Basketball: Controversy in NBL as incidents overshadow games

By Niall Anderson

Mika Vukona chokes Tai Wesley. Photo / Getty
Mika Vukona chokes Tai Wesley. Photo / Getty

Two controversial incidents have taken centre stage in the latest round of the National Basketball League.

The Hawke's Bay Hawks are seeking disciplinary action from the NBL after Taranaki Mountain Airs guard Houston O'Riley punched Hawks guard Willie Stinnett on Saturday night.

Stinnett reportedly suffered a concussion as a result of the vicious right-handed punch, with O'Riley seemingly reacting to Stinnett jostling for position under the basket.

The incident was missed by the referees, with Hawks General Manager Jay Bratschi confirming to NZME that the Hawks franchise would be seeking retroactive action.

Earlier in the round, Breakers teammates Mika Vukona and Tai Wesley were both handed one-game suspensions after being ejected from a clash between the Supercity Rangers and Wellington Saints.

The two players got tangled up when going for a rebound, crashing to the floor before Vukona placed his hands around Wesley's neck.

Players from both sides rushed in to defuse the situation, with the referees ejecting both players - a punishment which carries an automatic one-match ban.

Saints coaches and management were baffled by the lack of a substantive appeal process to overturn Wesley's ban, with the Guam international appearing to have little involvement in the incident.

First-year Saints coach Kevin Braswell said the lack of response was mind-blowing.

"Whatever appeals process looks at the game, I don't know how they didn't see that. So for a player of mine, who did nothing, to have to sit out of a game frustrates the hell out of me. How is this league supposed to get better when you're tolerating that? I don't understand. It's so frustrating, " Braswell told

"How do we expect the league to actually get better when the officials aren't getting better? There's no accountability, there's no credibility, there's nothing. Everything that we go through, everything that's been talked about, none of it's getting done."

Vukona and Wesley both served their bans this weekend, but O'Riley may soon be facing a spell on the sidelines.

- NZ Herald

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