The race for the Final 4 is on and we have five big questions that need asking ahead of R9 of the Sal's NBL.
FAST FIVE - Question 1
Q: With the Huskies playing the Rams twice this round will we have a clear idea on who makes or missies the Final 4 once R9 comes to a close?
A: Probably not, but the results will certainly have a large say in the Final 4. Regardless of what happens in Hobart and Launceston, the Huskies have to hit the road in R10 and play against the Rams (yes, again) and the fifth-placed Sharks. Come the end of R10 and we'll probably have a far better idea of who is a contender and who is a pretender.
FAST FIVE - Question 2
Q: What chance do the Supercity Rangers have in R9 against the Giants and Sharks with Venky Jois out injured?
A: Probably not much, though with Nnanna Egwu and Tim Quarterman still out there who knows, especially against the out of sorts Giants. No question Jois is a huge loss and the pressure now on others to stand up is immense. Quarterman already has an insane usage rate and might go to an all-time league-high this round. Wins for the Giants and Sharks seem almost assured, but with the season Quarterman is having who knows?
FAST FIVE - Question 3
Q: With Tom Abercrombie now on the roster and playing for the Saints should we just hand over the Sal's NBL trophy now?
A: Of course not, anything can happen from here. However, with a stacked line-up comes pressure to deliver and there is no denying that from here anything less than the title will be seen as having not lived up to expectations for the Saints. Excitingly, the Hawks, Rams, Huskies and Sharks will feed off that pressure that is now heaped on the shoulders of the Saints and do all they can to see if the star-studded outfit cracks.
FAST FIVE - Question 4
Q: If the Jets lose at home to the Mountainairs should we hand them the wooden spoon now?
A: Maybe a little premature, but another loss for the 1-8 Jets won't help their cause at all. It's been a rollercoaster season for the Jets, you need only look at their recent 41pt loss to the Rams one week followed by a 5pt loss to the same team a week later. The Jets are more than capable of stringing some wins together and avoiding the wooden spoon, but they need to get a hurry on. A good place to start would be here against the Airs.
FAST FIVE - Question 5
Q: R9 is the weekend for fans to nominate their favourite player for a new award - Sal's NBL Fans' Favourite Player Award - anyone standout as a favourite?
A: It is a worthy award when the fans are speaking, so it will be interesting to see the player from each team who receives the most nominations and goes through to the official voting. The Giants fans have a soft spot for Ali Granger and Sam Dempster, surely the Sharks faithful will go for The Chief, maybe Shea Ili or Leon Henry at the Saints, Quarterman would be the frontrunner at the Rangers, the Huskies love The Beast Billups, possibly Derone Raukawa at the Airs, a big favourite at the Hawks is EJ Singler, Kuran Iverson has plenty of fans at the Jets, and throw a blanket over eight or nine players at the Rams because their fans just love them all. Get nominating at the NZNBL Facebook page - we'll find out next Monday!