The Taranaki Steelformers Airs have grounded the Jets in Palmerston North tonight, with a dominant 78-57 win against a young Manawatu team.
Playing on the 2nd night of a back-to-back, the Airs shook off their Saturday loss versus the Auckland Tuatara to pick up the strong win in this one.
Tai Wynyard led the way with 25 points & 9 rebounds for the Airs, often bullying his way around the rim with his size and strength. He received support from fellow Tall Black Richie Rodger (9 points) and Carlin Davison – who had 8 points, 4 steals and 3 blocks in a solid defensive effort. Benji Freeman came off the bench with 10 points and 7 rebounds to help seal the win.
The Jets were led by Jacob Collis, who came off the bench to earn 12 points on a perfect 6-6 shooting. Other contributions came from the Salmon brothers; Klein with 10 points and 4 steals, and Nathaniel registering 8 points and 4 rebounds, and Petelo Leaupepe – who hit a pair of threes late in the game in limited court time.
The game began on a poignant note, with Manawatu holding a moment’s silence for former teammate Jake McKinlay who passed away at the end of last year; Haize Walker also presenting Jake’s whānau with a Jets jersey in the family’s honour.
The Airs rode a dominant first half to go up 41-21; their defence forcing the Jets into 11 first-half turnovers and holding their opponents to 7-25 shooting. By comparison, the Airs shot 48% from the field, including 6-12 for downtown.
The young Jets came out with more confidence in the second half, going on a 15-7 run to open the third and outscoring the Airs 20-15 in the quarter – much to the fan’s delight. Undaunted, the Airs would turn up the heat in the fourth quarter, led by the imposing Wynyard and the defence of Davison.
Despite the loss, the Jets will be buoyed by their play in the third quarter, as well as the contributions of their young players against a more experienced team in Taranaki.
SCORE: Airs 78, Nuggets 57
Airs: Wynyard 25 PTS & 9 REB | Davison 8 PTS & 4 STL & 3 BLK | Rodger 9 PTS
Jets: Collis 12 PTS | K. Salmon 10 PTS & 4 STL | N. Salmon 8 PTS & 4 REB
Full box score HERE.
Stuff MVP Votes
Tai Wynyard (Airs) - 10 votes
Richie Rodger (Airs) - 4 votes
Nathaniel Salmon (Jets) - 4 votes
Haize Walker (Airs) - 3 votes
Jacob Collis (Jets) - 3 votes
Aaron Bailey-Nowell (Airs) - 2 votes
Jets - May 8 vs. Southland Sharks
Airs - May 5 vs. Hawkes Bay Hawks
Round 2 Sal's NBL Schedule