Hawks narrowly swoop by Airs

The Taylor Hawke’s Bay Hawks left TSB Stadium in New Plymouth with another win this evening after holding off the Taranaki Steelformers Mountainairs 90-87.

Tall Black Ethan Rusbatch was lethal from all areas of the court and finished with a game-high 33 points to go along with five rebounds. His stroke combined with Jonathan Janssen’s (19pts & 10rbs) work around the rim had the Hawks out in front for 35 out of the 40 minutes in this clash.  

Fastforwarding to the most exciting stage and it was the visitors who led by seven at the start of the fourth. They added another seven before the home team replied with a score of their own.

The two traded baskets up until the game’s final two minutes, with the Airs then finding a way to keep the ball out of their own rim and through the Hawks.

They’d fall one hurdle short with Jones’ miss, but Coach Trent Adam can take some positives away with how his side fought until the bitter end.

As mentioned, Rusbatch had his jumper going and was hot out of the gate for the visitors, draining three triples and in tandem with Jonathan Janssen gave their side a 23-18 advantage at the first break.

The Hawks came out in a zone in the second set of 10 which gave the Airs trouble finding points. Marcel Jones did his best to create scoring chances for his teammates on the odd defence lapse, but the bird gang added to their buffer and led 50-36 at the close of the half.

Needing to start the better of the two out of the interval, the hosts turned to their big man, Tai Wynyard, to get the points rolling and draw help to free up the space for shooting from the outside.

The big man finished with nine of his side’s 27 in the quarter and played a pivotal role in keeping their opposites to 20. Unfortunately for the Airs, Rusbatch kept converting on his looks and his confidence carried over to the last spell.


Taranaki Airs (87) lost to Hawke’s Bay Hawks (90) - BOXSCORE

Airs: Marcel Jones (30pts, 14rbs & 6ast), Tai Wynyard (13pts & 5rbs), Francis Mulvihill (14pts).

Hawks: Ethan Rusbatch (33pts & 5rbs), Jonathan Janssen (19pts & 10rbs), Hyrum Harris (8pts, 7rbs & 5ast).



  1. Ethan Rusbatch had a slow first couple of rounds to open his account for the 2021 Sal's NBL season, but tonight he was a man who hardly put a foot wrong and torched the Airs when they gave him a slither of space. The marksman went 7/14 from deep and 6/6 from the charity stripe. 
  2. You always know what you're to get with Marcel Jones and that's points, rebounds and assists. What isn't known is where the other pieces of production are going to come from for the Airs. Tai Wynyard has shown over the last few outings that he's capable of lending a hand, only you're going to need more than two contributors to be on the right side of ledger more often than not.
  3. Having so many weapons on offence can be a double-edged sword and at the moment the Hawks aren't being faced with the sharp end. If the likes of Derone Raukawa and Hyrum Harris continue to play unselfishly when someone else is feeling it, they're going to be a hard team to stop.


Stuff MVP Votes

Ethan Rusbatch (Hawks) - 10

Jonathan Janssen (Hawks) - 7

Marcel Jones (Airs) - 5

Tai Wynyard (Airs) - 4

Derone Raukawa (Hawks) - 2

Hyrum Harris (Hawks) - 1

Francis Mulvihill (Airs) - 1


(Photo Credit: PhotosportNZ)


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