Timmins ready for fun of crunch match

Sam Timmins. PHOTO:PETER MCINTOSH
Sam Timmins. PHOTO:PETER MCINTOSH
The big stage does not frighten Sam Timmins.

On the contrary, the Otago Nuggets centre is excited to play in a crunch match — he has not done that in a while.

By the time the weekend’s other games have finished, tomorrow’s match against the Franklin Bulls at the Edgar Centre could yet be meaningless.

However, if the results all fall the right — or wrong — way, the game could effectively become a play-in game ahead of next week’s NBL top six.

Either way, a win will secure the Nuggets a playoff spot.

Timmins was remarkably calm ahead of the encounter.

He played on one of the sport’s biggest stages for four years while at the University of Washington.

He has been through a season in the Australian NBL with the New Zealand Breakers, whom he will rejoin in a few weeks.

Most recently he has been with the Tall Blacks for both a World Cup qualifier and the Asia Cup tournament in Jakarta.

"Playing in a game that is win or go home is always a cool feeling," Timmins said.

"To be honest, it’s been a while since I’ve played in a regular season game where I’ve had a chance to be in the playoffs. Honestly, I’m really looking forward to it.

"I’ve been fortunate enough to play a lot of high-level basketball around the world and had a lot of moments where the stakes are pretty high.

"I do think that’s going to help me to not be consumed by the moment and be present and just execute what I’ve got to do."

Timmins has fully readjusted from his time in Indonesia, having returned for last week’s thrashing of the Southland Sharks.

He makes a considerable difference to this line-up, giving the team a genuinely dominant star inside.

Perhaps his numbers have not been quite as good as they were last year — although 16.8 points and 10.7 rebounds per game are still among the league’s best.

However, this year he has had to operate under the microscope of opponent as they look to take him out of what he likes to do.

"In some ways it’s been fun," he said.

"It’s an opportunity to figure out how can I still be effective against that defence. If it’s not just one-on-one coverage and I just try to score in the post every time, whether it’s a double team, or on defence if they try to put me in some on balls to get me out of the key more.

"What parts of my game can I work on so those things are strengths as well? Read the double team and hit the open man, move my feet and be in the right rotations when they try to put me in actions on defence?

"It’s an awesome challenge. It’s a very different experience from last year, when they probably weren’t as focused on me, and I was able to have a bit more of a field day."

The Nuggets will be without injured import forward Todd Withers for a second week, although they are otherwise healthy.

They face a Bulls team that is full of quality and has arguably the best pure scorer in New Zealand basketball history in Corey Webster.

There are also plenty of other threats in that line-up, including Breakers swingman Isaac Davidson and livewire guard Jayden Bezzant.

The significance of the game for the Bulls rested on last night’s match against the Southland Sharks, having needed to win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Tip-off is at 3pm.

National Basketball League

Edgar Centre, tomorrow, 3pm

Nuggets: Sam Timmins, Nikau McCullough, Josh Aitcheson, Keith Williams, Tray Boyd, Matthew Bardsley, Jack Andrew, Darcy Knox, Joe Ahie, Robbie Coman, Max Pearce, Dallas Hartmann.

Bulls: Corey Webster, Isaac Davidson, Jayden Bezzant, Anzac Rissetto, Denhym Brooke, Leon Henry, Jett Thompson, Kane Bennett-Keil, Kael Robinson, Josh Leger.

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