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Manawatu Jets knock Taranaki Mountain Airs out in NZ NBL semis

Former La Salle one-and-done player Taane Samuel caught fire for Manawatu. NZ NBL (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Ken Tuffin's maiden journey in the New Zealand National Basketball League came to an end on Thursday after the Manawatu Jets knocked his Taranaki Mountain Airs out of playoff contention with a 105-95 win in the semifinals at the Trusts Arena in Auckland.

Taranaki, which slowly rallied back from a hot first quarter by Manawatu, failed to close out the game as the latter waxed hot again in the final quarter to steal the victory.

The Jets raced to a 34-23 lead in the first canto, but the Airs slowly recovered and after holding their opponents to just 12 points in the third even took a 70-67 edge entering the fourth.

Manawatu made the final surge right in the fourth period, dropping 38 points on Taranaki to pull away for good.

Thomas Vodanovich paced the Jets with 28 points on 9-for-18 shooting, seven rebounds, and one assist, while former La Salle player Taane Samuel added 23 points, five rebounds, and four assists and Hynum Harris went for 17 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, and seven steals.

Daeron Raukawa put up 32 markers, five rebounds, five assists, and two steals, while Marcel Jones added 25 points, 13 rebounds, and six dimes for the Airs, but they combined for 12 of the team's 16 turnovers.

Tuffin, which delivered a crucial triple that helped Taranaki defeat Franklin on Wednesday in the quarterfinals, was held to just six points, one rebound, one assist, and one steal.

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