The Taranaki Mountain Airs have a tough assignment ahead of them tonight as they try to avoid the National Basketball League's wooden spoon.
Sitting equal bottom with the Canterbury Rams in the league, the Mountain Airs travel to Wellington to take on the second-placed Saints in their last match of the 2014 season.
With the Rams taking on the Southland Sharks tomorrow night, the Mountain Airs have the chance to at least end the season on a respectable note.
However, the odds are against them, especially with the Saints showing some good form in the past fortnight, although the circumstances are similar to when the Wellington side came to New Plymouth earlier this month and left with a 76-74 loss thanks to a late Suleiman Braimoh basket.
"We want to get another win," Mountain Airs coach Daryn Shaw said yesterday.
"We've really been focusing on this game and trying to get six wins for the season. That's our motivation and we've got a lot of motivation."
Away wins have been few and far between in 2014, but Shaw remained convinced that if his side played at their peak, they could pull off another upset.
Stopping the in-form Corey Webster would be key for the visitors after he showed his class against the Pistons at the weekend, scoring 27, as well as pulling down seven rebounds and providing six assists.
The effort was enough for Webster to be named the NBL player of the week, something Braimoh had achieved four times already this season.
Shaw said his side were disappointed after their 81-64 loss to the league-leading Hawks on Sunday.
Despite that, all the squad were at training at 5am this week and looking forward to trying to achieve an unlikely double over the Saints.
"I know they weren't too happy [after their loss to the Mountain Airs] and they will want to put on a good performance, for sure," Shaw said.
"They're a very talented team, very talented. We won't be trying to do too much different from last time, we just have to make some adjustments to the way they are playing because they have got some really talented guys who will be playing a lot better defence this time around."
Despite a gruelling number of minutes on court, Braimoh said he was still in good shape to lead the scoring in what could be his last time in an amber and black singlet.
"The body is holding up well and I've got no complaints, just ready to play good and make everything good. Hopefully we can go out with a bang and leave a good taste in our mouths."
The 24-year-old heads back to the United States on Monday with his immediate future unclear.
"I'm just going to go home, get back to some training and wait for my next opportunity. Hopefully we can work something out and I'll be back."
- Taranaki Daily News
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