The Fluid Recruitment Otago Nuggets posted the highest score in the 2020 Sal’s NBL so far, pulling away in the second half to thump Property Brokers, See ME Media Manawatu Jets 130-94 in the early game on Saturday.
There were major contributions for the Nuggets from Jordan Ngatai (23 points and nine rebounds), Jordan Hunt (22 points), Jarrod Kenny (13 points and seven assists) and Josh Aitcheson (10 points) but the performance of the night belonged to Kane Kiel. The Otago swingman scored a game-high 29 points, shooting 60% (6 from 10) from beyond the arc. In addition, he contributed six rebounds and four assists.
Tom Vodanovic and Jayden Bezzant scored 18 points each for the Jets and Taane Samuel had 14, but it was a night to forget for Manawatu.
Successive dunks from the Jordan's, Ngatai and Hunt, got Otago off to a rollicking start, ahead 14-9 at the midpoint of the first period.
Manawatu guard Nelson Kirksey ran into some friendly fire and had to be helped from the court, factor in Samuel picking up a third foul and the Jets did well to be trailing by just two points at quarter-time (28-26).
Ngatai was the first player into double figures, Vodanovich soon followed - the scores tied 40 points apiece four minutes into the frame.
Ashton McQueen, emerging as a key player for the Jets, dropped a long three but Matt Bardsley replied with an athletic finish as the two sides wrestled for the initiative.
A high scoring, entertaining half ended with the Nuggets ahead by the narrowest of margins (57-56). Vodanovich led all scorers at the interval with 15 points.
Keil and Aitcheson were having fine games and when they combined to give Otago the biggest lead of the game (77-66), coach Tim McTamney needed a timeout to steady the Jets.
A Samuel jam got the Jets bench to their feet but Keil’s fourth three of the contest thrilled the vociferous Nuggets fans and when Akiva McBirney-Griffin scored inside they had more to shout about with the Nuggets ahead 95-79 at three-quarter time.
McQueen scored from deep and Bezzant hit a floater but Keil made it triple number six to push the Nuggets out to 110-86 with still over six minutes left on the clock.
The comfortable lead gave the Nuggets the opportunity to give Westlake Boys guard Jett Thompson his NBL debut in the closing minutes.
The Jets slip to .500 with a 4-4 record, the Nuggets improve to 4-3 with both teams in action again on Sunday.
Sky City MVP Votes:
Kane Keil (Nuggets-9), Jordan Ngatai (Nuggets-8), Jordan Hunt (Nuggets-4), Jayden Bezzant (Jets-4), Matthew Bardsley (Nuggets-3), Tom Vodanovich (Jets-2).