Tuffin, Airs' NZ NBL season comes to a close at hands of Jets

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jul 30, 2020 05:37 PM
Tuffin, Airs' NZ NBL season ends at hands of Jets
(Photo courtesy of NZ NBL)

Ken Tuffin's first foray in the Sal's New Zealand Basketball League is over after he and Taranaki bowed to Manawatu, 95-105, Thursday in the semifinals of the 2020 Season inside the Trusts Arena.

The Airs put up a good fight in the middle periods, but the Jets' strong start and finer finish were much too much to overcome.

Tuffin and company fell victim to a 34-point opening salvo by Manatuwa and then a 38-25 finisher in the final frame.

The Far Eastern University captain had six points to his name in his last game of the season.

As always, Taranaki was led by MVP contenders Derone Raukawa and Marcel Jones with the former finishing with 32 points, five assists, five rebounds, and two steals and the latter ending with 25 markers, 13 boards, and six dimes.

The two, however, were frustrated into turning the ball over a combined 12 times.

For Manawatu, Thomas Vodanich topped the scoring column with 28 points while former De La Salle University foreign student-athlete Taane Samuel wound up with 23 markers of his own.

The Jets now head into a winner-take-all Finals matchup opposite the Otago Nuggets.
On the other hand, the Airs settled for a semifinals finish.

Still, that is a big-time improvement from their 3-15 showing a season ago.

And for Tuffin, the experience would be nothing but a big boost for his return to the Tamaraws. "Now, I'll just get my body stronger and return to FEU for my final year, whenever they'll need me," he said in the post-game interview organized by Smart Sports.

For sure, the 6-foot-4 forwards campaign in the NZ NBL was a personal triumph as it let him be in the middle of the action in international play.

Throughout the tournament, Tuffin did nothing but impress, even catching the eye of New Zealand's national basketball team.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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