2022 NZNBL preview: Wellington Saints

REIGNING premiers Wellington Saints return to the 2022 New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) with a new head coach and an almost unrecognisable list, which will make it fascinating for fans and neutrals alike. With ex-Melbourne Boomers mentor Guy Molloy heading to the Saints – after grabbing a Women’s NBL championship in Australia – the team is in great hands to make a run at yet another title.


FRESH FACES: Johnny Helu, Francis Wineera-Mulvihill, Tom Vodanovich, Emmerson Potts-Broughton, Jordan Ngatai, Evytar Tabor, Reegan Trego, Jermaine Fui, Corban Laban-Palmer
KEY DEPARTURES: Dion Prewster, Kerwin Roach Jr, Leon Henry, Romaro Gill, Tohi Smith-Milner

There are list overhauls, and then there is the Wellington Saints off-season. Just four of the 13 players on this year’s list played for the Saints last year, with almost the entire starting five gone. Only Taane Samuel remains, with NZNBL Most Valuable Player (MVP) winner Dion Prewster (Sandringham Sabres NBL1) headlining the key departures. Big men Tohi Smith-Milner and Leon Henry (Franklin Bulls) also left, with Kerwin Roach (17.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.3 assists) also gone. Romaro Gill is another key player who has opted to join the Southland Sharks.

From the inclusions though, the Saints have brought in a stack of talent, headlined by 2020 NZNBL MVP Tom Vodanovich who had ran out with the Manawatu Jets in 2020, averaging 22.4 points and 10.0 rebounds. Similar, bringing in Jordan Ngatai meant another player with Australian NBL experience and one who also made the 2020 All Star Five when running out for the Otago Nuggets, averaging 18.2 points. 5.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists that season.


Kenneth Tuffin
Johnny Helu
Francis Wineera-Mulvihill
Tom Vodanovich
Emmerson Potts-Broughton
Thomas Gold
Jordan Ngatai
Taane Samuel
Evytar Tabor
Reegan Trego
Jermaine Fui
Corban Laban-Palmer
Rangimarie Dougall-Mita


For the Saints, it will be all about ensuring they can gel effectively as a unit. With only four players remaining – Samuel, Thomas Gold, Ken Tuffin and Rangimarie Dougall-Mita, there will be a lot of new players rolling through the combinations. That means coach Molloy has quite the task, especially given he only won the WNBL title a few weeks back and has to change focus to the NZNBL. Molloy has enough experience to make it work and some of hte players they have brought in will be able to step up and work in any circumstance.

The combination of Vodanovich and Ngatai is difficult to contain at the best of times, whilst Johnny Helu can make an impact from long-range off minimal minutes. Rising talent Francis Mulvihill showed plenty with the Taranaki Mountainairs last season, whilst young talents Evytar Tabor, Corban Laban-Palmer and Jermaine Fui are trying their luck at NZNBL level. It is hard not to see the Saints thereabouts again with the talent and depth in the squad, and the reigning premiers will undoubtedly be one to watch yet again.


R1 @ Sharks
R2 @ Nuggets
R3 vs. Tuatara
R4 vs. Rams
R5 vs. Jets
R6 @ Rams | @ Airs
R7 vs. Sharks
R8 @ Giants | @ Bulls
R9 vs. Bulls
R10 vs. Airs
R11 vs. Nuggets
R12 vs. Hawks
R13 @ Hawks | @ Jets
R14 vs. Giants
R15 @ Tuatara

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