Two games inside 24 hours and strong performances from two Oatgo veterans proved to be the undoing of the James Blond Super City Rangers on Saturday afternoon.
On Friday night the Rangers had secured their fourth win in five outings defeating the Manawatu Jets 100-94 in Palmerston North.The Rangers didn’t arrive back in Auckland until 2pm on Saturday and three hours later were facing the Otago Nuggets at Trusts Stadium.
Not surprisingly the Nuggets were the more cohesive team early on, leading 18-10 midway through the first stanza. Three triples from the in form Daryl Corletto quickly eradicated the visitor’s advantage, the Rangers ahead 26-24 at the first break.
The Rangers extended their advantage by a point in the second period, ahead 49-46 at half time. Corletto and fellow Aussie Jason Cadee had a dozen points each for the hosts, the experienced Brendon Polyblank 17 (7/9 field goals) for Otago.
The third quarter was a tight affair with the lead changing hands on a number of occasions, the visitors ahead 71-70 despite 15 points in the quarter from Cadee.
Corletto knocked down another three shots from beyond the three point arc early in the final quarter, Tohi Smith-Milner slammed down a dunk and Cadee converted a pair of free throws but every time the Rangers threatened to take control Mark Dickel & Co would respond.
A long three from American Brandon Bowry with 1:15 remaining took Otago out to a 95-91 lead. Cadee scored with a runner in the key, Dickel replied with a free throw but when Cadee missed with a step back three from the corner Otago had the win.
Veterans Poyblank and Dickel were instrumental in achieving an important win in the race for the top four and a place in the end of season play-offs. Otago now face the same challenge as the Rangers – backing up with a second game in 24 hrs, they face the Pistons at 3pm on Sunday in Hamilton.
Final score: Super City Rangers 96 – Cadee 34, Corletto 25, Duane Bailey 13, Tohi Smith-Milner 10.
Otago Nuggets 93 – Dickel 26, Polyblank 23, Bowdry 23, Warren Carter 17