The Property Brokers See Me Media Manawatu Jets avenged their first encounter with the Mike Pero Nelson Giants, making the southerners pay for a tough night with the jump shot and cruising home 102-72 at The Trusts Arena.
A woeful shooting display from the Nelsonians (29/77 fg & 4/23 3pt) made life easy for Manawatu, who in contrast had a big night from beyond the arc (19/47). All five members of the Jets starting five registered double-figures in points, as well as the fast-developing guard Haize Walker (13pts & 4rbs).
Jayden Bezzant was the pick of the snipers this evening and finished with 24 (4/6 3pt), only it was Tom Vodanovich who stole the show after delivering arguably the best individual performance of the Sal's NBL Showdown so far having fallen one assist shy of a triple-double (19pts, 18 rbs and nine ast).
Nelson settled for long heaves early in the first, while Manawatu at least showed some intent of getting to the rim. Their willingness to get closer to the basket opened up the floor for their shooters who converted five triples and gave them a 26-17 advantage after the opening ten minutes.
Giants Head Coach Mike Fitchett asked his team to go at the Jets down low and his players responded with four consecutive layups. This run cut the lead to four, but this didn't last long as threes from Nelson Kirksey (12pts) and Ashton McQueen (17pts) pushed the deficit to double digits.
Things went from bad to worse for Nelson at the closure of the first half, who went scoreless for four of the last six minutes. Meanwhile, Bezzant and Vodanovich added to their stat lines, with the latter contributing 13 rebounds, eight points and five assists as his team went into the interval up 48-33.
After shooting 9% from distance (1/11) in the periods one and two, the Giants needed to find their stroke to draw their foes outside of the semi-circle. Unfortunately, the attempts from deep continued to miss more than swish (1-5 in the quarter), but fortunately, the Jets hardly added to their buffer considering how inefficient Nelson was on offence. Manawatu were 17 to the good going into the fourth.
The last spell followed the same suit to the one before it, with the Jets finding the twine and the Giants drawing iron. The latter's captain Tom Ingham (19pts & 6rbs) nabbed seven of his total in that time, although it did little to stop the bleeding as Manawatu outscored his side 29-16.
• Jets 102 – Vodanovich (19pts/18rbs/9ast), Bezzant (24pts), McQueen (17pts/4rbs).
• Giants 72 – Ingham (19pts/6rbs), Karena (14pts), Trathen (10pts/9rbs).
1. Tom Vodanovich put together arguably the best individual performance of the Sal's NBL Showdown, falling one assist short of the coveted triple-double. The forward never fails to give anything less than 110%, which is evident in his rebound average, but it's his form both as a shooter that is allowing him to show off his playmaking ability. Watch this space.
2. The Jets are a good offensive team, which means you're also going to need to bring your A-game with the ball in hand to keep up. Tonight was just one of those nights for the Giants, who after showing a little promise early in the second of opening up the floor, were their own worst enemy with numerous blanks.
3. Manawatu's big four comprised of Taane Samuel, Hyrum Harris, Bezzant and Vodanovich are going to be key to the success of the men in green/white in the weeks to come, but they may not need to carry such a heavy burden should those around them step up like they did this evening. Walker, Kirksey and McQueen all showed confidence shooting the ball and could make life easier on their stars in big games if they keep the opposition honest.
SkyCity MVP Votes:
Tom Vodanovich (Jets-10), Jayden Bezzant (Jets-8), Tom Ingham (Giants-5), Ashton McQueen (Jets-4), Mike Karena (Giants-3).