Runners-up in 2020, Rotorua Geysers went one better this year by claiming the 2021 Sal’s NBL D-League title with a convincing 85-72 Grand-Final victory over Harbour Cyclones at Pulman Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Izzy Pugh (27 points, 16 rebounds and 4 blocks) was outstanding for the Cyclones but the Geysers were extremely well served by Waiata Jennings (27 points), Awatea Leach (21 points and 8 assists) and Kararaina Pene (18 points).
Pugh (10/17FG) had opened the scoring and Lily Morgan made a corner three as the Cyclones constructed the better start to the contest.
Mufaro Mapengo, Pene and Leach led the Geysers response before Amiya Fotu knocked down a quarter-time buzzer beater to give Cyclones a 23-20 advantage.
Leach gave the Geysers their first lead of the game 3:30 into the second period (30-28) but neither team could establish a lead of significance until Jennings, Leach and Pene, the key contributors for the Geysers, took control in the last three minutes of the first half.
The trio combined for 10 points to ease the Geysers to a 48-36 interval lead – Jennings, led all scorers with 13 points at the half.
Jennings, the D-League’s leading scorer, was on the board again as the Geysers enjoyed a 16-6 run to stretch their lead further.
Pugh was fighting a lone battle at the offensive end for the Cyclones who found themselves trailing 68-49 at three-quarter time.
The Cyclones had the better of the fourth quarter but the Geysers had laid the platform for a comfortable victory in the middle quarters of the contest.
Rotorua Geysers (85) defeated Harbour Cyclones (72)
GEYSERS: W Jennings 27/8r, Leach 21/8 assists, Pene 18, C Ohia 7, M Mapengo 4/10r
CYCLONES: I Pugh 27/16rebs/4 blocks, A Rogers 12, R Burgess-Fiatau 12/9r, A Fotu 9
Game Officials: Toni Smith-Hunwick, Sasha Nicholson, Callum Welch
Other D-League Play-off results:
Playoff for 7th/8th
Taranaki Thunder 83 – T Omelvena-Ngatai 19, H Lee 19, Z Kensington 9, A Bright 9, J How 8
Harbour Zephyr 66 – R Fuaivaa 20, S Te Nana-Williams 18, V Tuilave 15, Q Finau-Stephano 8
Playoff for 5th/6th
Northland Phoenix 72 – S Tua-Martin 24, K Tahere 21, M Kukutai-Wairau 10, T Cameron-Tana 8
Capital 66 – J Slade 29, R Pike 13, J Rangitawa 11, M Riwaka 7
Playoff for 3rd/4th
Auckland 107 – W Clarken 14, S Motufoua 13, R Papa 12, G Leslie 11, M Taingahue 10
Tauranga City Coasters 59 – M Samia 13, S Rogers 12, K Morrell 8, C Savage 6, A Hayland 6