THE Canterbury Rams have delivered one of their most impressive triumphs of the 2022 New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) season, taking down the ladder-leading Auckland Tuatara by eight points on the road at Eventfinda Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Rams came in as the underdogs, given Auckland has been the best team in the competition up to this point of the season. However, Canterbury has its own sights set on a finals appearance, and outworked the Tuatara in a big way. After a tense start to the contest, where neither side could truly get on top on the scoreboard, the Rams produced a stunning second quarter, and took a significant lead into half time. The Tuatara stopped the bleeding in the second half, and began to chip away at the deficit in the final term, but it was not enough as the Rams emerged 92-84 winners.
Canterbury’s result sees it grab its seventh win of the year, breaking even from 14 games and sitting in sixth spot to this point in the fixture. A spot in the postseason is certainly on the cards for the Rams, and Sunday’s win reinforced that prospect. The Tuatara were handed their sixth loss of the season, and now face the scenario of losing their spot at the top of the table in the coming weeks, with the Giants hot on their tail.
For the Rams, Michael Karena produced his best showing of the 2022 season, registering a whopping double-double and playing a seriously vital role in the triumph. With ball in hand, Karena was quite unstoppable for much of the game, producing buckets from a number of places in the half-court. Whether it be inside the paint or from behind the arc, he was a man on a mission and finished with 31 points, the most of any player on either team. When the ball was in dispute after a missed shot, the big man was able to still proved better than any of his peers, pulling down a team-high 13 boards, four of which came on the offensive end. The other main contributor in Canterbury’s win was Matthew Moyer, who had a double-double of his own with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Despite the result, there were still a few strong performers for the Tuatara as there are on a weekly basis. Dontae Russo-Nance led the way on the scoring front, pouring in 24 points (9/19 FG), while Siler Schneider was not far behind with 20 points of his own, making nine of his 17 attempts from the field. Big man Robert Loe controlled the skies on his way to a double-double, posting 13 points and a whopping 15 rebounds, with five of those being offensive. However, these efforts went unrewarded as Auckland found itself defeated.
The Rams will look to back up this performance when they take on another contender in the Airs at Cowles Stadium on Saturday afternoon. If they can chalk out another win there, their finals chances will be better than ever. The Tuatara will look to bounce back when they take on the Sharks in a bit of a must-win clash if they wish to maintain top spot in the standings.