The Hawks were always going to take maximum points and they even rolled out the bench boys in their victory in Auckland today.

So how will the Taylor Corporation-sponsored Hawke's Bay franchise team treat their match against the Canterbury Rams on Thursday in Napier after beating the Supercity Rangers 112-89 in round 13 of the National Basketball League (NBL)?

That's what the Pettigrew-Green Arena faithful will be wondering in the next few days before coach Zico Coronel prepares the Hawks for the two games next week, including the final round-robin encounter against the Southern Huskies in Tasmania, Australia, before the Final Four in Christchurch on July 20-21.

With the positions on the NBL ladder not changing, does it matter whether the Jarrod Kenny-captained Hawks finish above or below the Rams?


One faction will say no, but another will argue it's all about taking some sort of momentum with them to the playoffs - although the long haul to and from Tasmania will test the stamina and fortitude of the Hawks.

That Coronel gave his bench players some valuable minutes is commendable in that the hosts were without imports Venky Jois, Tim Quarterman or Nnanna Egwu. In turn, he also had rested American small forward EJ Singler who had sought some relief from a painful back after the victory over the Southland Sharks in Napier last Saturday.

It's hard to predict the mood of the 93 fans who turned out at the Massey Leisure Centre (YWCA) today, but suffice it to say the Rangers didn't disappoint in surging to a 17-10 lead in the first quarter before clocking out with a 24-23 lead.

But it was business as usual in the second spell 29-20, 25-20 in the third and a 31-20 serving to punch out from the shift for what would have been an expensive trip for a scrimmage but priceless in terms of what the Hawks' bench players would have gained from the match.

Veteran shooting guard Everard Bartlett managed 21 minutes to drop three out of five shots from downtown and two out of three attempts from inside the paint as well as one from two attempts from the charity line.

With Australian import centre Daniel Kickert out of the equation and Singler in the pit stop lane, veteran forward Darryl Jones would have relished the 17 minutes as a starting five, adding seven points but, more so, occupying the floor to ensure he's not totally rusty for the Final Four.

Teenager Clifton Bush III got on for a shade more than 13 minutes in his rookie season as a forward while guard Nicholas Fee matched the former's two points in seven minutes.

The 30-plus-minute brigade of Kenny, US import power forward Brandon Bowman and swingman Ethan Rusbatch did what they do best — marshalled traffic, amassed points and collected rebounds when not helping set up screens following transitional passages.


Bowman grabbed another double-double 29 points and 13 off the boards and Rusbatch added 26 points while Tall Black point guard Kenny came close to claiming a triple double with 14 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.

But today wasn't about that sort of statistics — rendered meaningless in the scheme of things — but more about exposing home-grown talent in minutes to the marquee basketball competition in the country.

Rangers coach Jeff Green spread the love, rolling out his young and restless who paid him back generously with 59 points from the bench.

Guard Jaylen Gerrand stood out with 23 points from 16 minutes off the bench while Mikaere Watene contributed 12 points to the collective cause, albeit a losing one.

The Rangers will finish their season next week with a home game against unbeaten, table-topping Wellington Saints who are favourites to claim the NBL crown.

Hawks bench forward Clifton Bush III got on the court against the Supercity Rangers today. Photo / File
Hawks bench forward Clifton Bush III got on the court against the Supercity Rangers today. Photo / File