The Augusta Taranaki Mountainairs opened their 2018 NBL account with a solid 95-69 win over the Manawatu Jets in Palmerston North on Sunday. A healthy home crowd turned up to watch their team for the first time since 2015, when the Jets last played in the National Basketball League.
There were encouraging signs from the Mountainairs as they took an early lead, only for the Jets to claw back and take a 17-16 lead at the end of the first quarter. Both teams struggled early on to find fluency in offense with the scoreboard threatening a low scoring game. Both sides looked hungry on defence at times which would have been encouraging for both coaches but the coaches will want their teams to stay locked in for longer periods. The second quarter proved more fruitful for the Mountainairs as they took a 44-36 lead into halftime.
Coming out of the changing sheds, the Mountainairs started to take control of the match, eventually outscoring the Jets in the final quarter 29 -15 to take a 26 point win.
On the scoresheet, Mountainairs’ import Javonte Douglas showed his class and will probably be named this weeks league MVP with 28 points and 20 rebounds (one shy of the Mountainairs record set by Suleiman Braimoh in 2014). All Mountainairs imports posted double doubles with Xavier Smith 18/15 and Roger Woods 14/12. All starters were in double figures with Taranaki captain Alonzo Burton scoring 13 and Houston O’Riley 11. Mountainairs coach, Trent Adam will want his bench players to increase their contribution but overall was happy with the side’s performance. “It was a good first out hit up, rebounding was really important for us, in particular our offensive boards. At times we showed a lack of patience and struggled to finish at the rim. We finished with a really strong 4th quarter. Looking ahead to the Hawks next weekend, we will need to tidy up the speed of our defensive rotations”. The Hawkes Bay Hawks will likely provide stiffer competition, having won their first game 92-64 over the Southland Sharks.
Taranaki take on Hawkes Bay Friday 4th May at 7pm, TSB Stadium New Plymouth. Tickets available at Ticketek or at the door.
Augusta Taranaki Mountainairs 95 (Javonte Douglas 28, Xavier Smith 18, Roger Woods 14)
Manawatu Jets 69 (D.Knight 19, T.Johnson 12, D. Rangimarie 9)