The 2015 Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam began at Atlas Place, headquarters of the New Zealand Breakers, on Saturday. The competition features four men’s teams and four women’s teams and takes place every Saturday through until December 20.
In the Men’s competition The Birdmen opened proceedings against Breakers Development with a couple of veteran v apprentice matchups catching the eye. Casey Frank enjoyed (I think) his battle with Tai Wynyard and the tussle between former Southland Sharks teammates Kevin Braswell and Shea Ili was a delight to behold.
The Birdmen will be without Marco Alexander for the majority of this season as the shooting guard has suffered a broken bone in the foot.
Jordan Ngatai with a tip in after strong work from Wynyard opened the scoring for the Breakers, Braswell replying for the Birdmen. The first quarter highlight was a Wynyard dunk from an Ili lob pass as the Breakers held a slender 25-21 lead.
Quarter two belonged to Brook Ruscoe the shooting guard helping himself to 18 points in the period. A four-point play is something of a rarity but Ruscoe managed it twice in 5 minutes as he helped the Birdmen to a 54-48 advantage.
The experienced Ngatai and Ili stood up in the third period and aided by Sam Waardenburg the Breakers regained the initiative to take an 81-77 lead into the final break.
The Breakers led by 10 points with 4 minutes remaining but a three fCasey Frank plus free throws from the veteran centre and guard Chris Duthie threatened a comeback. However the young Breakers squad held their nerve on the back of athletic plays from Ili, Wynyard and Brayden Inger to record a first up win in a highly entertaining game.
Breakers Development 111 – Wynyard 29p/17r, Ili 23, Waardenburg 22, Ngatai 12, Dan Fotu 11
Birdmen 100 – Ruscoe 24, Braswell 18, Frank 17, Duthie 13, Robson Tavita 12, Isaac Davidson 10
The second game was less competitive as the Mai FM6ers, minus the services of Hayden Allen and Tall Black Duane Bailey, were out scored 126-99 by 68 Nelson Street (formerly Youthtown).
Houston O’Riley scored 7 quick points and Nick Barrow added a couple of put backs to give Mai an early 11-2 lead but that advantage was hauled in by quarter time. 68NS led by Dillon Boucher, Lindsay Tait and Ana Haku quickened the pace in the second quarter and their transition game was too much for the 6ers who trailed 68-44 at half time.
O’Riley began the second half in the same fashion as the first with a long three and when Anthony Jones hit back to back triples, a revival was on the cards. This was quickly snuffed out by the two Matt’s, Freeman and Lacey, and aided by threes from Daniel Green, 68NS held an unassailable 94-76 threequarter time advantage.
68 Nelson St 126 – Tait 26, Haku 24, Green 24, Freeman 20, Lacey 14.
MaiFM 6ers 99 – O’Riley 31, Barrow 27, Jones 19, Adam Dunstan 12
The inaugural Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam Women’s competition also began with The Suns rising over The Sparks 71-42.
Early exchanges were even before Breeze Leonard, with a buzzer beater, gave Suns a 14-8 quarter time lead.
Leonard along with 10 points apiece from Bronwyn Kjestrup and Tauranga City forward Kelcy Ballantyne gave the Suns a 34-18 half time lead. Rangitoto College standout Rebecca Hughes (7 points) was the best of the Sparks scorers.
Former Tall Fern Jody Cameron, still possessing great awareness and passing skills, was prominent in the second half as she set up numerous scoring opportunities for forwards Ballantyne and Kjestrup to stretch the Suns lead to 55-34 by three quarter time.
The tireless Stevie Theyers and Hailey Purcell battled away for the Sparks but they were unable to do much to cloud the Suns winning glow.
Suns 71 – Leonard 18, Kjestrup 16, Ballantyne 10, Tiarna Clarke 10
Sparks 42 – Hughes 12, Purcell 9, Theyers 9
Game two was a much closer affair as team Sky edged the Storm 84-79 in a high scoring game despite 34 points from Tall Ferns point guard Jordan Hunter.