Airs Take Opening Win Over Giants

The 2020 Sal's NBL Showdown has delivered a 208pt bonanza to start the season in Auckland with the Steelformers Taranaki Mountainairs winning 112-96 over the Mike Pero Nelson Giants.

The high-scoring game was full of thrills and spills, along with a number of star performances, none better that the Airs' Derone Raukawa (28pts, 10ast, 5 treys).

The slick guard was the opening pick for the Airs at the Sal's NBL Draft and he didn't disappoint first-up, showing plenty of poise, court leadership and a fleet-footed turn of speed.

Others to impress for the winners included Frances Mulvihill (16pts) and Tai Wynyard (13pts), while Marcel Jones was everywhere with his 13pts, 12rbs, 7ast.

The Airs shot at an impressive 59% clip, a telling advantage against Nelson's 46%.

There was a lot to like about the Giants, particularly given they were without their star-studded top three players in Mika Vukona (quarantine), Mike Karena (ankle) and Dane Brooks (groin). Both Vukona and Karena could be back for the clash against the Nuggets on Thursday. 

Best for the Giants included Nic Trathen (23pts), Tom Ingham (23pts) and Tysxun Aiolupotea (20pts).

Talking Points

  1. Derone Raukawa wasted little time in showing his class, dropping long bombs, getting to the rack and bringing others into the game. It was a star showing on night one and a reminder to Tall Blacks coaches of what he brings to the floor.
  2.  The Derone Raukawa - Marcel Jones combo looks exciting. Both can score in spades and both looked sharp to open the season.
  3.  The Giants can't win a trick right now with a few injuries testing their depth. Thane O'Leary lasted just 3:39 in this contest before exited the game and failed to return. On the upside, Ryan Laumatia (8pts) came in as an injury replacement for Dane Brooks and held his own.

SkyCity MVP Votes: Derone Raukawa / Airs (10), Frances Mulvihill / Airs (6), Nic Trathen / Giants (5), Tom Ingham / Giants (5), Tai Wynyard / Airs (4).

Photo Credit: PhotoSportNZ


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