The Sky Tower Auckland Huskies have stamped their ticket to the Sal's NBL Final 4 after a hard-fought 93-87 win over the Taranaki Steelformers Airs.
The Huskies will join the Saints, Hawks and Sharks in Porirua on July 22/23 for the three biggest games of the season. The final positions amongst the quartet won't be known until after next week's final round of the regular season.
The Airs got off to a good start against a nervous looking Huskies outfit, who were minus Chris Johnson (returned to the USA) and Dontae Russo-Nance (injured).
With Tai Wynyard dominating the paint, the visitors at one stage got out to a 12-point lead before ending the half with a narrow 1-point advantage after a spirited comeback by the home team late in the second quarter.
Played in front of a vocal crowd, the Huskies looked to young Zach Riley (pictured below) after the main break, and he didn't disappoint. In arguably the best game of his emerging career, Riley went on a scoring spree as he stunned the Airs with a full array of tricks.
Justin Bibbs also joined the party and delivered a number of timely baskets, all the while the Airs continued to get plenty out of Wynyard and Marcel Jones, while plenty of teammates bobbed up here and there with important plays.
As the game tightened down the stretch it was a more composed Huskies unit that eventually secured the win, and a spot in the Final 4.
Auckland Huskies (93) defeated Taranaki Airs (87) - BOXSCORE
# The boxscore is currently showing an incorrect score. The League's IT provider is working on this and it will be corrected shortly. The final score was Huskies (93) - Airs (87).
HUSKIES: Zach Riley (32pts, 4 treys), Justin Bibbs (30pts).
AIRS: Tai Wynyard (25pts), Marcel Jones (22pts).
Stuff MVP Votes
Justin Bibbs (Huskies) 9
Zach Riley (Huskies) 8
Tai Wynyard (Airs) 7
Marcel Jones (Airs) 4
Dru Leusogi-Ape (Airs) 1
Tom Vodanovich (Huskies) 1
(Photo Credit: PhotosportNZ)