Three Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) Division 1 games and one Division 2 fixture take place this weekend.
Taranaki Thunder, without a win this season, face a daunting task in Round 3 as they travel to the City of Sails to take on league leaders Auckland Dream on Saturday and second on the table Harbour Breeze the next day.
Rochelle Fourie is likely to return to the team after missing the home encounter with the Breeze last Sunday due to an ankle injury. Raquel Sampson top scored for the Thunder in that game but unfortunately is unavailable along with Courtney Keech for the trip north.
Dream will have a revamped roster for the clash with the Thunder as a number of senior players, including Tall Ferns Jordan Hunter and Natalie Taylor, are unavailable. 2018 team members Riana Rangi-Brown and Rionne Papa, who both attend Junior College in the States, will have their first outings of the season as will debutants Sommer-Jean Motufoua, Elianna Tuaiti and 15 year-old Savannah Cook.
Keeley Tini, fresh from a successful freshman year at Hutchinson Community College, will make her first appearance of the season for the Breeze against the Thunder on Sunday.
The Breeze are sweating on the fitness of Penina Davidson, a fitness test late in the week will determine the availability of the Tall Ferns centre.
Defending champions AM I FIT Otago Gold Rush have had a challenging start to the season losing three of their four games to date. Nicole Ruske was in good form in the last game against Waikato Wizards scoring 19 points but unfortunately for Gold Rush won’t be available for their trip north to take on Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats as she is playing for the Tall Ferns 3X3 team at the Asia Cup in China. The back court void left by Ruske will be filled by Soraya Umaga-Jensen having her first outing of the current campaign.
It’s not quite a must win game for the Gold Rush although another loss would seriously dent their top four aspirations.
The Wildcats welcomed Shea Crotty and Tessa Boagni back to the fold after injury last week and the pair will have benefitted from game time against the Wizards after lengthy absences. The Wildcats defeated Gold Rush in a pre-season friendly earlier in the month and will be looking for a repeat result at Cowles Stadium on Saturday night. The Wildcats Gold Rush game will be livestreamed through @basketballNZ and http://nz.basketball/tv tipping off at 7:30pm.
In the sole Division 2 fixture of the round Harbour Zephyr have added Under 19 forward Rashaan Smith to their team for the visit of Rotorua Lady Geysers on Sunday. Rotorua head coach Sue Pene, recipient of the Zena Gay Memorial Award (for notable contribution to women’s basketball in New Zealand) at the BBNZ Awards Dinner last Friday, will have the same squad of payers available that were in Christchurch earlier in the month as they look for their second win of the season.
WBC Division 1 Standings
4-0 Auckland Dream
3-2 Harbour Breeze, Waikato Wizards
2-2 Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats
1-3 AM I FIT Otago Gold Rush
0-4 Taranaki Thunder
WBC Division 2 Standings
3-0 Wellington, North Canterbury Spirit
2-1 Capital Swish
2-2 Harbour Zephyr
1-3 Northland Phoenix, Rotorua Lady Geysers
0-3 South Canterbury Stealers
Round 3 Fixtures
Saturday May 25 - Auckland Dream v Taranaki Thunder, 7.30pm at Joyce Fisher Sports Centre, Epsom Girls Grammar School, Auckland
- Dream – Kalani Purcell, Amanda Buck, Rebecca Van Kuyk, Hailey Moala, Idaho Stowers
- Thunder – Rochelle Fourie, Teesha Smith, Simone Cook, Tayla Murray, Angela Chubb
- Kalani Purcell is averaging a double double a game with 13.3 points and 11.3 rebounds per outing for the Dream
- Thunder’s Tayla Murray is third on the league rebounding standings averaging 8.8 boards per game
Saturday May 25 – Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats v AM I FIT Otago Gold Rush, 7.30pm at Cowles Stadium, Christchurch
- Wildcats - Marita Davydova, Ajiah Pepe, Tessa Boagni, Laken Wairau, Tessa Morrison
- Gold Rush - Natalie Smith, Natalie Visger, Bronwyn Kjestrup, Olivia O’Neill, Aleisha Ruske
- Wildcats forward Marita Davydova leads the league in points (16.3ppg) and rebounds (14.5rpg)
- Natalie Visger leads the rebounding standings for Gold Rush (8.0rpg) and is second on the scoring list (8.0ppg)
Sunday May 26 – Harbour Breeze v Taranaki Thunder, 2.30pm at AUT Sports Centre, North Shore
- Breeze - Deena Franklin, Akiene-Tera Reed, Matangiroa Flavell, Yume Negishi, Tayla Dalton
- Thunder - Rochelle Fourie, Teesha Smith, Simone Cook, Tayla Murray, Angela Chubb
- Tayla Dalton leads the Breeze in steals (2.2spg) in addition to averaging 11.4 points per game
- Teesha Smith is leads the free-throw percentage statistics shooting 92% (11/12)
Sunday May 26 – Harbour Zephyr v Rotorua Lady Geysers, midday at AUT Sports Centre, North Shore
- Zephyr – Raykesha Fiatau, Olivia Berry, Tiarna Clarke, Wuanyei Ah-Hing, Jordyn Maddix
- Lady Geysers – Aroha Haumaha, Pareunuora Pene, Kararaina Pene, Awatea Leach, Amelia Palmer
- Aroha Haumaha leads the Lady Geysers in points (13.0ppg), rebounds (9.7rpg) and steals (2.3spg)
- Tiarna Clarke is the leading scorer for the Zephyr averaging 14.8 points per game
Article by Mike Lacey
Photographer Credit Angela Ruske
- Watch selected 2019 Women’s Basketball Championship games through livestream on BBNZ’s Facebook @basketballNZ hashtag #NZWBC or website www.nz.basketball/tv.
- Livestream game for round 3 is Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats vs AM I FIT Otago Gold Rush.
Available for all game click here.
Available for games click here.