Thursday 2 July 2015

Final four game two - Giants v Saints

Game two of the final four features playoff regulars the Nelson Giants and Wellington Saints. The Giants finished second on the ladder with a 13-5 record and the Saints finished third with a 12-6 is a closer look at each team


The Giants weren't a team that was being talked about a lot during the preseason! Most of the talk was centred around the other three teams who have made the playoffs, but the Giants put together a highly impressive campaign. There was good reason for the lack of pre season noise! Two imports who had never played in the league (though they struck gold there), a rookie head coach, Phill Jones was pulled out of retirement and Mika Vukona wasn't available at the start, outside of a few early games, because of a break after the Breakers championship season and a short term deal in Italy...But they proved all the doubters wrong! They came out of the blocks hot with a 6-0 start to the season, there were a few hiccups in the middle stages but finished strong winning 6 of there last 8 games. They bought in two quality imports, but they really hit the jackpot with McKenzie Moore! A true stat stuffer, he put up 22,6,4 plus 2 blocks (ok 1.8) and 2 steals a game, great production at both ends. He is a little spotty from behind the arc but he relentlessly attacks the basket and attempted 149 free throws during the regular season (8.2 per game) he's a top candidate for league MVP and a surefire all star 5 selection. They have very good inside outside balance with Deronn Scott, Phill Jones out on the perimeter and Josh Duinker and Mika Vukona inside, utility man Sam Dempster filling in wherever his team needs him and Finn Delany and Bronson Beri giving solid minutes off the bench! Plus with Mika recently announcing his retirement from the (nz) NBL he will want to go out with a bang and a determined Mika is a lot more fun to play alongside than to play against!


Some major changes happened this season in the capital after winning it all last year! They bought back two time championship winning coach Pero Cameron from the tron, no reigning league MVP Corey Webster! But despite those changes, the results were what most expect from a Saints team! Another playoff appearance. However with the playing status of league MVP candidate Torrey Craig up in the air I'm not sure what to think, they definitely have the depth to cover him but its very difficult to cover the loss of a teams leading scorer and rebounder as evidenced by their 1-2 record in the games he didn't play, with the one win being against winless Taranaki...But if playing in and watching the NBL over the years has taught me anything its that if Lindsay Tait is on your team you are gonna be in with a shot and he has young gun Izayah Le'Afa backing him up. They have two of the best marksmen in the league on the wings with Dion Prewster and Leon Henry (mask and all), the ever reliable Brendan Polyblank, ANBL star Daniel Johnson, rebounding machine Nick Horvath and throw the guy everyone hates playing against, Damien Ekenasio, in there as well you definitely have a very good squad! 


This is a tough one to call, Craig is a huge loss if he is unable to play but I still think they have the talent to win this one without him! A lot will depend on how well the Giants defend Lindsay Tait...If the Giants allow the game to be played at a hectic pace and give Lindsay freedom in the open court and he has one of those games where he gets 12-15 assists it may be a tough night for the Giants. But if they can slow the ball down, get it out of his hands and make the guys who are normally on the receiving end of his dimes try and create for themselves they will be in a good position! But for the Giants, Moore will be tough going to the basket, Mika and Sam Dempster will be everywhere, Duinker will do his thing inside and Jones will bomb away from deep...Without Craig this one is pretty much 50-50 to me but with home court advantage, id give a slight edge to the Saints. 

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