The Otago Nuggets had to overcome the flu as well as the Hawke's Bay Hawks to claim a 94-80 victory on Saturday evening in Dunedin.
With over half the roster bed-ridden throughout the week, Brent Matehaere wasn't sure who he could rely on in their second home game of the season. The Hawks weren't without their own reasons for fatigue, just two days removed from an impressive win over the Sharks in Invercargill. They carried that momentum into the opening stanza of this game, rushing to a 10 point lead courtesy of Jack Exeter's early flourish.
Todd Withers and Keith Williams, two of the Nuggets who were most hit by sickness, led the Nuggets back into the game. Withers provided one half of a tantalising matchup with his Adelaide 36ers teammate Hyrum Harris, and was deadly from deep (7/12) as he kept the Nuggets within arms reach at half time.
Derone Raukawa exploded out the gates in the third quarter and soon the Hawks once again had a healthy lead. This time, it was Williams and Sam Timmins who brought the Nuggets on an emotional run and into a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Fittingly, Withers - now a firmly entrenched fan-favourite, hit a three to ice the game down the stretch.
Both teams are now 2-2 for the season.
SCORE: Nuggets 94, Hawks 80
Nuggets: Withers 30 PTS, 9 REB, 7 3PM| Williams 23 PTS | Timmins 17 PTS, 12 REB
Hawks: Raukawa 23 PTS, 5 REB, 4 AST | Hunt 15 PTS, 7 REB| Exeter 15 PTS, | Harris 11 PTS, 11 REB
Full box score HERE.
Stuff MVP Votes
Todd Withers (Nuggets) - 10 votes
Sam Timmins (Nuggets) - 8 votes
Derone Raukawa (Hawks) - 6 votes
Keith Williams (Nuggets) - 4 votes
Jordan Hunt (Hawks) - 1 vote
Hyrum Harris (Hawks) - 1 vote
Nuggets- May 20 @ Franklin Bulls
Hawks - May 18 @ Auckland Tuatara
Round 3 Sal's NBL Schedule