Saints hot on tail of Taranaki in playoff race

GLENN MCLEAN
Last updated 05:00 07/05/2012

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Basketball

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The Taranaki Mountain Airs have the Wellington Saints on their tail as the National Basketball League playoffs draw nearer.

The Saints moved to within two points of the fourth-placed Mountain Airs after they upset the second-placed Bay Hawks 88-73 on Saturday night.

With two games in hand over the Mountain Airs, the Saints loom as a threat for the Taranaki side who are out to break a 17-year absence from the playoffs.

The Good Home Mountain Airs' cause was not helped by Friday night's result when they were soundly beaten 102-85 by the Manawatu Jets in New Plymouth.

Coach David Bublitz took some small comfort out of the fact his squad suffered no injuries from the game.

"Everyone's pride was a bit dented because we felt we let the people who came out to support us down," he said.

"We know we didn't play as well as we can. We let them dictate terms, which was a bit of a shame."

Saturday night's home match against the Otago Nuggets now shapes as a defining game of the season.

Win, and they keep their playoff hopes alive. Lose, and they will need to beat the Jets away the following week and rely on a whole host of other games going their way.

The players trained yesterday with Bublitz saying they had already started focusing on what they need to do to beat Otago.

He plans to button off the amount of time the players train heading into their last two regular season games to keep plenty of energy in their legs.

The Jets, meanwhile, backed up their win in New Plymouth with another dominant 83-71 performance over bottom of the table Harbour Heat, a side they lost to less than a week ago to.

"I think Palmerston North are a good side," Bublitz said.

"They worked us over and they are very good, they are going to be tough."

In the other result from the weekend, the table topping Auckland Pirates thrashed the Otago Nuggets 101-81.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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