Today, the Canterbury Rams will be welcoming the James Blond Supercity Rangers to Cowles Stadium.
This will be the second time the teams have played each other this season, with the Rangers having bragging rights, taking a 114-107 win over the Rams two weeks ago.
The game features high-profile players from New Zealand and abroad, including our own Marcel Jones, the reigning NBL MVP. Jones is coming off a strong performance against the Nelson Giants last Saturday, scoring 25 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
He, alongside guards Jeremy Kendle and Marcus Alipate will be vital for the Rams’ offence throughout the game. Kendle and Alipate combined for 39 points in the win last Saturday, and both shot over 55% from the field.
Captain Marques Whippy will yet again be a force to be reckoned with in the paint, and will continue to muscle his way to the basket and grab rebounds for his team.
He said last game, the Rangers punished his side in the paint, and the key is to stopping them from inside.
“We’re just gonna protect the paint, if they’re gonna beat us, they’re gonna have to beat us from the outside the three point line.”
Whippy said the Rangers only shot ‘a few threes’ in their last meeting, and trusts that Mark Dickel’s system will put pressure on their shooters for this Friday’s match.
The two sides currently sit second equal in the NBL Standings behind the Wellington Saints, meaning the match will confirm who rightfully owns second place for this weeks round.
In the Supercity Rangers case, their squad is filled with familiar faces for the average New Zealand basketball fan.
Firstly, current Breakers General Manager Dillon Boucher will be travelling to the Garden City to take the floor, bringing his veteran presence and experience to the Rangers’ locker room. Boucher was a part of the world championship Tall Blacks team in 2002, and was even team mates with Rams head coach, Mark Dickel. Boucher is a 9 time NZNBL Champion, 2010’s ANBL Best Defensive Player and has had his jersey retired by the Breakers.
Lindsey Tait, a former NBL MVP who scored 29 points against the Rams in their last meeting will be looking to do the same this Friday. Tait is coming off another solid performance in a win against the Taranaki Mountainairs, scoring 19 points as well as 5 assists.
Marques Whippy will have a tough matchup ahead of him, marking Nnanna Egwu. The American import had himself a double-double in last Friday’s game, scoring 19 points and pulling down 10 rebounds.
Whippy is more than ready for the challenge, saying the key to stopping him is being physical.
“Every time he gets the ball, we’ve got to put a body on him, last game he had the freedom to move where-ever he wanted to go… If I set the tone the team I think it will be good, if I ready the boys will too,” he said.
It’s not only players in this match who have a vast amount of accolades to their names. Rangers coach Jeff Green has coached multiple New Zealand Basketball teams, including a stint with Breakers, and is known around the nation as a high-profile figure in basketball.
Similarly, Rams coach Mark Dickel has played for various New Zealand Basketball teams in his time, suiting up for the Wellington Saints and Otago Nuggets.
Dickel spent his college years at the University of Nevada Las Vegas where he played for their basketball team, leading the nation in assists during one season.
Dickel is also the head coach of the Mainland Eagles, supporting young aspiring players throughout the South Island with their hopes of making it into the US College Basketball System.
Whippy says the Rangers’ experience can not be taken lightly, and their main focus is to play team basketball at all times, especially on the defensive end.
“We’ve got a great offensive bunch of boys who can shoot the ball, it’s the defensive end we’re looking to focus on this week,” he said.
The game takes place at 7pm, and the Rams will hope the electric home crowd can carry them through what is sure to be a tough match.
Tickets are on sale at https://nz.patronbase.com/_RAMS/Productions
2017 Canterbury Rams Team Roster-
#1 Marcus Alipate Guard 1.83
#2 Quinn Clinton Guard 1.90
#3 Marcel Jones Forward 2.03
#6 Hamish McDonald Guard 1.85
#7 Jeremy Kendle Guard 1.86
#8 Mike Karena Centre 2.08
#12 Ethan Rusbatch Forward 1.96
#13 Tohi Smith-Milner Forward 2.06
#23 William Neighbour Forward 2.10
#34 Gareth Dawson Forward 2.05
#43 Ben Williams Forward 1.95
#44 Marques Whippy Forward 1.92
Head Coach – Mark Dickel
Assistant Coach – Ben Sheat
Assistant Coach/Performance Analyst – Piet Van Hasselt
Manager/Strength & Conditioning – Grant Robertson Physio – Lidia Belles Escrig
2017 Supercity Rangers Team-
#4 Lindsay Tait Guard 1.90
#6 Daniel Green Guard 1.84
#8 Brook Ruscoe Guard 1.87
#10 Mitchell McCarron Guard 1.91
#15 Nick Barrow Forward 2.03
#21 Nnanna Egwu Forward 2.11
#22 Hyrum Harris Forward 1.98
#24 Dillon Boucher Forward 1.96
#25 Tipene Friday Guard 1.96
#32 Judson Seumanu Guard 1.83
Tickets Available –
Article Written by George Berry