The Auckland Tuatara have snapped a four-game losing streak and strengthened their position in the top half of the ladder with a solid 89-77 win over a Sharks outfit that failed to find any bite.
On a night where the home team needed to win to ensure their own aspirations at making the Final remained alive, the Sharks looked out of sorts and did little to prevent the Tuatara from finding some form to finally move back into the winner's circle.
From the outset the Sharks looked off the boil, which was disappointing for another big crowd given just a week ago they got to enjoy a thrilling one-point win over the Rams. But as has been evidenced throughout the 2022 season, a week is a long time in the Sal's NBL.
Dominating the paint through Rob Loe, coupled with too many unchecked drives to the basket by Dontae Russo-Nance, Siler Schneider and Braydon Iuli, the Tuatara opened an 18-point lead across the first half and then did enough to hold the Sharks at bay after the long break.
The home team did find some motivation in the last quarter when Brayden Inger finally found his shooting stroke, but with Mojave King (2pts), Alonzo Burton (scoreless) and Romaro Gill (scoreless) struggling to score the gap was just too big for the disjointed Sharks to reel in.
Such was Gill's night, the tallest player in the league also failed to bring down a single rebound. Fellow import Daishon Knight did drop 26 points, but it was a lone effort for the most part.
For the winning Tuatara, Schneider put together a complete game and was the star of the show, his union with Russo-Nance starting to look sharp with the business end of the season now visible on the horizon.
Loe in particular was impressive, his rim-running and constant presence of mind to bring others into the game was a treat to watch.
With the win the Tuatara now head to Dunedin to face the Nuggets on Sunday in another crucial clash for both combatants, while the Sharks have a week to do some soul-searching ahead of a daunting trip to Nelson for a clash with the powerful Giants.
SCORE: Sharks 77, Tuatara 89
Sharks: Knight 26 PTS | Inger 14 PTS | Leusogi-Ape 12 PTS
Tuatara: Schneider 28 PTS | Loe 17 PTS & 14 REB | Russo-Nance 15 PTS
Full box score HERE.
Stuff MVP Votes
Rob Loe (Tuatara) - 9 votes
Siler Schneider (Tuatara) - 9 votes
Daishon Knight (Sharks) - 6 votes
Brayden Inger (Sharks) - 3 votes
Braydon Iuli (Tuatara) - 2 votes
Liam McRae (Sharks) - 1 vote
Sharks – July 9 @ Nelson Giants
Tuatara – July 3 @ Otago Nuggets