The Taranaki Mountainairs have impressed their raucous home fans with a strong 20-point win over the Manawatu Jets under the Thursday Night Lights and with the victory should come the extra bonus of avoiding the wooden spoon should R14 games play out as expected.
Unfortunately for the Jets it wasn't the result they wanted because with the loss comes the bad news that they are now in the hot seat for that same spoon.
It was a strong performance by the Airs, they won every quarter (26-22, 28-27, 30-26, 29-18) and enjoyed having three players scoring 25pts or more for the first time this season. It was also their highest score of the season and the first time the men in black and gold have topped the century mark in 2019.
While both teams shot at 53%, it was Taranaki's 18 to 8 triples that proved critical, while a handy 20 points scored off Manawatu's turnovers was also telling. The Airs also enjoyed 15pts off the bench compared with just a solitary basket (2pts) scored by the visitors' second unit.
Aaron Bailey-Nowell (25pts) played one of his best games of the season for the winners, Alonzo Burton dropped 27pts and Derone Raukawa scored 26pts, with the starting trio combining for 15 treys in a quality display of long-range shooting.
For the Jets, who constantly made runs at the Airs but could never quite maintain momentum, Wally Ellenson (26pts), Taane Samuel (21pts) and Daishon Knight (20pts) led the way.
Both teams now have one game to play, the Airs play at home to the Giants, while the Jets head south to play against the Sharks.
Taranaki Mountainairs 113 def Manawatu Jets 93
Airs - Alonzo Burton 27pts & 5 treys, Derone Raukawa 26pts & 6 treys, Aaron Bailey-Nowell 25pts & 4 treys.
Jets - Wally Ellenson 26pts, Taane Samuel 21pts & 14rbs, Daishon Knight 20pts & 8ast.
Stats That Matter - the Airs enjoyed a good night from downtown, dropping 18 triples compared with just 8 from the Jets.
TAB MVP Votes - Aaron Bailey-Nowell (Airs) 10, Wally Ellenson (Jets) 6, Derone Raukawa (Airs) 5, Alonzo Burton (Airs) 3, Houston O'Riley (Airs) 3, Taane Samuel (Jets) 3.
(Photo credit: PhotosportNZ)