Wellington Saints (6-0) v SIT Zerofees Sharks (3-2) (Live Stream via NZ Herald)
When: Thursday, April 13, 7pm
Where: TSB Bank Arena, Wellington
Referees: Melony Wealleans, Ryan Jones, Sam Pan
Notes: The Wellington Saints put their unbeaten record on the line against the Sharks, who have been arguably the best defensive side in the competition, holding opponents to a league low 39% from the field and 29% from three. Wellington’s mode of winning had been more to outscore teams averaging 100.8 per game and 110.5 in the two home games at TSB Bank Arena. Southland will hopefully be back at full strength with guard Derone Raukawa missing the last three games. Raukawa’s last game was the 88-86 loss to the Saints in Round Two. Sharks centre Alex Pledger missed the last meeting with the Saints and him alongside Nick Kay should have a great battle in the paint with Saints front court Tai Wesley and Josh Duinker. Sharks guard Reuben Te Rangi was able to hold Corey Webster to a season low 22 points on 7/20 shooting. Another interesting match up will be between the point guards Shea Ili and Mitch Norton who are second and third in the league in assists per game.
Taylor Hawks (1-4) v SIT Zerofees Sharks (3-2)
When: Friday, April 14, 7pm
Where: Pettigrew Green Arena, Taradale
Referees: Yalla Edwards, Hayden Pipe, Elliot Duncan
Notes: The Taylor Hawks have finally ended their 24 game losing streak and will want to win a second straight when they play the Sharks who play their second game of a back to back. Last week it was a collective effort from the Hawks which was helped by the bench, in particular former Shark Ana Haku brought great defensive energy for his side and ended the game with the best +/- of plus 20. Southland have won the last five meetings. Last week the Hawks introduced 6’11” centre Amir Williams who played four years at Ohio State Buckeyes which was home to former number one draft pick and centre Greg Oden. Williams will look to improve on his seven point and seven rebound effort against Alex Pledger who in three games is averaging nearly 16 points and nine rebounds, shooting 65.6% from the field. The Hawks leading scorer, Everard Bartlett will face his former team for the first time and is currently averaging a career high 19.2 points, nearly seven points more than what he averaged for the Sharks last season.
Canterbury Rams (3-3) v Taranaki Mountainairs (3-3) (Live Stream via NZ Herald)
When: Friday, April 14, 7pm
Where: Cowles Stadium, Canterbury
Referees: Matt Bathurst, Jason McCabe, Marty Davison
Notes: The Canterbury Rams begin a tough stretch when they play three games in eight days, but will host two at home. Taranaki have dropped their last two and things could have been different had they had their leading rebounder and shot blocker Daniel Gomis, who will still be out of action. The Rams have won five of the last seven meetings against the Airs, but the Airs did win 71-69 in the last game played at Cowles Stadium. After scoring 32 points last week, Rams forward Marcel Jones is now second in the league in points (24.2) and third in rebounds (9.7). Jones and Rams guard Jeremy Kendle are the highest scoring duo in the league with a combined average 48 per game, nearly half of the Rams points. Another key match up will be between young kiwi shooting guards Alonzo Burton and Ethan Rusbatch. Since making the move to Taranaki, Burton has had a career season averaging 14.3 points, and shooting 44.4% from the three point line which currently puts him third best in the league. Rusbatch is the Rams third best scorer at 16 points and shooting the three pointer at 37%.
James Blond Supercity Rangers (3-2) v Mike Pero Nelson Giants (0-5)
When: Saturday, April 15, 7pm
Where: Trusts Arena, Waitakere
Referees: Sean Cronin, Ryan Jones, Rhys Hamilton
Notes: The Rangers had their worst loss of the season last week on the road to the Sharks, but they return home where they have won both of their games. After losing narrowly to the Sharks at home in overtime, the Giants put another poor showing on the road against the Hawks and need to drastically improve their shooting, which is currently at a league low 37%. Nelson have had a good record over the Rangers winning seven of the last ten meetings since 2013. Last week the Rangers introduced Guamanian player Ernest Ross who scored 16 points in 24 minutes.
Taranaki Mountainairs (3-3) v Mike Pero Nelson Giants (0-5) (Live on NZ Herald & Maori TV)
When: Sunday, April 16, 3pm
Where: TSB Stadium, New Plymouth
Referees: Dallas Pickering, Gavin Zimmerman, Jacob Cromb
Notes: Taranaki return after a road game in Christchurch to host the Giants who are on the second night of a back to back. In the last meeting Taranaki had their biggest win of the season, 93-76. Taranaki’s leading scorer Tylor Ongwae scored a season high 28 points in the win. Expect the game to be another low scoring affair as Nelson average the lowest amount (74.2 points per game) and Taranaki average the second lowest at 77.2 per game. Nelson has had a good track record against the Airs winning eight of the last ten meetings.
Wellington Saints (6-0) v Canterbury Rams (3-3) (Live Stream via NZ Herald)
When: Monday, April 17, 3pm
Where: TSB Stadium, Wellington
Referees: Dallas Pickering, Yalla Edwards, Jason McCabe
Notes: The Saints host the Rams for the second time in nine days, and both teams this time will want to do a better job defensively as in the last meeting the two teams combined for 218 points. The Saints have an opportunity to sweep the Rams for the first time since the Rams re-joined the league. The Rams duo Marcel Jones and Jeremy Kendle combined for 58 points in the loss, but they will need to improve defensively especially from the three point line where Wellington shot 56%. The Rams will need to do a better job on shooting guard Corey Webster who is averaging 31.6 points on 54% from the field in his last three games.