In a Sal's NBL season littered with thrillers, the Mike Pero Nelson Giants and Auckland Tuatara may have delivered the best yet in a standout public holiday clash in front of a vocal Eventfinda Stadium crowd.
In a game highlighted by amazing momentum swings the Giants celebrated a 95-90 win with captain Sam Dempster dropping nine triples on his way to a game-high 29-point haul.
Coming in on a three-game losing streak the Tuatara faced a tough battle throughout, though a 16-point run early in the second quarter saw them open a 13-point lead. Once re-settled, Jarrod West started to take authority and over the back end of the second period the visitors went on a 19-9 run to close the contest back up.
Siler Schneider delivered a hot opening half for the Tuatara with 18 points, while Sam Thompson kept the Giants motoring along with 15 first-half points. At the long break it was the home team holding a narrow 48-46 lead.
The second half went to a new level with both teams trading baskets at a rapid pace. Enjoying a public holiday the crowd found their voice and rode every big basket. Schneider in particular was putting together his best game of the season and was proving a handful for both Alex McNaught and West.
Dempster proved to be a significant thorn for the Tuatara, his barrage of triples constantly answering baskets from Schneider, Rob Loe, Taki Fahrensohn and Dontae Russo-Nance. It was a marvelous performance from the 31-year old Giants skipper who continues to put together arguably his best year in season number 14.
Pleasingly for the Tuatara, young guards Braydon Iuli (18 years) and Russo-Nance (17 years) continue to shine, while Loe was a monster on the boards and Fahrensohn was involved in a number of big plays that kept the game in the balance.
However, this night belonged to Dempster and the Giants. Down the stretch, with the lead constantly see-sawing, the Giants found a way in a collective effort, which was capped by a massive Trey Mourning triple to seal the win with seconds remaining.
SCORE: Tuatara 90 , Giants 95
Tuatara: Schneider 27 PTS | Russo-Nance 18 PTS | Loe 15 PTS, 18 REB
Giants: Dempster 29 PTS, 9 Treys | Thompson 24 PTS | West 16 PTS, 9 AST
Full box score HERE.
Stuff MVP Votes
Jarrod West (Giants) - 8 votes
Sam Dempster (Giants) - 6 votes
Siler Schneider (Tuatara) - 4 votes
Sam Thompson (Giants) - 4 votes
Rob Loe (Tuatara) - 4 votes
Trey Mourning (Giants) - 3 votes
Dontae Russo-Nance (Tuatara) - 1 vote
Tuatara – July 1 @ Southland Sharks
Giants – June 26 @ Hawke's Bay Hawks
Round 9 Sal's NBL Schedule