What We Learned From Round 5

Photo credit: Giles Stepney

Tuatara Still Rule The 09

The Bulls had every right to think it was their time to shine – after four straight wins a trip north to play the Tuatara in front of a sell-out provided the perfect backdrop for the best start to a season that the Bulls have yet achieved in their Sal's NBL tenure. Those ambitions soon went up in smoke as the Tuatara’s old guard took control of the game and then hammered a nail in the coffin down the stretch. In the last quarter the Bulls coughed the ball up too many times and could only manage 9 points. It was a stark reminder that the NBL is a tough competition, and winning streaks are very hard to maintain these days.

Tolerance Wears Thin For Sharks

Another loss for the Sharks (number 7) in another less than inspiring performance. Up against the Rams, the Sharks trailed by 20 points at the half before going on to lose by 22 points. Marcale Lotts struggled again – 7 points and 2 rebounds for an import forward in 30 minutes is well below expectations. Meanwhile, second import LaGerald Vick was a liability on offence (2/12 shooting for 4 points) and delivered 5 turnovers versus 0 assists. It was no surprise to see the Sharks send Vick on his way Monday afternoon. A talent for sure, but not the team man the Sharks were expecting or needing. On the upside, Brayden Inger is expected back this week to give a much needed talent injection.

Saints Have A Big Injury Concern

The Saints were pushed all the way by the Hawks in a terrific contest on Anzac Day, but the biggest story of the night was the sight of a clearly hobbled Hyrum Harris. The star Kiwi went into the game with a knee injury and looked below his usual best, constantly appearing limited in his movement. Don’t be surprised if Harris is sidelined for a while, which may force the Saints to look at bringing in a free agent or possibly test the upcoming trade window. On a possibly related note … anyone else see Taane Samuel at last week’s Saints game?

A Green Version Of Jekyll & Hyde

The Jets were the best version of good, bad and ugly against the Tuatara in R5. Up 32-17 after 10 minutes, somehow the Jets then found themselves on the receiving end of a 15-0 run by Loe, Gliddon, Vodanovich, Webster and Te Rangi. While the fans might say “well done, good effort”, the Jets coaching staff was visibly and audibly fuming during the second period. If nothing else, the team should be made to watch both quarters this week and take notes – the difference between their best and worst was stark and laid bare for all to see.

No Glory, But Plenty Of Guts

Take a bow Hawks. A 104-111 loss to the Saints was still a loss, but the confidence that will come with the performance could see this Hawks team start to take flight from here. Games against the Whai and Tuatara in R6 will be fun to watch, and if the Hawks can grab at least one win they will keep themselves in striking distance of the top 6. So far so good, this has been a positive rebuild for the Hawks, and the recruitment of Isaiah Moore and coach Sam Gruggen is definitely paying dividends.

Nuggets’ Title Hopes Rest On Webster

Tai Webster is one of the most talented players in the Sal’s NBL, but that talent is of diminishing value if he can’t stay on the court. Following a week’s suspension for striking Lat Mayen (Saints) in the head, Webster looked frustrated against the Rams and it boiled over at the end of the third quarter when, after missing a shot, he walked over and kicked a sponsor’s sign. His actions resulted in a technical foul, his second of the game, and he was ejected. In a big game against the Rams the frustration and absence of Webster hurt. As for kicking a sponsor sign, it might pay to remember in future that sponsors help pay the bills (including player salaries) and booting one of their signs isn’t a great look and very worthy of the technical foul that was handed out.

Better Signs For Whai

Two losses for the Whai in R5, against top tier teams (Airs and Bulls) no less, but both performances were admirable. With a new coach and a team that is literally getting to know each other, the signs for the Whai are more than promising. A big body in the frontcourt would help enormously and it’s highly likely the Whai will be making calls during the Trade Window to see if they can't boost their big man stocks.

Questions Linger Even As Airs Flex Their Muscles

Two telling wins for the Airs in R5, especially the second down in Nelson, but why was Elijah Minnie demoted from the starting five? Something looked out of place when Minnie was forced to come off the bench in the Sal’s NBL, and given he can’t play in Rapid League (being an import), to those on the outside it looked like either a disciplinary move or one to help Minnie deal with an injury. Of course, the Airs don’t need to explain their decisions to the outside world, but the move did raise more questions than answers.

The Rise Of Carlin Davison Is Real

Staying with the Airs, how good is it to see 20-year-old local prodigy Carlin Davison starting to grab games by the scruff of the neck. Across R5, in both Rapid League and NBL, the talented forward delivered the following numbers – 58 points at 61% in 56 minutes, 22 rebounds, 6 triples, 14/18 shooting from the Chemist Warehouse stripe, and just two turnovers.

A Bad Night For Akwuba

Theo Akwuba isn’t the first and won’t be the last import forward/centre to take time adjusting to the officiating in New Zealand. In a massive game for the Giants, coming off two successive wins, and after a full week of training with his new team, Akwuba’s tantalising match-up against Sam Froling fizzled out. Akwuba managed just 16 minutes, didn’t score and grabbed just three rebounds, before fouling out and watching on as Froling manhandled the Giants on court in his absence. Expect a bounce-back effort from the defensive specialist this week on the southern swing as the Giants chase a top 6 placing.

Olbrich The Perfect Fit For Rams

Hats off to Judd Flavell and his recruiting team for landing Lachie Olbrich. In this young Rams team, the competitive Australian big is the perfect fit. The southern swing (two wins) looked effortless for the rising Rams and Olbrich figured prominently in both games, returning home with averages of 20 points and 14.5 rebounds per game.


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