The Fluid Recruitment Otago Nuggets made it two wins in as many days defeating the Mike Pero Nelson Giants 87-79 to move into the second spot on the Sal’s NBL ladder.
The Giants went ahead late in the first quarter and despite their best efforts the Nuggets held the lead for the remaining 32 minutes.
Jordan Hunt had another strong outing for the Otago club, finishing with 26 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks. Jordan Ngatai was close behind with 24 pots, six rebounds and four assists whilst Kane Keil (11 points) and Josh Aitcheson were again key contributors.
Mike Karena and Tom Ingham both scored 15 points for the Giants, Theo Johnson had a dozen and Dane Brooks was useful with 10 plus eight rebounds.
Ngatai knocked down a couple of threes and Matt Bardsley finished athletically in traffic as the Nuggets took a 23-16 lead into the first break.
Johnson and Karena put points on the board for the Giants but Akiva McBirney-Griffin’s two-handed flush kept the Nuggets in the ascendancy.
Riley Bensemann kept the Giants in touch with a long two and a penetrative drive before Hunt finished with a right-handed jam – the Nuggets centre leading all scorers at the oranges with 15 points – his team 41-38 ahead.
Kiel dropped six shots from downtown on Saturday but it was the opening play of the second half before he rebooted the shooting stroke in this one.
Aitcheson and Brooks exchanged threes, the two teams going toe-to-toe for the duration of the period. Jarrod Kenny made his first basket of the game in the shadows of three-quarter-time, where the Nuggets sat 69-61 to the good with ten minutes to play.
Alex McNaught, deputising for the injured Josh Bloxham, scored six straight points for the Giants and with Ngatai forced to the bench after a fourth personal foul, the Giants sniffed an opportunity.
A neat banked finish from Hunt, who moved into double-double territory, and an acrobatic reverse lay-up from Kenny meant the Nuggets held a 79-68 lead with six minutes to play.
Karena used his power inside for a deuce forcing Otago coach Brent Matehaere to reinstate Ngatai with the Nuggets lead cut to eight points (82-74).
The Tall Blacks swingman had an immediate impact earning himself a trip to the foul line and with his national teammate Kenny grabbing a steal, time was running out for the Giants.
Another steal by the Nuggets resulted in a basket for Hunt and although Karena and Ingham made scores it was too little too late for the Giants who slipped to a third straight loss.
Sky City MVP Votes:
Jordan Ngatai (Nuggets-9), Jordan Hunt (Nuggets-9), Mike Karena (Giants-3), Kane Keil (Nuggets-3), Matthew Bardsley (Nuggets-2), Tom Ingham (Giants-2), Theo Johnson (Giants-1), Dane Brooks (Giants-1).