It what could best be termed a workmanlike performance - the Hawke's Bay Hawks visited Auckland without star wing EJ Singler to play the young Supercity Rangers to end R13 in the Sal's NBL and did what they had to do, winning 112-89 courtesy of a 31-20 final period.
The plucky young Rangers relished the challenge against the vastly superior Hawks, wiping away the fear of not having star imports Venky Jois, Tim Quarterman or Nnanna Egwu, and simply taking a free swing and giving their all. At one stage during the first quarter the Rangers found themselves up 17-10.
A competitive first half featured some great shooting from Jaylen Gerrand, who's 15pts kept the scoreboard ticking over for the Rangers and after 20 minutes of action the home team found themselves within touch, down 44-52. Gerrard finished the game with a team high 23pts in less than 17 minutes on the court.
Hawks coach Zico Coronel always looked in control and rotated his 10-man squad well, though stars Jarrod Kenny (30 minutes), Brandon Bowman (32 minutes) and Ethan Rusbatch (33 minutes) probably played a little more than their coach may have envisaged.
The Rangers successfully spread the workload and gave some added opportunity to a string of younger players. Highlighting the shared minutes was the return of 59 points off the bench, possibly a season-high across the league.
A 29-20 second quarter and 31-20 final quarter provide telling in the win, the Hawks eventually getting home by 23pts. The Rangers will finish their season next week with a home game against unbeaten Saints, while the Hawks face a tough R14 schedule with a home game against the Rams followed by a visit Tasmania looming as not the best path through to the final 4 the following week.
Supercity Rangers 89 lost to Hawke's Bay Hawks 112
Rangers - Jaylen Gerrand 23pts, Mikaere Watene 12pts.
Hawks - Brandon Bowman 29pts & 13rbs, Ethan Rusbatch 26pts, Jarrod Kenny 14pts, 11rbs & 8ast.
Stats That Matter - plenty of Rangers saw minutes and as result the home team enjoyed a very high 59pts off the bench, largely helped by Gerrand's 23pts in less than 17 minutes of play.
TAB MVP Votes - Brandon Bowman (Hawks) 10, Ethan Rusbatch (Hawks) 8, Jaylen Gerrand (Rangers) 6, Jarrod Kenny (Hawks) 4, Mikaere Watene (Rangers) 2.
(photo credit: Photosport NZ)