The Nelson Giants remain at the top of the table, surviving a fourth quarter rally from the Taranaki Mountainairs, final score 88-86.
Raymond Cowells top scored for the Giants in their first home, with 18 points and Jarrod Kenny added 15 points and eight assists, giving Nelson the fifth win of the season. Nelson looked like they were going to cruise to victory when they led 27-15 after the first quarter and 18 going into the fourth.
But the Airs rallied behind point guard Houston O'Riley, who after a well-drawn play got an open three in the corner to put Taranaki down by one with four seconds left. Taranaki then fouled centre Ben Strong with 3.1 seconds, and he missed the first giving the Airs the chance for an unlikely win.
But Nelson were able to survive when O-Riley missed a top of the three- point line running floater. O'Riley ended the game with 22 points, six assists and four rebounds, Aaron Bailey-Nowell scored a game high 24 to go along his nine rebounds, and Jordan Ngatai added 18. The Airs were still without American, Marcus Johnson, who has missed two straight.
Nelson will be relieved to have secured the win, but it was a fourth quarter to forget as they fell in love with the three, shooting dreadful 1/12. But apart from the fourth, it was another balanced offense with Finn Delany (15 points), Ben Strong (13), and Bronson Beri (10) chipping in.
At the North Shore, the Supercity Rangers have won their second in a row with a come from behind 87-79 over the Southland Sharks. Rangers were led by the league leading scorer Eric Devendorf who had 28 points. Reuben Te Rangi also came up big against his former team with 23 points, six rebounds, five steals and four assists, and Lindsay Tait had 17.
The Sharks got off to a hot start leading 31-13, but the Rangers outscored them 32-14 to tie the scores at 45 apiece at halftime. Southland managed to hold a one-point advantage going into the fourth, but their offense dropped off significantly in the fourth, scoring only 10 points on 4/15 shooting, also committing seven turnovers.
So far this season the Rangers have allowed the most points to be scored against them at 98 per game, but tonight it was a different story, holding the Sharks to 38% from the field and making it difficult for their key scorers Jordair Jett (7-19 FG) and Nick Kay (3-14 FG).
Alex Pledger grabbed another double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds, and starting small forward, Ana Haku, had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Sharks who drop to 3-3.
Southland will have to re-group quickly as the travel to Napier to play the (0-4) Indigo Hawks tomorrow afternoon. One positive for the Sharks is they have added some depth to the bench with 271 games NBL veteran Hayden Allen, who played 20 minutes for six points against his former team.