The result was a foregone conclusion at the end of the first quarter although the purist would argue it was dusted well before the winless Taranaki Mountainairs set foot in Napier tonight.

If there were any doubts about the Taylor Corporation Hawks flogging the Mountainairs 119-82, their newest American import, Brandon Bowman, had dropped a bomb from the carpark before staring down a shell-shocked visitors' bench at the start of the third quarter.

At the defensive end, fellow US import small forward EJ Singler had put a don't-argue block on Taranaki import Chris Early as he went for a lay up a couple of minutes later.

The 40 per cent full Pettigrew-Green Arena faithful must have been playing a guessing game on whether the Jarrod Kenny-captained hosts were going to reach three figures before the visitors could post 50. The Hawks didn't, for the record, breaking the 100 mark early in the final quarter after the Mountainairs had eclipsed their half century.

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For that reason it would be quite insincere of any coach or player to suggest — pre-match or post-match — that there are no easy beats in the National Basketball League (NBL).

You could infer Hawks coach Zico Coronel had adhered to the mercy rule when he started rolling out bench players in Jamal Mikaio, Geoff Heather, Nicholas Fee, James Levings with veteran Darryl Jones assuming the mantle of leadership by the time they had entered the final quarter.

Consequently the score would remain an aberration with Taranaki claiming the final quarter 26-23. It was more about hugging and shaking hands with the corporate wallahs for the hosts.

Tonight's encounter was by no means a gauge of the Hawks' worth but more about putting the players on a psychological drip for matches that will matter down the track, such as the one against fresh opponents the Nelson Giants at the Trafalgar Centre next Thursday.

Reassuringly Australian import centre Daniel Kickert had made his first appearance at home since hurting his back in the opening match on the road in the loss to the Wellington Saints.

"I think we played the game with the right mentality," said point guard Kenny who only made a cameo 20-minute appearance by his standards but still contributed 11 points and eight assists.

"You know, we played hard and we played our game tonight with the addition of Bowman and Kickert — two experienced players who will help us tremendously along the way."

Big man Bowman's contribution of a match-high 22 points, eight rebounds and two steals suggests the Hawks will be a slightly different species to the one that took the floor for the first four rounds of the NBL. Throw in Kickert, in his 14-minute, 11-point spell, and the prospects start looking brighter.

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Hawks big man Brandon Bowman shows the way with fellow import Daniel Kickert in support against Taranaki at the PG Arena, Napier, tonight. Photo/Photosport
Hawks big man Brandon Bowman shows the way with fellow import Daniel Kickert in support against Taranaki at the PG Arena, Napier, tonight. Photo/Photosport

Kenny said the bench players also had deserved their game time tonight because they had toiled even before the season had tipped off.

He agreed it was imperative for the Hawks to take that momentum to Nelson in the next round.

"We had only one training as full squad and even then we had an injury in Ethan [Rusbatch] so we're still not completely where we need to be as a unit but this is us from now on so we need to just keep working to build our connections and, hopefully, improve every week."

Rusbatch, for the record, still managed to add 12 points in his state.

Kenny thanked the corporate sponsors and fans for making a huge difference to their campaign because without them the Hawks would be left floundering.

The hosts opened a 28-17 lead in the first quarter after both sides took almost two minutes to settle into the game.

It was a spell in which the Hawks didn't just pile the points but also kept the Mountainairs on a leash as well as tripping them on the shot clock.

They went into the changing rooms with the Hawks leading 60-41 (32-24).

Visiting home-boy Alonzo Burton, as captain, was trying his darnedest, succumbing to gravity in a collision in the third quarter but slow in finding his feet although he showed his displeasure when coach David Bublitz apologetically benched him for guard Dane Brooks.

With 2m 50s to go, Brooks himself became a casualty, prompting Bublitz to inject Oscar Robertson as the former gingerly walked back to the bench.

Some fans on the corporate bench had stopped watching the carnage by that stage, finding titillation instead on their cellphones, as the Hawks closed that chapter 96-56 (36-15).

It turned into a bench-player affair from the end of the third quarter but Jamal Mikaio scored 16 points for the Hawks. Taranaki's Oscar Robertson keeps him check. Photo/Photosport
It turned into a bench-player affair from the end of the third quarter but Jamal Mikaio scored 16 points for the Hawks. Taranaki's Oscar Robertson keeps him check. Photo/Photosport

Guard Dion Prewster scored 20, Mikaio contributed 16 and Singler added 12 to the collective cause of the hosts.

Shooting guard Burton top scored for the Airs with 18 points but also pulling seven rebounds while guard Derone Raukawa, returning from injury, added 14.

The Hawks stifled import Chris Early to seven points and eight rebounds while Houston Riley managed eight points.

Veteran forward Aaron Bailey-Nowell shook his head in trying to explain why the visitors looked out of sorts.

"It was going to be a tough week for us, losing our two new imports so it was always going to be a tough ask to tonight over here to get a win," Bailey-Nowell lamented after an injury-plagued centre Daniel Gomis had his contract terminated yesterday and jetted back to the United States although it was unclear when the other import, Kevin Foster, departed.

The 37-year-old said it was the committee's decision to release the pair "with an eye to the future".

"It's their decision and we have to respect that," he said. "It's tough for us as the players to deal with something like that because it breaks up everything we've earned pre-season."

Taranaki, the forward said, were getting there but the termination was a "huge loss".
Justin Cousin, who played tonight, is the latest arrival to help fellow import Early.

"From the get-go he [Cousin] was the guy who wanted to come in and work hard to see if he can get an opportunity so by chance the other two were let go and he [Cousin] stepped in."

Bailey-Nowell said tomorrow night would be probably their best chance of breaking the five-match duck when they host fellow strugglers Supercity Rangers (Auckland).

"We can say we're going to play against a team we can match up with in the Rangers so it's about how quick we turnaround and recover with, obviously, food and rest."

Bailey-Nowell said the Mountainairs were still trying find their chemistry.

Hawks' home-grown bench player, Geoff Heather, got some game time against the Taranaki Mountainairs in the National Basketball League match at the PG Arena, Napier, tonight. Photo/Photosport
Hawks' home-grown bench player, Geoff Heather, got some game time against the Taranaki Mountainairs in the National Basketball League match at the PG Arena, Napier, tonight. Photo/Photosport