The Wheeler Motor Company Canterbury Rams became the second team to lose their 2020 Sal’s NBL Showdown unbeaten record on Wednesday after going down 108-93 to the Property Brokers See Me Media Manawatu Jets at The Trusts Arena.
Both teams shot over 50% from the field but on the night it was the Jets quartet of Taane Samuels (27 points), Jayden Bezzant, Tom Vodanovich (both 25 points) and Hyrum Harris (18 points) that carried them home.
Taylor Britt (23 points, seven rebounds and five assists), Tom Webley (17 points) and Sam Smith (16 points) made major contributions for the Rams, but the Cantabs were second best for most of the night.
The Rams, not having the best of luck with injuries, were without Toby Gillooly, although they were able to give new signing Quintin Bailey a run. The Taranaki native recently returned from four years at college in the States and had an encouraging debut finishing with nine points and five rebounds in 20 minutes of action.
Taane Samuels score a dozen points as the Jets opened proceedings with a 22-16 first-quarter lead.
Rams teenage rookie Mason Whittaker opened the second quarter scoring and when fellow rookie Ben Carlisle-Smith got to the basket the Jets lead had been all but extinguished.
The battle between arguably the two form point guards in the competition - Jayden Bezzant and Taylor Britt – was even at the break. The pair had 10 points apiece but it was Bezzant and the Jets with a 47-43 advantage at the interval.
Webley threw down a dunk at the midpoint of the third but a three-point reply from Vodanovich pushed the Jets buffer to double digits. It was still that way at the last break, the Jets ahead 79-64.
Rams coach Mick Downer could sense the game slipping away and called a timeout with his team down 87-71, three minutes into the final frame.
Britt and Alex Talma scored on the resumption, only for Vodanovich and Harris to counter – the Jets leading by 16 points with five minutes to play.
Back to back threes from Samuel and Vodanovich - both had five triples in the game - consigned the Rams to their first loss of the season.
Sky City MVP Votes:
Taane Samuel (Jets-10), Tom Vodanovich (Jets-8), Taylor Britt (Rams-5), Jayden Bezzant (Jets-5), Tom Webley (Rams-2).