Hawks’ Giant NZNBL road win

GOING back-to-back on the road in Round 5, the Hawke’s Bay Hawks will heat home happy having accounted for a Nelson Giants side by nine points in Christchurch yesterday. The Giants were dealt a big out in New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) leading scorer Trey Mourning out due to illness, and the Hawks bigs went to work. Though the home side was up for the fight – leading at half-time and the final break – the Hawks eventually ran away with the match courtesy of a big final quarter to secure the 82-73 victory.

NELSON GIANTS 16 | 21 | 25 | 11 (73)
HAWKE’S BAY HAWKS 19 | 16 | 25 | 22 (82)

Coming off an important win over Canterbury Rams on Thursday night, the Hawks were hoping to make it two from two in 48 hours against a Giants side missing its best player. It was Nelson that got off to a better start though, taking control for most of the first term and leading by as much as five points at one stage before the Hawks hit back late in the term. After Sam Dempster hit a triple with three and a half minutes left on the clock the Giants lead 11-6 with Dempster and Jordan Schwalger picking up the slack left by Mourning. The depth of the Hawks was always going to be a problem though, wiht the five starters all on the board in the opening eight minutes.

The Hawks went out to as much as a four-point lead at one stage after an Everard Bartlett triple and Thursday night’s hero Tajuan Agee made a big dunk, but eventually the first break margin sat at three. Agee piled on teh first five points of the second term after being fouled twice with shots off Schwalger, forcing the Giants to rest the import and bring back Jarrod West. It was a fairly even quarter after that, with West and Jay Marsh keeping the Giants in it after Derone Raukawa made the Hawks lead a game-high six with two minutes on the clock. The last eight points of the second half went the way of the Giants – all to West as he hit back-to-back triples to hand his side the two-point lead.

That lead would be maintained into the final break, despite the Hawks again racing out to a lead late in the quarter. With 90 seconds on the clock, the Hawks were up 60-52, but as if history was repeating itself, West tore up the court with a ridiculous 10 consecutive points to give his side that two-point bugger again. In the space of the final two minutes in each of the second and third terms, West had piled on 18 points in a solo effort.

When Samuel Thompson nailed a triple in the opening 20 seconds of the final term, the Giants lead by five and looked to have the momentum. The Hawks and Agee had other ideas, as out of nowhere, the visitors piled on 15 consecutive points to go 75-65 up and hold the largest margin of the game. That was enough to get it done, because despite Alexander McNaught and West closing it to six points in the final minutes, Jordan Hunt made the last three points from an And-One chance to seal the win by nine points, 82-73.

The Hawks shared the points around with Agee backing up his debut with a huge double-double in just 19 minutes on court. The import scored 19 points and 10 rebounds to stamp his authority on the game. Raukawa (19 points, four rebounds) also shared the top scoring for the side, while Rusbatch (14 points, nine rebounds) and Hunt (15 points, five rebounds and three assists) all helped contribute. West was the clear standout for the Giants, finishing with 25 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals, with Dempster (13 points, eight rebounds) and McNaught (13 points) both hitting double-figure points.

Nelson Giants next face Southland Sharks on June 2, with Hawke’s Bay Hawks tackling Auckland Tuatara in a massive top three clash.

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