Wellington Saints (8-0) v James Blond Supercity Rangers (4-2) (Live Stream via NZ Herald)
When: Friday, April 21, 7pm
Where: TSB Bank Arena, Wellington
Referees: Sean Cronin, Hayden Pipe, Elliot Duncan
Notes: The Wellington Saints will try to maintain their unbeaten record when they host the second placed Rangers in a rematch of last years Grand Final which was won by Wellington 94-82. After playing last season for the Rangers, Corey Webster maybe in doubt to play after suffering a back injury against the Rams, playing only 12 minutes. Webster continues to lead the league in scoring at 25.6 points, which will be a big loss for the Saints who are the highest scoring team in the league averaging 102.3 points. Wellington defeated the Rangers all four times last season, but the Rangers had won four of the last five before then. Match up of the game will be between point guards Shea Ili and Lindsay Tait. Tait continues to be a top point guard in the competition, averaging 17.2 points, 5.5 assists and nearly five rebounds. Ili is sec-ond in the league in assists (8.1) to go with his 14.1 points and 1.6 steals. Another interesting match up will be between small forwards Leon Henry and Earnest Ross. Henry is coming off a 34 point game which included 10 three-pointers, Ross had 32 points connecting on 8-13 threes’.
Canterbury Rams (4-4) v Mike Pero Nelson Giants (1-6)
When: Friday, April 21, 7pm
Where: Cowles Stadium, Christchurch
Referees: Melony Wealleans, Ryan Jones, Sam Pan
Notes: The Rams return home to play the Giants, who will play the tough South Island double-header on back to back nights. The Giants play three road games in the space of six days, all of which against opponents currently in the top four. In the last meeting between the teams, Canterbury thrashed Nelson 114-80. Marcel Jones had a double-double of 25 points and 11 rebounds, and guard Jeremy Kendle contributed 24 points and nine assists. Kendle will match up against Kyle Adnam who did not play in the loss and is coming off a season high 26 points in the Giants first win of the season in Taranaki. Jones will go head to head with Finn Delany who will look to have a big game, only averaging 9.3 points in his last four games compared to 20 points per game in his first three. Giants new import Morgan Grim had a solid start averaging 11 points in his first two games in only 18 minutes. The former Utah State player was limited in minutes played due to foul trouble, averaging four fouls. Canterbury have won three of the last four meeting between the two.
SIT Zerofees Sharks (4-3) v Mike Pero Nelson Giants (1-6)
When: Saturday, April 22, 7pm
Where: ILT Stadium, Invercargill
Referees: Yalla Edwards, Matt Bathurst, Elliot Duncan
Notes: Southland begin a four game home stand, starting with the Giants who are on a second night of a back to back. The two teams met in the opening game of the season which was the Giants biggest loss of the year, losing 96-58. But in the last meeting the Giants nearly upset the Sharks in overtime 100-94. After being held to two points in the first game against the Sharks, Dion Prewster had 22 points and seven assists in the second meeting between the two, and is averaging 17.2 points in his last five games. Match up of the game is between small forwards and former NZ Breakers team mates Finn Delany and Reuben Te Rangi. Te Rangi is currently leading the Sharks in scoring (17 ppg) and three point percent-age (41.4%). Delany is averaging a touch under 14 points, but has struggled from the three point line shooting 20.7%. Sharks will be pleased with the recent play of 37 year old Hayden Allen, who had a season high 20 points in the win over the Hawks last week, and has shot nearly 53% from three in his last three games. Allen bring instant shooting off the bench for the Sharks, the Giants have been getting good shooting out of three point specialist Ali Granger who shot 5/12 three’s and a season high 19 points in the loss to the Rangers last week.
Wellington Saints (8-0) v Mike Pero Nelson Giants (1-6)
When: Tuesday, April 25, 2pm
Where: TSB Bank Arena, Wellington
Referees: Matt Bathurst, Elliot Duncan, Jason McCabe
Notes: The Saints will play their fifth straight game at home, playing the Giants for the first time this season. Recently, Nelson has struggled against Wellington, losing eight of the last nine meetings, but their last win did happen at TSB Bank Arena last season, 98-89. Finn Delany had a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds in the win. Dion Prewster will face his former team for the first time, the shooting guard was a key member in their 2014 and last seasons championships. Nelson import Morgan Grim will go head to head with former Utah State alumni Tai Wesley who is averaging nearly 18 points, eight rebounds, and is fifth in the league is blocks (1.1) and top ten in steals (1.5). The game will also mark the first time that Saints forward Josh Duinker plays against his former team, when in 2015 he led them to the semi-finals and was named the NZ forward of the year.
Taylor Hawks (1-5) v Canterbury Rams (4-4) (Live Stream via NZ Herald)
When: Tuesday, April 25, 3.30pm
Where: Pettigrew Green, Arena, Taradale
Referees: Yalla Edwards, Hayden Pipe, Sam Pan
Notes: The Hawks play their sixth straight game at home and second against the Rams who defeated them in overtime 99-87. Marcel Jones and Jeremy Kendle combined for 64 points in the win, while Hawks forward Greg Fiorentinos had 25 points. The game will be a must win for the Hawks who have a tough run to end the season, playing seven of their last eight games on the road. Canterbury on the other hand will play two more road games after this one and then finish the regular season with five of their last six at home. Match up of the game will be between the point guards Kendle and Jarrod Kenny. Kenny is currently leading the league in assists at nine per game and is only turning the ball over 1.8 times. Kendle is currently third in assists, averaging a touch under seven, and is fifth in scoring at 21.3 a game. The Hawks will need to do a better job of defending inside the three point line, where opposition teams are shooting a league high 59%. Rams on the other hand need to improve their perimeter defence, allowing opposition teams to shoot a league high 40% from the three point-line.