The Sky Tower Auckland Huskies have ensured the race for the Sal's NBL Final 4 remains a red-hot contest after coming from behind to defeat the Wheeler Motor Company Canterbury Rams 83-78.
Played in front of another vocal home crowd, the Huskies were slow out of the blocks and quickly had to rethink their game plan after the Rams charged to an 18-5 lead after just five minutes of play.
Led by EJ Singler, who dropped his first four shots and tallied 12 opening-quarter points without a miss, adding to his remarkable 16-of-16 shooting last Sunday, the Rams looked to be on a mission.
However, gradually the Huskies found their groove, working hard via a mature performance from 16-year old star Dontae Nance, coupled with another teenage star Zach Riley. Together with Chris Johnson, Tom Vodanovich and Justin Bibbs, the home team reducedthe margin to three points at the half.
The second half went basket for basket. Deshon Taylor kept the scoreboard ticking over for the visitors, but the flow of points was definitely harder to come by.
Bibbs put in his best performance down the stretch with some key baskets, Johnson was swatting everything away, and Nance belied his years in a 40-minute effort.
The end result keeps the Huskies in the Final 4 hunt, as are the Rams, but the loss will sting as they head home now to take on the Steelformers Taranaki Airs in a must-win clash.
Auckland Huskies (83) defeated Canterbury Rams (78) - BOXSCORE
Huskies: Dontae Nance (18pts, 4stl), Chris Johnson (14pts, 12rbs, 5ast, 4blks), Justin Bibbs (17pts), Zach Riley (16pts), Tom Vodanovich (14pts).
Rams: Deshon Taylor (24pts), EJ Singler (18pts), Alex Talma (13pts).
Stuff MVP Votes
Dontae Nance (Huskies) 10
EJ Singler (Rams) 6
Zach Riley (Huskies) 6
Chris Johnson (Huskies) 3
Justin Bibbs (Huskies) 3
Deshon Taylor (Rams) 2
(Photo Credit: PhotosportNZ)