One-point loss ends Taranaki's playoffs hopes

TONY BIRD
Last updated 22:00 13/06/2014
Suleiman Braimoh
ROBERT CHARLES/Fairfax NZ
OUTTA MY WAY: Mountain Airs import Suleiman Braimoh (right) gets close attention from Otago Nuggets import Warren Carter in a National Basketball League game in New Plymouth.

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It was a stunning shot worthy of a win after a dog-fight between two evenly-matched sides.

But Taranaki Mountain Airs import Suleiman Braimoh's three-pointer still left his side one point short in a 90-89 loss to the Otago Nuggets in New Plymouth tonight.

The Airs led the National Basketball League game 49-43 at halftime and were still three up after three quarters.

But by the time the home side in-bounded the ball, with two seconds left on the clock, they were behind by four.

Braimoh turned on his heel and let fly with a three-point shot. It sailed through the hoop just as the final buzzer sounded.

The Mountain Airs put up a brave fight against a more experienced side at the TSB Stadium last night. But the loss means their faint playoff hopes are gone, while the Nuggets are still in the hunt.

The Mountain Airs couldn't hide their disappointment at losing a game they had led for the greater part.

"The boys played hard, but it's disappointing because I thought we were in a position to win," Taranaki head coach Daryn Shaw said.

The Nuggets ganged up on Braimoh and restricted him to just seven points in the first half.

"Every team we play is going to key-in on Suli [Braimoh]. It's going to be tough for him every night," said Shaw, adding that focus opened up opportunities for other players to score.

Brad Anderson took his, scoring 20 points in the first half, and finishing the game with an impressive 28.

Despite the attention he received, Braimoh again put up an impressive double-double with 26 points and 11 rebounds.

Aaron Bailey-Nowell scored 16 and pulled down 15 rebounds.

Shaw said the Airs' final plays in the run to the wire were left to Braimoh: "We had total faith in him after what he has done for the side," he said.

The Nuggets called on all their experience to claw their way back into the game. Import Warren Carter scored a game-high 30 points and had solid support from fellow import Brandon Bowdry (18) and captain Brendon Polyblank (14), before he left the court after a heavy fall in a collision.

The Airs' next game is against the Palmerston North Jets on June 20, followed two days later by their final home game of the season against the Bay Hawks.

Otago Nuggets 90 (Warren Carter 30, Brandon Bowdry 18, Brendon Polyblank 14) Taranaki Mountain Airs 89 (Brad Anderson 28, Suleiman Braimoh 26, Aaron Bailey-Nowell 16). 1Q: 27-28, HT: 43-49, 3Q: 67-70

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