Ariel Hukporti, Mantas Rubstavicius and Alex Toohey were among the Next Stars to have a big impact in Round 15.

15 Jan
Dan Woods for

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Ariel Hukporti returned to Melbourne United’s starting line-up in the absence of center Jo Lual-Acuil Jr, and played an important role in the ladder-leaders’ nail-biting one-point win over New Zealand.

Hukporti battled with former NBA bigs Zylan Cheatham and Mangok Mathiang in the victory, and only Olympic bronze medalists Matthew Dellavedova and Chris Goulding saw the floor more than Hukporti.

He finished the contest with 12 points, five rebounds, and a team-high two blocks.

Mantas Rubstavicius continued his run of starts for New Zealand, and once again provided a potent offensive threat for Mody Maor’s side.

He finished the heartbreaking loss to Hukporti and Melbourne United with 11 points, but he struggled to replicate that form in the Breakers’ blowout loss to the Sydney Kings where he finished with just three points.

Alex Toohey was a strong performer at the other end of the floor in Sydney’s win over New Zealand with four points and a pair of steals, however it was in the Kings’ loss to Adelade in which he shined.

Toohey was a bright spark on a dour day for the reigning champions against the competition’s bottom-placed side.

He finished the game with six points, seven rebounds and a block in a game where Sydney’s entire roster struggled to make shots.

Bobi Klintman was moved into the starting line-up for Cairns, and he played a crucial role in the Taipans’ high-scoring win over Adelaide.

The Taipans were forced into overtime by the 36ers, however they roared home to win the game by 10 points. Klintman finished the contest with five points and eight rebounds.

Rocco Zikarsky continued his limited, high-impact role from the Bullets. He had five points and two rebounds in Brisbane’s three-point win over Tasmania before adding three points and one rebound in the win over Illawarra.

Zikarsky also showcased his ability to play as part of a ‘twin towers’ frontcourt pairing, and shared the court with Aron Baynes due to the absence of key power forward pair Casey Prather and Josh Bannan.

AJ Johnson offered solid minutes off the bench for the Hawks in Round 15, which was headlined with four points in Illawarra’s loss to the Bullets.

Both Trentyn Flowers and Alexandre Sarr missed the entirety of the round due to injury.

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