In a top of the table clash, the Steelformers Taranaki Mountainairs took on Property Brokers See Me Manawatu Jets to round out week four of the Sal’s NBL at Trusts Arena on Sunday and it was the Jets that prevailed in a high scoring encounter 118-103.
The Jets had won the previous meeting between the two teams (102-93) and benefitting from a dominant fourth quarter display they again proved too good for the Airs.
Hyrum Harris returned to the Jets team and was immediately reinstated to their starting five despite missing the previous six games with a hip injury. The move worked wonders with the swingman putting together a rare triple-double of 24 points (8/12FG), 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
The Jets showed off their scoring prowess by making over thirty points in each of the final three periods, with Taane Samuel (22 points), Nelson Kirksey (19 points), Tom Vodanovich (19 points), Ashton McQueen (12 points) and Jayden Bezzant (12 points) joining Harris in the scoring extravaganza.
The Jets carried an 85-80 lead into the final quarter but with Shane Temara causing them some problems in the low post, the lead was only five points three minutes into the fourth.
Kirksey found his range from deep and with five to play it was 105-96 in favour of the Jets.
McQueen, as he has done with great regularity, dropped a corner three and when Harris scored inside the Jets were 113-98 to the good with 3:30 to play.
There was no way back from there for the Airs. They were well served by Derone Raukawa (29 points and 10 rebounds), Marcel Jones (24 points), Shane Temara (13 points and 10 rebounds), Kenneth Tuffin (11 points) and Mitch Dance (11 points) but had little left in the tank when the Jets launched their final assault.
It was a third straight win for the Jets and they move to the top of the NBL ladder alongside the Otago Nuggets with a 7-4 record, the Airs are close behind on 7-5.
Earlier the Jets carried a 25-22 lead into the first break.
Harris made a triple to level the scores and McQueen then gave the Jets their first lead of the game, although with Raukawa becoming the first player into double figures and Tuffin making an elegant floater the Airs recaptured the lead.
A 9-0 run from the Jets changed that and with Nick Fee, Bezzant, Samuel and Haize Walker all connecting from deep it was Manawatu with the lead at half-time (54-48).
Raukawa led all scorers at the interval with 19 points, Kirksey and Samuel the best for the Jets with 11 points each.
Tai Wynyard scored the opening bucket of the second half but Harris answered with a brace. The Jones-Raukawa combination then got to work forging a 64-59 lead for the Airs.
Bezzant, a little quiet in the first half, made an And-1 play, Vodanovich a triple and Samuel a trey also, as momentum again swung the way of the Jets – 85-80 was their lead with all to play for in the fourth.
As it turned out the Jets were preparing for take-off!
Sky City MVP Votes:
Hyrum Harris (Jets-10), Derone Raukawa (Airs-8), Marcel Jones (Airs-5), Taane Samuel (Jets-5), Nelson Kirksey (Jets-2).