Three long-haul weekends for the Mountain Airs

MURRAY HILLS
Last updated 05:00 13/12/2013

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Doubleheaders, they're almost a dirty word in basketball.

But it's the reality of the National Basketball League for teams and Taranaki Mountain Airs face three daunting weekend trips in the 2014 schedule released this week.

After opening the season with a home game against Manawatu Jets in New Plymouth on April 6, the Mountain Airs play the first of their doubleheaders the following weekend.

They're in Napier on Saturday, April 12, for a game against the Bay Hawks, then head to Hamilton to take on the Waikato Pistons on the Sunday afternoon.

In week five, the Mountain Airs head south for games against the Otago Nuggets and the Nelson Giants with three home games to follow.

Then there's the third doubleheader with games against the Southland Sharks in Invercargill and the Canterbury Cougars who return to the league in 2014.

"There's a couple of tough weekends, but it's tough for all teams," said new Mountain Airs coach Daryn Shaw.

"There's a bit of travel and the games against the Bay Hawks and Waikato will be difficult."

Shaw said overall he was happy with the draw and hoped the side would make a winning start against the Manawatu Jets.

"There's a good rivalry between the two sides. They've picked up some good players. It will be good to play our first game at home."

Tip-off for the home games at the TSB Stadium in 2014 will be earlier. Three games will start at 5pm, four at 6.30pm and the two Sunday games at 3pm.

"We listened to public feedback and changed the start time for our last three home games earlier this year," said Taranaki Basketball chairman Scott Taylor.

"We had a great response from families. Everyone said the times were family friendly. Our crowds of between 900 and 1500 jumped to 1700 and we had 2100 for our last game against Otago."

Taylor said the earlier start times also proved popular with people wanting to watch rugby later in the night.

"The 5pm starts give people the opportunity to head home or into town to watch the rugby."

MOUNTAIN AIRS NBL SCHEDULE

Sunday, April 6, vs Manawatu, New Plymouth, 3pm
Saturday, April 12, vs Hawke's Bay, Napier, 7pm
Sunday, April 13, vs Waikato, Hamilton, 3pm
Friday, April 18, vs Nelson, New Plymouth, 6.30pm
Thursday, April 24, vs Waikato, New Plymouth, 6.30pm
Friday, May 2, vs Otago, Dunedin, 7pm
Saturday, May 3, vs Nelson, Nelson, 7pm
Saturday, May 10, vs Waitakere, New Plymouth, 5pm
Saturday, May 17, vs Canterbury, New Plymouth, 5pm
Saturday, May 24, vs Southland, New Plymouth, 5pm
Sunday, June 1, vs Southland, Invercargill, 2pm
Monday, June 2, vs Canterbury, Christchurch, 3.30pm
Friday, June 6, vs Wellington, New Plymouth, 6.30pm
Wednesday, June 11, vs Waitakere, Auckland, 7pm
Friday, June 13, vs Otago, New Plymouth, 6.30pm
Friday, June 20, vs Manawatu, Palmerston North, 7pm
Sunday, June 22, vs Hawke's Bay, New Plymouth, 3pm
Friday, June 27, vs Wellington, Wellington, 7pm

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- Taranaki Daily News

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