NZ Maori has Aaron Bailey-Nowell to thank

Taranaki Mountain Airs forward Aaron Bailey-Nowell stepped up to help the New Zealand Maori men's basketball team when it was needed this week.

A Bailey-Nowell two-pointer on the buzzer lifted the Maori team to a 77-75 win over Guam in the semifinals of the Pacific championships in Porirua on Tuesday night.

Bailey-Nowell finished the match with 25 points along with 16 rebounds.

Twenty-four hours later, Bailey- Nowell went close to his fourth double double of the tournament with 12 points and nine rebounds as the Maori team beat Australia 71-66 in the final.

"It was just luck. I was on the weak side and that's what basketball is all about, being in the right position," Bailey- Nowell said referring to his winning shot in the final seconds of the semifinal.

"Puke [Lenden] put the shot up and I could see it was going long. I just stuck my hand out like I've been doing all my career and managed to tip it in."

Bailey-Nowell said New Zealand Maori's first win in the tournament was special.

"So too was winning the MVP at the tournament. I got a beautiful watch for that, it's very special. It's something I'll always remember."

Bailey-Nowell said he was looking forward to next year's National Basketball League with the Mountain Airs.

"We've been working hard in the off-season. We're trying to develop our young guys to have a strong Taranaki core to the side in 2014," he said.

In the women's final, Australia beat New Zealand Maori 74-54.

Taranaki Daily News