the Airs and Jets, though in both games it’s fair to say the Hawks were a bit slow out of the blocks. Take that into account in this clash given the best quarter for the Giants this season has been the first, so perhaps the visitors can force a real contest over the opening period. Question is, even if they do get off to a flying start, will they be able to hold off the Hawks for a full 40 minutes? With Bowman, Singler and Rusbatch all on fire right now the Hawks may be in a position to keep resting Kickert. but the star import has been selected to play. For the Giants a win will only come if somehow Jett, Vague and Grida can all fire at the same time, while some added points from Harrison will help. As it was last week, so it is again this week – it’s the last roll of the dice for the Giants, every game is a final, which might be exactly how they like it.



Starting 5
6. Jarrod Kenny (guard)
15. Brandon Bowman (forward)
12. Ethan Rusbatch (guard)
25. EJ Singler (forward)
14. Daniel Kickert (forward)

3. Nick Fee (guard)
5. Everard Bartlett (guard)
13. Dion Prewster (guard)
7. Darryl Jones (forward)
11. Jamal Mikaio (forward)
9. James Levings (guard)
21. Geoff Heather (forward)

Coach: Zico Coronel
Assistant: Morgan Maskell
Assistant: Rob Hartley
Manager: Jordan Wise
Physio: Colin Tutchen

From The Coach – Zico Coronel
Like a greyhound chasing the lure we continue to try to catch our own potential. This pursuit will continue until the season concludes. This week’s trainings and the game versus Nelson will aid us in this endeavour. Hopefully the Hawke’s Bay fans will turn out in large numbers and the game will be entertaining. 



Starting 5
2. Jordair Jett (guard)
11. Daniel Grida (guard)
24. Tyrell Harrison (centre)
25. Rhys Vague (forward)
10. Samuel Dempster (forward)

6. Ali Granger (guard)
9. Tom Ingham (guard)
26. Bronson Beri (forward)
55. Kruz Perrott-Hunt (guard)
14. Mika Vukona (forward)

Coach: Mike Fitchett
Assistant: Phill Jones
Manager: Andrew Stevens
Physio: Ashlee Lusty

From The Coach – Mike Fitchett
Hawkes Bay have been playing great basketball all season, and are very difficult to contain with great shooters across all positions. We are looking forward to the challenge, and hoping to come away with our first road win.


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