Izayah Le’afa has propelled the Auckland Huskies to a dramatic 86-82 victory over the Franklin Bulls.
The Huskies started slow in the Sal’s NBL Showdown encounter on Tuesday evening, trailing 26-14 at the end of the first quarter, but stood up when it counted in a tight and tense fourth and final period.
Franklin held an 82-81 lead with 16 seconds remaining as Tohi Smith-Milner missed a three-point shot for the Huskies.
But the Bulls couldn’t pull down the rebound and 18-year-old’s Taine Murray‘s three did not miss to give the Huskies an 84-82 lead.
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As the Bulls looked to tie the game up, the outstanding Le’afa plucked a crucial steal off Sam Timmins with just eight seconds remaining.
A few seconds later Leon Henry was fouled and the veteran made no mistake with his two free throws to extend the score to 86-82.
Le’afa finished with a game-high 25 points, six rebounds, seven assists and two steals to top the MVP points.
Smith-Milner notched 22 points and even though Murray only scored 11 points, his late three-pointer was critical to the Huskies’ success.
Timmins top-scored for the Bulls’ with 21 points, 14 of which came in the first half as the big centre helped his side to a 46-42 halftime lead.
He pulled down 15 rebounds as he continues to shine in the NBL Showdown.