The Fluid Recruitment Otago Nuggets head into the semi-finals as top dog after thumping the undermanned Jets 105-80 in the qualifying final at The Trusts Arena this evening.
Tom Vodanovich was a scratch for the Jets before tip-off and Coach Tim McTamney also chose to leave Taane Samuel and Jayden Bezzant out of the starting line up. The changes made a noticeable difference to their offence and was a big reason as to why the losing margin was so hefty.
The opening minutes saw the League's top two teams trade blows from inside and out, but the Nuggets put themselves a step ahead after nine straight points. Scores from a handful of Jets got them out of their slump, only the southerners kept their foot on the gas and went into the first interval up 30-19.
After leading all scorers with six after one period of play, Hunt kept it rolling with two baskets out of the break. He'd back up the hot start with consecutive triples less than a minute later and finished the half shooting just under 70% from the field.
As for the Jets, their offence failed to get into the swing of things with their altered starting five. Samuel scored eight but only made a quarter of his attempts, and the trio of Fee, McQueen and Kirksey had seven each on a collective 9/23. The contrast in efficiency meant the Nuggets still occupied the driver's seat, in front 53-35 going into the third.
The result was in the books four minutes into the second half thanks to an 11-4 run to start it from the Nuggets. Samuel found his shooting stroke and drained three treys, but a cold shooting night from those in the same singlet made the comeback as realistic as the tooth fairy.
Both sides cleared the benches for the final spell, giving their main men some extra rest ahead of Thursday night's semi-finals. The Nuggets will play the lowest-ranked winner of tomorrow's elimination finals, leaving the Jets to battle the other victor.