Eric Devendorf (193-G-87, college: Syracuse) is rated as one of the best players to grace a Kiwi basketball court. Sam Worthington puts the tough (and not-so-tough) questions to the Saints' import ahead of tonight's NBL home game against Nelson.
Q. Who are the best players in the New Zealand league?
A. I've only been out here a short time but Lindsay [Saints point guard Lindsay Tait] is one of the better players I've played with. Thomas Abercrombie [Waikato forward] is a good player, those are two that stand out in my head. And Josh Pace [Hawke's Bay guard], I've been playing with and against him for a while so I know what he can do.
You are left-handed but shoot with your right. Why?
I write left-handed, eat left-handed but everything else is right-handed. I throw a baseball, throw a football, all right-handed. I don't know, that's just how it was growing up.
What's your favourite place to eat in Wellington?
It's got to be Public man, that's where I've been going. It's a good place. I get the chicken sandwich with egg on it, that's one of my favourites.
What's the most exciting thing you've done in New Zealand so far?
Just seeing different things with the family, we went to the museum [Te Papa] and seeing stuff we wouldn't see back home. Being right here on the water is real neat, to have my daughter come here and experience something like that.
No bungy jumping?
No, I'm not into all that.
Do you understand rugby?
I understand it a lot more since I've been out here. I still don't really know what's going on but I'm starting to get the hang of it.
Are you a ruck or a lineout man?
I couldn't tell you.
You've signed with the Melbourne Tigers. A good career move?
Yeah, it's a good competitive league and Melbourne's a good city to be in for family, and everything else will be taken care of. It's a good step forward and I'm looking forward to it.
There's whispers of an NBA scout coming to New Zealand to watch you. Care to divulge?
That's what I heard so hopefully it's true. I've just got to keep working hard, playing hard and getting wins and everything else will take care of itself.
I think it's the Phoenix Suns, that's as much as I know.
Steve Nash is getting old ...
He's all right, he's going to be fine.
Where do you hope to be this time next year?
Hopefully, playing back home. That's got to be the No1 goal. But just to be making money and taking care of my family. Wherever I am, that's the No1 thing.
Which NBA team do you support?
Whoever supports me, that's who I'm going to support. I always liked the Detroit Pistons coming from Michigan I'm a fan of the Pistons.
Who will win the NBA this season?
I feel the Lakers. You've always got to be the favourite when you've got the best player in the league [Kobe Bryant].
Who is LeBron James going to sign with?
I've heard Chicago, I've heard New York. Wherever he feels himself and his family are most comfortable being. Obviously money talks, but you want to be where you're most comfortable.
Who is the funniest player on the Saints and why?
We've got a couple of jokesters on the team, man. I'd probably have to say either George [Le'afa] or Nick [Horvath]. Nick's got a kind of dry, dour sense of humour but it's funny, if you know where he's coming from. He's a good man, very intelligent.
What have you made of the Saints setup?
It's great. The first thing was just making sure my family was good and everybody was comfortable. Right away, when I came here, that was the first thing that they looked after and made sure that my daughter was taken care of and had everything in terms of my family needs. Everything else is going to fall into place as far as basketball goes. I've been loving the experience in Wellington.
The team must be fired up to play Nelson?
Yeah, obviously Nelson's a good team, they've got a couple of veterans on their team in Phill Jones and Co. We've got to go out there and play how we've played in the last five games and everything else will take care of itself.
A win would be crucial to help finish second and get a home semi?
That would be big, knowing if we can beat Nelson there's definitely a good chance. If we can get that win that would be big. Every win is good but knowing we can beat the second-placed team and jump ahead in the standings, it would be all right.
Is winning the league's scoring title an aim?
That doesn't mean much to me. I just came out here and kinda set a goal, to get my name back out there as far as other leagues go, use this as a stepping stone. I think I've done that pretty well so I'm going to continue to play my game and everything else will take care of itself.
HOW THEY LINE UP
What: National Basketball League
Where: TSB Bank Arena, Wellington
When: 7pm tonight
Saints: Lindsay Tait, Eric Devendorf, Leon Henry, Casey Frank, Nick Horvath, Erron Maxey, Troy McLean, Damien Ekenasio, George Le'afa, Ross Taurima, Randall Bishop
Nelson: Mike Fitchett, Phill Jones, Mika Vukona, Michael Harrison, Tony Rampton, Darryl Jones, Josh Bloxham, Brad Maclachlan, Nico Ritschny, Samuel Dempster, Bronson Beri, Ben Wright
Hutt Valley claim their 2nd NBC title in 3 years - 15 days ago
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Hutt Valley were named National Mens Basketball Champions following a hard-fought 92-87 win over the Canterbury Knights in Saturday night's final at Te Rauparaha Arena. With Canterbury down four with forty seconds remaining in the Grand Final, Marty Davison hit what initially looked to be a fallaway three pointer and the foul, sending the mainly Hutt-cheering crowd into shock, though after a few moments it was made clear that the whistle was infact for Davison stepping out of bounds. That... [read more]
Hutt Valley were named National Mens Basketball Champions following a hard-fought 92-87 win over the Canterbury Knights in Saturday night's final at Te Rauparaha Arena. With Canterbury down four with forty seconds remaining in the Grand Final, Marty Davison hit what initially looked to be a fallaway three pointer and the foul, sending the mainly Hutt-cheering crowd into shock, though after a few moments it was made clear that the whistle was infact for Davison stepping out of bounds. That was the final push for Canterbury as Brendon Polyblank put the game out of Canterbury's reach at the free-throw line, seeing Hutt Valley claim the Championship. It was a back-and-forth opening quarter with both teams making runs of their own, before Polyblank sparked Hutt Valley to a seven-point lead. The big man finished the opening 10 minutes with 12 points, though the Canterbury Knights clawed back in the dying stages of the period to make it a 25-23 ball game. As was the case in the opening quarter though, Hutt Valley made a mid-quarter run to stretch their lead out to nine as their pressurising defence left Canterbury scoreless for the opening four and a half minutes of the spell. Nico Buckrell (190-G-95) was crucial in this stretch on his way to 27-point night on 13 shots though the NBC MVP was quick to pass the credit onto his team. 'We've just got a core group of guys who have been playing for five or six years together so we've got that chemistry. We just know how to play together. It's nothing more than that,' said Buckrell. However, the Knights soon began to play together themselves, eroding away the Hutt Valley lead using an 22-9 stretch to take a 45-42 lead into the half-time interval. Crucial in that stretch was again Davison. The veteran guard had himself 12 points by the half and was the spark to Canterbury's resurgence, hitting two three-pointers to end their drought. A lethargic Hutt Valley outfit came out to start the third quarter, forgetting about transition defence as Canterbury raced out to an eight-point lead. Marques Whippy (193-PF-86, college: BYU-Hawaii) then took matters into his own hands as he bushed away his first half cobwebs to torture Hutt Valley on the offensive glass, leading to second-chance points that the Fijian was missing in the opening half as he made his way to a 22-point, 20-rebound statline. As was the theme of the game though, Hutt bounced back right at Canterbury. The substitution of Whippy opened up an 11-1 Hutt run which they used to make the score just two points in the Knights' favour heading into the final period, 65-63. Beginning the forth quarter as they ended the third, Hutt Valley leaped out to a seven-point lead with five minutes remaining thanks to Jackson and Elliot Stubbins as Hutt managed to keep the Knights at arms-length as the Grand Final drew to a close to claim the 2016 crown. A big part of the team's success was player-coach George Le'afa (178-PG-78) whose pair of three-balls put Hutt Valley in the driver's seat in the dying stages of the semi-final, before contributing 11 points, six rebounds and five assists - all at the age of 38. 'I've got one sore body. I don't know how I ended up playing but hey, it is what it is and I'm not sure how I made the All-Star five but hey, I'll take it… ' said Le'afa. Though, despite Le'afa claiming the individual accolade of making the tournament team, the player-coach was quick to credit his team attitude as the reason for success. 'These boys have been playing together for quite some time, so it wasn't that hard to build that chemistry. All it was, was work for each other, play hard and play our game. 'It was good to play with these young guys and I told them from the start 'this is your guys' competition, this is an opportunity for you guys to go into the NBL… it was awesome.'
Breakers add Stockton to their roster, ex Cedevita - 23 days ago
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New Zealand Breakers (NBL) added to their roster 25-year old American point guard David Stockton (180-75kg-91, college: Gonzaga). He already started the season at Cedevita in Croatia A1 league. Stockton managed to play in three leagues this year. In 5 A1 games he recorded 13.8ppg, 3.4rpg, 6.2apg and 3.0spg. Stockton also played 2 games in Eurocup where he averaged 5.5ppg and 1.5apg. And finally he contributed to 6 games in ABA League where he had 8.5ppg, 1.5rpg, 3.3apg and 1.0spg. The las... [read more]
New Zealand Breakers (NBL) added to their roster 25-year old American point guard David Stockton (180-75kg-91, college: Gonzaga). He already started the season at Cedevita in Croatia A1 league. Stockton managed to play in three leagues this year. In 5 A1 games he recorded 13.8ppg, 3.4rpg, 6.2apg and 3.0spg. Stockton also played 2 games in Eurocup where he averaged 5.5ppg and 1.5apg. And finally he contributed to 6 games in ABA League where he had 8.5ppg, 1.5rpg, 3.3apg and 1.0spg. The last season Stockton played at another team Bighorns in U.S. semi-pro league D-League. In 49 games he got impressive 18.0ppg, 3.3rpg, 7.2apg (top 4) and 1.0spg. He helped them to win the D-League West Division title (twice). Two years ago Stockton was drafted by Maine Red Claws (D-League) in third round (40th overall). The former Gonzaga University staris in his third season in pro basketball. He has tried to make it to the NBA and played in the NBA Pro Summer League this summer. The list of the past achievements is quite long as among others Stockton was voted USBasket.com D-League All-Rookie 2nd Team in 2015. He has played also professionally for other NBA teams like Washington Wizards and Sacramento Kings.
James Hunter (ex Ballarat M.) joins Sharks - 24 days ago
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Zero Fees Southland Sharks (NBL) agreed terms with 24-year old Australia center James Hunter (208-120kg-92, college: S.Dakota). He played last summer at Ballarat Miners in Australia SEABL-East. In 15 games he had 11.5ppg and 6.3rpg. The last season Hunter played at Aquimisa Queso Zamorano in Spanish EBA where in 24 games he recorded 11.0ppg and 6.6rpg. He helped them to end the regular season as a second best team in the league. Hunter has played previously professionally also in New Zeal... [read more]
Zero Fees Southland Sharks (NBL) agreed terms with 24-year old Australia center James Hunter (208-120kg-92, college: S.Dakota). He played last summer at Ballarat Miners in Australia SEABL-East. In 15 games he had 11.5ppg and 6.3rpg. The last season Hunter played at Aquimisa Queso Zamorano in Spanish EBA where in 24 games he recorded 11.0ppg and 6.6rpg. He helped them to end the regular season as a second best team in the league. Hunter has played previously professionally also in New Zealand (Jets). He attended University of South Dakota until 2015 and it will be his second season as a professional player.
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