The Ocean View Otago Nuggets surged to the top of the Sal’s National Basketball League Showdown table thanks to a convincing 109-83 win over the Auckland Huskies at The Trusts Arena tonight.
The Nuggets came out hot with Jarrod Kenny (20pts & 7ast) having a hand in both attack and defence in the opening minutes.
Reuben Fitzgerald tried keeping the Huskies up with the pace by providing six points. However, the Nuggets were rolling early and raced out to a 26-11 advantage.
Otago had nine assists on their 13 first-quarter buckets and landed seven of 10 three-pointers to take a 34-23 first-quarter lead.
The Huskies went back to the big guns to improve their shooting in Tohi Smith-Milner and Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa. The latter was the first player to double-digits in the game as they cut the deficit to three by scoring the opening 10 points in the second.
The Nuggets found scorers in unfamiliar names with Josh Aitcheson scoring 16 and Jordan Hunt 14. The NBL’s No 1 draft pick, Jordan Ngatai, took just three shots in the first half, landing just one.
It did not matter though, as the Nuggets stretched their lead to 59-44 at the main break.
A lack of cohesion was costly for the Huskies in the third period and their opponents had little sympathy as their buffer stretched to 28. In contrast, the Nuggets were confident and shouldered the load as a unit.
With 10 minutes to go, the Nuggets had the game won by virtue of being up 90-62. Both team’s starters were pulled early in the fourth quarter, as the Nuggets sent a warning to the other sides in the Showdown that they were title contenders.
- Kenny was set to be taken by the Huskies in the draft but was overlooked and found himself at the Nuggets instead. He seemed to be motivated by that in the opening quarters.
- The Huskies defensive intensity was lacking at crucial, extended periods. Especially when protecting their three-point line.
- The Nuggets managed 30 assists to the Huskies 15.
Sky City MVP Votes:
Jordan Hunt (Nuggets-10), Josh Aitcheson (Nuggets-7), Jarrod Kenny (Nuggets-7), Reuben Fitzgerald (Huskies-3), Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa (Huskies-2), Tohi Smith-Milner (Huskies-1).