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Tuatara defeat Saints; Rams ease by Hawks

The Auckland Tuatara have made it 10 straight wins in the National Basketball League (NBL).

The league-leading Tuatara pulled away from the Wellington Saints early en route to a 106-99 victory at Eventfinda Stadium on Auckland's North Shore on Saturday night, improving to 12-2 overall.


Tall Blacks guard Corey Webster led the Tuatara with a team-high 29 points (7/17 FG, 3/5 3pt, 12/14 FT), while Australian guard Cam Gliddon had his best game in teal this season, with 20 points (5/9 FG, 3/6 3pt, 7/9 FT), seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

Kiwi forward Tom Vodanovich pitched in with 19 points (8/17 FG), 11 boards and three assists, Rob Loe with 14 points (5/10 FG, 4/5 FT), five rebounds and three assists, and Reuben Te Rangi 14 points (6/13 FG, 2/4 3pt), six boards and five assists.

Tall Black Izayah Le'afa again caught fire from deep, hitting eight triples in his game-high 35 points (10/19 FG, 8/13 3pt, 7/8 FT), adding six rebounds, nine assists and three steals, but could not will the Saints to the win.

Tohi Smith-Milner produced 28 points (10/19 FG, 7/15 3pt) and nine boards, while import forward Malik Benlevi had 18 points (8/11 FG, 2/3 3pt), nine rebounds and two steals to pick up the slack with Hyrum Harris and Lat Mayen out injured.

Cam Gliddon Auckland Tuatara NBL basketball
Cam Gliddon had his best game for the Auckland Tuatara, finishing with 20 points and seven rebounds. PHOTO: NBL

The Tuatara capitalised on a major foul and free-throw discrepancy throughout the game. The Saints committed 13 more personal fouls, leading to 25 more free-throw attempts for the Tuatara, where they went 29-of-37.

After Wellington led early, by as many as seven, the Tuatara took control of the game either side of the quarter-time break, outscoring the Saints 34-15 to take a 12-point lead.

Six times in the second half the Saints got within two but the Tuatara always had answers - first a 10-0 run midway through the third quarter and then finishing with eight of the game's last 10 points - overcoming Le'afa and Smith-Milner's combined 15 triples.

The Tuatara (12-2) remain at home to face the Canterbury Rams (10-2) in a top-two showdown next Sunday (tip-off 3pm), while the Saints (8-4) return to Wellington to face the Manawatu Jets (1-10) on Wednesday (tip-off 7.30pm).

The defending champion Canterbury Rams continued to keep pace with the Tuatara, improving to 10-2 with a 98-84 win over the Bay Hawks at Christchurch's Cowles Stadium earlier in the day.

The Rams were quick out of the gate and continued to gradually build their lead in the opening quarter, before a 13-2 run in the second period extended it briefly to 22 points. The Hawks did score 10 straight points soon after but only once got within 10 points, early in the fourth, in the second half.

One-time Tall Blacks guard Taylor Britt led the home team with 25 points (9/16 FG, 7/7 FT), nine assists and two steals, while NZ Breakers development player Max Darling had 13 points (6/10 FG) and eight rebounds off the bench.

American forwards MJ Walker and KJ Buffen continued to produce for the Rams, both finishing with an efficient 18 points, with Buffen also adding eight boards and three blocks to his stat-line.

Taylor Britt Canterbury Rams NBL basketball
Taylor Britt produced a team-high 25 points and nine assists for the Canterbury Rams. PHOTO: NBL

Import guard Isaiah Moore finished with a game-high 28 points (11/21 FG, 6/9 FT), six assists and two steals for the Hawks, with Australian guard Keanu Rasmussen going for 17 points (4/13 FG, 8/10 FT).

Tall Blacks forward Jordan Ngatai finished with 13 points (5/11 FG, 2/6 3pt) and Luke Sutherland 12 points (4/12 FG, 2/4 3pt) and six boards.

The Rams face their biggest test of the season in Week 11, the Tuatara on the road, while the Hawks (5-7) play the Deep South double-header, starting with the Southland Sharks (1-11) on Thursday (tip-off 7.30pm).

Auckland Tuatara 106 (Corey Webster 29, Cam Gliddon 20, Tom Vodanovich 19, Rob Loe 14, Reuben Te Rangi 14, Charlie Dalton 10) Wellington Saints 99 (Izayah Le'afa 35, Tohi Smith-Milner 28, Malik Benlevi 18). 1Q: 35-26, HT: 55-49, 3Q: 74-65

Canterbury Rams 98 (Taylor Britt 25, MJ Walker 18, KJ Buffen 18, Max Darling 13) Bay Hawks 84 (Isaiah Moore 28, Keanu Rasmussen 17, Jordan Ngatai 13, Luke Sutherland 12). 1Q: 33-19, HT: 55-41, 3Q: 79-68


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