The Southland Sharks have delivered their best performance of the season and in the process have put a severe dent in the Auckland Tuatara's top-two aspirations, taking down their more fancied opponents 103-91 in one of the biggest upsets of 2022.
Showcasing their best shooting performance of a troublesome and injury-illness plagued season, the Sharks overcame an early 11-point deficit to inflict an unsuspecting loss on the Tuatara, breaking the game open with a 57-30 run during the middle quarters.
Such was the 28-21 opening quarter by the home team all roads looked like leading to a tenth win of the season for the Tuatara.
However, back in the coaching saddle and looking confident his team was about to show their fans the spark that has been missing during a 10-game streak that has delivered just one win, Rob Beveridge soon ignited a stirring fightback.
During a 20-minute stretch the Sharks turned this contest on its ear.
Mojave King and Alonzo Burton dropped nine triples amongst the Sharks' 15-of-28 effort from long range, while Brayden Inger and Dom Kelman-Poto added quality double-doubles, all of which constantly put pressure on the Tuatara as they tried valiantly down the stretch to make a contest of it.
On the bright side, the Tuatara fans enjoyed big games from teenagers Dontae Russo-Nance and Braydon Iuli, with Siler Schneider stuffing the stat sheet with a full line.
However when the game was in the balance it was the Sharks who showed the superior play so many expected of them this season. Off the back of five blocks from Romaro Gill during their fightback, the Sharks ran the floor with confidence and backed it up with some red-hot shooting.
Upcoming games for the Sharks against the Airs, Nuggets, Rams and Bulls are all likely to impact the Final 6, and though it remains highly unlikely the Sharks will be a part of the playoffs action you can't help but feel this win over the Tuatara was a clear sign of the Sharks' intent to be disruptive.
Was this the upset of the season? The second-placed Tuatara losing at home to the last-placed Sharks would perhaps suggest so, but as season 2022 has already shown us ... anything is possible and no team is assured a win.
SCORE: Tuatara 91, Sharks 103
Tuatara: Russo-Nance 26 PTS, 7 AST, 5 TREYS | Schneider 23 PTS, 9 REB, 7 AST | Iuli 18 PTS
Sharks: King 28 PTS, 5 TREYS | Burton 20 PTS | Inger 14 PTS, 11 REB | Kelman-Poto 15 PTS, 12 REB
Full box score HERE.
Stuff MVP Votes
Mojave King (Sharks) - 9 votes
Dontae Russo-Nance (Tuatara) - 8 votes
Dom Kelman-Poto (Sharks) - 5 votes
Siler Schneider (Tuatara) - 5 votes
Alonzo Burton (Sharks) - 2 votes
Romaro Gill (Sharks) - 1 vote
Tuatara - vs Bulls (away)
Sharks – vs Airs (home)