The Mike Pero Nelson Giants have held off a furious fourth quarter push to beat the Property Brokers Manawatu Jets 88-84 in Palmerston North.
It took a few reps for both teams to get into the flow of the game in the first quarter but the Giants in particular had a quarter to forget. They shot just 5-of-15 from the field through the first 10 minutes of action, quite a different story to when the two teams met on Wednesday. Poor shooting was one issue but the Giants were getting outworked on the glass with a 16-5 advantage to the Jets.
After not being able to play on Wednesday due to an admin error, Jets guard Nathaniel Salmon was aggressive in his appearance off the bench in the first quarter with six points. He also threw down a big right handed dunk which you'll almost certainly see in the Top 5 Plays of the Week. Salmon helped the Jets to a 21-15 lead after one quarter.
The Giants turned up the tempo on offence in the second quarter but the Jets matched their energy and then some. They claimed the second 28-26, again behind some outstanding work on the glass and a scoring punch from import Robert Crawford (14 points). Rebounding was becoming a real issue in this one for the Giants, getting outdone 27-11 overall and conceding 11 offensive rebounds to the gritty Jets.
American big man Zane Najdawi was leading the charge on the boards with fellow import John Bohannon (illness) sidelined again. Najdawi reeled in 11 first half rebounds to go with six points. He was locked in a physical tussle with Giants centre Trey Mourning in the paint, who turned in an impressive first half himself with 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the floor.
It fell apart for Manawatu in the third quarter, though, as the Giants cranked up the heat on defence. They outscored the Jets 33-14 in the third and it felt like a fatal blow in the contest. Nelson are the top team on the ladder for good reason and they showed why with their adjustments to erase the deficit and build a double digit lead as well.
Head coach Mike Fitchett would have hammered home the importance of rebounding at halftime and his team responded in a big way, gaining a 15-4 advantage in the third quarter. It gave them a solid foundation to attack on offence and is obviously a biproduct of good defence, too. After trailing 41-49 at the half, the Giants possessed a 74-63 lead heading to the fourth quarter.
The Jets, as they've down countless times this season, showed fight down the stretch with a packed house behind them. They pushed the Giants to the absolute limit over the course of the fourth quarter, cutting into the deficit and refusing to roll over in the closing minutes. The hustle of the Jets flustered the Giants and the brilliance of Rob Crawford got them to as close as two points with two seconds to play.
Despite the valiant effort, the Jets' Final 6 hopes have unfortunately been dashed. However, like we saw with the Sharks on Friday night playing the role of spoiler can be quite the fulfilling role so they should embrace it. They head to Otago for a date with another team in the Final 6 hunt the Nuggets.
SCORE: Jets 84, Giants 88
Jets: Crawford 28 PTS | Temara 16 PTS, 12 REB | Najdawi 12 PTS, 14 REB
Giants: Mourning 27 PTS, 10 REB, 9-11 FG | West 11 PTS, 15 AST | Thompson 27 PTS
Full box score HERE.
Stuff MVP Votes
Trey Mourning (Giants) - 9 votes
Rob Crawford (Jets) - 6 votes
Sam Thompson (Giants) - 5 votes
Jarrod West (Giants) - 4 votes
Shane Temara (Jets) - 3 votes
Sam Dempster (Giants) - 3 votes
Jets - July 17 @ Otago Nuggets
Giants – July 23 @ Canterbury Rams
Round 12 Sal's NBL Schedule