The Mike Pero Nelson Giants have come from behind in the fourth quarter to claim a 99-94 win over the Manawatu Jets and keep the visitors without a win through three rounds.
The game was played at a frantic pace from the outset, with both teams going tit for tat on made baskets. Hot shooting from Wally Ellenson saw the away team leading for the majority of the quarter, but a few quick scores by the Giants, including a fadeaway to beat the buzzer by Tom Ingham, saw the home team surge ahead 25-22 at the end of the period.
Play continued in the same fashion as the first in the second quarter, with the visitors relying heavily on the scoring of imports Ellenson and Kuran Iverson to keep the Jets within striking distance. Big man Rhys Vague was stroking it from all over the court for the Giants, pouring in 10 points to bring his total to 19 by the half. Fellow import Jordair Jett was also instrumental in guiding the home side to 50-45 halftime lead, assisting on a number of his teammates’ shots and providing a bucket when called upon.
A fast start to the second half by the Jets saw them nail a pair of uncontested treys and swing the momentum back in their favour. An 18-4 run by the men in green turned what was five-point deficit into a 63-54 lead midway through the third. However, this near double-digit lead wouldn't last long, as super-sub Ali Granger nailed a pair of threes and young stud Tyrell Harrison threw down multiple dunks to close the gap to three at the end of the third.
This was the third occasion the Jets had held a fourth-quarter lead this season and unfortunately, the end result was similar to that of their recent fixtures. Miscommunication on defence lead to a number of unguarded shots for the Giants, with many of them finding the bottom of the net. Their work on the other end was much the same as their defence, but the individual brilliance of Iverson and Ellenson and their ability to make difficult shots made it a close ball game.
The game would come down to a possession with just over 40 seconds on the clock and the Giants holding a one-point lead. Birthday boy, Daniel Grida, drove baseline on an attempt at a reverse layup and would convert the shot whilst drawing the foul from Ellenson to extend the lead to three with a chance to make it four. He would the extra-point and then play stellar defence on the Jets inbound play a see his opponents shot rattle of the rim and into the palms of big man Rhys Vague. The Jets would foul in the hope of missed free-throws but the home team would make all of them and send the Jets home with yet another courageous loss.
The Sal's MVP honours would go to Jett who notched his first double-double of the season, finishing with 21 points, 13 dishes and six boards. Vague and Grida chimed in with 23 and 19 points respectively, while Harrison was a spark plug in the third and fourth quarters with big plays on the defensive end.
Ellenson and Iverson were once again the key contributors for the Jets, with each of them scoring in the 20s and stuffing the stat sheet elsewhere. Shane Temara finished with 12 and 11 in what was his best performance of the season so far, but perhaps the biggest let down was the play of Daishon Knight who went 2-16 from the field. The 2018 scoring champion could not get anything going in both halves and was unable to execute for his team when it mattered most.
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