Hawks too pumped for rusty Pistons

The Waikato Pistons need a win on Sunday to avoid an 0-2 start to their new season.

The new-look Pistons side showed some early rust in going down 86-75 to the Bay Hawks in their opening National Basketball League match of the season in Napier tonight.

In a match which featured nine lead changes, the visitors led by one with just over four minutes to play but could only net two points in a four-minute spell that allowed the Hawks to pull clear.

New coach Pero Cameron will be expecting more from his starting five on Sunday against the SuperCity Rangers in Waitakere.

Cameron said his charges also struggled to stop the hosts penetrating off the dribble, with the Hawks also benefiting from 23 trips to the free-throw line, making 18.

The Hawks had opened their campaign with an overtime loss to the Wellington Saints in the capital two nights earlier and that may have helped as they established an early lead while Pistons point guard Corin Henry and bench centre Jack Salt picked up two early fouls apiece.

Hawks import Dustin Scott paced the hosts in the first quarter with 10 points and the hosts extended their lead to 38-29 midway through the second before the Pistons narrowed that to trail just 41-39 at halftime, thanks chiefly to making six of 13 three-point attempts.

The Hawks found their mark from long-range in the third quarter to again grab a nine-point buffer but with Casey Frank leading the way for the Pistons, that was reduced to four with 10 minutes to play.

A three from imported Pistons small forward Akeem Wright early in the final stanza gave the visitors their first lead for some time at 65-64, but the Hawks eventually took charge of the arm-wrestle.

Wright led the scoring for the Pistons with 18 points but on 5-16 shooting, while Frank had 16 points (7-14), 11 boards, five assists and six turnovers. Henry had 15 points but just one assist while bench guard Karl Noyer had three treys among his 11 points.

Scott and Everard Bartlett paced the victors with 16 points apiece, while Kareem Johnson and Jarrod Kenny each contributed 13.

In last night's other matches, the Saints defeated the Nelson Giants in Nelson 84-78 while the defending champion Southland Sharks were upset at home 83-77 by the Otago Nuggets.

Waikato Times