Head to head a world away from Chicago

Otago Nuggets import Isaiah Moss (24) shoots at the Edgar Centre on Thursday after arriving in...
Isaiah Moss
Tonight's situation would have been hard to imagine for Isaiah Moss seven years ago.

Certainly the odds of two high school team-mates from Chicago meeting in an arena in Nelson would seem pretty long.

Moss and Donte Ingram played together, roomed together, ate lunch together and took classes together at Simeon High School.

Tonight they will face off when the Otago Nuggets play the Nelson Giants.

Moss had been in contact "more than usual" with Ingram since the pair arrived in New Zealand.

Last time they faced off, at the Edgar Centre in Dunedin, the Giants won an overtime thriller.

On that occasion their other import, Hunter Hale, dropped 41 points in an impressive scoring display.

This time, Moss was hoping to get one back, although he might find a little extra attention too.

As the season has worn on, the 1.97m guard has become an increasingly marked man.

At times he has seemed automatic from the three-point, while his array of finishes at the hoop have been equally impressive.

It has helped him to average 21.5 points per game and leave him second on the league’s MVP rankings, behind fellow Nugget Sam Timmins.

However, lately teams have been giving him some extra coverage.

It was something he was not used to in college, where he started for both the University of Iowa and then a year at the No1-ranked University of Kansas.

Dealing with that attention had been his biggest adjustment.

"Basically I know that every game we play guys are going to be up into me, holding me, overplaying me," he said.

"After that it’s just reads.

"Me and Sam [Timmins] have got a good connection, you see in games I hit the back cut and he normally finds me.

"I’ve extended my shot some more, a lot of times they don’t play me deep so I can shoot deep."

Moss was enjoying Dunedin and the Nuggets.

He had goals to reach as high a level as possible — and you would have to think if he was a few inches taller he would be in the NBA right now.

That is not to say he will not get there;

he must be catching a few teams’ eyes in the Australian NBL.

However, he had not been worrying about any of that at the moment, he said.

His focus was purely on the Nuggets and making the NBL playoffs, a desire which had grown since being with the team.

Tonight’s game is a big one in terms of making that top four.

The Nuggets are in fourth place with six wins from their 11 games.

However, it is a congested mid-table and the side has a tough run in to finish the season.

It will retain the same 10-man squad which lost to Hawke’s Bay last week, before returning home to face the Franklin Bulls on Sunday.

National Basketball League, Nelson, tonight, 7.30

Nuggets: Sam Timmins, Isaiah Moss, Geremy McKay, Richie Rodger, Josh Aitcheson, Matthew Bardsley, Pafe Momoisea, Darcy Knox, Akiva McBirney-Griffin, Luke Aston.

Giants: Hunter Hale, Donte Ingram, Tom Ingham, Sam Dempster, Anzac Rissetto, Tysxun Aiolupotea, Riley Bensemann, Nicolas Trathen, Joshua Leger, Bronson Beri, Tyler Marsh, Tom Gargiulo.

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