Te Huna out to prove big point
Despite the Manawatu Jets sitting second-last on the table, shooting guard Matt Te Huna thinks they are every bit as good as those at the top.
And they will find out if they are when they host competition leaders the Bay Hawks at Arena Manawatu tomorrow, the first in a run of four home games for the Jets.
Even though they are at opposite ends of the table, Te Huna didn't think their standings would reflect how they would play.
"We've been preparing for Hawke's Bay, for a big one," he said. "Even though some of the results this season haven't gone our way, we're capable of being up the top.
"It's about proving the point that they're at the top, but we're good enough to be up there."
The Hawks, who have already clinched a playoff spot, have a record of 12 wins and two losses, compared with the Jets' of four wins and nine losses.
The Hawks won the round three encounter 81-72 in Napier, but the Jets have had a huge improvement since Nick Horvath returned from injury.
"At the moment we're playing a lot better than what we were back then," Te Huna said. "Brandon Jenkins has been way more aggressive and now obviously with Nick back it's changed the whole momentum of the team.
"He brings that muscle and mental toughness that we needed at the start of the season that hasn't quite been there."
The Jets' chances of reaching the top four are very slim, so they can't afford any more losses, especially with this string of home games.
"We're realising that even though we are way down on the ladder, there's still that slight possibility that if we win out, we've still got a chance to sneak into the playoffs."
There shouldn't be a repeat of the shooting meltdown they had in last weekend's loss to Southland, where they shot at 39 per cent from the field and only 10 per cent from the three-point area.
Paul Jones, Jeremiah Trueman, Troy McLean and Te Huna shot for a combined 12 from 50, so coach Darron Larsen has had the team doing a lot of shooting training this week.
"Darron is trying to convince us to keep shooting when we're open and shoot with confidence," Te Huna said. "A lot of the time when you miss two or three shots early on, you start doubting yourself and whether you should take that next shot. He's saying keep shooting and nine out of 10 times Nick gets the rebound anyway."
The 30-year-old Te Huna is averaging nearly six points in 13.2 minutes on court and although he was disappointed with his shooting, he felt he had been playing all right.
"I set a goal at the start of the season to be at least 40 per cent in my three point per cent and I think at the moment I'm below that."
Te Huna was the Jets' best in the loss to the Hawks with 16 points and had to step up to cover a big man's spot in the absence of Horvath.
"At the time I wasn't getting the minutes that I wanted. I felt like when I was on court I had to prove my worth."
Tipoff is at 7pm tomorrow.