With the Manawatu Jets front court under a lot of pressure at times, they need the likes of guard Matt Te Huna to shoulder more of the attacking burden against the Nelson Giants tonight.
The Jets have a powerful attacking trio in Nick Horvath, Dustin Mitchell and Josh Pace, who will need to improve their scoring from Wednesday's 96-83 loss to the Auckland Pirates when they play Nelson at Arena Manawatu tonight.
In his fourth season with the Jets, Te Huna was loving the impact the new imports Mitchell and Pace were having on the team.
"I've had to take a step back in scoring from the last couple of years," Te Huna said. "But I don't mind it as long as the team's winning. Dustin, Josh and Nick draw so much attention, it leaves me open quite a bit to knock down some shots."
While Pace and Horvath are the go-to scoring players for the Jets, Te Huna and the rest of the team need to help take the pressure off them.
"If I step back too much the other teams will recognise that and start double-teaming or triple-teaming Josh and that," Te Huna said.
He conceded his shooting has been up and down while he has been getting used to the new team, but the new combinations were working well.
"They [Horvath and Pace] do such a good job of making themselves available it makes our job easier when we're in the point."
After the loss on Wednesday, coach Ryan Weisenberg was after a better performance against the Giants.
"The most major thing for us, is our guards need to come to play," he said.
"We need to get major production out of them. Even Josh [Pace] had a rough one."
He said it's hard when one player isn't getting support from the rest of the team, so he wanted guys like Te Huna to take the pressure off their bigs.
Weisenberg put the loss to the Pirates down to their 16-day break since their last game against the Otago Nuggets.
"Wednesday was not a representation of our team," He said. "Sixteen days, whatever ... The idiotic scheduling really played a major factor ... It really makes for ugly basketball. It was a wakeup call or a kick in the arse."
With the Jets' lineup this year, Weisenberg was confident against Nelson who have had only one win in their last five games, but with prolific scorer Phill Jones and import Pete Campbell, the Giants would still be a tough side. "It's that old saying: you respect everybody but fear no one," Weisenberg said.
The Giants will be backing up from a tough game against the Wellington Saints last night, which the Jets' coaching staff had gone to watch, so they will know what to expect come tipoff at 7pm tonight.
The Jets couldn't fly to Nelson in round one due to bad weather.
Manawatu Jets: Zane Meehl, Matt Te Huna, Josh Pace, Dustin Mitchell, Nick Horvath. Subs: Miles Pearce, Kaine Hokianga, Mike Homik, Zeke Meehl.
Nelson Giants: Ben Wright, Phill Jones, Michael Harrison, Pete Campbell, Gareth Dawson. Subs: Darryl Jones, Josh Bloxham, Sam Dempster, Michael Karena, Bronson Beri.
- Manawatu Standard