By Mick McBeth
The local basketball community are certainly getting their share of tense entertainment this year. So far this season, the home crowd have witnessed the Augusta Taranaki Mountainairs fight hard only to lose two games by three points, both against the top two teams in the league. A tight game is always more entertaining but every home fan wants to see their team be the one that pulls through. Last Thursday night the Mountainairs were able to rise above and win an arm-wrestle 75-70 over the Manawatu Jets at the TSB Stadium.
Earlier this season, Taranaki travelled to Palmerston North to play Manawatu and were dominant in winning 95-69. Thursdays game carried no certainty as the Mountainairs were missing two starters due to injury, and the Jets were coming off the back of a big upset win over the Supercity Rangers.
Manawatu looked the stronger team at the beginning of the match, with Taranaki looking out of rhythm as several new combinations were experimented with. As is typical of the Mountainairs this season, they were fighting hard which kept them in touch on the scoreboard despite the lack of fluency.
The Mountainairs looked like they might be in trouble early on with import Javonte Douglas committing two early fouls, putting him out for the majority of the first quarter. Local young guard, Dane Brooks continues to impress as he replaced Douglas and scored eight of his 12 points in the first period. Alonzo Burton managed to shake off an injury, which sidelined him last weekend to top score with 19 points.
Taranaki Mountainairs 75 (Alonzo Burton 19, Xavier Smith 17, Javonte Douglas 16) Manawatu Jets 70 (Kuran Iverson 16, Daishon Knight 14, Brandon Lucas 12). QT: 11-21, HT 35-39, 3QT 59-57.
This weekend the Mountainairs embark on a tough South Island double header to take on the Nelson Giants on Friday 25th May and the Canterbury Rams on Saturday 26th May. Coach Trent Adam is looking for some improvements from his team this weekend. “ We need to improve our tempo late in the games, I feel this has been an issue in our tight contests. Both our opposition teams this weekend have key players that need to be contained, so we can’t have lapses in our defensive communication”