The Night 'n Day Otago Nuggets have cruised past the Property Brokers Manawatu Jets 103-76 at the Edgar Centre on Sunday evening.
The Jets came into the game on the second night of a back-to-back, having played less than 24 hours earlier against the Giants in Palmerston North. They would make the trek down to Dunedin on gameday and already being undermanned, this was a tough ask for the Jets.
The Nuggets know they needed to come into this one aggressive and not give the Jets any sniff of hope, as Manawatu have pounced on any opening presented to them this season and it's a big reason why they've caught a lot of teams off guard. The Nuggets weren't about to let themselves fall victim, though, as their three imports Todd Withers, Keith Williams and Tray Boyd III all knew the task at hand and went to work.
Withers nailed seven 3-pointers for his game-high 25 points, adding 10 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. Former Cincinnati Bearcat Keith Williams has been lighting it up for the Nuggets in recent weeks and he notched another 20-point game in this one, finishing with 24 points with a pair of triples.
Without centre Sam Timmins to Tall Blacks duties, the question was how would the Nuggets fair in the paint. Young big man Jack Andrew did an admirable job in his absence, posting seven points, five rebounds and three blocks in 30 minutes of action.
Rob Crawford has been battling illness over the past week or so but he hasn't let that slow him down. He had 22 points in the loss and didn't look a step behind at all. Zane Najdawi recorded 22 points and 17 rebounds to assist Crawford, but in the end the Jets were simply outmatched and the extra travel wear and tear would have added to an already difficult task.
The Jets are no longer in the Final 6 hunt, but they absolutely still have a role to play this season. Like the Southland Sharks, they can embrace the role of spoiler and try and disrupt other teams' playoff aspirations.
Otago need to keep their foot on the gas and it won't be easy, with the red-hot Taranaki Airs coming to town in Round 13.
SCORE: Nuggets 103, Jets 76
Nuggets: Withers 25 PTS, 10 REB, 4 AST, 3 STL, 7 3PM | Williams 24 PTS | Boyd 18 PTS, 7 REB, 5 AST, 3 STL
Jets: Crawford 22 PTS, 7 REB | Najdawi 22 PTS, 17 REB
Full box score HERE.
Stuff MVP Votes
Todd Withers (Nuggets) - 10 votes
Keith Williams (Nuggets) - 8 votes
Tray Boyd III (Nuggets) - 4 votes
Rob Crawford (Jets) - 4 votes
Zane Najdawi (Jets) - 4 votes
Nuggets - July 24 vs. Taranaki Airs
Jets – July 23 vs. Wellington Saints
Round 13 Sal's NBL Schedule