Property Brokers See Me Manawatu Jets retained their top spot on the Sal’s NBL ladder with a 99-84 win against EnviroNZ Franklin Bulls in the early game at Trusts Arena on Tuesday.
It was the Jets fourth win on the bounce and their fifth in six games and they now boast an 8-4 record with two regular season games left to play - a place in the favoured top two spots on the NBL ladder looking more than likely.
A white hot shooting performance from Tom Vodanovich paced the impressive Jets. The Tall Blacks forward put up the highest individual score of NBL 20 notching 43 points (10/16 3PG) whilst also adding 11 rebounds.
The Jets seemed to have little trouble in breaking down the stingiest defence in the NBL. The Bulls had given up just 80 points per game but the Jets had moved past that mark with 11 minutes to play and cruised through the closing minutes giving extended playing time to their bench crew.
Vodanovich got good support from Taane Samuel (16 points), Nick Fee (12 points) and Jayden Bezzant (10 points) and Hyrum Harris (9 points and 12 rebounds) as the Jets once again flexed their collective scoring muscles.
On a disappointing night for the Bulls Dom Kelman-Poto top scored with 21 points (9/16FG), Isaac Davidson notched 16 points with Everard Bartlett and Dru-Leo Leusogi-Ape making 11 points each.
Kelman-Poto knocked down a couple of threes in high paced opening but the balanced offence of the Jets delivered them a 31-20 advantage at quarter time, the fourth period in succession the Jets had scored more than 30 points.
Dru-Leo Leusogi-Ape scored nine of the first fourteen points in the second quarter to trim the margin to seven points but Vodanovich made a mighty five triples in the period to hold the Huskies at bay. With Samuel chipping in 11 points and Harris (6 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists) continuing his good form, the Jets were 55-40 ahead at the interval.
Samuel, Stubbins, Bezzant and Bartlett connected from beyond the arc for the first four scores of the second half however when Vodanovich found Harris with an exquisite assist the Jets were almost twenty points ahead.
Davidson struck back for the Bulls but Vodanovich was lighting up Trusts Arena – his eighth three making it 81-55 to the ‘Green Machine’ with ten minutes to play.
The Bulls had the better of the fourth quarter but the game was over as a contest midway through the third.
The Jets now boast an 8-4 record with the Bulls slipping to 6-6.
• Jets 99 – Vodanovich 43/11r, Samuel 16, Fee 12 Bezzant 10, Harris 9/10r, Temata-Frost 9
• Bulls 84 – Kelman-Poto 21/11r, Davidson 16, Bartlett 11, Leusogi-Ape 11, Barrow 8
1. The Jets have 5 players in the Top-15 scorers in the NBL all averaging 16 points or better, little surprising as a team they are averaging 98 points per game.
2. Three wins on the bounce had propelled the Jets to equal top spot on the NBL ladder. Could they record a fourth consecutive victory to give them the outright lead? The answere was an emphatic YES.
3. The Bulls last 5 results had been L W L W L. With an 83-72 win when the teams last faced-off surely another Bulls W would be the outcome? The sequence was not so much broken as shattered as the Jets stormed the Bullring.
Sky City MVP Votes:
Tom Vodanovich (Jets-10), Hyrum Harris (Jets-8), Dom Kelman-Poto (Bulls-5), Taane Samuel (Jets-3), Nick Fee (Jets-2), Everard Bartlett (Bulls-2).