Nuggets optimistic ahead of doubleheader

Pivotal Taranaki Airs import Sam Froling looks on while playing for the Illawarra Hawks during an...
Pivotal Taranaki Airs import Sam Froling looks on while playing for the Illawarra Hawks during an ANBL semifinal game against Melbourne United in Melbourne in March. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
It is a big weekend for the Otago Nuggets and it all starts tonight.

The Nuggets are on the road for two important games, starting with the Taranaki Airs tonight and then the Manawatu Jets on Sunday.

After losing 99-81 to the Southland Sharks last weekend, Nuggets coach Brent Matehaere was pleased with the way his players responded at training this week.

"I’ve been really happy with our week preparation," Matehaere said.

"We were on the right track I think against Southland and then the wheels fell off.

"Just a little bit of inexperience in times ... so it’s
making sure that we focus on what we can do better and make sure we’re continuing to grow as a team and as a group."

Working together as a group will be crucial when they play the third-placed Airs.

The Airs have won eight and lost three compared to the Nuggets, who have won four and lost seven.

The Airs are the top defensive team in the NBL and their "elite imports", Australians Sam Froling and Mitch McCarron and America Elijah Minnie, have been leading the way.

Froling sits in the top five, averaging 22.6 points a game, and Flynn Cameron has been shooting at 43.9% from beyond the arc.

Matehaere said the Airs had a good base of Kiwi players providing good punch off the bench, making the Airs a "real challenge for us".

The Nuggets beat the Jets 112-103 on April 5, but Matehaere is quick to acknowledge the Jets have had a shake-up.

"They’re quite a different team."

Two of the Jets imports have been released since that game, but they had added Americans Kahlil Whitney and Quashawn Lane and Kiwi James Moors as well.

"Obviously a huge challenge playing up there. But, you know, if we focus on our processes and make sure that we get things right we should be OK," Matehaere said.