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Taranaki Airs pull away from Whai in NBL

In a classic 'game of two halves', the Taranaki Airs overcame the Mid-North Whai in the National Basketball League (NBL).

Trailing for the entire first half, the Airs pulled away for a comfortable 89-74 win at Tauranga's Mercury Baypark Arena on Friday night, lifting them to 3-2 and into the league's top-four.

Australian forward Sam Froling continued his dominance, with a game-high 24 points (12/17 FG) and 10 rebounds, while three others scored in double-digits for the visitors, who shot 53 percent from the field.

Tall Blacks guard Flynn Cameron added 15 points (5/12 FG, 2/7 3pt, 3/4 FT), four rebounds and two assists, American forward Elijah Minnie 13 points (5/8 FG, 2/4 3pt), eight boards and two blocks, and Tobias Cameron 10 points (2/4 FG, 2/4 3pt, 4/6 FT).

New NZ Breakers signing Mitch McCarron had just four points, but also five boards, seven assists and two steals, and Breakers development player Carlin Davison nine points and six rebounds.

The Whai's offence was largely held in check by the Airs, with American forward Vance Jackson Jr top-scoring with 17 points (6/16 FG, 4/4 FT) and six rebounds, and Tall Blacks guard Kruz Perrott-Hunt contributing 15 points (7/12 FG) and seven boards.

Former 3x3 Tall Blacks guard Jayden Bezzant put up 12 points (5/12 FG, 2/5 3pt), American big man Phil Carr 11 points (2/13 FG, 2/8 3pt, 5/8 FT), 13 boards and two steals, and Te Tuhi Lewis nine points.

Sam Froling Taranaki Airs NBL basketball
Sam Froling produced 24 points and 10 boards for the Taranaki Airs. PHOTO: NBL

The Whai never trailed in the first half, leading by as many as nine points late in the first quarter before the Airs closed the gap to one by halftime.

After seven lead changes in the third period, the Airs started to pull away late in the quarter with an 8-0 run, sparked by six points from Tobias Cameron, to go up 66-57 with a minute remaining.

With a rebounding advantage and seemingly scoring at will from close-range - shooting 75 percent (25-of-33) inside the arc - the Airs put the game away with eight straight points, including two triples from Flynn Cameron, to stretch the lead to 16 points.

The Airs (3-2) head from Tauranga to Nelson to face the Nelson Giants (2-2) at the Trafalgar Centre on Sunday (tip-off 6.30pm), while the Whai travel to Pukekohe to take on the Franklin Bulls (4-1) earlier in the day (tip-off 3pm).

Taranaki Airs 89 (Sam Froling 24, Flynn Cameron 15, Elijah Minnie 13, Tobias Cameron 10) Mid-North Whai 74 (Vance Jackson Jr 17, Kruz Perrott-Hunt 15, Jayden Bezzant 12, Phil Carr 11). 1Q: 21-28, HT: 44-45, 3Q: 66-60


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