The second Men’s semi-final at the 2016 Under 23 National Championships in Tauranga featured Waikato and defending champions Canterbury A.
Canterbury connected with five three in the opening quarter as Sam Smith and Ollie Davies and Nathan Campbell (twice each) helped Canterbury to a 21-18 lead.
Nick Fee kept Waikato in contention with 11 early points.
Centre Alex Schipper and Josh Mckee made baskets early in the second as did Philip Borota-Angelich as Waikato edged ahead 30-29.
Fee and James Cawthorn exchanged triples before Waikato coach Alby Ellis called a timeout with his charges 39-36 to the good.
Derek Albertsen became the fifth Cantab to land a three as Waikato held a narrow 45-42 half-time advantage. Fee led all scorers with 19 points at the break, a more rounded Canterbury effort led by Davies and Campbell with 9 points each.
Taylor Britt made the opening basket of the second half for Canterbury although a banked three from Connor Johnston more than cancelled that out.
Britt then made a triple to edge Canterbury ahead- the shooting guard had 14 straight points for his team before Cawthorn broke the sequence.
Fee and Hamish Sheridan helped Waikato claw back into the lead but it was short lived the two teams constantly exchanging the lead.
A Schipper dunk excited the Waikato bench – a long Cawthorn three doing likewise for the Cantab followers.
Canterbury coach Dave Langrell was hit with a tech foul but his team were going blow for blow or more accurately basket for basket with their opponents in an exciting encounter. 73-72 to Waikato at the end of the third.
A 12-6 Canterbury run triggered the final quarter and a pair of Britt freebies gave Canterbury an 87-81 lead. Albertsen converted a neat banked shot and suddenly, with 3:30 to play Waikato were 92-81 in arrears and needing a timeout.
A three from Borota –Angelich helped as did a Fee drive but Canterbury were still 96-89 ahead with 2 minutes to play.
Albertsen was bossing the final minutes and his three maintained a double figure Canterbury advantage.
Nick Erwood sealed the deal for Canterbury with a deep three to take his team into the final.
Final Score: Canterbury 108 – Britt35, Campbell 18, Levings 13, Albertsen 11, Davies 10 Waikato 92 – Fee 28, Schipper 14, Borota-Angelich 14, Johnston 13, Sheridan 10