No allegations have been levelled at any match or basketballers involved with the Hawke's Bay franchise pertaining to illegal betting, according to board chairman Keith Price.
"I can assure you I would not tolerate it at all in our franchise, not at all, because it'll ruin the game," says Price as the Taylor Corporation Hawks prepare to compete in the Final Four of the Sal's Pizza National Basketball League (NBL) this weekend.
The Napier city councillor believes if any allegations are proven to be correct then it will be a blight on not just basketball but sport in its entirety in the country.
"People want to go down to watch the best team win and that's pretty simple to me."
He says there are no suggestions the Hawks are involved and they aren't.
"I don't have any support of anyone match fixing and there are no suggestions of us being involved whatsoever."
The Hawks, he says, are simply getting on with playing as well as they can.
Coach Zico Coronel has spearheaded the Hawks to their first playoffs since 2014 in the quest for the second NBL crown in the province's history. Australian mentor Shawn Dennis led the side to their maiden title in 2006.
Captain Jarrod Kenny will lead the Hawks against 2018 premiership and defending champions Cigna Wellington Saints in the first semifinal tipping off at 5pm at the TSB Bank Arena in the capital city. Mike Pero Nelson Giants face SIT Zerofees Southland Sharks at 7pm to see who will progress to the 5pm final on Sunday.
Price is more disappointed than surprised allegations have surfaced on illegal betting but he feels evidence is pending on any investigations Basketball New Zealand (BBNZ) is conducting.
"I'm quite naive to all of basketball culture and being a new boy in it but I'm really guided by what Iain Potter says on it," he says of NBL chairman and BBNZ chief executive.
"If I see anything glaring in my face I'd jump at it. I'd be disappointed if anyone is supporting it."
The Herald on Sunday has reported the NBL is investigating allegations of several games in the marquee competition this winter.
The latest game coming under scrutiny is the Augusta Taranaki Mountainairs v 2 Cheap Cars Supercity Rangers (Auckland) played in New Plymouth last Friday.
The Sunday paper learned from several sources the way the game finished had raised a few eyebrows. With two seconds left on the clock, an Airs basket had reduced the rangers' lead to nine points - 94-85.
However, contradictory to the traditional ritual of a winning team counting down the seconds the Jeff Green-coached Aucklanders called for a timeout and, on the resulting inbounds play, dropped a three-pointer on the buzzer for a 12-point margin victory.
A popular option available to punters on TAB is for teams to win by 11 points or more.
Taranaki coach Trent Adam reportedly found the proceedings, with two seconds remaining, a peculiar exercise.
The TAB is a major sponsor of the NBL. It offers live betting on every match and is a live-streaming partner of the competition. The official NBL website also runs TAB advertisements, including promoting a signing bonus where NBL fans who open an account with the agency receive an additional $20. For each person who subscribes to TAB, BBNZ earn $10 and the NBL team closest to where that person lives also collects $10.
Potter yesterday told Hawke's Bay Today they weren't looking at any games that Hawks had played this season "at this point".
"We're dealing with the one [Airs v Rangers game] but, depending on the preliminary review reveals it may lead us to look at others," he said from Wellington.
The ball, he said, was in TAB's court to try to ascertain if there were any irregularities in the match. If so it would prompt BBNZ to revisit other games or take the matter to a more structured level of investigation.
"TAB has a record of every bet that has been made so we need to look at whether the betting outcome connected in any way," Potter said.
Price gives a tick to the franchise's goals achieved leading to the Final Four although his goal is to win crown and the quality of this season suggests anyone can cut the nets off the rims on Sunday.
"What I'm really happy about is we've done it with just two imports and we've brought through some New Zealand guys and three who have made the New Zealand Select team," he says of swingmen Hyrum Harris, Mitchell Newton and Ethan Rusbatch who Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare named for a six-match tour of China next month.
It pleases him to see the Hawks share the workload throughout the season rather than a couple of individuals dominating.
"I'd love to see them all performance at one and I don't thing anyone will beat us," he says with a laugh.
The turnout at the Pettigrew-Green Arena, Taradale, was another goal with Coronel hoping to lure back the capacity attendances of yesteryear.
"I'm not unhappy with our crowds but if we can get another 200 to 300 I'd be happier."
Price says the trouble with PG Arena is that 1000 fans only fills it 50 per cent whereas at other NBL venues that is often capacity.
"It looks better full but we're competing with a lot of things now."
He says the half-full arena on Saturday night was competing with the Crusaders v Hurricanes Super Rugby semifinal televised from Christchurch around the same time.
Some NBL venues, including PG Arena, have been charging gold-coin entries and still not filling them.
Price says Sport New Zealand has forecast basketball will take over from rugby in secondary schools in another three years.
However, it baffles him that Auckland's 1.4 million inhabitants don't support the Rangers.
"You wonder why it doesn't work up there."
Price believes winning does help the cause and Dillon Boucher-captained Rangers have struggled this year.
"I don't want to say it yet but we'll be back next year," he says after the Hawks qualified in fourth place.
He says Coronel is a success story for the franchise. While the rookie head coach has a one-year contract Price says the verbal intention is to keep retain him longer.
"Chopping and changing isn't a great thing so we're pretty happy with him."