Tuatara bigs dominate Airs

A DUO of double-doubles from Auckland Tuatara has seen the newly named side grab a win in its opening game of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) season, defeating the Taranaki Mountainairs by 33 points. The Airs had a fantastic start to the game, leading for the most part before the Tuatara kicked into gear to take the lead early in the second and never look back. Getting out to as much as a 35-point advantage late in the match, the home side cruised home, 92-59.

AUCKLAND TUATARA 16 | 25 | 24 | 27 (92)
TARANAKI MOUNTAINAIRS 21 | 13 | 10 | 15 (59)

It was a strange start to the game where neither side could score in the first two and a half minutes until Richie Rodger came good on a layup. The next points did not come until 90 seconds later, though the slow start did not stop the visitors looking good early. They piled on 10 of the last 15 points of the term to take a 21-16 advantage into the first break.

Robert Loe got his side on the board early in the second term, and both sides were up and about trading blows. At the eight-minute mark of the term, the Tuatara had scored seven of the first eight points to take a one-point lead, and though it may have seemed minor at the time, that was an advantage they would not surrender for the rest of the game.

By half-time the lead was up to seven points after a 25-13 term, and that only grew as the Tuatara scored 24 points to 10 in the third term – which made it a whopping 49-23 over the middle two quarters, to open up a massive 21-point lead, 65-44. Determined not to take the foot off the throat in front of home fans at Eventfinda Stadium, the Tuatara pressed on with a 27-15 final term. The lead got out to as much as 35 points with a minute to play, but a late layup from Scott Telfer brought it back to 33.

Auckland dominated the stats sheet with far more accuracy from the field, shooting at a massive 51 to 30 per cent differential, taking one less shot but making 15 more. They also nailed five more triples, as the Airs only hit two of 27 from range. The Tuatara finished with more rebounds (52-43), assists (21-9) and blocks (4-1), as well as points in the paint (54-40) and more points from turnovers (19-9) despite only one less turnover (12-13).

Loe was a clear standout for the winners in his first game in Tuatara colours, racking up 17 points and 15 rebounds, sharing the limelight with Chris Johnson (17 points, 14 rebounds and four assists). The pair were far too strong off the boards, with supporting efforts from Takiula Fahrensohn (17 points, seven rebounds and two steals) and Dontae Russo-Nance (12 points, six rebounds and six assists).

For the losers, Tai Wynyard was a shining light, amassing a team-high 16 points, as well as six rebounds and two steals. Aaron Bailey-Nowell (10 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Rodger (nine points, three rebounds) provided some support, whilst Telfer managed nine points, five rebounds and two assists coming off the bench, but it was clear the side missed Marcel Jones to support Wynyard against the two-prone Tuatara talls.

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