The Augusta Taranaki Mountainairs had a double header last weekend, taking on the Nelson Giants on Friday night and the Canterbury Rams on Sunday afternoon.
A healthy crowd turned up both nights and were treated to some exceptional basketball, both in terms of skill and effort.
Taranaki looked hungry in both games as they looked to chalk up their second win for the season.
Friday night was an extremely tight game with no team leading by more than 5 for the whole match. Taranaki were able to take control for most of the match but unfortunately weren’t able to hold out the league leaders Nelson, going down 90-93. This was the second loss in a row by just 3 points, both against unbeaten teams. Taranaki were looking to take the ball to the hoop on many occasions, but were often not rewarded as the home team and crowd were left frustrated at the unusual number of charge fouls called on the Mountainairs.
In the third quarter, starting point guard Houston O’Riley landed heavy after being taken out on his way to the hoop and was unable to continue for the remainder of the game.
The game was there for the taking in the final minute, with the result coming down to Nelson converting one more chance than the Mountainairs.
Taranaki 90 (Javonte Douglas 20, Roger Woods 17, Houston O’Riley 13) Nelson 93 (Tohi Smith-Milner 27, Kyle Adnam 20, Damon Heuir 18)
Sunday afternoon was full of highlights for the home crowd in a game against the Canterbury Rams. Whether it was the successful behind half court shot by Javonte Douglas to just beat the buzzer, the put back dunk by Xavier Shaw, the rim protection by Xavier Smith, the clutch play by back up point guard Richie Rodger to take the game into overtime, or the rare vision shown by young local big man Thane O’Leary, who led both teams with 8 assists. Import Roger Woods took on a larger scoring role with 30 points for the night. The only highlight that was missing was a win for the home crowd.
Taranaki were playing without regular point guard Houston O’Riley but coach Trent Adam will be encouraged with the maturity shown by Richie Rodger to step up. Captain Alonzo Burton picked up an injury in the third quarter and was unable to return. Injuries are disappointing but they also bring opportunity, as young local Oscar Robertson and Joe Reddish got their first minutes at the NBL level.
With the game locked up at 91 all at the end of regular time, five minutes of play were added. Canterbury played the smarter basketball at the end, closing out the game 104-97.
Taranaki 97 (Roger Woods 30, Javonte Douglas 20, Richie Rodger 14, Xavier Smith 14) Canterbury 104 (Xavier Thames 25, Winston Shepard 23, Tony Tolovae 23)
Taranaki take on the Manawatu Jets on Thursday 17th May at 7pm, TSB Stadium before heading on the road for the next 3 games.