The Canterbury Rams and Taranaki Mountain Airs are solidified in the top four in the National Basketball League after both sides picked up wins tonight.

The Rams are now 3-2 after edging the Supercity Rangers 88-86, while the Airs are in second spot with a 3-1 record, following their 64-61 victory over the Southland Sharks.

In Canterbury, the Rams held off the Rangers, who dug themselves an early hole but - much like Nelson the night before - stayed in touch the whole game despite never holding a lead.

The Rangers were too sloppy in possession early on, and finished with 22 turnovers, but did manage to dominate the glass, winning the rebounding battle 47-35.


However, the 25-8 deficit in the first quarter proved too much to overcome, with the Rams led by 17 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists from Marcel Jones. Ethan Rusbatch also shone with 19 points, four rebounds and six assists, while Marques Whippy added 12.

Will Neighbour had a strong first quarter after being dropped to the bench but only played 19 minutes, ending with 12 points and four steals, while fellow import Jeremy Kendle had a quieter night with 13 points and seven assists on 5/15 shooting.

Mitch McCarron led the Rangers' comeback with 32 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while Lindsay Tait had 14 points, six rebounds and six dimes.

Centre Nnanna Egwu had 10 points and 12 rebounds but missed several bunnies, only shooting 5/14 from the field. Brook Ruscoe dropped 20 points but hit on just 3/11 threes, including missing a potential go-ahead shot with seconds remaining as the Rams just clung to the win.

In New Plymouth, the Taranaki Mountain Airs have continued their strongest start in years, scraping past the short-handed Southland Sharks.

The Sharks had played in overtime the night before and struck some travel issues, meaning the game was delayed by half an hour.

They did get out of the gate faster though in a low-scoring affair, but an 11-0 third quarter run from the Airs gave them a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Import Tylor Ongwae again proved the difference maker with 22 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals, and got help from Houston O'Riley (12 points and seven rebounds), Aaron-Bailey Nowell (13 and six) and centre Daniel Gomis.

Alex Pledger returned to action for Southland, but only played 17 minutes off the bench as the Sharks dropped to 2-2 on the season.