Auckland vs. Taranaki: Tuatara Bounce Back And Deflate The Airs

The Auckland Tuatara and Taranaki Steelformers Airs have fought out an early-season thriller in the Sal’s NBL with the mercurial Corey Webster reminding everyone he has plenty of gas left in the tank as he led the home team to victory.

Just four days after being humiliated by the Wellington Saints, the Aucklanders stepped on their home court for the first time and showed the ageless experience that is sure to trouble plenty of teams this season. 

Both teams went it minus at least one starter – the Tuatara without Tom Vodanovich, and the Airs minus Flynn Cameron. Other than that, we got to see the best of two teams tipped to run deep into the Finals later in the year.

Just two points separated the pair at quarter time (23-21), and the second quarter was even (19-19), leaving the Tuatara with a narrow 42-40 lead at the main break. Carlin Davison dominated the first half for the Airs with 15 points, while Corey Webster paced the home team.

The third quarter became an arm-wrestle with scoring hard to come by with two of the competition’s best big men, Rob Loe and Sam Froling, enjoying a great battle inside and off the boards.

The Airs started the last quarter with a 9-0 run, forcing Tuatara coach Aaron Young to call a timeout and settle his team. The break worked as the home team stepped back on court and reignited the fight with a 12-0 run, taking the lead with just over four minutes to play.

With the result hanging the balance, enter Webster, who dropped a big triple that looked to beak the spirit of the visitors. Webster’s composure in the closing stages was evident.

Cam Gliddon found some strong form with four triples, helping the Tuatara to space the floor and open up the gaps for Loe and Webster to work into. In the end, in a game that could have gone either way, it was the Tuatara’s ability to come up with big baskets and crucial stops that proved the difference.

Steady down the stretch, the Tuatara held on for an 84-77 win, marking a good night back at home with victory also coming in the Sky Broadband Rapid League.

The result leaves both teams with a 1-1 record in the Sal’s NBL.


Result: Auckland Tuatara (84) defeated Taranaki Airs (77)

Leading Players

TUATARA: Corey Webster 25 points & 8 assists, Rob Loe 22 points & 14 rebounds, Cam Gliddon 21 points.

AIRS: Sam Froling 21 points & 18 rebounds, Carlin Davidson 19 points, Derone Raukawa 13 points.

MVP Votes: Corey Webster (Tuatara) - 10 votes, Rob Loe (Tuatara) - 7 votes, Sam Froling (Airs) - 7 votes, Cam Gliddon (Tuatara) - 3 votes, Carlin Davison (Airs) - 3 votes


In the earlier Sky Broadband Rapid League game:

The two teams played out the competition’s first ever overtime contest, with the Tuatara landing the winning blow if the one-minute additional period. In a tough contest, the Tuatara did manage to skip clear by seven points at one stage, but the Airs were always within striking distance.

Zavier Adam (13 points) starred for the Airs and landed the long tripe in regulation time to force the game into overtime. Morgan Trott also continued his good form for the Airs with another 11points.

However, this one belonged to the Tuatara, their second win of the Rapid League season. The experienced Chris McIntosh (9 points) was a handy inclusion after playing at the FIBA 3X3 Asia Cup, while Reuben Fitzgerald (10 points) proved a handful throughout.


Result: Auckland Tuatara (40) defeated Taranaki Airs (38)

Leading Players

TUATARA: Reuben Fitzgerald 10 points, Chris McIntosh 9 points.

AIRS: Zavier Adam 13 points, Morgan Trott 11 points.

MVP Votes: Reuben Fitzgerald (Tuatara) - 8 votes, ill Leger (Tuatara) - 7 votes, Zavier Adam (Airs) - 7 votes, Chris McIntosh (Tuatara) - 5 votes, Morgan Trott (Airs) - 2 votes, Nico Hill (Airs) - 1 vote


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