NBL Showdown: Tom Vodanovich hopes MVP form overshadows tainted offcourt reputation

Most Valuable Player Tom Vodanovich hopes his red-hot NBL Showdown form will help shake his 'bad boy' image and secure an Aussie contract next summer.

The 2.01m (6ft 7in) power forward led judges' voting for the top individual award during the revamped national competition, averaging 21.9 points and 10.4 rebounds a game for the Manawatu Jets.   

Particularly impressive was his shooting from beyond the three-point arc, where he led the league with 4.2 baskets a game, while shooting 46.5 percent.

His performance was instrumental in securing second spot on the regular-season ladder for the Jets, with playoffs due to start on Tuesday and the final scheduled for Saturday.

First up, Manawatu will face league leaders Otago Nuggets for an easier semi-final draw.

Vodanovich tells Newshub that long-range shooting was a particular focus of his workouts during coronavirus lockdown.

"It wasn't a standard hoop - it was a steel rim, wooden backboard, but it did the trick," he grins. "I had to chase the ball after it went through, because there was no net.

"It's something I've worked on for a long time and getting the opportunity to let fly when you're open is contributing, I think."

The NBL Showdown has certainly showcased Vodanovich's ability on the court, but he's still trying to shake the stigma of an offcourt incident during his last season with NZ Breakers, when police met a flight from Perth at Auckland Airport.

Vodanovich reacted badly to a combination of alcohol and sleeping pills, and became unruly during the trip.

"Unfortunately, it's one of those things that sticks with you," he tells Newshub. "That event was a little bit blown out of proportion.

"Nothing actually occurred. We were travelling on an overnight flight and it was meant to be quiet for everyone - it was unfortunate.

"I've learnt from my mistakes and it's something I don't want to carry with me. I think opportunities will come and people will judge my character based on the positives, not the negatives."

Although Vodanovich's contract with the Breakers is up, he has continued to train at the club's North Shore facility and they have been quick to trumpet his NBL achievements, suggesting there are no lingering ill feelings.

"I've got a good relationship with the guys at the Breakers," he says. "They know me for who I am, not those sort of things.

"They've got to look after their image too, but I don't think they're holding it against me."

Vodanovich's Breakers prospects will depend largely on the balance of their roster, where they have already signed other players covering his position.

"I think there is still a door open there - there's still a spot there, but I'm unsure what they want to do with it yet.

"I'm confident I should be able to get a job, whether it be in the ANBL or elsewhere. 

"By watching what's been happening here... I'm ready for it and they can see what they will get from me."

Here's how the NBL Showdown playoffs shape up:


Sixth v Seventh - Nelson Giants v Canterbury Rams
Losers to exit, winners to next round

First v Second - Otago Nuggets v Manawatu Jets
Both teams progress to semis, winners take higher seeding


Third v Elimination Winners - Auckland Huskies v Giants/Rams
Losers to exit, winners to semis

Fourth v Fifth - Taranaki Mountain Airs v Franklin Bulls
Losers to exit, winners to semis





NBL Showdown: Tom Vodanovich hopes MVP form overshadows tainted offcourt reputation