On the eve of the 2020 Sal’s NBL Finals Week, powerful Tall Blacks and Manawatu Jets forward Tom Vodanovich has been presented with the SkyCity MVP.
This competition’s most prestigious individual honour was awarded following a standout season from Vodanovich where he delivered two games with 10 three-pointers, including a 43-point outing against the Franklin Bulls. Vodanovich ended the regular season with averages of 21.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, plus a whopping 4.2 triples per game at 46.5 percent.
Vodanovich said he was humbled to receive the award.
“Just playing in this league has been awesome. People have come from all over the country and competed week in and out, and proven that there is some excellent talent here, so to pick up this is an absolute honour, especially with the calibre of players we have here.
“I also note that the sponsor of the award is SkyCity. This place has been home for the past five week and they have really looked after all 84 players – the food, the accommodation have been outstanding and we can’t thank them enough,” said Vodanovich tonight.
Under the League’s voting system, Vodanovich (101 votes) finished just clear of Jordan Ngatai (Otago Nuggets – 97 votes) and Derone Raukawa (Taranaki Mountainairs – 96 votes).
The MVP award, determined from votes by each coach after every game of the regular season, went through to the final vote. The decision was finalised once a panel of 11, including the seven head coaches, cast their final votes.
The League’s All-Star Five included Vodanovich alongside Derone Raukawa (Airs), Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa (Huskies), Jordan Ngatai (Nugget) and Marcel Jones (Airs).
In other awards, Otago Nuggets coach Brent Matehaere won Coach of the Year, Taane Samuel (Jets) picked up the Youth Player of the Year, and the Defensive Player of the Year was shared between Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa (Huskies) and Jarrod Kenny (Nuggets).
Two team awards were also announced: Caleb Harrison has been presented with up the Team General Manager of the Year, while the Franklin Bulls were recognised as delivering the League’s best Social Media content.
“It has been a huge effort by the seven teams and all the players and coaches to be here for this year’s competition, so to be recognised by their peers is testament to what each award winner has achieved,” said League GM, Justin Nelson.
“Tom won a close race for the MVP, it’s an award that is mostly decided by the coaches, so congratulations to him, while what a night for the Nuggets with three award winners on their return to the Sal’s NBL.
“I’m also really pleased for Caleb Harrison. He works very hard as an outstanding General Manager in the league and as a result we continue to see the Canterbury Rams take great strides forward as a professional organisation.”
FINALS WEEK: Seven teams, four nights, one winner
The League now turns its attention to Finals Week, which starts on Tuesday 28 July when the Nelson Giants and Canterbury Rams clash in the first of three Elimination Finals in the space of 24 hours.
The Sal’s NBL Showdown is not only a first of its kind, but it comes complete with a finals series that will see all seven teams enter a four-night period where, if they’re good enough, any of these could be the last team standing and holding aloft the Showdown Cup.
Only the Otago Nuggets (1st) and Manawatu Jets (2nd) are guaranteed a semi-final berth, effectively they need just one win to secure a place in the Grand Final, but it’s a perk that comes with a ladder-leading regular season that stretched for 14-games in just five weeks.
At the other end of the regular season ladder, the Nelson Giants and Canterbury Rams will get the finals started. To make the Grand Final, they must first win three games to get there.
All games are played at Trusts Arena in West Auckland and entry remains just $20 for adults per night, students are $10 and children are $5. Tickets at www.TicketFairy.com
Finals Week Schedule
Tuesday July 28
Wednesday July 29
Thursday July 30
Saturday August 1
2020 Sal’s NBL Showdown Awards
1.Tom Vodanovich (Property Brokers, See Me Media Manawatu Jets) – 101 votes
Coach of the Year
Brent Matehaere (Fluid Recruitment Otago Nuggets)
Youth Player of the Year (21yrs & under)
Taane Samuel (Property Brokers, See Me Media Manawatu Jets)
Defensive Player of the Year
Jarrod Kenny (Fluid Recruitment Otago Nuggets) and Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa (Auckland Huskies)
Team GM of the Year
Caleb Harrison (Wheeler Motor Company Canterbury Rams)
Best Social Media
EnviroNZ Franklin Bulls