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Basketball: It all boils down to big D

Basketball: It all boils down to big D

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Hawks guard Luke Aston lunges for a lay up as teammate Kareem Johnson shields against Giants import Ben Strong (left) and Ray Cowells III in Napier yesterday. Photo / Duncan Brown

By Anendra Singh

Dissect a game any way you want but, it seems, in basketball it’s almost impossible to go past the “D”.

That post mortem from the Indigo Hawks’ 91-80 defeat to the Mike Pero Nelson Giants in Napier yesterday is a classic example.

“It’s just a matter of taking ownership of the defence and just playing defence so it’s just our guys needing to work together,” said Hawks guard Luke Aston, who exemplified a collective steely resolve from the hosts at the Pettigrew-Green Arena, Taradale, in their second Bartercard National Basketball League match.

“We just have to do it all the time. It can’t just be a sometimes thing so it’s got to be every play,” Aston stressed, after the Hawks had a laboured start that saw them trail 23-16 in the first quarter before that gulf ballooned to a 22-point one at halftime, 54-32 (31-16).

The pep talk from coach Kirstin Daly-Taylor appeared to have struck a chord with co-captains Aidan Daly and Chris Porter and their troops who delivered a resounding third spell of 29-22 (76-61) and nutted it out for 19-15 returns in the final quarter.

“I think it’s all about putting four quarters together so that’s all we need to work on,” said Aston, reflecting on two games where they didn’t start with the desired sense of urgency.

The Hawks remain winless in their NBL while the Tim Fanning-coached Nelson claimed two victories on the road, beating the James Blond Supercity Rangers 102-98 in Auckland the night before.

Offensively, Aston put the Hawks’ start down to “just a basketball thing”.

“We scored 80 points so I don’t think our offence is the problem but it’s our defence so once we can do that we’ll be okay,” he said, also of the belief that if the shots dropped then that would negate any suggestions the ball needed to be moved around the court a bit more.

Nelson’s import, Ray Cowells III, scored a game-high 27 points with Ben Strong adding 19 points and four assists while veteran Phill Jones chimed in with 18 points and five assists.

Giants skipper Sam Dempster claimed 12 rebounds and six assists while Finn Delany injected 15 points and five rebounds to reflect the side’s versatility.

For the Hawks, US import Kareem Johnson scored a team-high 16 points while veteran forward Arthur Trousdell added 15 points and collected seven rebounds.

Aston, Matt Te Huna and William Stinnett (14:29 off the bench) contributed 12 points each while Porter delivered seven points and collected six rebounds.

Te Huna also led the assists department for the hosts with six but had the most of court time (33:34 minutes) with Trousdell next on 32:01.

Forward Darryl Jones, guard Alonzo Burton and point guard Mataeus Marsh didn’t play for the Hawks because of niggly injuries but he said they should be back for the next game on Thursday when the Hawks host SIT Zerofees Southland Sharks at the PG Arena in a 7pm tip off.

Dempster was delighted to have nailed two victories on the road.

“We’ve got a good team. We like to pride ourselves as a team that plays together so we know what our role is and what we like to do,” he said, adding they were lucky to have the services of former Tall Black Jones.

“The Hawks had a slow start but we always knew they were going to come back at us so they fought hard but we were lucky enough to hold them off.”

Dempster said they didn’t intend to drop their intensity in the second half but the combination of lethargy and the Hawks’ resurgence had caught them on the hop.

“We have no excuses. They came out hard at us in the second half and caught us off guard in the third [quarter] so we’ll try to learn from that and clean it up,” he said.

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