AN outstanding pair of double-doubles, Auckland Tuatara bigs Robert Loe and Chris Johnson combined for 42 points and 27 rebounds to slay the Nelson Giants by nine points in Round 2 of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL). Both sides entered the game after impressive Round 1 victories, with Loe and Johnson keys to the clash, up against Giants import Trey Mourning – who was still the standout Giant – and the former won out in that battle during the 86-77 victory.
NELSON GIANTS 16 | 15 | 25 | 21 (77)
AUCKLAND TUATARA 26 | 23 | 18 | 19 (86)
In a tale of two halves, the Tuatara raced out fo an 18-point lead at the main break, and though the Giants did their best to cut down the deficit in the second half, left their run too late and fell the nine points short, 77-86. After falling behind early in the game, from the moment the Tuatara regained the lead, they never faltered, stretching it beyond 20 points on a number of occasions. In fact, the margin remained in double-digits from the midway mark of the first term until right at the death where a late charge by the Giants who scored 16 of the last 19 points to cut it back to the eventual nine-point difference.
In a game where neither side was particularly clinical from the field, the Tuatara marginally had the upper hand with a 39 to 38 per cent field goal percentage. The key was hitting 11 triples compared to Nelson’s nine, though the Giants made more of their inside chances. Where the Tuatara stood out was in the free throws, nailing 21 of 27 (77 per cent) compared to the Giants’ 12 of 23 (52 per cent). The Giants also lead the assists (19-17) and steals (10-15), with less turnovers (10–17), allowing them to capitalise off the turnovers to score 17 points to nine. They also scored 10 more points in the paint (32-22).
Loe picked up another nine Most Valuable Player (MVP) votes, recording 23 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. Critically his work from beyond the arc – which saw him nail five of eight triples – paired well with Johnson. The returning Auckland bigman scored 19 points, of which 11 were free throws, shooting at 91 per cent from the charity stripe. He also picked up 15 rebounds, five assists and two blocks in the win,. Takiula Fahrensohn (14 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals hit two of nine from beyond the arc, with Chris McIntosh (three of seven from long-range on his way to nine points) also helping out in that regard. Rising star Dontae Russo-Nance finished with 14 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Mourning scored 31 points, four rebounds, two steals and two blocks in the loss, being a lone hand on the scoring front, but combining well with Jarrod West. The point guard dished up 11 assists in a double-double of his own, combining with 14 points, our rebounds and four steals. Sam Dempster (!2 points, seven rebounds and two steals) also hit double-figure points, whilst Jordan Schwalger was high impact, scoring eight points and pulling down four rebounds in less than nine minutes on court.
Auckland Tuatara will suit up again tomorrow, taking on Canterbury Rams, whilst Nelson Giants will have an extended eight-day break until facing Franklin Bulls next Saturday.