Round 1 of the 2021 Sal's NBL season delivered a lot of highlights. Here's what caught our eye.
JOSH SELBY (EnviroNZ Franklin Bulls)
The star import continues to step it up with the more run he gets into his legs, and the signs are ominous for opposition teams. After dropping 26pts in the Bulls' opening clash, the Baltimore native then delivered 27pts, 8rbs, 8ast and 4stl in a thrilling 1pt win over the Jets. He is certainly one to watch.
JEREMY KENDLE (Sky Tower Auckland Huskies)
It could go down as the best three-game stint in the history of the League. Recruited for a short-term gig, Kendle helped the Huskies to two opening-round wins with hauls of 32pts (vs Bulls) and 30pts (vs Jets). Next up, in his third and final game before returning to Logan (Queensland), it will be up to the Giants to try and find a way to stop the dynamic American guard.
CROWDS UP 76 PER CENT
It was a successful return to home games around the country after the 2020 Showdown. A return to home venues saw crowds increase by a staggering 76 per cent compared with 2019, a surge that amplified the continued rise of the League and basketball's popularity across New Zealand.
DION PREWSTER (Wellington Saints)
The veteran leader went from strength to strength across the opening round with dual 31pt games against the Nuggets and Rams, leading to the coaches giving him a perfect 10 votes in each game. That means Prewster has taken the early lead in the Stuff MVP with a full 20 votes after his two sublime performances.
THE ROACH & GILL SHOW
Though they looked a little rusty against the Nuggets, the partnership between Wellington's Kerwin Roach and Romaro Gill was on show against the Rams, and it looks first class. The pick-and-roll partnership between the point guard (Roach) and towering centre (Gill) is set to be one of the biggest factors for all opponents to contend with this season.
ZANE WATERMAN (EnviroNZ Franklin Bulls)
A 25pt and 14rb debut for the American was one of the most impressive performances of the round. A true entertainer, Waterman even dropped to do some push-ups after one thrilling dunk. Keep a close eye on him, he's set to be a real crowd pleaser.
DONTAE RUSSO-NANCE (Sky Tower Auckland Huskies)
What more can we say? The young Huskie pup turned 16 years old in January this year and took all before him in his first two Sal's NBL games. The young star averaged 22pts in 31-minutes per game in the opening round and turned plenty of heads in the process.
JACK SALT (Wheeler Motor Company Canterbury Rams)
It was a mixed bag for Salt with a good showing against the Saints before missing the clash with the Hawks due to knee soreness, but how good was it to see the star Kiwi back out there after battling injuries for two years! Hopefully we get to see a lot more of the Rams centre as the season unfolds.
HIGH FLYING HAWKS
The Taylor Hawke's Bay Hawks have recruited a super team and even without their three ANBL stars (Kenny, Hunt and Hunter), the Hawks put 104pts on the Rams with six players hitting double digits. It was an eye-catching performance that every other team will have looked at very closely.
Mark it down for the history books - the Bulls won their first ever game at Franklin Pool & Leisure Arena, the Huskies did the same at EventFinda Stadium, while the Otago Nuggets won their first game at the Edgar Centre since 2014.