A collective effort The Property Brokers, See Me Media Manawatu Jets starters got them back to winning ways, taking down the Auckland Huskies 105-100 at The Trusts Arena this evening.
The Jets were handed their biggest loss by Otago last night, but it seemed to do little to their confidence as they shot the ball at both a 50% clip from the field and beyond the arc.
Taane Samuel (26pts & 5rbs) and Tom Vodanovich (26pts & 8rbs) put in shifts we've come to expect from the forwards, with Bezzant (14pts) and Kirksey (17pts & 10rbs) providing an added punch on offence.
Losing a close fixture isn't pleasant, but the performance of the Huskies' backcourt in Taine Murray (35pts & 5rbs) and Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa (25pts & 8ast) was a silver lining. The guards, for the most part, were a two-man show for the locals and at times looked like their output could get them over the line.
Manawatu was quicker out of the blocks than their counterparts, leading 14-6 after the first five minutes thanks to the playmaking and shooting of Bezzant and Samuel.
The Huskies found an offensive groove when Murray and Le'afa-Mouriohooho registered triples, and as the Jets failed to score towards the back end of the quarter they only trailed by a point at the first break. Murray played the leading role in the fightback with 15 points.
Both sides wasted no time in getting up and down the floor, looking to catch their retreating foes on the hop before the defence was set.
Vodanovich and Samuel caused the most havoc in transition and capitalised on a number of opportunities close to the rim, but American Nelson Kirksey, who quietly went about his business the whole game, also chimed in with a pair of threes.
Auckland went about their work in a similar manner, but couldn't convert at quite the same rate as Manawatu. The slight disparity ending with the latter up 54-43 going into the second stanza.
Another talking point from the opening half was the abundance of triples attempted, where combined the two teams hoisted 37.
The Huskies' scoring continued to come from both Murray and Le'afa-Mouriohooho after the interval, but the duo was in need of an extra set of hands to give them more room to move.
The answer to that call was mainly Tall Black Tohi Smith-Milner (8pts in the 3rd), who along with a few scores from Leon Henry and the aforementioned guards helped reduce to the deficit to single figures, 79-71, heading into the final quarter.
Smith-Milner's departure from the game early in fourth because of an ankle injury did the Huskies' push for a comeback no favours, but Murray and Le'afa- Mauriohooho kept their feet on the gas to keep their side within striking distance.
It was a two-possession contest with just under half a quarter to play, only Auckland's hopes would be handed another blow with Henry picking up his fifth foul. Samuel splashed home his fifth trey from the ensuing inbound and from there, Manawatu never looked like coughing it up.
SkyCity MVP Votes:
Taine Murray (Huskies-8), Tom Vodanovich (Jets-7), Izayah Le'afa (Huskies-6), Taane Samuel (Jets-6), Tohi Smith-Milner (Huskies-2), Jayden Bezzant (Jets-1).