The Bay Hawks soared high and gave the Taranaki Mountain Airs a good old hiding in a National Basketball League match in New Plymouth yesterday afternoon.
There was no hiding the fact that the Mountain Airs were awful as they were thrashed 99-76 at the TSB Stadium.
Sure, there were some good patches and a man-of-the-match performance from Aaron Bailey-Nowell, but there were some ugly periods of play when the home side was totally dominated by a classy Hawks side.
For Bailey-Nowell who, in one of his best performances for Taranaki scored 21 points, pulled down seven rebounds and grabbed four steals, it was a frustrating afternoon.
"No excuses, we can't make excuses for losing. Sure, the layoff probably hurt us, but our intensity level wasn't there," he said afterwards. "We went well in patches, but we just couldn't turn the corner. It's frustrating, we're trying to do the right things as a team, but it's not coming off."
Bailey-Nowell said he was trying to lead by example.
"I'm one of the shorter bigs [big men] in the competition and I have to use my speed and physicality to be competitive. It's always a tough battle against bigger guys, but that's basketball," he said.
"Our defence was not good enough. The effort wasn't there. I try to set the tone. It's an attitude thing, no disrespect to any of the guys, but everyone has to try to find that attitude."
He's right. Too many players were spectators under the basket, standing and watching rather than competing for the ball.
The exceptions were Bailey-Nowell and Jeremiah Trueman, who both pulled down seven rebounds, with Jack Leasure surprisingly nabbing six.
Trueman finished with 15 points, including one sweetly timed three-pointer.
But the team's big man DeMarshay Johnson was ineffective. Two rebounds, one at each end of the court, is not the return one would expect from an import. Had it not been for his 17 points, it would have been a forgettable afternoon for the American.
Leasure, who was marked out of the game by the Hawks, managed only nine points. He was always under pressure and slotted only one three-pointer from 12 attempts. His inside shooting was little better with four from 20.
They weren't the only bad ones, with Tyrone Davey turning the ball over far too often and Tim Cleaver making little impact from the bench.
Overall, there were too many poor passes, simple errors and soft turnovers for any team in this league. And, as the old saying goes, defence wins games. That's something Taranaki lacked yesterday.
The Hawks, on the other hand, always looked dangerous, although some of their paths to the basket were wide open.
American Josh Pace had a touch of class about his play and finished with a game-high 24 points, while Chris Daniel knocked in four from five outside the circle to finish with 17 points. Also on 17 for the Hawks was Everard Bartlett.
Things don't get any easier for the Mountain Airs with a southern road trip this weekend. On Friday night, Taranaki plays the Christchurch Cougars in Christchurch and 24 hours later they play the Nelson Giants in Nelson.
Meanwhile, reigning champions Waikato have established a break on the field with an away trip double.
They shook off the Christchurch Cougars 88-83 in the southern city on Friday before backing up in Auckland on Saturday with a fine 78-71 win over previous pacesetters North Harbour.
Waikato have improved to 20 points, four clear of North Harbour, Nelson and Wellington. Wellington also had back-to-back wins at southern venues, beating Otago 94-80 in Dunedin on Friday then seeing off Southland 81-69 in Invercargill.
- © Fairfax NZ News