The Auckland Tuatara sit atop the Sal’s NBL ladder with a perfect 4-0 record after inflicting a 106-91 defeat on the Wellington Saints at TSB Arena on Monday evening.
Tuatara were once again led by the front court duo of Chris Johnson and Rob Loe, both players having recorded double-doubles in all four outings in this campaign. In this one Loe finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds while Johnson, the NBL’s leading rebounder, tallied 25 points and 17 boards.
Taki Fahrensohn (20 points) and Chris McIntosh (16 points) were also major contributors for the Tuatara – both players posting NBL career highs.
For the Saints Mike Smith scored 29 points, making 6 from 12 from the 3-point line, while Taane Samuel provided plenty of clips for the NBL Round 3 highlight reel with a 23 points haul that included a variety of dunks.
It was Samuel that opened the scoring in front of a large Monday night crowd although it was the Tuatara that edged the opening period 25-21.
The visitors increased their advantage to 12 points at the mid-point of the second quarter but 16 points in the half from Samuel and 11 from import Smith trimmed the deficit to 8 points (54-46) at the interval.
Smith, Francis Mulvihill and Rangimarie Dougall-Mita each made baskets from beyond the arc but 10 points in the quarter from McIntosh paced the Tuatara to an 82-75 lead headed into the final ten minutes.
On the back of a Jordan Ngatai score the Saints managed to reduce the difference to 6 points with a little over 7 minutes to play but the Tuatara were largely untroubled as they pushed the advantage well into double figures.
With young tyro Dontae Russo-Nance unavailable and new import Siler Schneider only just landed in the country the Tuatara’s guard resources were stretched but Braydon Iuli, Tom Beattie and McIntosh filled the void in style combining for 31 points on 12/22 shooting.
The Tuatara are in action again in just 48 hours when they entertain the Taylor Hawks at Eventfinda Stadium on Wednesday while the Saints will entertain the Canterbury Rams on Sunday afternoon.
SCORE: Saints 91, Tuatara 106
Saints: Smith 29 PTS & 7 AST | Samuel 23 PTS | Mulvihill 11 PTS | Ngatai 11 PTS
Tuatara: Johnson 25 PTS & 17 REB | Loe 24 PTS & 10 REB | Fahrensohn 20 PTS | McIntosh 16 PTS
Full box score HERE.
Stuff MVP Votes
Chris Johnson (Tuatara) - 9 votes
Rob Loe (Tuatara) - 9 votes
Mike Smith (Saints) - 6 votes
Taki Fahrensohn (Tuatara) - 3 votes
Taane Samuel (Saints) - 3 votes
Saints - May 22 vs. Canterbury Rams
Tuatara - May 18 vs. Hawke's Bay Hawks
Round 4 Sal's NBL Schedule