Jets vs. Airs: Battle of the Bigs Ends with Tightly Contested Airs Win

It was a back and forth Sal’s NBL affair as the Taranaki Steelformers Airs used every bit of energy to hold of a Property Brokers Manawatū Jets squad that was giving everything they had to secure a win in front of their home crowd. But in the end it wasn’t to be as a late Jets three missed and sealed a 83-78 victory for Taranaki. Both teams were heavily dependent on their star bigs, and boy did the big fellas deliver as a see-saw battle in the post eventually fell in the favour of Sam Froling (29pts, 14rbs), but only just, over Tyrell Harrison (16pts, 24rebs). 

The first quarter began with Harrison and Froling trading baskets, but it wasn’t just the big fellas delivering as imports Elijah Minnie and Mustapha Heron traded threes early as both teams felt each other out. The three’s kept flowing as Liam Judd hit another before attacking the rim for 5 straight points on his way to a career high 23. But things took a sudden turn for the Jets when import pg Jasper Rentoy went down with a knee injury that kept him out for the remainder of the game which allowed the Airs to stay within touch despite not finding a rhythm, as the Jets took a 1 point lead into the second period.

The 2nd quarter started as the game did, with Tyrell Harrison finding space inside, before Heron and Minnie traded highlight reel dunks that got the crowd to their feet. But the Airs would then turn the screws defensively, holding the Jets without a point for over 7 minutes as Mitch McCarron imprinted himself on the game with no look passes that got the Airs offense flowing. Liam Judd then responded with a spectacular layup to reach 12pts for the half before Sam Froling again found some space to reach 13pts and 9 rebs before Simon Lafaele hit a layup (with a bit of help from Froling) just before halftime to cut the Taranaki lead to 8 at 43-35.

After the break the Airs came out strong as the lead again reached 12 points, before Judd again inserted himself into the action to with a three pointer followed by a three point play that cut the lead to 2. But Sam Froling wasn’t to be denied, hitting back-to-back buckets to give the Airs a 5 point lead heading into the final term.

The fourth started slowly but then Mustapha Heron found form with 8 straight points to give the Jets their first lead of the second half with just over 7 minutes to play. New recruit Derone Raukawa then responded with back to back buckets to retake a 2 point lead. As the pressure mounted both teams lifted the defensive intensity as Elijah Minnie again found the ball to hit a 3 and tie the game at 75 with under 2 minutes to play. Heron responded with free throws before Minnie finished a skying baseline dunk with a foul to grab a 2-point lead. The Jets would then pepper the rim with 3 point attempts that failed to hit the mark before Liam Judd grabbed an o board and got fouled to head to the line with a chance to tie the game with 21 seconds left. Unfortunately for Jets fans he would split the pair, cutting the lead to one at 79-78. All the remaining scoring was done by the Airs, who wrap up coach Sam Mackinnon’s first Sal’s NBL win.

Result: Property Broker Manwatū Jets (78) lost to Taranaki Steelformers Airs (83)

Leading Players

[Manwatū Jets]: Liam Judd, 23pts, 6 reb, Mustapha Heron 21pts 5ast, Tyrell Harrison 16pts 24 rebs, Campbell Scott 10pts, 4 reb

[Taranaki Airs]: Sam Froling 29pts 14 rebs, Elijah Minnie 24pts 4 rebs, Mitch McCarron 11pts 11ast 7 rebs 3 stls, Carlin Davision 8pts 5 rebs 3stls

MVP Votes: Sam Froling (Airs) - 9 votes, Tyrell Harrison (Jets) - 9 votes, Elijah Minnie (Airs) - 4 votes, Mitch McCarron (Airs) - 4 votes, Liam Judd (Jets) - 3 votes, Mustapha Heron (Jets) - 1 vote


In the earlier Sky Broadband Rapid League game:

Airs Pick Up the Pace to Defeat the Manawatū Jets

The Taranaki Airs found another gear as they delivered the highest score total of the week so far by picking up the pace in transition to defeat the Manawatū Jets 43-33.

The first quarter was an up and down affair where finding pace in transition was a focus of both teams.  The Airs were able to enter the quarter break holding a 1-point advantage, 11-10, due to some yeomanlike work on the glass where they found a 7-4 tilt in their favor. The Jets

In the 2nd quarter the Airs came out firing, led by Tobias Cameron penetrating the defence for a couple of early quarter strong layup to take a 6-point lead. Nico Hill then got in on the action with a 3 point make to push the lead to 7. Bend but don’t break defense from the Jets saw several Airs missed opportunities at the rim before a Cambell Scott 3 cut the lead to 4. But once again Nico Hill found his way to the free throw line to grab a 6-point lead, 25-19, at the half.

In the 3rd quarter the Jets did their best to keep pace with a jumper from Cambell Scott and a couple of free throws trimmed the lead to 4, but Nico Hill responded with a 5 point possession, first getting fouled on a drive before an Airs o-board kick out had him knocking down a triple to stretch the lead to 9.

The Jets fought hard in the fourth as back to back buckets cut the lead to single digits with 3 minutes to play, but in the end there was just too much of Nico Hill to handle as he shut the door with a brilliant baseline drive that led to a strong finish that grabbed the hoop and the harm to effectively put the game out of reach as the Airs stretched the lead to 15 with just 1:30 to play.

Result: Manawatū Jets (33) lost to Taranaki Airs (43)

Leading Players:

[Manwatū Jets]: Lachlan Crate 8pts, Campbell Scott 5pts, 3ast, 3 reb, Lukah Richards 6pts, 7 rebs, 2ast,

[Taranaki Airs]: Nico Hill 16pts, 4reb, 3 stl, Morgan Trott 9pts, 11rebs, 1 blk, Tobias Cameron 8pts, Zavier Adam 4pts, 2reb, 3ast

MVP Votes: Nico Hill (Airs) - 10 votes, Morgan Trott (Airs) - 5 votes, Lachlan Crate (Jets) - 5 votes, Campbell Scott (Jets) - 3 votes, Tobias Cameron (airs) - 3 votes, Jakob Carr (Airs) - 2 votes, Lukah Richards (Jets) - 2 votes


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