The Taranaki Mountain Airs had the better of a free-flowing game, downing the Super City Rangers 114-93 in a National Basketball League match in New Plymouth tonight.
The Mountain Airs won the battle of the fast break, with captain Jack Leasure leading the way with 33 points.
Taranaki's second import, big man Kenny Gabriel, also had a busy night with 22 points and 12 rebounds, with Ethan Rusbatch and Brad Anderson both scoring 16 points.
Rangers leading scorer was Duane Bailey with 23 points, while Houston O'Riley and Carl Buck both scored 18.
The Mountain Airs led 29-23 after a high-scoring first quarter and extended that lead to 56-47 at the break.
The home side pushed out to a 15-point lead soon after the restart effectively ending any hopes of a Rangers' comeback. A monster three-point bucket from halfway with time up in the quarter by Rusbatch pushed Taranaki's lead out to 82-66.
A 32-27 final quarter gave the large crowd plenty to cheer about with both sides going all out on attack.
The stats sheet said it all with 41 rebounds going Taranaki's way, with Rangers only pulling down 24. And Taranaki's three-point shooting was much more effective with seven from 14 compared to five from 17Alarmingly for both sides was the number of turnovers - 13 for Rangers and 18 for Taranaki.
Meanwhile, the Nelson Giants kept up their outside chance of winning the regular season title, defeating the Bay Hawks 88-86 in Napier.
Point guard Josh Pace scored a game-high 32 points as the Giants came from behind in the fourth quarter.
The Giants improved to 11-4, behind the 12-2 Wellington Saints and 11-3 Otago Nuggets, with two games remaining in round 11 before the final round next week. The Saints and Nuggets meet in Dunedin on Sunday, a win for the Saints securing the regular season title.
Taranaki Mountain Airs 114 (Jack Leasure 33, Kenny Gabriel 22, Brad Anderson 16, Ethan Rusbatch 16) Super City Rangers 93 (Duane Bailey 23, Carl Buck 18, Houston O'Riley 18, Shea Ili 13, Patrick Bolstad 12). 1Q: 29-23, HT: 56-47, 3Q: 82-66
Nelson Giants 88 (Josh Pace 32, Mika Vukona 14) Bay Hawks 86 (Brian Greene 19, Everard Bartlett 17, Darko Cohadarevic 14). 1Q: 24-18, HT: 56-44, 3Q: 66-68
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