James Blond Supercity Rangers (4-3) v Taylor Hawks (1-6) (Live Stream via NZ Herald) When: Friday, April 28, 7pm Where: ASB Stadium, Te Awamutu Referees: Melony Wealleans, Ryan Jones, Sam Pan
Notes: After playing six straight games at home the Hawks are on the road against the Rangers at Te Awamutu. This is the first meeting between the two teams, the Rangers winning five of the last six previous games played between them. In the three of the four last games this season, the Hawks have allowed over 100 points scored against them, the other game they held Nelson to 63 points for their only win. Rangers are coming off their worst offensive showing of the season (67 points), but were without point guard Lindsay Tait who is averaging 17.2 points and 5.5 assists. Tait should return in the line up and will match up against Jarrod Kenny who is currently second in the league in assists (8.0). After averaging 19.2 points in his first five games, Hawks guard Everard Bartlett has struggled in his last two, shooting 4/19 from three and 5/24 from the field, averaging 9.5 points. Bartlett will go against Mitch McCarron who is averaging 23.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.0 assists.
SIT Zerofees Sharks (5-3) v Taranaki Mountainairs (3-5) When: Friday, April 28, 7pm Where: ILT Stadium, Invercargill Referees: Yalla Edwards, Matt Bathurst, Eliot Duncan
Notes: The Sharks are 3-1 at home this year and will play the Airs who have lost four straight. Taranaki did defeat the Sharks 64-61 in the first meeting of the season The last time Taranaki has won in Invercargill was April 17, 2012, final score 91-77. The Sharks have won eight of the last ten games between the two. Taranaki have sorely missed their second im-port, Daniel Gomis, who has been out for their last three games. Gomis is the only true centre on the roster and was leading the league in rebounds (10.6). Without Gomis, the Airs will have a size issue against Alex Pledger who is third in the league in rebounds (9.5). Match up of the game will be between small forwards Tylor Ongwae and Reuben Te Rangi, both players lead their respective teams in scoring. Te Rangi was offensively quiet in his last game, scoring a season low nine points, but he is one of the better defenders in the competition and will try to contain Ongwae who scored 22 against the Sharks which included 3/3 from three.
Mike Pero Nelson Giants (2-8) v Taranaki Mountainairs (3-5) When: Saturday, April 29, 7pm Where: At Trafalgar Centre, Nelson Referees: Sean Cronin, Gavin Zimmerman, Jacob Cromb
Notes: The Giants return home after playing their last five on the road. Nelson are a much improved squad since the last game against the Airs who defeated them 93-76 at Trafalgar back in the opening round. Tylor Ongwae scored 28 in the win, but had a good battle with Finn Delany who scored 26. Delany is coming off a season high 30 points against the Saints, which included 4/6 from three which is a promising sign as he has shot 9/42 (21%) in his previous games Both teams will be desperate for a win if they have any hope of challenging for a playoff spot, Taranaki probably more so as they have the longest active streak of not making the playoffs (15 seasons). Nelson will want to avoid missing out on the playoffs in consecutive seasons which they have not done since 1989. Point guard Kyle Adnam is starting to increase his scoring output, averaging nearly 22 points in his last four games. Nelson are 2-1 when he scores 20 or more points, and 0-4 if he scores under 20. Both teams are the only two that average under 80 points per game (Nelson 79.6, Airs 77.4).