Week 1 Previews: Rosters And Coach Quotes

The Sal's NBL bursts back into action this week with three games to open the 2021 season. Every Wednesday we look at the team rosters and hear directly from the coaches as they prepare to go into battle.

Sal's NBL Broadcast Schedule - click HERE

Current Team Rosters - click HERE

Hear From The League Ahead Of The Season Tip-Off - click HERE


Go Media Otago Nuggets vs Wellington Saints

When: Saturday April 24

Time:    7:30pm

Where: Edgar Centre, Dunedin

Watch: Sky Sport 9

It has been nearly seven years since the Go Media Otago Nuggets played on their home deck, but that drought finally ends this Saturday when the 2020 Showdown Champions host the 2019 Sal’s NBL Champions, the Wellington Saints. Both teams are expected to be at full strength with all imports available and a clean slate of health across both rosters. A huge crowd is expected to cheer on the Nuggets and welcome their team back home. The big man match-up between Sam Timmins (Nuggets) and Romaro Gill (Saints) will be a lot of fun, while imports Isaiah Moss (Nuggets) and Kerwin Roach (Saints) is set to be a key duel.

Nuggets Roster

4. Isaiah Moss

6. Darcy Knox

7. Matt Bardsley

10. Richie Rodger

13. Josh Aitcheson

15. Pafe Momoisea

21. Jack Andrew

33. Sam Timmins

40. Geremy McKay

43. Akiva McBirney-Griffin

91. Aaron Roydhouse

Nuggets Coach – Brent Matehaere

I became aware of the Saints basketball club when a youngster, score tied at 100 a piece against Auckland and Kenny McFaden drains the 3 on the buzzer to win the championship! They are a club with unparalleled history and this Saturday we have a chance to write a chapter of our own in that history when we play the current Sal’s NBL Champions in our own house in front our own city! New suit, new shoes, new team, same dream! Let’s enjoy the show Dunedin! Go (media) Nuggets!


Saints Roster

2. Taane Samuel

6. Ezra Vaigafa

7. Kael Robinson

8. Isaac Miller-Jose

12. Kerwin Roach

13. Dion Prewster

14. Thomas Gold

16. Tohi Smith-Milner

20. Kenneth Tuffin

24. Rangimarie Mita

35. Romaro Gill

Saints Coach – Zico Coronel

Every practice and game we strive to play the next possession better than we ever have
collectively played a possession previously. This weekend’s trip to Dunedin to face Nuggets represents a great opportunity for us to continue with this quest. They are well coached, feature many strong players, and are sure to pose us some problems to solve, and in doing so enhance our learning. In turn we intend to present a few quandaries of our own. We look forward to tip off on Saturday. 



EnviroNZ Franklin Bulls vs Sky Tower Auckland Huskies

When:  Sunday April 25

Time:    7:30pm

Where: Franklin Pool & Leisure Arena, Pukekohe

Watch: Sky Sport 6

After splitting two games at the 2020 Showdown, where they each won by 4 points against each other, the Battle of the North will go to a new level when the EnviroNZ Franklin Bulls host the Sky Tower Auckland Huskies on Anzac Day. The newest rivalry in the Sal’s NBL is certain to attract a bumper crowd as battle lines are drawn. All eyes will be on former NBA guard Josh Selby in his first game for the Bulls, while for the Huskies the loss of star import Armoni Brooks to the Houston Rockets means others will need to step up and get the job done. The Bulls are set to start favourites as they step on their home floorboards for the first time.


Bulls Roster

1. Josh Selby

2. Jett Thompson

3. Nick Fee

4. Joseph Nunag

5. Anthony Jones

7. Braydon Iuli

8. Zane Waterman

9. Matt Freeman

10. Denhym Brooke

15. Dane Brooks

22. Zach Easthope

34. Jaylen Gerrand

41. Adam Dunstan

44. Tyronne McLennan

88. Uani Talagi

Bulls Coach – Jamie Reddish

We are super excited for the season. We dipped our toes in the water at the Showdown last year but this season at home will be a first for the Bulls. Game one against the Huskies is set to be a big one, the team are looking forward to playing at home in front of our fans, members and partners for the first time ever. We are expecting a pretty big crowd including some Huskies fans making the drive down the southern motorway and into the mighty Franklin.


Huskies Roster

1. Chris Johnson

3. Chris McIntosh

7. Theo Johnson

8. Brook Ruscoe

9. Zach Riley

10. Kiani Saxon

13. Reuben Fitzgerald

14. Nick Barrow

15. Tom Vodanovich

21. Sean Murphy

25. Jackson Smyth

Huskies Coach – Aaron Young

What a great way to kick things off round 1! Super excited for the matchup and I know that Franklin will be set to go, with it being their first ever game in their stadium. I know our boys are pumped and ready, now it’s m just about going out there and trusting the work that has been put in. Couldn’t be more proud of their effort and how far we’ve come since our first session back in early December. Time to put it all out there and represent!


Mike Pero Nelson Giants vs SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks

When: Monday April 26

Time: 2:00pm

Where: Trafalgar Centre, Nelson

Watch: Sky Sport 4

The Mike Pero Nelson Giants welcome the SIT Zero Fees Sharks to the Trafalgar Centre for a public holiday Monday clash that promises to be an extremely close contest. With both teams expected to have their American imports in action, the match-ups and strategies adopted by two of the competition’s very best coaches will be fun to watch. The Giants have a real local feel to their team, while the Sharks have undergone a lot of changes and could take a few weeks to gel. With Alex Pledger sidelined (illness), Dom Kelman-Poto will be called upon to bang bodies down low with the likes of Sam Dempster, which could be a clash that goes a long way to deciding this one. Both teams showed promising signs in pre-season games last week, so expect a thriller.


Giants Roster

0. Tysxun Aiolupotea

1. Anzac Rissetto

2. Donte Ingram

3. Alex McNaught

5. Hunter Hale

7. Riley Bensemann

8. Nic Trathen

9. Tom Ingham

10. Sam Dempster

15. Josh Leger

25. Jay Marsh

26. Bronson Beri 

29. Tyler Marsh

33. Tom Gargiulo

Giants Coach – Mike Fitchett

We are really excited to be tipping off the Sal’s NBL season on our home court. After such a long time without any games at home, it will be great to run out in front of our home fans. The Sharks are always a very tough side so we will need to be playing well to come away with the win. Any team that Rob Beveridge coaches is going to be a tough one, and the Sharks have some real quality in Dom Kelman-Poto, Alonzo Burton and two good imports.


Sharks Roster

2. Tom Cowie

3. Brayden Inger

4. Alonzo Burton

10. Josh Cunningham

15. Ethan Mitchell

16. Liam McRae

22. Johnny Helu

23. Dom Kelman-Poto

24. Cameron Archer

25. Andrew Wheeler

30. Toby Gillooly

32. Courtney Belger

34. Connor Coll

35. Alex Pledger

Sharks Coach – Rob Beveridge

Finally this weekend, most of the teams can finally get back on court to do what we love doing, playing basketball.  This season we have a new look team with several new faces.  With changes occurring, it will always take a bit of time to bond and develop team chemistry on and off the court, however we have a tremendous group of players with high character and great work ethics. This week, we start on the road with a game against an experienced Giants squad, which always produces a great contest. I am really excited for the challenge ahead and to see where we are as a team at the start of the process toward being a playoff team.



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