We're treated to six games in R5 of the Sal's NBL - let's look at the biggest questions in this week's Fast Five.
Fast Five - Question 1
Q: Is this a crucial weekend for the Nelson Giants?
A: In short - YES! This could well be the round the Giants look back on as either the catapult or the hurdle in season 2019. Having one 'top 4' clash makes for a big weekend, but the team from Nelson (2nd) face two such prospects this round with games against the Rams (3rd) and Sharks (4th). If Coach Fitchett and his team can fly home with two wins they will be on cloud nine, even one win will be regarded as a successful journey. Obviously a return empty-handed will see them 'back in the pack' and might lead to a couple of very quiet hours in the sky.
Fast Five - Question 2
Q: Can the Jets do the unthinkable and beat the Saints?
A: While such a feat is unlikely based on what we have seen over the opening four rounds, the fact is the Jets have a three-headed monster that is capable of anything. If Wally Ellenson, Daishon Knight and Kuren Iverson can co-exist on the court and get the best out of each other then the Jets will take more scalps than just that of the Sharks last week. There are more than few 'ifs' and 'buts' to work through, but it is an exciting prospect if these three fire more often than not - and preferably at the same time.
Fast Five - Question 3
Q: What's the one thing each team must get right in order to win between the Huskies and Sharks?
A: For the Huskies it will probably come down to how their experienced players perform at crucial stages, especially if it means they are looking for leadership over the final two minutes of the game. Last week's performance against the Saints was flawless at more times than not, but the lack of leadership and stability over the last half-dozen plays was telling. The Huskies can't afford to get it wrong again. For the Sharks, they will need to turn up the torch defensively. At the moment the 2018 champions are giving up 101pts per game, compared to the Saints (79), Giants (87) and Rams (80). In fact outside of the Airs (also 101), the Sharks currently have the leakiest defence in the league. Interestingly, they also have the best offence in the competition (101pts per game).
Fast Five - Question 4
Q: Is this round make or break for the Airs with regards to their finals aspirations?
A: Yes, absolutely. Already sitting at 0-4 the Airs hit the road this round and face the Hawks and Rangers. Add to that some recent roster changes with imports Daniel Gomis and Kevin Foster heading back home and it presents as a very hard weekend. Based on recent form you have to think the Airs will limp back into Taranaki on Sunday night with a 0-6 record, which is too far back to be seriously considered for the Final 4.
Fast Five - Question 5
Q: How many teams should be encouraging fans to purchase Final 4 tickets already?
A: Maybe a week or two early to write teams off, but if you're a Jets, Rangers or Airs supporter you will want to see some regular wins coming through quickly. At the top end it continues to be a wide open race, so don't miss out - get your tickets quick smart and be a part of all the Final 4 action at Horncastle Arena in Christchurch this July.