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NBL action comes to town

Manawatu Jets Nigerian international Anthony Odunsi [above] and Bay Hawk’s Jarrod Kenny [below] will play in a pre-season game in Masterton on Sunday. PHOTOS/SUPPLIED

BASKETBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

Top level basketball will come to Masterton on Sunday.

National Basketball League teams the Bay Hawks and the Manawatu Jets will play a pre-season game at the Masterton War Memorial Stadium.

It will be both teams’ final pre-season fixture before the start of the NBL the following week.

The Bay Hawks come with the stronger pedigree, having made the NBL playoffs with a fourth-place finish in the 2018 season.

Among their roster are Tall Black Jarrod Kenny, who also has Australian NBL experience with the Perth Wildcats and Cairns Taipans, and former New Zealand Breaker Ethan Rusbatch, who was part of the Tall Blacks team who won the bronze medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Shooting guard-small forward Dion Prewster also brings a wealth of experience having represented New Zealand since 2015.

He was part of the Breakers’ ANBL championship winning team in 2012 and is a three-time NZ NBL winner with the Wellington Saints.

The Manawatu Jets are in their second season back in the NBL after a two-year hiatus. They finished eighth and last in the 2017 league.

Much interest in the Jets will centre around the signings of two of their restricted players [imports], Anthony Odunsi and Wally Ellenson.

Odunsi is a 26-year-old Nigerian point guard-shooting guard who played Division One college basketball in Texas for Houston Baptist University and has played professionally in Iceland, Tunisia, France and Australia.

He made his debut for Nigeria in the 2017 African continental championship.

Ellenson is a graduate of Marquette University in the United States, where he had a dual scholarship in basketball and athletics.

Ellenson should have little trouble leaping above his New Zealand opponents. He was an all-American and Olympic qualifier in the high jump. His personal best of 2.28m is only two centimetres short of the New Zealand record.

Otherwise, the Jets roster is based around developing players. Shane and Troy Temara, Jackson Stubbins, and youngsters Rangimarie Mita, Haize Walker and Jake McKinlay all return to the squad after showing promise in the NBL last year.

The Manawatu Jets start their NBL campaign on April 11 against the Super City Rangers.

The Bay Hawkes open their championship away to the Wellington Saints on April 12.

The game tips off at the Masterton War Memorial Stadium at 5pm on Sunday. Entry is by gold coin donation.

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