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NBL Week Eight Preview

Taranaki Mountainairs (3-7) v James Blond Supercity Rangers (4-4) (Live Stream via NZ Herald) When: Thursday, May 4, 7pm Where: TSB Stadium, New Plymouth Referees: Sean Cronin, Yalla Edwards, Ryan Jones

Notes: Taranaki have lost six straight after starting the season 3-1, and their losing streak begun against the Rangers who defeated them 65-62 on April 2. The Rangers will have chance to sweep the series meetings between the two. The game will mark a special occasion when Dillon Boucher will play his 400th NBL game, joining former Tall Black team mate Phill Jones (406) as the only play to reach the milestone. It is fitting that Boucher will reach this at the place of his birth. During his career which began 1994 with the Auckland Stars, he has won nine NBL titles, the last with the Auckland Pi-rates in 2012. This will be a must win for Taranaki if they have any hope of reaching the post season, but they will need to do a better job defensively as they have allowed 95.7 points in their last five games, compared 72.4 in their first five.

Wellington Saints (10-0) v James Blond Supercity Rangers (4-4) When: Friday, May 5, 7pm Where: TSB Bank Arena, Wellington Referees: Dallas Pickering, Matt Bathurst, Yalla Edwards

Notes: The Saints have been dominant at home, winning by an average margin of 22.6 points, which included a 36-point win over the Rangers on Round Six. The Rangers will be different side from that loss as they were missing former Saint Lindsay Tait. Tait is averaging 17.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.1 assists and will go head to head with Shea Ili, who continues to lead the league in assists (8.2) and second in steals (2.1). Saints leading scorer, Corey Webster, missed the last game because of a back injury, the shooting guard is currently third in scoring (24 ppg). Webster is behind Rangers guard Mitch McCarron who is second at 24.4, but will be looking to improve from the three point line where he has shot 2/12 in his last four games.

SIT Zerofees Sharks (6-3) v Canterbury Rams (5-5) When: Friday, May 6, 7pm Where: ILT Stadium, Invercargill Referees: Melony Weallenas, Sean Cronin, Matt Bathurst

Notes: The Sharks have been on a roll at home, winning their last three and four of five. They will face the Rams who have bolstered their roster with the additions of Tall Black Mike Karena, and last years MVP, McKenzie Moore, who replaces centre Will Neighbour. Moore alongside, Jeremy Kendle and Marcel Jones make the Rams are formidable offensive opponent against the Sharks who held their opponents to lows in opposition field goal percentage (42%) and opposition points scored (81.0). Rams have allowed 94 points scored per game which ties them at the bottom with the Taylor Hawks. Since returning to the league in 2014, the Rams have only won once at of five a games at ILT Stadium, the win coming last year 91-78. Moore scored 32 in the win, but in the other meeting at ILT stadium, he was ejected, playing only twenty minutes in the 98-75 loss.

Taylor Hawks (2-6) v Mike Pero Nelson Giants (3-8) When: Saturday, May 6, 7pm Where: Pettigrew Green Arena, Taradale Referees: Dallas Pickering, Sean Cronin, Matt Bathurst

Notes: Both the Hawks and Giants are coming off wins, and at this point it will be a must win for both sides, but in particular the Giants who lost to the Hawks 81-63 in Round Four. This will be the second to last road game for the Giants who will play five of their last six at home. It will be the opposite for the Hawks who play seven of their last nine on the road. Match up of the contest will be between point guards Kyle Adnam and Jarrod Kenny. Adnam leads the Giants in scoring (17.1) and assists (4.9), while Kenny is leading his team in assists (7.7) and steals (1.5).

Taranaki Mountainairs (3-7) v Canterbury Rams (5-5) (Live coverage on NZ Herald & Maori TV) When: Sunday, May 7, 3pm Where: TSB Stadium, New Plymouth Referees: Ryan Jones, Melony Wealleans, Hayden Pipe

Notes: Taranaki have struggled against the Rams, winning only two of eight since 2014. Canterbury won the last meeting 95-82 at Cowles Stadium, The Rams outscored the Airs 22-9 in the third quarter, and were able to withstand an offensive flurry from small forward Tylor Ongwae, who had 33 points. Rams got 18 points off the bench from guard, Marcus Alipate, who shot 6/10 three’s. Taranaki added Nelson forward Curtis Washington to the roster last week, and they will want to get better production from Washington, who after scoring over double-digits in his first four games has only reached double-digits once in his last eight.

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