Taranaki Mountainairs (3-2) v Wellington Saints (4-0) (Live stream via NZ Herald) When: Thursday, April 6, 7pm Where: TSB Stadium, New Pymouth
Referees: Melony Wealleans, Matt Bathurst, Tayla Ammunson Notes: Taranaki will host the Wellington Saints, but it will be a tougher task for them potentially being with only one import after their centre Daniel Gomis injured his hand in the loss to the Rangers. The Airs are holding their opposition to the lowest average in the league at 72 points per game whereas the Saints lead the league in scoring at 97.8. Wellington have been dominant against the Airs winning 15 of the last 17 meetings since 2009. The last time Taranaki defeated Welling-ton was at home on 6th of June, 2014. The Airs got 21 points from the captain Aaron Bailey-Nowell in the 76-74 win. Nowell is playing his 16th NBL season and 12th with Taranaki and would love to take his home town to the playoffs for the first since 1998. Nowell did win a title in his second season with the Wellington Saints in 2003.
Wellington Saints (4-0) v Canterbury Rams (3-2) When: Saturday, April 8, 7pm Where: TSB Bank Arena, Wellington Referees: Yalla Edwards, Hayden Pipe, Sam Pan
Notes: The Saints will return home after playing four straight on the road and will play their next seven at home. Wellington will not have fond memories in their last home game against Canterbury Rams who defeated them by 25 points. In the last two seasons the Rams have had a good record against Wellington winning both regular seasons series 2-1. Wellington did defeat the Rams 94-85 in Round Two and were able to contain their leading scorer Jeremy Kendle to a season low 10. Expect Kendle to have a stronger offensive game with the friendly rims at TSB. Kendle and Marcel Jones are one of the highest scoring duos in the competition at 46 per game and they will face the Saints leading scorers Corey Webster and Tai Wesley who are averaging 46.5. If Canterbury can square the series then they have a chance to hold the tie breaker when they return to Wellington in nine days time
SIT Zerofees Sharks (2-2) v James Blond Supercity Rangers (3-1) When: Saturday, April 8, 7pm Where: ILT Stadium, Invercargill Referees: Sean Cronin, Gavin Zimmerman, Marty Davison
Notes: Southland will return home after a two game road stand to play the Rangers who are traveling to the South Island in consecutive weeks after playing the Rams the week before. Since 2013 Southland have been dominant at home with a 29-9 record. One of those rare losses was to the Rangers last season 103-100. Last week Southland missed the bench scoring from guard Derone Raukawa who hopefully will be back on the roster after averaging 10.5 points in his first two games. Bench scoring has been a struggle for the Rangers who have relied on their starters playing heavy minutes, four of whom are averaging 30 minutes or more. This included 41 year old Dillon Boucher who is averaging 30.8 in his 24th season. Boucher will be playing his 396th game and if healthy he has the opportunity to be the second player to reach 400 games and potentially be the all-time leader which is held by his good friend Phill Jones who played 406.
Taylor Hawks (0-4) v Mike Pero Nelson Giants (0-4) (Live Stream via NZ Herald and Live Broadcast on Maori TV) When: Sunday, April 9, 7pm Where: Pettigrew Green Arena, Taradale Referees: Dallas Pickering, Ryan Jones, Jason McCabe
Notes: The Hawks losing streak is at 24, but now they have a good opportunity when they host the Giants who are also without a win this season. 33 losses is the worst ever losing streak in the NBL held by the Otago Nuggets during the 2008-11 seasons. Since 1990 the Giants have only had one losing regular season (6-10 in 2012) and during that period it is un-likely that the franchise has suffered five losses in a row. The addition of Australian point guard Kyle Adnan has boosted the Giants who had their best performance last week, losing in overtime to the Sharks. Adnan will have a good match up against Jarrod Kenny who dished out a career best 15 assists last week. Former Hawk Dion Prewster had his best game in a Giants uniform last with 22 points and seven assists. Prewster will match up with Everard Bartlett who leads the Hawks in scoring at 19.3 per game.