Kane Keil topscored with 29 points in the Otago Nuggets’ 130-94 win over the Manawatu Jets on Saturday.
Otago Nuggets posted the highest score in the 2020 Sal’s NBL Showdown, pulling away in the second half to thump Manawatu Jets 130-94 in the early game in Auckland on Saturday.
Taranaki Airs finished strongly in the late game, beating Canterbury Rams 97-92 to cement their spot atop the ladder.
There were major contributions for the Nuggets from Jordan Ngatai (23 points and nine rebounds), Jordan Hunt (22 points), Jarrod Kenny (13 points and seven assists) and Josh Aitcheson (10 points) but the performance of the night belonged to Kane Keil.
The Otago swingman scored a game-high 29 points, shooting six from 10 from beyond the arc. In addition, he contributed six rebounds and four assists.
Tom Vodanovic and Jayden Bezzant scored 18 points each for the Jets and Taane Samuel had 14, but it was a night to forget for Manawatu.
A high scoring, entertaining first half ended with the Nuggets ahead by the narrowest of margins (57-56). Vodanovich led all scorers at the interval with 15 points.
Keil and Aitcheson were having fine games and when they combined to give Otago the biggest lead of the game (77-66), coach Tim McTamney needed a timeout to steady the Jets.
Keil’s fourth three of the contest thrilled the Nuggets fans and when Akiva McBirney-Griffin scored inside they had more to shout about with the southerners ahead 95-79 at three-quarter time.
The Jets slip to a 4-4 record, while the Nuggets improve to 4-3 with both teams in action again on Sunday.
In the late game it was first versus last on the ladder but the Rams weren’t looking the bottom-placed team as they led 54-44 at halftime on the back of a Taylor Britt bombardment.
Britt led all scorers with 31 points, but the Airs got home thanks to forward Shane Temara who lit up The Trusts Arena in a 64-second spell that had him draining three-pointers either side of a drive and one-handed flush in the paint.
He was helped by masterly displays from their two most experienced campaigners Derone Raukawa and Marcel Jones who each topped 25 for the game.
AT A GLANCE
Otago Nuggets 130 (Keil 29, Ngatai 23, Hunt 22, Kenny 13, Aitcheson 10) Manawatu Jets 94 (Bezzant 18, Vodanovich 18, Samuel 14, Kirksey 11, McQueen 11). HT: 57-56.
Taranaki Airs 97 (Raukawa 26, Jones 25, Temara 12) Canterbury Rams 92 (Britt 31, Bailey 14, Smith 13, Talma 12). HT: 44-54.