Whai vs. Hawks: Whai Announce Themselves with Dream Debut

The Sal’s NBL’s newest team celebrated their debut in the league in perfect fashion as they powered home in the second half to secure a 91-70 victory over the Taylor Hawke’s Bay Hawks at Mercury Baypark Arena, Tauranga.

In front of a big crowd, the Whai announced themselves as the NBL's 11th team in style, as they rode guard Kruz Perrott-Hunt, hometown hero Jayden Bezzant and import Phil Carr to a 21 point victory.

Perrot-Hunt led the scoring in the first quarter with a 13 point hit out before finishing with 23 points with an efficient seven of 13 from the floor and four of four from the line.

Bezzant contributed 14 points (7-16) as he relished being back in a starting role after coming off the bench last season with the Franklin Bulls.

Import Carr enjoyed a double double (24 and 12) and showed he could be a contributor from all over the court this season with a mix of interior finishing and a deft touch from the perimeter.

The two sides had a back and forth arm wrestle in the first half before a dominant third quarter pushed the Whai clear.

Both teams were short one import while Hawks Kiwi star Jordan Ngatai is yet to arrive back in the country while finishing his season in Finland. 

Keanu Rasmussen was a shining light and showed the capability to be a big contributor for the Hawks as he led the team with 21 points and seven rebounds while Joshua Roberts had 14 points and 10 boards after dealing with early foul trouble that hampered his first half effectiveness. 

While far from a full-powered performance for the Whai they will have drawn the interest of the other sides across the competition with a successful debut.

Result: Whai 91 defeated the  Hawks 70

Leading Players

Whai: Phil Carr 24 pts, 12 reb, Kruz Perrot-Hunt 23 points, 3 reb, Jayden Bezzant 14 pts, 4 ass

Hawks: Keanu Rasmussen 21 pts, 7 reb, Joshua Roberts 14 pts, 10 reb, Jarrod Kenny 8 pts, 8 reb

MVP Votes:

Phil Carr (Whai) - 10 votes, Kruz Perrott-Hunt (Whai) - 8 votes, Keanu Rasmussen (Hawks) - 6 votes, Jayden Bezzant (Whai) - 2 votes, Demarcus Holland (Whai) - 2 votes, Luke Sutherland (Hawks) - 1 vote, Josh Roberts (Hawks) - 1 vote

In the earlier Sky Broadband Rapid League game:

The Whai got their debut appearance off to a perfect start as they secured a tense 34-33 Rapid League win over the Hawks.

The hometown team bounced out of the blocks early, making their first ever shot – a three by Te Tuhi Lewis that got a sizeable crowd into the game from the outset. They continued to lead the game through the first half, taking a narrow 16-14 advantage into halftime.

Uber-talented Hawks prospect Jackson Ball showcased the skills that have made him a player to watch this season, with some nice touches at both ends of the floor.

He helped the Hawks fight their way back in the third quarter to draw level at 26-26 as Tommy Fergusson paced their offense with a game high 15 points off strong interior play.

The Hawks picked up their first lead of the game at the start of the fourth quarter, but the Whai were able to rally in the final minute to secure a victory in their first ever outing.

Result: Whai 34 defeated Hawks 33

Leading Players

Whai: Te Tuhi Lewis 11 pts, 2 3pt, 1 ass, Xanda Marsters 8 pts, 3 ass, Jayden Boucher 3 pts, 2 reb, 2 stl

Hawks: Tommy Fergusson 15 pts, 6 reb, Kobe Kara 7 pts, 5 reb, Jackson Ball 7 pts

MVP Votes:

Te Tuhi Lewis (Whai) - 9 votes, Jett Thompson (Whai) - 7 votes, Tommy Fergusson (Hawks) - 6 votes, Xanda Marsters (Whai) - 5 votes, Jackson Ball (Hawks) - 2 votes, Kobe Kara (Hawks) - 1 vote


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