Are no points better than two in the gospel according to Hawks coach Zico Coronel in the National Basketball League this season?

If that is the case, where does dropping shots from the free-throw line sit in the economy of scale in the courts of contention?

No doubt, it's great entertainment value, almost in the mould of Twenty20 cricket, Fast5 netball and other hybrid codes to tickle the fancy of fans who love the music and party atmosphere.

But will it be enough to propel the Taylor Corporation Hawks into the Final Four in Christchurch on July 20-21?


These are some of the questions whose answers are a few weeks away although the results will help join the dots along the way.

For the record, it's worked against the Supercity Rangers (Auckland) and in the 105-95 victory over the Southern Huskies tonight but it didn't against perennial power houses Wellington Saints in the season opener last week.

Tonight, the Hawks won the first quarter 23-18, the second 34-17 (57-35), lost the third 21-36 (78-71) and the final spell 27-24.

If court behaviour is anything to go by tonight, the Hawks players habitually hopped away from inside the "D", almost apologetically, to shoot from outside the arc to extract maximum benefit even, sometimes, when the rims gave obstructed views.

Is there a danger that channelling so much into becoming pinch shooters from downtown will steal the sheen from two pointers, never mind launching from the charity line?

Ethan Rusbatch again spearheaded the Hawks attack, claiming a match-high 33 points.

The Tall Black swingman, who was the player of the week in round one, started with a three-pointer and signalled the end of the Huskies' fightback with another long-range bomb, before import small forward Shaquille Thomas signed off for the hosts on debut.

Thomas claimed a double-double 22 points and 10 rebounds while fellow American Edward Singler matched his points tally and made eight collects off the boards.


Captain Jarrod Kenny showed he also was warming up just nicely as Tall Black point guard with 15 assists and 10 rebounds. However, veteran shooting guard Everard Bartlett brushed off the rust from the Rangers game here with 14 points, with all bar one basket coming from the carpark.

Australian centre Daniel Kickert again was conspicuous in his absence but coach Zico Coronel's fast-paced game had caught the Tasmanian tourists on the hop as they had to bench their big man, Bradley Simpson, after a shade more than four minutes of play, to match the tempo.

Hawks swingman Dion Prewster keeps Southern Huskies captain Craig Moller at an arm's length during their round two, NBL match in Napier tonight. Photo/Photosport
Hawks swingman Dion Prewster keeps Southern Huskies captain Craig Moller at an arm's length during their round two, NBL match in Napier tonight. Photo/Photosport

"Yes, definitely, we've got guys who are shooting good percentage from threes so we've obviously got to play to our strengths," said another Tall Blacks swingman, Dion Prewster, who contributed nine points but only one three-pointer from seven attempts in his 26m 30s of court time.

Prewster sympathised with the Huskies, suspecting they were probably on tired legs after three games in the space of four days, not to mention going on to clock a gob-smacking 135 hours of travel time since they jetted off from Hobart on Wednesday and landing there again tomorrow.

"They've had to rotate their roster and [have] other guys step up to play top minutes."

The 29-year-old, who didn't go to Europe this year and stayed home in Wellington, said the Huskies weren't a bad outfit and showed the damage they could inflict when they got on a roll in the last two quarters.

"For us, defensively, we had a few errors where we were allowing them to attack the baskets without any resistance so when you're able to get easy shots like that you're always going to give yourself a chance to get back in the game."

Prewster echoed Kenny's pre-match sentiments in revealing the Hawks' up-tempo game as a "small" team was a work in progress.

Players with myriad skills and ability to shoot from the perimeter required adjustments, he said, guessing the two wins endorsed that.

Huskies forward Jallen Billups scored 32 points and dragged down 15 rebounds while guard Freddie Nichols III, 28 points, and Mason Bragg and skipper Craig Moller added 13 points each although the latter also collected 14 off the boards.

Moller said the Huskies could use the travel factor as an excuse but wouldn't because they had the legs in the second half.

"It's probably more a mental application than a physical thing," the 24-year-old former Aussie Rules footballer said.

Forward Moller said his troops didn't contain the guards adequately enough so they took a while to shuffle their pack to adjust, adding Simpson was "good for us" but not the right fit tonight.

"We came into this game very unorganised and we hadn't done much scouting on the opposition, which makes it hard so it goes on we'll get a better idea."

While the Huskies were aware of the Hawks' three-point plan to a certain extent but weren't able to "get everyone on the same page", he lamented.