What We Learned From Round 12

Photo credit: Masanori Udagawa/Photo Wellington

Bulls Are Contenders

The Franklin Bulls have moved into the top four after taking down the Saints in Wellington on Sunday night, and with the victory comes proof that these Bulls are now serious championship contenders. The addition of Lee Skinner (replacing Jamaal Brantley) has worked and looks to be an upgrade with Skinner averaging 15 points and 11 rebounds across his three games, while the team’s depth with Josh Scott and Dom Kelman-Poto coming off the bench unquestionably makes this unit a tough one to deal with. The Bulls took care of business in overtime against the Saints even with Luther Muhammad and Ethan Rusbatch fouled out in the fourth quarter, while Isaac Davidson and DKP soon suffered the same fate. It was a win for the ages and sets the Bulls up to charge into the Final 6 with confidence and the knowledge they can run with the best.

Sharks And Jets Capitulate

It’s never a good sign when any team is off the pace, but the Sharks and Jets both showed in R11 they are unfortunately a fair way behind the rest of the pack in 2024. The Sharks lost to the Airs by 33 points after being down by 37 at half time, while the Jets were outclassed by the Rams to the tune of 41 points. It’s been lean pickings for both teams this season with a revolving door on imports not helping. The Sharks are now playing without any of the three imports they started the season with (Josh Turner, LaGerald Vick, Marcale Lotts), while the Jets only have Mustapha Heron remaining from their original trio of internationals. Injuries for both teams haven’t helped the cause either, but all teams suffer a similar fate at some stage during the season so let’s leave any excuses at the door. Both the Sharks and Jets are cemented to the foot of the ladder with just one win each from 15 games and there’s good reason to believe a thorough analysis for each team will soon start, if not already underway.

The Best Find A Way

Sam Froling turned in an uncustomary performance against the Nuggets (4 points, 3 rebounds), but he didn’t stay down too long with a bounce-back 31-point game coming just 48 hours later against the Sharks. The Airs continue to beat-up on thon the lower rungs of the ladder and are firmly entrenched in the top four, working to secure a home final. With Froling able to grab games by the scruff of the neck the Airs will always be a competitive unit, but in recent weeks we have seen the continued rise of Carlin Davison, while Tobias Cameron is currently in a nice run of form. The Airs could well be the team no opponent wants to meet in the Final 6 festivities.

The Slippery Eel Dominates

What a round to remember for Nuggets spark Matthew Bardsley with a record 25 points tallied in the Sky Broadband Rapid League, followed by a cameo in the Sal’s NBL where he landed a further 14 points off the bench. With Dontae Russo-Nance (ankle) and Ben Henshall (international duties) both missing some time the chance for the Slippery Eel to maintain a big role will be there for the taking. Perhaps it’s time he became known as the Slippery ‘Electric’ Eel?

Bad Day At The Office

The Hawks sure picked the wrong day to have a down day at the office, suffering a heavy defeat to the team they are seemingly battling with for a berth in the Final 6 – the Giants. The visitors from Nelson, who had just come off a narrow loss to the Rams, looked up for the challenge from the outset and won all four quarters with all five starters hitting double digit scoring. The Hawks finished with just 69 points, their lowest score of the season, and across the board their season averages were all well down – FG% (down 12%), Points In Paint (down 11 points), 3PT% (down 12%). Keanu Rasmussen (3 points) failed to hit a field goal for the first time this season, while Lucas Sutherland also had his worst shooting night of the year. The Hawks will look to bounce back against the Saints on Thursday night in a crucial clash.

Sell Outs Continue

Fans continued to flock to games in Auckland, Nelson and Christchurch in R12, while the Saints attracted a good audience for the late game on Sunday. The Giants in particular put on a brilliant show with a tribute to their inaugural championship team back in 1994. The Mike Fitchett led club holds the prestigious record as the only Sal’s NBL team to have played in every season since the competition’s inception back in 1982, and the recent run of sell outs over the last few years in Nelson shows that basketball is as strong as ever in the region. It’s unquestionably the best show in town.

Game Of The Season

Was the Saints versus Bulls clash the game of the season? The overtime thriller ended with a 113-109 victory for the Bulls in a game that delivered high energy, thrills and spills, exciting individual performances, and no shortage of entertainment for fans and viewers. In particular, the energy and passion on the sidelines displayed by Bulls coach Sebastian Gleim was next level, in fact it was downright infectious. The Bulls looked like a team totally committed to the cause and in sync with their coach, feeding off his robust sideline performance, which at times looked and felt like he was an extra player on defence. The win could become an important moment in time for the Bulls, a result they will look back on where they moved to the next level as an organisation. Not only will the win bring confidence, but it was filled with resilience, and that’s a trait Gleim will be over the moon to have seen from his team.

Young Guns Raising The Roof

The Auckland Tuatara possess a power-packed starting unit filled with some of the best players in the Sal’s NBL, but Sunday’s win over the Whai belonged to two young guns who are both on amateur contracts, Braydon Iuli and Charlie Dalton. The local stars are currently in the middle of collegiate careers in the United States, hence their amateur status, but they already look like seasoned performers in coach Aaron Young’s deep squad. The pair dropped a combined 33 points in the victory and now look set for bigger roles in the coming weeks with Vodanovich, Webster and Te Rangi on national team duty.


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