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Tuatara, Rams win again at top of NBL

The Auckland Tuatara have joined the Canterbury Rams in locking up a first-round bye in the National Basketball League (NBL) playoffs.

The Tuatara held off the Taranaki Airs in a 77-76 thriller at New Plymouth's TSB Stadium on Sunday afternoon, before the Rams stomped the Southland Sharks 104-70 at Christchurch's Cowles Stadium.


The nervy one-point win saw the Tuatara, still without their Tall Blacks trio of Corey Webster, Tom Vodanovich and Reuben Te Rangi, improve to 16-3 to ensure they will finish in the top-two.

The Tuatara will need a win at the Bay Hawks on Wednesday (tip-off 7.30pm) and a Rams loss at home to the Franklin Bulls on Thursday (tip-off 7.30pm) in Week 16 to claim the regular season title.

They got all they could handle from the Airs - missing Mitch McCarron and NBA Summer League-bound Sam Froling - and their rowdy fans. Every time the Tuatara created a buffer, Taranaki answered immediately.

None more so than the fourth quarter, when the Tuatara led by nine points with three minutes to play. Flynn Cameron, back from Tall Blacks duty, converted a four-point play, and hit another triple with 2:15 remaining to make it a two-point game.

Cam Gliddon Auckland Tuatara basketball
Cam Gliddon filled his stat-line with 17 points, seven boards, four assists and four steals. PHOTO: NBL

With the Tuatara going more than five minutes without a basket, Carlin Davison tied it up with 34 seconds left with a put-back, then took the lead on a free-throw with eight seconds remaining.

Tuatara guard Braydon Iuli scored the winning basket on a floating lay-up off a cross-court inbounds pass almost as time expired. Iuli finished with a team-high 20 points (9/17 FG) and seven assists.

Cam Gliddon had 17 points (5/14 FG, 5/12 3pt), seven rebounds, four assists and four steals, Charlie Dalton 15 points (5/15 FG, 5/6 FT) and six boards, and Rob Loe 13 points (5/11 FG, 2/2 3pt) and nine rebounds.

Davison led the Airs with a game-high 23 points (7/16 FG, 8/12 FT), 16 rebounds and three assists, while Cameron provided 19 points (7/18 FG, 4/10 3pt), seven boards, three assists and three blocks off the bench, and Tobias Cameron 12 points (3/11 FG, 5/6 FT), 11 boards, four assists and two steals.

The defending champion Rams had little trouble against the struggling Sharks, never trailing and shooting 50 percent on three-point attempts.

Australian centre Lachlan Olbrich scored a game-high 22 points (8/11 FG, 5/5 FT), with seven rebounds, while Kiwi guard Taylor Britt managed 21 points (8/11 FG, 3/5 3pt) and six assists.

Import forward MJ Walker put up 21 points (7/15 FG, 5/8 3pt) in just 18 minutes, while NZ Breakers development player Max Darling added 10 points (3/6 FG, 3/5 3pt), four boards and three assists.

Taylor Britt Canterbury Rams basketball
Taylor Britt finished with 21 points and six assists for the Canterbury Rams. PHOTO: NBL

Recent Tall Black Brayden Inger top-scored for the Sharks, with 15 points (6/15 FG, 2/7 3pt) and five boards, while Cooper Robb added 14 points (6/13 FG, 2/7 3pt) and three steals, Alonzo Burton 13 points (5/12 FG) and six rebounds, and Scott Telfer 12 points (3/7 FG, 5/6 FT).

The Rams led by as many as 16 points in the first period, after Olbrich and Walker hit back-to-back threes, but the Sharks closed the gap to 10 at the first break.

Southland hung tough in the second quarter but it was a different story in the third, with Canterbury surging 25 points clear thanks to two separate 7-0 runs. The margin grew to 30 early in the fourth.

Auckland Tuatara 77 (Braydon Iuli 20, Cam Gliddon 17, Charlie Dalton 15, Rob Loe 13) Taranaki Airs 76 (Carlin Davison 23, Flynn Cameron 19, Tobias Cameron 12). 1Q: 18-16, HT: 40-39, 3Q: 59-57

Canterbury Rams 104 (Lachlan Olbrich 22, Taylor Britt 21, MJ Walker 21, Max Darling 10) Southland Sharks 70 (Brayden Inger 15, Cooper Robb 14, Alonzo Burton 13, Scott Telfer 12). 1Q: 32-22, HT: 53-40, 3Q: 80-55


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