Posted on Tuesday, June 18th, 2019
Hawks vs Saints – The Biggest Game Of The Season?
It's being billed as the biggest game of the home and away season, and rightfully so. The Wellington Saints (1st) meet the Hawke's Bay Hawks (2nd) this Saturday night at Pettigrew Green Arena, the home of the Hawks, in a clash many are saying will be a Grand Final preview.
While the Canterbury Rams, Southland Sharks and possibly the Southern Huskies wouldn't agree with that view, the fact remains that the Saints and Hawks currently occupy the top two spots on the Sal's NBL ladder and all eyes will be on them this Saturday night.
The Hawks vs Saints clash will be broadcast live on SKY Sports, Stuff.co.nz, TribeSports App and www.pickandroll.com.au from 6:48pm
The two teams clashed all the way back in the opening round of the season, the Saint staking the points at home courtesy of a 106-79 win, a comprehensive result, albeit with some notable absentees including Brandon Bowman (Hawks) and Tom Abercrombie (Saints), while Daniel Kickert could only muster 12-minutes of action due to a back injury.
On that night the Saints outscored the Hawks 58-31 during the bookend quarters (1st, 4th), while the middle quarters (2nd, 3rd) delivered a tied result of 48-48.
Nick Kay (Saints) was the star of the show with 25pts, 10rbs and 8ast, Shea Ili (Saints) added 22pts and Jordan Ngatai (Saints) added 17pts and 10rbs. Back the other way, EJ Singler (Hawks) scored 19pts, Ethan Rusbatch (Hawks) dropped 17pts and Daniel Kickert (Hawks) tallied 14pts in his 12-minutes on the floor.
When: Saturday June 22
Where: Pettigrew Green Arena, Hawke's Bay
Time: 7pm tip-off
Tickets: At the door (arrive early)
STATS THAT MATTER
Points For: Saints 100.8pts / Hawks 104.4pts
Points Against: Saints 81.2pts / 91.7pts
Saints Away: 6 played for 6 wins by an average of 16.5pts
Hawks Home: 6 played for 6 wins by an average of 20pts
- Title Favourites - from R1 of the 2019 Sal's NBL season the Saints have been touted as the title favourites and with 13 straight wins there is no doubt that tag still sits firmly with them. If the Hawks beat them on Saturday night will that favouritism change? Unlikely, but it will add an interesting element to the debate.
- Nick Kay - continues to deliver the goods and is coming of a R10 Player of the Week Award where he dominated both the Airs and Jets. The match-up by the Hawks will be fascinating - do they go with Bowman or Kickert? Conventionally you would think Kickert, he knows Kay well and no doubt has past experience against him. This would also allow Bowman to have a little more freedom defensively.
- EJ Singler - arguably one of the least wasteful players in the league, the American import doesn't make many mistakes, his decision-making is exceptional. One of the best two-way players this season, he is sure to provide the Saints with more than a few headaches, especially if they don't stop his transitional running in offence. Does Jordan Ngatai get the job to try and quell Singler?
- Tall Blacks Battle - Shea Ili and Jarrod Kenny have been named in the Tall Blacks 'long list' for the World Cup and here we are with a preview to the battle for selection that will unfold between the two PGs. Even better, Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare will be courtside to watch it all unfold. While there is a Sal's NBL win on the line, for Ili and Kenny there is even more to play for.
- Brandon Bowman - the Bowman Show has been running hot and is a lot of fun to watch. Bowman gets his first crack at this season's best team and will be up for the challenge. Expect a big crowd on hand to see if the 'quickly rising' MVP candidate can get off the leash and deliver more big numbers against the star-studded Saints.
- Sunday Dech - the import Aussie has proven to be a real spark off the bench for the Saints and his defensive work ethic if through the roof. If both teams are at full strength the sixth man battle between Dech and Dion Prewster will go a long way to deciding the game.
- Hawks Crowd - the Pettigrew Green Arena can hold over 2,000 fans and this Saturday night the Hawks fans need to show up in big numbers and make lots of noise. Their support could provide the added edge their team will need in such a big game.
- The Coaches - no question all eyes will be on two of the league's very best coaches - Paul Henare (Saints) and Zico Coronel (Hawks). Behind the battle out on the court expect both coaches to be 'up' for a big night with the whiteboard.
- Live Coverage - this game is now being shown live on SKY Sports, Stuff.co.nz, TribeSportsApp and www. pickandroll.com.au
- Bragging Rights - both teams are headed to the Final 4, but regardless of what coaches and players might say (or play down), the bragging rights and mental edge ahead of the Final 4 are as high as you can imagine. Both teams will be going all out to win this game.