The Auckland Huskies are on the board, ending a run of three losses and finally claiming a win with a comprehensive victory over the Steelformers Taranaki Mountainairs, 109-93
It was a sharp turnaround for the Huskies, especially at the offensive end as they finally found a way to start scoring, and they did it in fashion - dropping 12 treys and shooting at a 51% clip for the game.
He may have shot 1 of 15 in his opening game on Sunday night, but it took less than half a minute in game two for Izayah Le'afa to drain a triple to open the scoring for the Huskies. In fact Le'afa also nailed his second shot, another trey, and than handed the ball off to Taine Murray for the Huskies third straight triple to start the game, a 9-2 start.
By quarter time 60pts had been poured in (Huskies 32 - Airs 28) during an entertaining opening 10 minutes. Le'afa ended the quarter with 9pts, Taine Murray had 6pts with the Huskies shooting at a 65% clip, basically double what they were previously shooting in week one.
The Airs enjoyed a good start from Kenneth Tuffin (10pts) with the team getting back on track and responding from a 4-17 opening five minutes.
The opening to the second quarter was just as frantic with both teams piling in early points. Both Le'afa and Tuffin continued to shine. By the half (66-44) the Huskies had scored more points than they managed on Sunday (59pts). It was a startling turnaround backed by an incredible 71% shooting clip across the first half.
A 34-16 second period proved to be the downfall for the Airs.
Such was Auckland's first-half dominance, Le'afa (13), Nate Wilson (11), Taine Murray (11) and Tohi Smith-Milner (10) were all in double digits scoring.
At the other end, Tuffin (13) and Derone Raukawa (10) were doing their bit, while Marcel Jones had 6pts on 2/10 shooting.
While the third period evened out (21-20 to the Huskies), the damage had been done. This was a night for the Huskies to savour, a night they got some confidence and showed all comers that they are on the improve.
A 22-19 last quarter finished the job with six Huskies in double digits, led by Le'afa (20pts, 7ast) who stamped his authority all over the contest. Best for the Airs were Derone Raukawa (19pts, 9ast), Marcel Jones (14pts, 13rbs) and Kenneth Tuffin (19pts).
Leon Henry also delivered a big game for the Huskies (18pts, 14rbs), but is certain to come under the scrutiny of the Game Review Panel following an incident in the third quarter where he was seen to grab Derone Raukawa around the neck.
So the Huskies are on the board and the Airs have dropped a second game in a row after a great start.
Taranaki Mountainairs 93 (Derone Raukawa 19pts, 9ast / Kenneth Tuffin 19pts / Marcel Jones 14pts, 13rbs, 6ast)
Auckland Huskies 109 (Izayah Le'afa 20pts, 7ast / Leon Henry 18pts, 14rbs / Tohi Smith-Milner 16pts / Taine Murray 15pts / Nate Wilson 15pts)
1. The Huskies finally found their shooting stroke. Right form the start the Aucklanders had their eye in and they simply never let up. The timing couldn't have been better and the Huskies are now finally on the board.
2. Leon Henry will face some scrutiny for a third-quarter incident when he clashed with Derone Raukawa. Expect an update overnight from the NBL's Game Review Panel.
3. Izayah Le'afa came to play, dropping his first three shots (all triples) before going on to delivering 20pts, 5rbs and 7ast. The Huskies instantly look better with Le'afa running the show. All up there were six Huskies in double digits.
SKYCITY MVP Votes:
Izayah Le'afa (Huskies-10), Leon Henry (Huskies-7), Derone Raukawa (Airs-7), Tohi Smith-Milner (Huskies-3), Kenneth Tuffin (Airs-2), Marcel Jones (Airs-1).