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Finalists decided: Team Tom to take on unbeaten Team Reg

BASKETBALL by Ben O’Brien-Leaf
OUTSTANDING EFFORT: Will Hocquard (left, playing for SE Systems, up against Green Up’s Kahn Grayson in this year’s club basketball final) was in dominant form for Team Reg in a Draft League semifinal on Tuesday night.Picture by Paul Rickard

You don’t win three games straight in a five-week comp only to fall at the final hurdle.

And at the YMCA on Tuesday night unbeaten Team Reg booked a place in next week’s final of Gisborne basketball’s inaugural Draft League at the YMCA with a 96-78 win against Team Adrian in the 1 v 4 semi.

Fancied Team Tom beat a gutsy Team Keenan outfit 79-72 in the 2 v 3 semi, and one shot defined the favourites’ iron will to win that near-upset.

The marksman was Team Tom’s Scott Muncaster (21 points), whose “on second thought” three-pointer from the right side of the court — for 79-72 with 31.87 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter — sank the Keenan Ruru-Poharama-coached crew.

Muncaster, his captain Carl Riini (16pts) and the league’s heaviest scorer, Tyrese Tuwairua-Brown (35pts), led the way for Team Tom offensively. They were up 15-11 early on, trailed Team Keenan 33-32 and had edged away 57-54 going into the fourth period.

Ruru-Poharama’s opposite, Thomas Tindale, was far from content.

“We really struggled with their athletic forwards,” Tindale said.

“Paora Dewes (20pts) was a real handful for us in what was a physical game, and having only two substitutes made things even more difficult.”

The game’s big plays included Raenin Pihema-Pomana’s epic leaner from the right wing for Team Keenan to close it to 13-9. But Pihema-Pomana’s captain, Dom Wilson, surely made the play of the game, the house rising to his swing-through, reverse lay-up for 18-all.

Strapping Team Keenan forward William Collier’s jump-hook over Stefan Pishief for 49-45, too, was memorable, if not quite in the class of iceman Muncaster’s bomb.

Reggie Namana, like Tindale, mentors an outfit — named for himself — who did what they had to do when it mattered most.

He said simply: “We are stoked but the job’s not done, although we’re coming together. Both finalists know that defence wins championships. That’s what our eyes are set on.”

Team Reg went into the 1 v 4 semi having beaten Team Tom 74-68 in the competition opener, Team Keenan 71-54 a week later and Team Adrian 78-63 to conclude round-robin play.

William Hocquard (25pts), who led Team Reg scorers in the Draft League’s penultimate week, has played a lot of good ball here since his move from Hawke’s Bay in 2017.

He made Game 1, Week 4 his own.

Both Hocquard and teammate Holden Wilson (22pts) have played solidly during the Draft League, without ever needing or looking to dominate. Unselfishness from premier-grade club players has been a feature of this new competition.

Team Adrian’s aspiring titan Sebastian Wilson got the first refereeing call of the semis from long-serving official Cliff Blumfield eight minutes 16 seconds into Game 1.

Wilson (10pts) hit a soft-touch shot from the left baseline to close it to 18-10 and later took Hocquard to the hoop for 21-12, but Team Adrian trailed Team Reg from the outset and three-point shots had a bearing.

Strongman Ryan Walters traded “treys” with Hocquard early on but the latter’s Team Reg teammate Tamati Horua (8pts) might have pricked the conscience of Team Adrian still further with regard to their defence: he hit the fifth and last long jumpshot of the quarter.

Senior basketball rookie Keanu-Cleve Reedy scored a magic basket for Team Reg off a Holden Wilson assist for 27-20 in the second period and, just before three-quartertime, Team Adrian guard Ngaru Grayson scored off his second put-back attempt to close it to 77-45. Grayson is like that — in traffic, against taller opponents, down by 34 points, he refused to give in.

Sixteen-year-old Ethan Ngarangione-Pearson, relieved of his refereeing duties, has been great value on the floor for Team Adrian. He, like Walters and Caleb Poole, put up 12pts in their cause — including a classic three-pointer with Team Reg up by 20 points (93-73).

The playoff for third and fourth places, between Team Keenan and Team Adrian, is set for 5.30pm on Tuesday next week. Team Reg will play Team Tom in the final at 7pm.

Gisborne Basketball Association Draft League, semifinals —

1 v 4: TEAM REG 96 (William Hocquard 25, Holden Wilson 22, Rikki Noble 15, Kahn Grayson 12, Daley Riri 10) beat TEAM ADRIAN 78 (Ngaru Grayson 15, Caleb Poole 12, Ryan Walters 12, Ethan Ngarangione-Pearson 12, Sebastian Wilson 10). Q1 TEAM REG 25-18, HT 46-32, Q3 82-47.

2 v 3: TEAM TOM 79 (Tyrese Tuwairua-Brown 35, Scott Muncaster 21, Carl Riini 16) beat TEAM KEENAN 72 (Paora Dewes 20, Dom Wilson 18, Weighn Wilson 15). Q1 TEAM TOM 15-11, HT TEAM KEENAN 33-32, Q3 TEAM TOM 57-54.