Nelson creates Giant gap on NZNBL

THEIR eleventh win itself was a nail-biter, but Nelson Giants have created a two-game gap on the rest on the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) following their four-point victory over Manawatu Jets last night. The Round 12 win moved the Giants to 11-4 on the table, sitting two wins ahead of Auckland Tuatara with a game in hand. The Jets slumped to a 5-10 win-loss season record, with finals already out of the picture, but keen to finish the season on a high note. They did push the Giants all the way before Nelson held on for the 88-84 triumph at The Ballroom.

MANAWATU JETS 21 | 28 | 14 | 21 (84)
NELSON GIANTS 15 | 26 | 33 | 14 (88)

Nelson Giants headed to The Ballroom as strong favourites against the Manawatu Jets, and whilst the Jets had improved over the past month, the Giants are arguably the title favourites. Early on though, it was evident that the match would be far from an easy one for the ladder leaders. The Jets raced out to a six-point quarter time lead, and held an eight-point buffer by half-time courtesy of a high-scoring 28-26 second term. Robert Crawford and Nathaniel Salmon were busy for the Jets with some great individual brilliance, while Zane Najdawi was having an impact off the boards. Trey Mourning was doing the bulk of the work for the trailing Giants.

The third term changed the course of the game, as the visitors poured on 33 points to 14, including 23 of the last 28 points of the term, to go from 51-58 down to 73-64 up at the last change. Mourning was red-hot, whilst Sam Dempster and Samuel Thompson were getting in on the act. The fourth quarter saw the Jets start to cut into the deficit and even came within two points late in the match when Shane Temara hit a triple with seven seconds on the clock. The deliberate foul on Dempster resulted in the Giants shooter making both his free throws, and Crawford’s late long-range attempt missing making it a four-point differential, 88-84 in favour of the Giants.

Despite only winning the one quarter, the Giants won nearly all of the statistics, dominating the assists (24-11), steals (10-4) and points from turnovers (20-8), whilst the Jets had more rebounds (47-38) and shot at a higher clip (44 to 43 per cent) but had eight more chances. Most of the statistical areas were even, though the Giants had more fast break points 12-2.

Mourning produced a double-double of 27 points and 10 rebounds, firing off nine of 11 from the field, and also picking up four assists and two steals. Thompson (27 points, five rebounds and two assists) also had a huge game, whilst Jarrod West was dishing out a record amount of dimes, with 15 assists, five rebounds and two steals to go with his 11 points. Sam Dempster (14 points, seven rebounds) was also impressive. For the Jets, Crawford had a game-high 28 points, as well as three rebounds and two assists, while Temara (16 points, 12 rebounds) and Najdawi (12 points, 14 rebounds) both had double-doubles in the loss.

Manawatu Jets face Otago Nuggets today, while Nelson Giants come up against Canterbury Rams on July 23.

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