The Sky Tower Auckland Huskies have brought the curtain down on round 2 of the Sal's NBL season with a thrilling 90-87 overtime win against the Mike Pero Nelson Giants.
Played in front of a vocal Mothers Day crowd at EventFinda Stadium, the Jeremy Kendle show rolled on for a third and final time with the Amercian dynamo ending his short Huskies' stint with a match-winning block just moments after nailing a clutch triple to put the home team ahead.
Kendle, who could only commit to three games, will now head to Queensland to join his wife and family back at home. Though his time in Auckland this time around was brief, it sure was memorable.
The Huskies jumped out of the gates quickly, going on a 14-0 run to start the game before the Giants, fresh off a win against the Bulls less than 24 hours earlier, finally settled and rattled off a 12-2 run of their own, to claw themselves back to 15-18 at the first break.
Within a minute of the second quarter getting underway, the Giants took the lead for the first time in the game as Hunter Hale heated up.
At the other end, new Huskies forward Chris Johnson entertained the crowd at both ends of the floor, his immediate presence being felt as he piled up 17 points in the opening half.
A Hale long bomb on the buzzer silenced the Huskies fathful and gave the Giants a 50-38 lead, with 19 points coming from the Huskies' 13 first-half turnovers.
An early foul at the start of the third for Johnson sent him to the bench, a worrying sign given the damage he had already done earlier. With that, Brook Ruscoe and Jeremy Kendle upped the ante and pushed the Huskies sled to a 26-17 third quarter, and they trailed by just three heading into the final term.
Coach Mike Fitchett left his imports on the bench for the start of the fourth, opting instead the impressive Alex McNaught, whose pressing defence caused the Huskies problems all night. The Giants had snuck back into a lead midway through the fourth, but a few uncharactaristic errors prevented them from sealing the game.
Chris Johnson, who played the fourth quarter and overtime with four fouls to his name came up big down the stretch, squaring the game up from the charity stripe. Kendle had a opportunity to end the game in reuglation but his three didn't drop and we had our first overtime game of the 2021 Sal's NBL season.
The extra period was tense, with points hard to come by, and a few coach killing errors. Little did the crowd know, that the script was written and Jeremy Kendle was set to be hero. A contested threeball with the seconds ticking away gave the Huskies the lead, and the American was on hand to seal the win with a big time block on a Hale three that would have sent the game into another overtime period.
The Huskies advance to 3-0, while the Giants, although frustrated to lose a game they feel they should have won, head home having split their Tamaki Tour.
Auckland Huskies (90) defeated the Nelson Giants (87) - BOXSCORE
Huskies: Chris Johnson 30pts 12rbs, Jeremy Kendle 23pts 7ast, Brook Ruscoe 13pts
Giants: Hunter Hale 32pts, Donte Ingram 23pts 8rbs
Stuff MVP Votes
Chris Johnson (Huskies) - 9
Jeremy Kendle (Huskies) - 8
Hunter Hale (Giants) - 5
Donte Ingram (Giants) - 4
Sean Murphy (Huskies) - 3
Brook Ruscoe (Huskies) - 1