The NSC could have been mistaken for Ronaldsway on Thursday as Jets were grounded by Ravens in the first quarter of their senior league basketball match.
A strategy of fast breaks paid dividends for both sides as they pushed the ball down the court, catching the defence in transition.
It proved particularly effective for the young Ravens side as Jake Kinrade, Matthew Thomas and Miltos Provatakaris hit a trio of breaks to push Ravens ahead.
Forget Me Not Jets were caught by surprise at first and it wasn’t until halfway through the first that they regained composure and started to close the gap.
A solid outside shot from Tom Dalton-Brown drew the teams level and they stayed neck-and-neck for the rest of the quarter, until two quick breaks by Jake Glover pushed Jets into a slender lead, 15-13.
Choice words from player/coach Paul Kilic during the break appeared to fire up the Jets engines and they got permission to fly in the second quarter.
A more solid defence spooked Ravens and clever ball movement cracked open lanes on offence that Dalton-Brown and Wayne Mears were happy to exploit.
Ravens struggled throughout the quarter as pace was held but precision suffered and they relied as much on converting free-throws as on shooting and lay-ups for points. At the half-time buzzer Jets were soaring high on a 19-point lead, 41-22.
The third quarter was a more balanced affair as both teams again kept the pace high but a quicker transition to defence kept the number of converted fast breaks low, Jets gaining a slight advantage through the coupling of nice steals and Glover’s speed.
More precision came from the Ravens side as they kept scoring pace through the solid shooting, with Kinrade joined by Zak Mitchell in swishing shots.
There were plenty of other chances for Ravens throughout the quarter but they struggled on several offensive sets and were denied second chances through the defensive rebounding of Jets’ Danny Harrison and Wayne Mears. The scores stood 57-33 to Jets at the end of the third.
The final quarter saw a more relaxed Jets look to practice some offensive sets with post screens and cross-court cuts that sliced open the defence and provided plenty of points.
Ravens continued to push the break where they could but again suffered with precision and failed to convert a number of opportunities.
The final score stood 72-37 for Jets and, while they took the expected win, it was a tougher ask than they would have wanted.
With the regular season ending in a few weeks, Ravens can take heart from their first and third quarter performance.
If they consistently replicate that in the play-offs then it may lead to some serious upsets ahead of the 2022-23 season title.
The second game of the evening saw old rivals Microgaming Cavaliers and Turkeys face off in a swansong for Cavs’ key man Sergio Arboleya who is leaving the island.
It was Cavaliers who dominated the scoring throughout the game, with their inside game paying more dividends for Dave Minay and Phil Evans than Dave Boyle and Chris Wolendale could provide for Turkeys outside the arc.
As the first half progressed Arboleya showed why he is so devastating for Cavaliers with some expert three-point shooting that powered them ahead. At half-time his side had a comfortable 14-point lead, 35-21.
The second half followed a similar pattern with Cavaliers focussing more on the inside and mid-range, consistently cutting up the defence in the key, while Turkeys struggled to make hay against Cavaliers key and relied on outside shooting from Wolfendale and Boyle to tide them over.
The duo gave some hope in the third with a string of solid threes that initially held pace with Cavaliers scoring but they ran dry in the fourth, while Cavs stepped up and spread scoring throughout their squad.
A final three-pointer from Arboleya capped off a decisive win for Cavaliers 77-44 and a notable career in Manx basketball for Arboleya – including league titles and MVP awards.
The players, coaches and officials in local basketball wish Sergio all the best in his next adventure.
l This Thursday sees the continuation of the regular season as basketball builds to play-off finals starting in mid-April.
Court one will host Wolves against Hoops while court two sees Forget Me Not Jets take on Microgaming Cavaliers. Both games tip off at 8pm in the NSC Main Hall with courtside seating provided for spectators.