Basketball: Ugly not good enough, Polyblank says

Nuggets forward Brendon Polyblank is clobbered by Rangers defender Christoph Fahrensohn at the...
Nuggets forward Brendon Polyblank is clobbered by Rangers defender Christoph Fahrensohn at the Edgar Centre on Saturday night. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Brendon Polyblank is hoping for more than the odd ''scrappy'' win this year.

The Otago Nuggets captain revealed this will ''probably'' be his last season and he wants to make the most of it.

The 35-year-old forward helped the Nuggets bank an ugly 92-82 win over the Waitakere Rangers at the Edgar Centre on Saturday night.

It was far from a perfect performance but the Nuggets are 2-0 after recording a surprise 83-77 win over the Southland Sharks in Invercargill earlier this month.

In that sense, the franchise has made a very satisfying beginning, though the team is behind where it was this time last season.

The departures of key players Antoine Tisby, Akeem Wright and BJ Anthony have shorn the Nuggets of some firepower.

Polyblank plans to help fill the void and showed just why he has been a dominant player in the league during a long career with a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds.

''More than likely this will probably be my last season and I wanted to go out in style,'' Polyblank said.

''I didn't have a good season last year. I didn't play my game but now I'm going to be a vocal part of the team.

''We've got a lot to work on. If we are going to be a top-four team, then that performance in my opinion was just not good enough.''

''When they played a zone against us, we struggled for a good period of time. We really, really struggled.''

Imports Troy Payne and Warren Carter got into foul trouble early in the second quarter and spent most of the period watching from the bench. Polyblank and player-coach Mark Dickel carried the side in their absence and Sam King stepped up, as well.

The Nuggets' depth was tested, though, and they will have to find a replacement for power forward Marques Whippy, who ruptured hisachilles at training and is out for the season.

But it was not all bad.

Dickel (16 points, 12 assists) drained two clutch three-pointers in the final quarter to help seal the win, and padded out his score with some freebies from the free-throw line. He also had an excellent passing game as we have come to expect.

Payne continues to impress. The industrious American looks at his best on defence and grabbed 12 rebounds and top-scored for the Nuggets with 20 points.

Carter is more of a rangy player and not as physical as some of the big men the Nuggets have had in the recent past.

He looked a little flimsy under the hoop and more at home on the outside. He got through the work, though, scoring 17 points and claiming 12 rebounds.

King was perhaps the big surprise. He had a fabulous night, scoring 17 points and five rebounds off the bench.

''We don't have the likes of a Hayden Allen or an Akeem Wright. They could reel off four or five threes in a row,'' Polyblank said.

''But the guys we do have bring other things to the game which really help us.

''The identity of our team this year is going to be defence first. We want to force teams into making mistakes and I think we did that at times. But we still have a lot of work to do on that.''

Waitakere, for its part, was awful. The Rangers rely heavily on the outside shooting games of Eric Devendorf and Daryl Corletto.

Devendorf made a dent with 24 points but Corletto (13 points) struggled, landing one from five from beyond the arc. Breakers development player Duane Bailey was solid with 15 points and seven rebounds.

The Nuggets won the rebounding 54-33 and took a staggering 24 offensive rebounds. They converted that possession into 25 second-chance points.

In Nelson, the Giants held off the Canterbury Rams in a nail-biter thanks to franchise player Josh Pace, who scored the last three points to secure a 77-76 win.

Pace had 21 points and nine rebounds, American Jamal Boykin had 19 points, and Tall Black Mika Vukona added 13 points and 10 rebounds.

The Hawkes Bay Hawks moved to 2-1 with a 88-80 win over the Taranaki Mountainairs.

The scores

Otago Nuggets 92
Troy Payne 20, Sam King 17, Warren Carter 17

Waitakere Rangers 82
Eric Devendorf 24, Duane Bailey 15, Daryl Corletto 13

Quarter scores: 21-19, 45-42, 68-59

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