Hawks soar past Sharks to land in second spot

THE Hawkes Bay Hawks have claimed second spot in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) standings after a 15-point triumph over the Southland Sharks. Hawkes Bay hosted the opposition at Pettigrew Green Arena on Thursday night, in a contest it was expected to win. The Sharks had been struggling to start the year, unable to string together consecutive wins in their opening seven weeks.

On the other hand, the Hawks have been soaring, and are looking a genuine chance of winning it all this year. The game unfolded as expected, with the home side overcoming a valiant effort from Southland in the first half to break away and cruise home to victory. It was win number six on the year for the Hawks, as they continue to chase the Tuatara in top spot. Meanwhile, the Sharks find themselves in seventh spot with a record of two wins and six losses, with a fair bit of work to do moving forward.

Hawkes Bay Hawks (107) def. Southland Sharks (92)

It was a seriously tense start to the game, with both sides firing from the field in the first term. There was a lot to enjoy for viewers, with buckets coming from all over the court. Ethan Rusbatch opened up the scoring with a shot from behind the arc for the Hawks, and when it looked like Hawkes Bay would do as expected and break away, the Sharks managed to consistently conjure an answer and keep up. At the conclusion of the first term, proceedings were tied at 29 apiece, and Southland would have been confident in its start to the game. The seesawing action continued into the second term, as the Sharks matched the offensive output of the opposition. Remarkably, the visitors managed to take the lead into the main break, as Alonzo Burton put them in front with a lay-up to close out the half.

While it was a brave effort from the Sharks in the first two quarters, it took the Hawks just three minutes to jump out to a six-point lead. Southland could not maintain the scoring power it displayed in the opening half, and Hawkes Bay broke away in the third term. It was a run that was set up by a magnificent shooting performance from behind the arc. There was a stage where it seemed the hosts could not miss from downtown, as they held a nine-point scoreboard advantage heading into the last. The momentum of the Hawks continued in the final 10 minutes as they cruised home to victory in what was a pretty hard-fought result at stages.

For the winning side, Jordan Hunt displayed his efficiency with ball in hand, registering a game-high 32 points in a terrific offensive display. 12 of his 19 attempts from the field found the bottom of the net, proving to be a vital cog in the team’s success. Rusbatch was also damaging with 19 points of his own. NBL Next Star Mojave King performed valiantly for the Sharks, finishing with 29 points, the most of any player on his side.

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