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Whai survive Jets; put pressure on Giants

The Tauranga Whai have kept their faint hopes of reaching the National Basketball League (NBL) playoffs alive.

The first-year franchise survived a late fightback from the Manawatu Jets to prevail 84-83 at Mount Maunganui's Mercury Baypark on Tuesday night to open the final week of the NBL regular season.


The Whai needed the victory to join the Nelson Giants on eight wins in the race for the sixth and final postseason berth, and will now hope the Giants fall to the Taranaki Airs on Sunday and other results fall their way.

It was a nervy finish against a Jets side with just one win in 18 games and a 16-game losing streak coming into Tuesday.

Tauranga led by eight points early in the fourth quarter before the Jets reeled off nine straight points, culminating with a triple from Mustapha Heron, to lead 57-56 with 7:57 to play.

With eight points from power forward Phil Carr and back-to-back threes from both Kruz Perrott-Hunt and Demarcus Holland, the Whai surged clear again, up nine with 3:10 remaining.

Kruz Perrott-Hunt Whai NBL basketball
Kruz Perrott-Hunt hit seven threes in his game-high 25 points for the Whai. PHOTO: NBL

But Manawatu weren't done, battling back again with a three-point play and triple from Liam Judd, then another three from Heron to tie the game at 83-83 with nine seconds on the clock. Carr was fouled and made the winning free-throw with four seconds to run.

It was a three-man show for the Whai as recent Tall Black Perrott-Hunt and imports Holland and Carr combined for 71 points.

Perrott-Hunt finished with 25 points (9/16 FG, 7/13 3pt), five rebounds and three assists, Holland 24 points (10/14 FG, 3/4 3pt), six boards and three assists, and Carr 22 points (8/19 FG, 5/6 FT) and 15 rebounds.

The Jets had five players score in double-digits, led again by Mustapha Heron with 21 points (7/16 FG, 3/7 3pt, 4/4 FT), 11 boards and two steals, while Kiwi forward Liam Judd put up 19 points (8/14 FG, 2/5 3pt), five rebounds and two steals. and Lukah Richards 16 points (7/8 FG) and six boards.

Tauranga Whai 84 (Kruz Perrott-Hunt 25, Demarcus Holland 24, Phil Carr 22) Manawatu Jets 83 (Mustapha Heron 21, Liam Judd 19, Lukah Richards 16, Quashawn Lane 10, Campbell Scott 10). 1Q: 24-14, HT: 35-32, 3Q: 52-48


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