Join Stuff.co.nz's Scott Preston from 5.45pm for live updates from semifinals night at the National Basketball League Final Four at TSB Bank Arena in Wellington.
The second-seeded Auckland Pirates face the No 3 Manawatu Jets in the first semifinal at 6pm, followed by the regular season champion Bay Hawks against the fourth-seeded, and home town, Wellington Saints at 8.30pm.
10.48pm: My nerves are shot. Auckland Pirates and Wellington Saints for the NBL title at 6pm tomorrow night. The game will be live on Sky Sport 1 but if you can't get to a TV, join me again here for live updates. For now, it's goodnight from Queen's Wharf.
10.47pm: An instant classic at TSB Bank Arena. No doubt the home court advantage helped the Saints in the end. They get up with some clutch play from Jason Crowe and Ernest Scott in the fourth quarter and overtime.
BAY HAWKS (13-3) vs WELLINGTON SAINTS (9-7)
0:00 OT: Clock hits zeros, Saints shot at a three-peat is still alive with a 94-88 overtime classic.
0:02 OT: Jordan Mills is fouled. A pair of FTs coming up. Makes one of two.
0:05 OT: Everard Bartlett's three attempt is partially blocked by Casey Frank. The Hawks grab the offensive board but step on the baseline. Saints ball. Hawks fans heading to the exits as the crowd sing "When the Saints go marching in".
0:14 OT: Jason Crowe is fouled intentionally. Makes both FTs. Saints 93-88.
0:20 OT: Everard Bartlett drops in a long three. Saints 91-88.
0:29 OT: Ernest Scott makes the three on the Jason Crowe assist. Saints 91-85.
0:51 OT: Everard Bartlett fouled by Troy McLean inside. He'll shot two. Makes them both. Saints 88-85.
0:58 OT: After three previous attempts for the dagger shot, Jason Crowe makes a long two, putting the lead back up to five points. There's still drama left in this game yet.
1:30 OT: After Crowe misses at one end, Paora Winitana doesn't make the same mistake, Saints 86-83.
1:58 OT: Paora Winitana is fouled shooting a three and steps to the FT line. He makes all three, Saints still lead 86-81.
2:59 OT: After an Ernest Scott block, Jason Crowe is fouled and goes to the free-throw line. Makes both. Saints 86-78.
3:12 OT: Crowe with a drive to the hoop and gets it over the approaching defender. Saints 84-78.
3:53 OT: Jason Crowe with a baseline jumper, extends the lead to 82-78.
4:20 OT: Ernest Scott with the baby hook shot. Saints 80-78.
0:00 4Q: Jason Crowe drives on the last possession, his shot comes up short. Looked like contact but probably not enough to call and decide the game on.
0:11 4Q: Galen Young finds Jarrod Kenny slicing baseline, drops the assist for the lay-up. Tie-game, 78-78. Saints timeout. Ball with last possession coming up. If this goes to OT, Saints have Ekenasio, Trousdell and Kench out with five fouls.
0:30 4Q: With both teams in the penalty, it's FTs on every foul. Jason Crowe is fouled out-front. He makes both. Saints up 78-76.
0:38 4Q: Jarrod Kenny drives on Jeremy Kench, draws the foul and makes the basket. A clear hook from Kenny goes unnoticed by the refs. Kench fouls out. Kenny misses the freebie. 76-76.
0:49 4Q: Jeremy Kench rolls off the Casey Frank screen and takes it hard to the hoop for the go-ahead basket. Saints 76-74.
1:13 4Q: Arthur Trousdell fouls out, hustling for a loose ball with Paora Winitana.
1:45 4Q: Jason Crowe connects on a three, but Galen Young answers for the Hawks, tied 74-74.
2:10 4Q: Turnovers and missed shots, no addition to the score.
3:45 4Q: Ernest Scott with a long two, puts the Saints up again, but Everard Bartlett answers to tie it up seconds later.
4:48 4Q: Jarrod Kenny misses two free-throws. The Hawks gets the offensive rebound but can't convert. Saints turn it over on next possession.
5:09 4Q: After Ernest Scott makes one of two FTs, Galen Young ties the scores with a basket for the Hawks.
5:46 4Q: Jeremy Kench with a huge three that puts the Saints up 68-67.
7:11 4Q: Casey Frank, playing with four fouls, drives and scoops in a basket to make it 67-65 Hawks, forcing a timeout from Hawks coach Paul Henare.
8:35 4Q: After both teams exchange free-throws, Jason CRowe hits a long three late in the shot-clock to make it a four-point game again.
9:30 4Q: Jarrod Kenny halts the Saints' momentum with a three-pointer. Hawks 65-58.
0:00 3Q: Everard Bartlett misses a three for the Hawks as time expires, with the score 62-58 Hawks. The Saints finished the period on a 9-1 run.
0:28 3Q: Back-to-back Jason Crowe drives and lay-ins get the Saints within four points.
1:07 3Q: Jason Crowe hits a pair of free throws, after grabbing a steal, and following another three-ball, getting the Saints within seven points.
2:11 3Q: Damien Ekenasio fouls out of the game on an offensive foul call, which probably wasn't.
2:30 3Q: Jason Crowe closes the gap to 10 points with a three from the top.
3:04 3Q: Ernest Scott hits a three from the corner. Hawks still, 59-47.
4:03 3Q: Jeremy Kench and Paora Winitana collide as the Hawks look to break-out, with both given matching unsportsmanlike fouls.
5:47 3Q: Jarrod Kenny drops a long-distance shot for a 53-36 advantage after the teams trade baskets on four straight possessions.
6:24 3Q: Paora Winitana takes it aggressively to the hoop on the fast-break to give Hawke's Bay a 16-point lead.
7:21 3Q: Jarrod Kenny is allowed to go down the middle of the lane untouched as he lays it in to put the Hawks up 46-32.
8:38 3Q: Jarrod Kenny hits a wide-open jumper to boost the Hawks.
9:46 3Q: Casey Frank picks up his fourth personal as he and Paora Winitana collided. He takes a seat on the bench after playing only 10 minutes in the first half due to foul trouble.
9:34pm: Update on Hawks forward Morgan Natanahira. He won't return to the game and almost certain to miss tomorrow night's title game, if the Hawks can hold on in the second half.
9.32pm: The Hawks could be leading by even more but have only made 9-of-16 free-throws.
9.30pm: Neither team shooting the ball well from distance in the first half, the Hawks are 1-of-9, while the Saints just 2-of-11. Both shooting in the low-40s from the field.
0:00 2Q: Aidan Daly of the Hawks is fouled just before time expires. He steps to the line, making one of two to send the Hawks into the locker rooms up 40-30.
0:58 2Q: Jarrod Kenny hits a long-range jumper to match the Hawks their biggest lead of the game at 38-30. The Saints settling too much for outside shots without Casey Frank to go to in the middle.
2:28 2Q: Damien Ekenasio answers Alonzo Burton's three with a tough inside basket, then gets involved in more off-the-ball action as players hit the floor.
3:13 2Q: As Ernest Scott hit a three to cut the lead to three, Morgan Natanahira collapses to the floor, clutching his left knee. And is taken from the court.
3:27 2Q: Not many shots dropping as the defensive pressure is suffocating. Hawks still lead 31-25.
5:17 2Q: Bay Hawks force a 24-second violation with some tight defence on the wings.
6:02 2Q: Casey Frank is whistled for his third foul and takes a seat on the bench. Galen Young makes the basket on the foul but fails to convert the three-points play. Hawks 31-23.
7:10 2Q: Damien Ekenasio steps in front of Paora Winitana, drawing the charge call, just as the Hawks looked to be getting away up 29-21.
9:10 2Q: Saints team-mates Arthur Trousdell and Ernest Scott collide mid-air and Scott comes out the worse, staying down on the floor as the Hawks take the ball up-court and score to lead 27-19.
0:00 1Q: Hawks lead 23-17 at first intermission.
0:49 1Q: Aidan Daly connects on a jumper to extend the Hawks' lead, after Damien Ekenasio had just missed a pair of free throws.
1:43 1Q: Kareem Johnson scores inside as the Hawks take a 21-16 lead.
4:17 1Q: So instead of calling technicals, we're getting touch foul calls as CAsey Frank exits the game for Wellington after collecting his second foul. Hawks 15-14.
5:14 1Q: Saints already in the penalty, but Kareem Johnson makes just one of two. Hawks 11-9. Casey Frank gets fouled soon after, tying the game at 11-11 from the foul-line.
5:41 1Q: Damien Ekenasio being the pest that he can off the Saints bench, getting in Paori Winitana's face and causing another skirmish. No technical fouls issued but probably should've just to calm things down.
6:29 1Q: Everard Bartlett is fouled shooting a three with one second on the shot-clock, making two of three freebies.
6:55 1Q: Damien Ekenasio cuts to the hoop, getting the assist from Jason Crowe to tie the game.
7:35 1Q: Paori Winitana bullrushes his way to the hoop, draws the contact and makes his shot, completing the three-point play. Hawks 7-5.
8:12 1Q: Jason Crowe hits the first three of the game, putting the Saints up 5-4 after other baskets from Paori Winitana, Casey Frank and Jarrod Kenny in the opening two minutes.
9:48 1Q: Tensions already high as players come together for some push and shove.
8.30pm: Player intros underway, we're close to tip-off.
8.25pm: Casey Frank throwing down his windmill dunks during warm-ups. Some impressive late-season rally beards on half the Saints players, known as "beardswag" by back-up guard Jordan Mills.
8.20pm: Despite being the regular season champions and No 1 seeds, the Bay Hawks still underdogs for this semifinal. Saints at $1.65 on their home floor, while the Hawks at $2.15. The points spread is just 2.5 points.
8.15pm: The Hawks and Saints met twice in the regular season. The Hawks prevailed 97-80 in week nine on April 25 in Napier, while the Saints held serve at home in week 10 on May 5, winning 88-73.
8.10pm: The Bay Hawks and Wellington Saints tip-off 20 minutes away. Here's our line-ups:
Bay Hawks: Everard Bartlett, Jarrod Kenny, Paora Winitana, Alonzo Burton, Morgan Natanahira, Galen Young, Kareem Johnson, Ezra Nikora, Damion Davies, Aidan Daly, Ben Hill.
Wellington Saints: Martin Iti, Jeremy Kench, Damien Ekenasio, Jordan Mills, Jordan Ngatai, Ross Taurima, Hayden Whelan, Ernest Scott, Jason Crowe, Arthur Trousdell, Casey Frank, Troy McLean.
8.02pm: The smoke machine given a trial run for the Wellington Saints introductions in around 25 minutes. Both the Saints and Hawks out on court now warming-up, getting in jump shots.
NBL season awards being announced now between games;
Nick Horvath from the Manawatu Jets takes away MVP, NZ MVP, outstanding forward, outstanding NZ forward/centre and leading rebounder (15.8 RPG). But he'd probably trade all five trophies for a spot in the final.
Lindsay Tait collects another outstanding NZ guard award, to go with the most outstanding guard award. The Bay Hawks collect the regular season trophy, Jason Crowe of the Wellington Saints gets the assists award (8.3 APG), Josh Pace of the Manawatu Jets is the leading scorer with 23.0 PPG, while the Bay Hawks win the best FT percentage award. Rookie of the year goes to Reuben Te Rangi of the Harbour Heat, while Paul Henare of the Bay Hawks takes out coach of the year.
The NBL All-Star Five is: Lindsay Tait, Josh Pace, Paora Winitana, Antoine Tisby and Nick Horvath.
Pete McNae of the Nelson Mail scoops up another media award to add to his collection, while Mellony Wealleans scoops up referee of the year and Don Jeffries earns administrator of the year.
AUCKLAND PIRATES (13-3) vs MANAWATU JETS (10-6)
0:00 4Q: Auckland Pirates first team into championship game with 104-88 win over the Manawatu Jets. Alex Pledger with 25 points and Ismail Muhammad 23 points.
1:04 4Q: Time slowly winding down. Manawatu doing their best to stretch out the game.
2:05 4Q: The Jets still hustling but not enough seconds left for them, down 15.
3:03 4Q: Manawatu's import PG Chris Hagan hobbles out of the game and with him go any chance of a Manawatu comeback.
3:56 4Q: Ismail Muhammad called for an obvious goaltending, gifting the Jets two points but it's unlikely to matter, with the gap at 16 points.
5:10 4Q: The lead stays at 18 points as Hayden Allen hits nothing but net on a three.
6:07 4Q: Nick Horvath goes to the line for two FTs, scoring seven straight points for the Jets, which brings up a double-double for him. The former Tall Black has been in double digits in points and rebounds in every game this season.
8:42 4Q: A Brook Ruscoe three ball from the corner pushes Auckland's lead to 18 points, but Nick Horvath follows with a put-back dunk.
9:41 4Q: Alex Pledger whistled for three seconds in the lane, which draws a sarcastic applause from the Manawatu fans. Don't think the refs have done a bad job in that regard.
0:20 3Q: A Dillon Boucher steal sends the Pirates onto the fast break, with Houston O'Riley giving Brook Ruscoe the assist. After three periods, Auckland have the biggest lead of the game, 79-64.
0:45 3Q: Another back-door cut sees Ron Dorsey glide in for a finger-roll lay-in.
1:32 3Q: Josh Pace not letting the Pirates get too far away, putting the Jets on his back, driving for a tough basket in traffic for his 20th point.
2:17 3Q: After Manawatu score following the timeout, patient Pirates offence results in a three from the top of the key for Ron Dorsey.
2:49 3Q: A 10-0 run by the Auckland Pirates opens up a 70-58 lead. Started with Dorsey's three-point play, Tait followed with a three, Dillon Boucher stole the inbounds for a lay-up, then off a Jets miss, Alex Pledger scored down-low on the next possession.
3:52 3Q: Dorsey seemed to hang in the air forever on that drive, as he makes the basket, draws the foul and completes the three-point play from the line.
5:45 3Q: Ismail Muhammad connects on his second three in a minute, Pirates up 60-54. Zane Meehl answers with a short-range baseline jumper for the Jets.
6:53 3Q: Game beiing played at break-neck speed, Pirates sprint out on a fast-break with Ismail Muhammad hammering down a two-handed dunk. Followed on from a pair of Jeremiah Trueman FTs and a Lindsay Tait jumper.
8:07 3Q: Zane Meehl fails to convert a three-point play but does level the scores at 50-50.
9:01 3Q: Jeremiah Trueman gets free along the baseline to rock a big dunk.
9:20 3Q: Nick Horvath runs over Ron Dorsey but no charging foul called. It's Pirates ball out of bounds.
6.45pm: Pledger is 7-of-9 from the field and 5-of-7 on free-throws for his 19 points, while Hagan and Pace have combined for 27 of the Jets' 44 points.
6.47pm: Looking at shooting stats, Auckland Pirates 50% from the floor, but just 22% (2/9) on threes, while it's the opposite for Manawatu, who are 37% from the field and 57% (4/7) behind the arc.
6.49pm: Jets centre Nick Horvath is halfway to continuing his impressive double-double streak, with 10 rebounds at the half, but has been held to just three points.
0:00 2Q: First half ends with Lindsay Tait driving to the hoop and the referees swallowing their whistles as he's knocked to the floor. Auckland Pirates lead 48-44.
0:25 2Q: Pledger scores his 19th point on an alley-oop from Dillon Boucher, just seconds after Chris Hagan drives in for his 15th point.
2:17 2Q: Manawatu Jets in the penalty as Alex Pledger goes to the line for two, missing both.
2:32 2Q: Josh Pace onnects on a three, following a pair of FTs from Alex Pledger at the other end.
3:03 2Q: Big man Jeremiah Trueman steps out and drains a three for Manawatu, who trail 42-37.
4:00 2Q: Manawatu continuing their turnover prone second quarter, and the Pirates push the lead to eight points with a Hayden Allen basket, after Josh Pace's floater had halted Auckland's run.
5:25 2Q: Ron Dorsey connects on a wide-open three for the Pirates to give them their biggest lead of the night at 38-32.
5:59 2Q: It's timeout Manawatu, as Lindsay Tait takes the ball aggressively to the hoop, putting in a sweet reverse lay-in to cap an 8-0 run to lead 35-31.
6:51 2Q: Alex Pledger throws down a put-back dunk off a Lindsay Tait fast-break miss, ties the game at 31-31.
7:21 2Q: Great battle between Alex Pledger and Nick Horvath down-low.
8:32 2Q: After a sweet Huston O'Riley drive to the hoop, Zane Meehl hits from the corner and then scores on a lay-up. Manawatu up 29-25.
0:00 1Q; Josh Pace scores for the Jets with nine seconds left in the period, levelling the scores at 23-23.
1:02 1Q: Pirates score six straight points to take a 23-21 lead. Defence forcing steals and blocks, leads to two fast-break lay-ups. If the Pirates can get out and run, the Jets could struggle to keep up. Manawatu needs to make this a half-court contest.
3:14 1Q: Alex Pledger doing work down low for the Pirates as they close the gap, then Dillon Boucher gets an easy breakaway lay-up to close it to two points, 19-17.
4:36 1Q: Hectic pace to this game early on, with multiple lead changes already. Chris Hagan hits another jumper to put the Jets up 17-13.
6:51 1Q: After the Jets open up a 7-3 lead, Hayden Allen responds with a three and then Lindsay Tait drives coast-to-coast to put Auckland back up 8-7.
8:24 1Q: Ron Dorsey gives the Pirates a 3-2 lead with a lay-up after a pair of FTs from Nick Horvath and one from Dillon Boucher.
9:07 1Q: No points as both teams miss badly on early possessions.
10:00 1Q: First semifinal is underway.
6.00pm: Player introductions underway. CLose to tip-off.
5.58pm: OK, since this Final Four is sponsored by the TAB, let's take a look at the odds. Auckland Pirates are favourites to win it all at $2.15, followed by the Wellington Saints at $3.50, Bay Hawks at $4 and Manawatu Jets at $6. In this game, the Pirates are favoured at $1.30, the Jets at $3.30. The points spread is 5.5 points.
5.51pm: In neither of those games did the Pirates have their NZ Breakers duo of Boucher and Pledger, while the Jets have since welceomed in former Tall Black Trueman and import Hagan.
5.50pm: These two teams met twice during the regular season, with the Jets winning 90-80 in week three on March 16 in Palmerston North, and the Pirates winning 96-83 at home at ASB Stadium in week seven on April 11.
5.48pm: Let's take a look at the line-ups:
Auckland Pirates: Lindsay Tait, Houston O'Riley, Brook Ruscoe, Hayden Allen, Duane Bailey, Dan Barritt, Ron Dorsey, Nick Barrow, Dillon Boucher, Ismail Muhammad, Alex Pledger, Daryl Cartwright. Coach: Judd Flavell.
Manawatu Jets: Kaine Hokianga, Miles Pearce, Zeke Meehl, Josh Pace, Steve Hansen, Matt Te Huna, Nick Horvath, Mike Homik, Jeremiah Trueman, Chris Hagan, Zane Meehl, Tommy Bartlett. Coach: Ryan Weisenberg.
5.46pm: Not surprising we're not looking at a packed-house at this point, with the Hurricanes facing the Melbourne Rebels down the road at Westpac Stadium. But yesterday afternoon there were only a few hundred tickets left, so by the time the Bay Hawks and Wellington Saints tip at 8.30pm, you can expect 4000-plus.
5.45pm: Welcome to TSB Bank Arena for the NBL semifinals. Plenty of green of the Manawatu Jets' 'Flight Crew' in the arena, with a few people wearing pirates hats. We're just 15 minutes away from tip-off in the first semifinal between the No 2 Auckland Pirates and No 3 Manawatu Jets.
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