The returning Mika Vukona during his side's 101-78 win over The Hawke's Bay Hawks at Trafalgar Centre. Photo: Evan Barnes/Shuttersport.

Mika’s back for high-flying Giants

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The Mike Pero Nelson Giants welcomed back its prodigal son with a comprehensive 101-78 win over the Hawke’s Bay Hawks on Saturday to shoot to the top of the New Zealand NBL table.

Nelson out-classed the visitors all over the court to leapfrog the Wellington Saints into top spot.

Kyle Adnam was once again superb, directing the offence while scoring a game high 23 points as the Giants comfortably took out all four quarters.

Finn Delaney proved dynamic on defence, notching four steals to go with his 17 points and four assists.

Nelson nailed 17 three pointers in the 23-point rout to take their season record to 7-2.
The match also served as the return of Giants legend Mika Vukona, who began his storied career with the Nelson franchise way back in 2000.

Coach Jamie Pearlman wasted little time reintroducing his veteran forward, opting to bring him on after just five minutes to the delight of nearly 1600 fans.

While Mika may not have scored a point in his return, he says he was just happy to get on the court and blow out the cobwebs.

After sitting out the first seven games to refresh from leading the Tall Blacks at the Commonwealth Games, Mika has taken on a player/assistant coach/mentor role with the Giants.

He says the franchise is on an upward trajectory.

“It’s great to see the team revamped and it’s awesome to be part of that.”

He says Saturday’s win it was a clinical performance, his first in a Giants jersey since 2015.

“The side has had some good road wins and stuck those processes again tonight which was great, seeing that ball move is an awesome thing to watch.”

Mika says Jamie has created a “solid” team culture in his short time at the helm.

“I’ve been really impressed with what Jamie has done, he has the respect of everyone and what the club is building right now is a great opportunity.”

He says if the side sticks to its mantra of “everybody behind everybody,” they will be there at the business end of the season.

“I have a lot of confidence in the ability of this side, we just want to keep working hard and as long as we do we will be looking pretty good.”

Bringing a wealth of experience, including more than 400 ANBL games, Mika says there is a real buzz in Nelson following the Giants’ early season success.

“The crowds are here, they can sense it, it’s good to be back.”