The Property Brokers See Me Media Manawatu Jets, coming off a loss to the Franklin Bulls 24-hours earlier, bounced back in impressive style to defeat the Steelformers Taranaki Mountainairs 102-93 at The Trust Arena this evening.
A 16-0 run late in the third quarter propelled the Jets to their third win in the Sal's NBL Showdown and moves them to second on the table, the position the Airs occupied before the tip-off. All five of Manawatu's starters hit double figures in scoring before the game's end, but it was Taane Samuel who earned man of the match honours with 24 points, 11 rebounds and two steals.
Both teams were a little down on manpower, with Hyrum Harris sitting out his second game with a hip injury and Tai Wynyard missing from the Airs line-up with a bout of food poisoning.
Sub-par shooting from both inside and outside by the Jets in the opening quarter (6-21) saw them trail after the first buzzer, but only by a single point (22-23). Jayden Bezzant got going early with two treys, while for the Airs it was Rauakwa and Mulvihill carrying the bulk a scoring load in the period with 17 points between them.
Tom Vodanovich struggled to put the ball in the hole in the first half but made up for his inefficiency by hustling for rebounds at both ends. Fellow starters Nic Fee and Ashton McQueen chimed in to keep the points ticking over for their team, putting up 10 apiece with the exact same shot attempts and conversion rate. Taranaki's backcourt bumped their contribution up to 27 before the oranges, but Marcel Jones also found his stroke and flirted with a double-double (8pts & 9rbs) as they kept the driver's seat with a two-point lead (51-49) at the midpoint.
Shane Temara notched the second stanza's first points with a triple, but Samuel replied with a three-point play before Vodanovich blew by a pair of defenders for the lay to tie the game. The two sides traded blows from the eight-minute mark until the third, then from there, the Jets found another gear. A Samuel jumper broke the deadlock at 68 all and kick-started a 16-0 run to give Manawatu some breathing room. Temara and Jones added to their totals to slow the momentum, but they were now behind 88-76 going into the fourth.
The Airs wasted no time in trying to swing the fixture back in their favour by scoring six straight and halfway through the quarter it was a two-possession contest. The Jet's big three of Samuel, Bezzant and Vodanovich combined for three buckets in a row to keep Taranaki at bay with less than three minutes to go, and the latter shut the gates in the final 60 seconds with a trey.
Final Score: Jets 102 Airs 93
SkyCity MVP Votes: - Taane Samuel (Jets-8), Derone Raukawa (Airs-8), Jayden Bezzant (Jets-7), Shane Temara (Airs-5), Kalib Mullins (Jets-1), Francis Mulvihill (Airs-1).