Retiring Manawatu Jets stalwart Kaine Hokianga was given the perfect home send off with a 106-97 win over the Otago Nuggets in Palmerston North tonight.
After 14 years in the league and 11 with the Jets, Hokinaga played his second to last game of the season and 235th overall in the thrilling win in front of the biggest crowd of the year at Arena Manawatu.
The Jets' last game of the season is against the Super City Rangers in Auckland on Sunday.
The home team made the best possible start, leading by 14 after a couple of minutes, before an Otago fightback had the Jets camp nervous.
Manawatu couldn't put a foot wrong in the first quarter, hitting nearly all their shots as shooting troubles hit the Nuggets.
Otago were down 23-9 before they woke up and started to turn the tide, but Jets guard Troy McLean hit a buzzer-beating three pointer for a 29-18 lead at quartertime.
The Nuggets put in a 32-point second quarter, however, to storm back into it and back-to-back three pointers from Tony Tolovae tied the game up late in the quarter and briefly put them into the lead.
A Brandon Jenkins field goal for the Jets locked it up at 50-all at halftime.
Neither team could be separated in the third and for half of the fourth quarter, as the lead kept changing hands, but the Jets defended strongly late on and once they had their noses in front, they held on.
Jets big man Jeremiah Trueman had a double double of 10 points and 15 rebounds and was solid defending under the rim.
Manawatu imports Jenkins (21 points) and Paul Jones (23) led the scorers for the home team, Alonzo Burton had 19 and Nick Horvath grabbed a double-double off the bench with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
For Otago, Warren Carter put in a big shift with 25 points and 11 rebounds, leading the charge in the second half, while his fellow import had 23 points and 13 rebounds, and Tolovae scored 22 points.
Manawatu Jets 106 (Paul Jones 23, Brandon Jenkins 21, Alonzo Burton 19, Nick Horvath 14/13, Jeremiah Trueman 10/15) Otago Nuggets 97 (Warren Carter 25/11, Brandon Bowdry 23/13, Tony Tolovae 22, Sam King 14). 1Q: 29-19, HT: 50-50, 3Q: 76-76
- Manawatu Standard
Who is the most important player for the Tall Blacks at the World Cup?