Basketball match-up expected be a thriller

City Lights face Old School test.

City Lights face Old School test.

Basketball City Lights v Campion - Ollie Simpson (Campion), Carl Riini

The men have been separated from the boys — now to find the cream of the crop.

It has taken seven weeks but the where-were-you-when-it-happened moment of the 2017 men’s club basketball league has arrived. In Game 4 tonight, Scott Muncaster’s City Lights go at it with Reggie Namana’s Old School.

Last Monday, City Lights beat the Dragons 56-38 to split the three-way tie at the top of the table, while Old School’s 66-30 win against SE Systems left tonight’s Game 4 protagonists as the only unbeaten teams.

They both have 15 points. Chasing them are the Dragons (13pts), Pure Sound (10), SE Systems and Campion College (7), Gisborne Boys’ High School, East Coast and the 9ers (6), and Lytton High School (3).

“We want to play faster, apply half-court and full-court pressure defence,” Namana said.

“Let’s see how they handle it.”

In the past fortnight, the former Rising Suns swingman and his big, experienced squad have looked to develop an all-round game with scoring options all over the floor.

They are fascinating to watch because they match an awesome low-post game with not just court-sense but a real willingness to run.

TK Moeke has developed into a scoring threat around the basket. He, Harley Phillips and Rikki Kernohan convert turnovers into lay-ups.

Old School’s big men look for space from which to pass or score, as against merely bullying smaller teams.

That drive for versatility is far-sighted because City Lights can turn good opposition inside-out: they have a big enough front-court to rebound at both ends. Muncaster, Carl Riini and Dom Wilson all scored in double-figures last Monday and are once more ready to fire.

“We’re going to attack them from the outside — shooting the ball well will open up the game for us,” Muncaster said.

Both he and Namana want speed to be a key factor on the night but where City Lights’ Luka Kablar and Ryan Walters are big men who routinely pass and shoot from the perimeter, Old School’s Rongomai Smith and Thomas Tindale are dominant scorers.

Smith scored 35 points against the inexperienced 9ers a fortnight ago and is coming off a 24-point game against 20-year stalwarts SE Systems. He has consistently been the competition’s heaviest scorer.

If he is the central figure in Game 4, Old School will remain unbeaten. If City Lights are able to find their rhythm and hit jump shots consistently, then Old School may have to chase the game from the tip.

“It’ll be a fast, hard game and one of the things we’re going to need is clean defence,” Campion captain Patrick Murphy said of the Game 5 clash with the Dragons at 6.30pm tomorrow.

The former league co-leaders’ biggest weapon, 6ft 8in, 135-kilogram Jasper Wills, will be on deck and keen to dominate the lane this evening, as he did early on in the Week 6 opener against City Lights.

What his captain, Keenan Ruru-Poharama, wants him to do is maintain the pressure on Campion.

“Jap (Jasper) can keep doing his thing inside because he’s hard to defend,” Ruru-Poharama said.

“We’re building every week — sharpening our offence and our zone defence.”

Dragons forward Te Ahi Te Hau-Otene could also test Campion on the interior, although their line-up features three players well over six feet tall in Konnor Gibson, Tahran Ward and Nelson Brown.

What makes this contest interesting is that the Dragons have the ability to score on the break and from the outside, while Campion likewise play with structure.

They certainly play with more structure now than they did in the heady days of the late ’90s, when Jolan Kilkelly and Jody Christians “improvised extensively” with skipping one-handed shots and blind lay-up attempts.

Under coach Shane McClutchie, teams at the College have been exposed to tournament basketball away from home and learned to play the game to a good standard. The best reward they could give him — beyond simply enjoying their basketball and continuing to play — would be to trust the systems they have been introduced to, run their half-court offence as practised and execute basics . . . as McClutchie puts it, “connect the dots”.

They have considerable athletic ability and the potential to be more than competitive against the middle strata of the league. Murphy scored 17 points in Week 2 against City Lights. While the captain may miss the rest of the season with an injury to his left knee, Ollie Simpson — who also made a strong showing against CL — has continued to improve and is now a better-than-50/50 chance to make driving lay-ups under pressure.

East Coast in the driver’s seat.

Brandon Paul’s hard-running, hard-working crew will meet Joseph Te Maari’s Gisborne Boys’ High School in Game 3 tonight. Simply by taking the floor, the makeshift Boys’ High team will earn the school a point for participation.

Te Maari and Psalm Taylor — two regular team members who aren’t with coach Dwayne Tamatea’s team at the Super 8 tourney in Rotorua — will have to provide strong leadership and direction for their make-shift crew.

East Coast skipper Paul said they didn’t talk about their opposition.

“Our game-plan is simple — go out and play hard,” he said.

“Within that, against these guys, it’s important that we try to control the pace.”

The Coast-Boys’ High clash will undoubtedly be up-tempo and it could be a high-scoring affair.

Paul scored seven points, and teammate Drae Calles, nine points, in the 29-27 loss to Pure Sound last week, and 30-plus for Paul would not surprise.

On July 24, his outfit recorded their first win, 46-44, against SES. Whetu Haworth’s 18-point game and five three-point shots by Calles were key factors in the win.

When allowed to run, the Coast tear the floor to pieces. It pays to keep track of Ezra Paul at the offensive end because he regularly scores on backdoor plays and is a solid jump-shooting option 12 feet from the hoop. Sam Manuel has become a more effective all-round player in the past two years but retains his flair in the open court. That flair could surface if Boys’ High turn the ball over. Manuel’s left-handedness, fitness and ability to finish make him exciting to watch.

Te Maari has one aim: “All I want to do is win.”

Such has been Daley Riri’s improvement, he’s going to be sorely missed tonight.

Flu is keeping the 14-year-old SE Systems guard out of the Game 2 clash with Lytton High School.

Riri has excelled in the past two weeks and has been selected for the Koru boys’ under-16s to play in the Australian Junior Country Cup championships from January 10 to 21.

Former Waikato Titan Rikki-Lee Crawford and All Black No.1079 Hosea Gear are just two of the Gisborne Basketball Association age-group players to have toured overseas with the development teams.

“Every game for Daley is a step in the right direction,” his club captain Adrian Sparks said.

“This is a chance to implement our systems but in terms of winning, nothing’s guaranteed. We’ll give the Lytton lads a good run, though.”

SE might well do more than that. They beat East Coast 43-35 on opening night, beat the 9ers 77-35, came within a three-point shot — in the last six seconds — of denying the Coast their first win of the season and sorely tested the defensive footwork of the Dragons’ big men on July 3. Sparks shot 100 percent from five trips to the foul-line and made a three-point play that evening.

Lytton played their best hoops of the year so far last Monday, even though they lost 43-35 to give new team the 9ers their first win. Lytton’s Louie Rangihuna led their scorers with 13 points and showed nice touches around the basket. Teammate Tane Wills-Aranga carried the ball with great composure in Week 6 — a good thing, as regular captain Genesis Bartlett-Tamatea has returned from Las Vegas and expects a strong performance from his most experienced guard.

“He’s an amazing player,” Bartlett-Tamatea said.

“I know we can win this — we’ve just got to be confident and we’ve got to hit buckets.”

Bartlett-Tamatea, who made his club ball debut for the Muriwai All-Stars in 2013, knows that confidence within his young line-up is growing.

Opposing Lytton will be a Systems crew keen to taste victory again and remain in the top five, knowing, too, that Campion — who are tied with SES in fourth spot — tonight face a mobile mountain range in Old School. Systems have at least as good a chance of winning Game 2 as Campion have of causing the upset of the year.

Pure Sound take on the 9ers in Game 1.

The Pound’s two decades in the league have seen them blood many talented players. Xzavia Mason, now at Palmerston North Boys’ High School, debuted with this group of veterans — then called YMP Black — as a 12-year-old in 2015, while in Year 8 at Ilminster Intermediate. This year, the 14-year-old, 6ft 3in shooting guard started in all seven games for the NZ Select Team in Australia.

Pure Sound captain Billy Maxwell says his team get better the more they play and are trying to make their easy baskets. Maxwell has said that if they did this every week, they might win games by as many as 30 points.

The Pound went four weeks without a win before the 54-32 win against Campion on July 24. big man Dale Hailey (23pts) put the result beyond doubt that night and Maxwell’s men showed true grit in Week 6 with a 29-27 win againt East Coast.

Jason Tuapawa has confirmed his availability and so Pure Sound — a team of great experience and proven ability — will be close to full strength.

Marquand Samuels, 9ers captain, says their focus is on their own game.

“We’ve got to run the lanes, pass and cut — just the basics.”

Hoera Mohi led their scorers with 17 points against Lytton, and the return of forward Tamanui Hill will provide them with grunt on both backboards. His width and toughness is an essential feature of the 9ers’ play, as is centre Callan Whaitiri-White’s reach.

Whaitiri-White is an awkward player to score against. The longer he stays in the game, the more effective he will be. His defensive footwork will improve and in time he could be as difficult to deal with as Rising Suns enforcer “Butch” Lenard Wills was in the 1990s.

At times “the Butcher” made the lives of some very talented visitors to the YMCA miserable, if not impossible.

The men have been separated from the boys — now to find the cream of the crop.

It has taken seven weeks but the where-were-you-when-it-happened moment of the 2017 men’s club basketball league has arrived. In Game 4 tonight, Scott Muncaster’s City Lights go at it with Reggie Namana’s Old School.

Last Monday, City Lights beat the Dragons 56-38 to split the three-way tie at the top of the table, while Old School’s 66-30 win against SE Systems left tonight’s Game 4 protagonists as the only unbeaten teams.

They both have 15 points. Chasing them are the Dragons (13pts), Pure Sound (10), SE Systems and Campion College (7), Gisborne Boys’ High School, East Coast and the 9ers (6), and Lytton High School (3).

“We want to play faster, apply half-court and full-court pressure defence,” Namana said.

“Let’s see how they handle it.”

In the past fortnight, the former Rising Suns swingman and his big, experienced squad have looked to develop an all-round game with scoring options all over the floor.

They are fascinating to watch because they match an awesome low-post game with not just court-sense but a real willingness to run.

TK Moeke has developed into a scoring threat around the basket. He, Harley Phillips and Rikki Kernohan convert turnovers into lay-ups.

Old School’s big men look for space from which to pass or score, as against merely bullying smaller teams.

That drive for versatility is far-sighted because City Lights can turn good opposition inside-out: they have a big enough front-court to rebound at both ends. Muncaster, Carl Riini and Dom Wilson all scored in double-figures last Monday and are once more ready to fire.

“We’re going to attack them from the outside — shooting the ball well will open up the game for us,” Muncaster said.

Both he and Namana want speed to be a key factor on the night but where City Lights’ Luka Kablar and Ryan Walters are big men who routinely pass and shoot from the perimeter, Old School’s Rongomai Smith and Thomas Tindale are dominant scorers.

Smith scored 35 points against the inexperienced 9ers a fortnight ago and is coming off a 24-point game against 20-year stalwarts SE Systems. He has consistently been the competition’s heaviest scorer.

If he is the central figure in Game 4, Old School will remain unbeaten. If City Lights are able to find their rhythm and hit jump shots consistently, then Old School may have to chase the game from the tip.

“It’ll be a fast, hard game and one of the things we’re going to need is clean defence,” Campion captain Patrick Murphy said of the Game 5 clash with the Dragons at 6.30pm tomorrow.

The former league co-leaders’ biggest weapon, 6ft 8in, 135-kilogram Jasper Wills, will be on deck and keen to dominate the lane this evening, as he did early on in the Week 6 opener against City Lights.

What his captain, Keenan Ruru-Poharama, wants him to do is maintain the pressure on Campion.

“Jap (Jasper) can keep doing his thing inside because he’s hard to defend,” Ruru-Poharama said.

“We’re building every week — sharpening our offence and our zone defence.”

Dragons forward Te Ahi Te Hau-Otene could also test Campion on the interior, although their line-up features three players well over six feet tall in Konnor Gibson, Tahran Ward and Nelson Brown.

What makes this contest interesting is that the Dragons have the ability to score on the break and from the outside, while Campion likewise play with structure.

They certainly play with more structure now than they did in the heady days of the late ’90s, when Jolan Kilkelly and Jody Christians “improvised extensively” with skipping one-handed shots and blind lay-up attempts.

Under coach Shane McClutchie, teams at the College have been exposed to tournament basketball away from home and learned to play the game to a good standard. The best reward they could give him — beyond simply enjoying their basketball and continuing to play — would be to trust the systems they have been introduced to, run their half-court offence as practised and execute basics . . . as McClutchie puts it, “connect the dots”.

They have considerable athletic ability and the potential to be more than competitive against the middle strata of the league. Murphy scored 17 points in Week 2 against City Lights. While the captain may miss the rest of the season with an injury to his left knee, Ollie Simpson — who also made a strong showing against CL — has continued to improve and is now a better-than-50/50 chance to make driving lay-ups under pressure.

East Coast in the driver’s seat.

Brandon Paul’s hard-running, hard-working crew will meet Joseph Te Maari’s Gisborne Boys’ High School in Game 3 tonight. Simply by taking the floor, the makeshift Boys’ High team will earn the school a point for participation.

Te Maari and Psalm Taylor — two regular team members who aren’t with coach Dwayne Tamatea’s team at the Super 8 tourney in Rotorua — will have to provide strong leadership and direction for their make-shift crew.

East Coast skipper Paul said they didn’t talk about their opposition.

“Our game-plan is simple — go out and play hard,” he said.

“Within that, against these guys, it’s important that we try to control the pace.”

The Coast-Boys’ High clash will undoubtedly be up-tempo and it could be a high-scoring affair.

Paul scored seven points, and teammate Drae Calles, nine points, in the 29-27 loss to Pure Sound last week, and 30-plus for Paul would not surprise.

On July 24, his outfit recorded their first win, 46-44, against SES. Whetu Haworth’s 18-point game and five three-point shots by Calles were key factors in the win.

When allowed to run, the Coast tear the floor to pieces. It pays to keep track of Ezra Paul at the offensive end because he regularly scores on backdoor plays and is a solid jump-shooting option 12 feet from the hoop. Sam Manuel has become a more effective all-round player in the past two years but retains his flair in the open court. That flair could surface if Boys’ High turn the ball over. Manuel’s left-handedness, fitness and ability to finish make him exciting to watch.

Te Maari has one aim: “All I want to do is win.”

Such has been Daley Riri’s improvement, he’s going to be sorely missed tonight.

Flu is keeping the 14-year-old SE Systems guard out of the Game 2 clash with Lytton High School.

Riri has excelled in the past two weeks and has been selected for the Koru boys’ under-16s to play in the Australian Junior Country Cup championships from January 10 to 21.

Former Waikato Titan Rikki-Lee Crawford and All Black No.1079 Hosea Gear are just two of the Gisborne Basketball Association age-group players to have toured overseas with the development teams.

“Every game for Daley is a step in the right direction,” his club captain Adrian Sparks said.

“This is a chance to implement our systems but in terms of winning, nothing’s guaranteed. We’ll give the Lytton lads a good run, though.”

SE might well do more than that. They beat East Coast 43-35 on opening night, beat the 9ers 77-35, came within a three-point shot — in the last six seconds — of denying the Coast their first win of the season and sorely tested the defensive footwork of the Dragons’ big men on July 3. Sparks shot 100 percent from five trips to the foul-line and made a three-point play that evening.

Lytton played their best hoops of the year so far last Monday, even though they lost 43-35 to give new team the 9ers their first win. Lytton’s Louie Rangihuna led their scorers with 13 points and showed nice touches around the basket. Teammate Tane Wills-Aranga carried the ball with great composure in Week 6 — a good thing, as regular captain Genesis Bartlett-Tamatea has returned from Las Vegas and expects a strong performance from his most experienced guard.

“He’s an amazing player,” Bartlett-Tamatea said.

“I know we can win this — we’ve just got to be confident and we’ve got to hit buckets.”

Bartlett-Tamatea, who made his club ball debut for the Muriwai All-Stars in 2013, knows that confidence within his young line-up is growing.

Opposing Lytton will be a Systems crew keen to taste victory again and remain in the top five, knowing, too, that Campion — who are tied with SES in fourth spot — tonight face a mobile mountain range in Old School. Systems have at least as good a chance of winning Game 2 as Campion have of causing the upset of the year.

Pure Sound take on the 9ers in Game 1.

The Pound’s two decades in the league have seen them blood many talented players. Xzavia Mason, now at Palmerston North Boys’ High School, debuted with this group of veterans — then called YMP Black — as a 12-year-old in 2015, while in Year 8 at Ilminster Intermediate. This year, the 14-year-old, 6ft 3in shooting guard started in all seven games for the NZ Select Team in Australia.

Pure Sound captain Billy Maxwell says his team get better the more they play and are trying to make their easy baskets. Maxwell has said that if they did this every week, they might win games by as many as 30 points.

The Pound went four weeks without a win before the 54-32 win against Campion on July 24. big man Dale Hailey (23pts) put the result beyond doubt that night and Maxwell’s men showed true grit in Week 6 with a 29-27 win againt East Coast.

Jason Tuapawa has confirmed his availability and so Pure Sound — a team of great experience and proven ability — will be close to full strength.

Marquand Samuels, 9ers captain, says their focus is on their own game.

“We’ve got to run the lanes, pass and cut — just the basics.”

Hoera Mohi led their scorers with 17 points against Lytton, and the return of forward Tamanui Hill will provide them with grunt on both backboards. His width and toughness is an essential feature of the 9ers’ play, as is centre Callan Whaitiri-White’s reach.

Whaitiri-White is an awkward player to score against. The longer he stays in the game, the more effective he will be. His defensive footwork will improve and in time he could be as difficult to deal with as Rising Suns enforcer “Butch” Lenard Wills was in the 1990s.

At times “the Butcher” made the lives of some very talented visitors to the YMCA miserable, if not impossible.

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Bball fan - 4 months ago
Lets go Old School - you guys are by far a favourite team to watch!!

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