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Tuatara rout Hawks; Airs top Bulls

The stacked Auckland Tuatara have continued their charge and the Taranaki Airs have scored a crucial top-four win in the National Basketball League (NBL).

The Tuatara scored 40 points in the fourth quarter to run away to a 120-96 win over the Bay Hawks in Auckland, hours after the Airs outlasted the Franklin Bulls 90-76 in New Plymouth on Saturday.

Last season's league MVP Rob Loe produced a monster double-double, with 31 points (14/23 FG, 2/7 3pt) and 18 rebounds, along with five assists, while Corey Webster flirted with a triple-double, ending with 19 points (8/19 FG, 3/7 3pt), seven boards, 11 assists and two steals.

Tom Vodanovich also finished with an equal-game-high 31 points (11/16 FG, 4/6 3pt, 5/6 FT) and two steals, with Cam Gliddon adding 22 points (8/13 FG, 5/9 3pt), four boards, three assists and four steals, and Reuben Te Rangi 12 points (5/9 FG, 2/4 3pt), six rebounds and four assists.

Another Tall Black, Jordan Ngatai, led the visiting Hawks with 25 points (9/18 FG, 4/8 3pt, 3/5 FT), nine boards, three assists and two steals, while American guard Isaiah Moore finished with 23 points (8/22 FG, 2/5 3pt, 5/5 FT), five rebounds and six assists.

Australian forward Luke Sutherland produced 17 points (6/12 FG, 5/9 3pt) and American centre Josh Roberts 13 points (6/12 FG) and 10 rebouds. Keanu Rasmussen was held to just nine points, while young Kiwi forward Kobe Kara had six points and six boards.

Rob Loe Auckland Tuatara NBL basketball
Rob Loe posted 31 points and 18 rebounds for the Auckland Tuatara. PHOTO: NBL

With a veteran starting lineup featuring four current or former Tall Blacks and one Australia Boomer, the Tuatara quickly built a 14-point lead - with Loe scoring nine points - which extended to 17 by quarter-time.

With Ngatai scoring nine points, the Hawks came all the way back with a 23-6 run to tie the game at 45-45 with 3:18 remaining in the half. The Tuatara led almost the entire third quarter but the Hawks closed with a 10-2 burst to tie the game 80-80 entering the fourth.

It was all Tuatara in the final 10 minutes, with 15-0 and 12-0 scoring runs, part of an overall 27-1 stretch to turn the game into a blowout. Gliddon scored 14 points, including four triples, in the fourth, and Vodanovich 13 points, including three bombs.

Next week, the Tuatara (7-2) host the Manawatu Jets (1-6) next Saturday (tip-off 7.30pm), while the Hawks (3-4) welcome the Otago Nuggets (3-3) at Napier earlier in the day (tip-off 4pm).

The Airs' 14-point win could prove crucial in the race for top-six playoffs spots and seedings come July.

Australian forward Sam Froling produced a game-high 28 points (10/13 FG, 7/10 FT), nine rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Tall Blacks guard Flynn Cameron put up 20 points (6/15 FG, 2/8 3pt, 6/7 FT) and four boards.

Import forward Elijah Minnie scored 15 points (6/11 FG), two steals and two blocks, former Tall Black Derone Raukawa, back in the starting lineup, 14 points (5/8 FG, 3/6 3pt) and new NZ Breakers signing Mitch McCarron six points, six rebounds and 10 assists.

American forward Luther Muhammad led the Bulls with 19 points (9/22 FG), six boards and four assists, while Kiwi big Sam Timmins contributed 12 points (5/12 FG), nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and three blocks.

Tall Blacks shooting guard Ethan Rusbatch had 11 points (4/9 FG, 3/7 3pt) and four boards, guard Josh Scott 10 points (5/8 FG) and Jarrell Brantley nine points, seven rebounds and four steals.

In Week 7, the Airs (5-2) travel to Christchurch to face the Canterbury Rams (5-2) on Thursday (tip-off 7.30pm), before returning home to host the Southland Sharks (0-8) on Sunday (tip-off 3pm), while the Bulls (5-2) host the Sharks on Friday (tip-off 7.30pm).

Auckland Tuatara 120 (Rob Loe 31, Tom Vodanovich 31, Cam Gliddon 22, Corey Webster 19, Reuben Te Rangi 12) Bay Hawks 96 (Jordan Ngatai 25, Isaiah Moore 23, Luke Sutherland 17, Josh Roberts 13). 1Q: 36-19, HT: 57-51, 3Q: 80-80

Taranaki Airs 90 (Sam Froling 28, Flynn Cameron 20, Elijah Minnie 15, Derone Raukawa 14) Franklin Bulls 76 (Luther Muhammad 19, Sam Timmins 12, Ethan Rusbatch 11, Josh Scott 10). 1Q: 25-20, HT: 47-43, 3Q: 67-60


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