Having played his last game in a SKYCITY Breakers singlet on Friday night against Sydney Kings Tai Wynyard suited for one last time in a Breakers uniform on Saturday at Atlas Place.
Wynyard put together a commanding 33 points, 13 rebounds double double as Breakers Development was edged 113-106 by 68Nelson Street in the first semi-final of the Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam.
The University of Kentucky secured Wynyard’s signature in January and on Tuesday the 17-year-old will depart for the US to begin his university career. On Saturday his thoughts were solely on helping his mates and at half time all was going to plan as Breakers Development led 68Nelson 62-53. Wynyard’s Tall Blacks teammate Lindsay Tait led all scorers with 22 points for 68 Nelson – Wynyard himself had 16 points.
An Anamata Haku put back completed a 12-3 run in favour of 68Nelson to open the second half and tie the scores at 65 apiece. Baskets from Sam Aruwa and Matt Freeman were cancelled out by Braden Inger and Isaac Letoa, the teams entered the fourth quarter tied 84 points each.
The Breakers gave up a number of fouls early in the fourth stanza and 68Nelson was in the bonus just 4 minutes into the period. That and the constant penetrative drives of Haku and Tait gave the visitors a 99-93 advantage with 4 minutes remaining.
A pair of Wynyard freebies, an Inger put back and a slashing Shea Ili drive tied the scores 99-99 with under two minutes to play. A Freeman left handed baby hook edged 68Nelson back ahead. Tait free throws were matched by Ili and entering the final minute 68Nelson led 103-101.
Three points from Haku looked enough but a steal and basket from Wynyard plus another free throw from Ili meant Breakers trailed 106-104 with 26 seconds to play.
The Breakers were forced to foul to stop the clock but 68Nelson were in no mood to relinquish their lead as Matt Lacey and Johnny Fesolai iced the game from the foul line.
Wynyard’s next appearance on a basketball court is likely to be in front of 23,000 Kentucky Wildcats fans at Rupp Arena, Lexington. The handful of spectators at Atlas Place on Saturday were privileged to witness his last appearance in New Zealand for a little while.
Breakers Development 106 – Wynyard 33, Ili 25, Inger 15, Letoa 10, Sam Waardenburg 10.
68Nelson Street 113- Tait 38, Haku 27, Fesolai 15, Freeman 14, Aruwa 13.
The Birdmen booked their place in the final of the Mexicali Fresh Summer Jam with a 104-99 win against Mai88 Sixers.
The first half was a high scoring affair with the Birdmen ascending to a 66-53 advantage – Kevin Braswell’s 19 points for the Birdmen countering Hayden Allen’s 17 points for the Sixers.
Anthony Jones and Nick Barrow led a 9-0 Sixers run to open the second half and with Allen scoring nine points in the period the Birdmen’s lead was reduced to 6 points, 80-74, at three quarter time.
Carl Buck and Braswell took charge of the final quarter unveiling a sequence of scores to extend the Birdmen’s lead to 93-76 early in the period. The pair scored twenty points in the quarter to snuff out any chance of a Sixers comeback. Houston O’Riley capped off an energetic display with a dozen points in the final ten minutes but it was to no avail as The Birdmen secured a berth in next week’s final, the final scoreline slightly flattering the Sixers.
The Birdmen 113 – Braswell 31, Buck 20, Frank 14, Chris Duthie 11.
Mai88 Sixers 99 – Allen 26, O’Riley 21, Barrow 20, Jones 13