Augusta Mountainairs (1-3) v Go Media Jets (1-3)
When: Thursday, May 17, 7pm
Where: TSB Stadium, New Plymouth
Referees: Dallas Pickering, Hayden Pipe, Tayla Ammunson
Notes: Taranaki will try to avoid a fourth straight loss at home when they host the Jets. Taranaki defeated the Jets 95-69 in the opening round. Taranaki have lost each of their three games by four points or under, including an overtime loss to the Rams last week. The Airs were without their starting point guard Houston O’Riley in the loss and then his back court partner Alonzo Burton got injured in the first half. After struggling offensively in their first three games, the Jets scored a season high 124 points thanks to a combined 73 points from their imports Kuran Iverson and Daishon Knight. Iverson will go head to head with forward, Javonte Douglas, who in the last meeting had 28 points and 20 rebounds. Iverson was held to eight points on 2/12 shooting. Taranaki’s win over the Jets ended their six game losing streak against them. Last week both teams got valuable production from their rookie back up point guards, Richard Rodger (Airs), and Haize Walk-er (Jets). Rodger had 14 points and seven assists against the Rams, and Haize Walker had 16 points, including five points down the stretch against the Rangers.
Cigna Saints (2-1) v 2 Cheap Cars Supercity Rangers (0-4)
When: Friday, May 18, 7pm
Where: TSB Bank Arena, Wellington
Referees: Matt Bathurst, Marty Davison, Sam Pan
Notes: The Saints are on a two game winning streak which included a 108-91 win over the Rangers in Round Two. The Rangers have struggled defensively in their four game losing streak, allowing a league worst 112 points per game. They will need to improve defensively against a Saints side that leads the league at 103 per game. In the last meeting the Saints were able to hold the Rangers leading scorer, Clay Wilson, to 10 points and 4/9 shooting. But Wilson is coming off a 43 point game which included 10 three pointers, and will be looking to continue that rich vein of form when he plays on the traditionally shooter friendly rims at TSB Bank Arena. Former Saint, Lindsay Tait, could potentially be playing at TSB Bank Arena for the last time. Tait won three title with the Saints (2010, 2011, 2014), all finals were played at TSB Bank Arena. Tait is currently leading the league in assists at 9.5 per game, 1.2 more per game than his opposition point guard and former team mate, Shea Ili. Ili is currently leading the league in scoring at 28.7 per game. Wellington have won the last nine meetings between the two teams, the last time the Rangers won was May 18, 2015, the Rangers winning 126-118 in Porirua. The Rangers introduced former Kiwi MVP, Marcel Jones, who had 21 points and 13 rebounds.
Mike Pero Nelson Giants (3-1) v The Wheeler Motor Rams (2-1)
When: Saturday, May 19, 7pm
Where: Trafalgar Centre, Nelson
Referees: Melony Wealleans, Marty Davison, Duran Whiu
Notes: The Giants return home after going 1-1 on the road last week. Nelson were missing forward Finn Delany last week, and before his injury he was averaging 20 points and eight rebounds. The Rams have won four of the last six meetings be-tween the two teams. It will be a battle of the point guards Kyle Adnam and Xavier Thames. Adnam is currently averaging 18.5 points and 7.8 assists while Thames is averaging 22.7 points and five assists. Both players are doing much of their scoring from inside the three point line, so far both have combined to shoot only 7/36 from three. Each team features a player in the top five in scoring, Rams forward, Winston Sheppard, is second at 25.3 and Damon Heuir is fifth at 23.5. Rams 17 year old centre, Maxwell Darling, is currently leading the league in block shots at 1.7 per game.
SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks (3-2) v Taylor Hawks (4-1)
When: Saturday, May 19, 7pm
Where: ILT Stadium, Invercargill
Referees: Ryan Jones, Sean Cronin, Hayden Pipe
Notes: The Sharks will be playing their next six games at home where they have won eight in a row, last losing on March 24th. Last season the Hawks were close in the last meeting at ILT Stadium, losing 89-86. Point guard Jarrod Kenny scored a game high 25 points in the loss. The two teams met in the opening round, the Hawks winning 92-84. Dion Prewster scored 23 in the win and is currently leading his team in scoring at 17.6 per game. Prewster’s opponent Reuben Te Rangi was held to five points on 2/13 shooting. Te Rangi has been relatively quiet offensively this season, currently seventh in the team in scoring at 8.2 points per game, down on his 14.8 point per game last season. The Sharks will hope-fully have back their second leading scorer, Orlando Coleman, who missed the win against the Jets. The Hawks have a tough stretch, playing three more games on the road.
2 Cheap Cars Supercity Rangers (0-4) v The Wheeler Motor Rams (2-1)
When: Sunday, May 20, 3pm
Where: Trusts Arena, Auckland
Referees: Dallas Pickering, Yalla Edwards, Tayla Ammunson
Notes: The Rangers have a day break before they play the Rams who they lost to in the opening round in Christchurch, 100-95. So far this season they have been unable to hold teams under 100 points. Former Ram, Marcel Jones, will face his former team for the first time. Jones won forward of the year and Kiwi MVP for the Rams in the 2016 season, leading them to the regular season title, averaging 23.5 points. Jones will face Winston Shepard III who nearly tallied a triple-double against the Rangers with 27 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. The Rangers held a 10 point lead over the Rams, but the home side finished strong with a 33-22 fourth quarter. Both teams allow over 100 points per game, and allow opposition teams to shoot over 40% from three. The point guard match up between Lindsay Tait and Xavier Thames was relatively even in the first meeting, Tait had 19 points and nine assists, while Thames had 21 points. Tait is currently averaging a career best 9.5 assists per game, this is the highest since to the 2015 season when he averaged 8.9 per game.
Go Media Jets (1-3) v Mike Pero Nelson Giants (3-1)
When: Sunday, May 20, 7pm
Where: Ballroom Arena, Manawatu
Referees: Ryan Jones, Gavin Zimmerman, Sam Pan
Notes: After three straight games on the road, the Jets return home to host the Giants who have been dominant over the Jets, since 2012 they have won seven of the last eight meetings. The Giants will need to contain the Jets leading scorers, Kuran Iverson and Daishon Knight who score a combined 53.5% of their total points. Nelson are more evenly spread offensively with all starters at least averaging 12 or more points per game. Match up of the contest will be the battle of point guards Kyle Adnam and Daishon Knight, both players more inclined to drive to the hoop as opposed to shooting the outside jump shot. Knight has struggled from three point range, shooting 4/26 (15.4%), and Adnam has shot only 2/9 (22%). Nelson captain, Sam Dempster, is currently third in the league in rebounds at nine per game.