Looking from outside, it is reasonable for the Hawke's Bay faithful to wonder if the rub of the green is over in the National Basketball League.

The emotionally-fuelled perception is plausible, considering the Taylor Hawks have lost two games on the trot on the road and, perhaps more worryingly, have dropped out of the top-four shuffle on the NBL ladder.

On the flip side, the prudent may argue it's early days for captain Jarrod Kenny and the road takes its toll so it's pointless reaching for the desperation card now.

But it's what player Nick Fee says that puts the Hawks' campaign in perspective in the Sal's-sponsored competition where defending champions Cigna Wellington Saints skipped to the top rung of the table last night in their 92-78 victory over a winless, last-placed 2 Cheap Cars Supercity Rangers in Auckland.


Fee said the Zico Coronel-coached Hawks, despite losing 80-77 to the Saints in Wellington last Sunday, came away feeling they should have won the encounter.

"That's sometimes how the game plays out and we believe we can make up for it the next time," said the 24-year-old bench point guard who has played in every game this season bar the two against the Saints.

The Hawks tip off against the Wheeler Motor Canterbury Rams at Cowles Stadium, Christchurch, at 7pm today. They will then reload against Mike Pero Nelson Giants at the same time at Trafalgar Centre tomorrow in a double-header on the road.

The Saints, with their sixth consecutive victory and leading the league for the first time, will play the Hawks, for the third time, at the Pettigrew-Green Arena in Napier the following Sunday in a 3pm tip off after their double header on the road against the Rams.

Adhering to the dogma of one game at a time, Fee said the Rams couldn't be treated any differently from the other top four of the Saints, Giants and SIT Zerofees Southland Sharks.

The Rams are in a purple patch, relishing a four-game winning streak although their last one against Augusta Taranaki Mountainairs was probably much closer than they would have liked after scraping home 80-72.

American import forward Winston Shepard III leads the league in rebounding at 11.2 a game so the Hawks' specialists off the glass will have to come to the fore.

The Hawks are mindful the Cantabrians have a decent muster of players this season who are adept in myriad facets of play.


Fee didn't see the Hawks' loss to Wellington as a result that exposed any flaws in their system as such but was more a case of an arm wrestle that could have gone either way.

"It was only a three-point loss. It's just unfortunate that it happened that way," he said, highlighting the urgency and efficiency with which the shutters should be put up at the height of the storm.

Coronel has put the Hawks through their defensive processes this week, something that fits Fee's bill, although it is no mean feat to keep the Saints on a leash at 80 points.

"I think I'm a pretty good defender," said the Palmerston North-born player who has backed up first-choice little general Kenny off the bench.

Fee, who stands at 1.82m, works as community development officer for Basketball Hawke's Bay since relocating from Hamilton to Napier in January.

He hasn't had any qualms about tuning in to the high-range frequency on the court when backing up the captain.

"It doesn't matter whether it's three minutes or 10 minutes, I'm always ready mentally on the court, no matter at what point of the game it is."

Fee said his preoccupation was to dictate terms on the floor to ensure there was cohesiveness and continuity rather than trying to rack up points.

"I'm just out there to make sure our team wins."

Kenny, who has been matched up against Saints' Shea Ili, will find himself back in the spotlight against Giants counterpart, Kyle Adnam.

However, in the next two days it is equally significant that players of the ilk of American power forward Jamie Skeen and swingman Dion Prewster will have to find more love from the rim.

Nevertheless, Coronel, a strategist, has already clarified he doesn't expect his marquee players to feature on the scoreboard every time.