The Platinum Homes Harbour Breeze demonstrated why they are considered one of the favoured teams at the 2020 Sal’s NBL 18IN18. The Breeze defeated Capital Swish 88-65 at Bruce Pulman Arena on Sunday.
The scores were level at half-time but the 2019 Finalists dominated the second half 50-27 to open their season in style.
Brooke Blair led the Breeze scoring with 19 points at 67% from the field (8/14FG) with Ashleigh Kelman-Potu (14 points), Ella Fotu (11 points) and Keeley Tini (10 points) also in double figures.
For the Swish Grace Simi Vaofusi scored 18 points (8/14FG) whilst Fijian international Letava Whippy filled the stats line with 12 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals.
Breeze Head Coach Jody Cameron, perhaps surprisingly, chose to start without 2019 Tall Ferns Ella Fotu and Brooke Blair, but did see her team open the scoring courtesy of Tiarna Clarke - they were 9-4 ahead after four minutes.
Vaofusi trimmed the margin by three, Whippy’s And-1 play tying proceedings.
Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit gave the Swish the lead but Fotu and Blair ensured the highest-scoring opening quarter to date in the 18IN18 finished even at 19 points apiece.
Maia Watene scored on consecutive plays to give Swish a 25-21 lead, but back to back triples from Blair took the Breeze out to 31-27.
Teenager Lilly Taulelei reduced the deficit, Vaofusi moved her tally into double figures and when Paris Lokotui cancelled out Olivia Bell’s baskets – the two teams had split 76 points at half-time. Blair led all scorers at the interval with 13 points.
Fotu opened the second half scoring from beyond the arc to prompt a 10-0 Harbour run, the impressive Vaofusi stopping the run.
The Swish, 51-40 down, were struggling to score although Whippy gave them some temporary relief making a deuce from the foul line.
Ash Kelman-Poto stretched the Breeze lead to 56-42, pressure defence from the maroons resulted in lay-ups for Westlake Girls senior Jess Moors and Fotu.
Lokotui and Taulelei made inside buckets for Swish, but Tini put the cap on a Breeze dominated period, Swish outscored 27-11.
The scoring slowed at the beginning of the final period until Kelman-Poto’s three ignited action.
Waiaria Putaranui-Henderson became the tenth Harbour player to get on the scoresheet as the Breeze stretched away for a comfortable victory.
The Breeze return to Bruce Pulman Arena tomorrow to face Firebrand Otago Gold Rush whilst the Swish will return to the capital before heading north again on Friday to meet Auckland Dream.
Swish 65 – Vaofusi 18p, Whippy 12p, Lokotui 11p, Taulelei 8p, Selby-Rickit 5p/10r
Breeze 88 – Blair 19p, Kelman-Potu 14p, Fotu 11p, Tini 10p, Jillings 8p, Bell 8p
SkyCity Hotel MVP Votes:
Brooke Blair (Breeze-7), Grace Vaofusi (Swish-7), Levata Whippy (Swish-4), Zara Jillings (Breeze-4), Ella Fotu (Breeze-4), Lilly Taulelei (Swish-3), Paris Lokotui (Swish-1).