Russo-Nance gets chance to step up for Nuggets

Dontae Russo-Nance. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Dontae Russo-Nance. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
The Otago Nuggets have a new man on point.

Nineteen-year-old Dontae Russo-Nance will set the tempo for the remainder of the season.

The talented Perth Wildcats point guard will take over the role from Tai Webster, who has returned to the United States to be with his pregnant partner who is due to give birth early next month.

Webster’s departure strips some class from the roster.

But he tanked badly in his last outing for the Nuggets.

In 24 minutes against the Auckland Tuatara, the former Tall Blacks guard scored just two points and made one assist.

It was hard to reconcile that effort with his 40-point night against the Canterbury Rams two weeks earlier.

You had to wonder whether there was something going on in the background, and there have been some indecipherable grumblings coming out of the camp.

But Russo-Nance showed against the Tuatara he is more than capable of running the game. He netted 14 points, made five assists, grabbed five steals and pulled in seven rebounds during his 20 minute stint.

The Nuggets were well beaten, but Russo-Nance demonstrate just how dangerous he can be.

The teenager missed the early part of the campaign with a wrist injury, but coach Brent Matehaere said the young man was just starting to sparkle again.

"It was real challenging for him and he was certainly excited about getting back on court and playing," Matehaere said.

"He has done a great job doing his rehab, but the frustration of not being able to play for the last eight to 12 months was certainly evident in the first few games back.

"He has a high expectation on himself. I think he got that out of the system in the first few and showed what his potential is against the Tuatara."

Russo-Nance shapes as an influential player as the Nuggets looked to turn around a campaign that has been flagging.

They started off with three consecutive wins but have lost six of their last seven games.

That has seen them slip back in the race for the playoffs.

A win against the Southland Sharks in Invercargill today will help boost the team’s morale and set them up for a better second half to the round-robin.

"Obviously we are not winning basketball games which is frustrating.

"But there is always the next week until there isn’t, and so we’ve been focusing on ourselves and making sure we are sticking to some processes that we believe will be successful for us.

"If we can get that to happen then we will be in a good space."


Invercargill, 4pm

Otago Nuggets:  Dontae Russo-Nance, Zaccheus Darko-Kelly, Ben Henshall, Kimani Lawrence, Jack Andrew, Darcy Knox, Robbie Coman, Josh Aitcheson, Matthew Bardsley, Matt Pyper, Joe Ahie, Michael Ruske.

Southland Sharks:  Scott Telfer, Caleb Asberry, Brayden Inger, Alonzon Burton, Callum McRae, Macale Lotts, Andrew Wheeler, Ben Hall, Matariki Kapea, Joe Riwhi, Quake Webster.