Written by Mike Lacey, laceylowdown.com
The inaugural ABSL State of Origin basketball game was held at the Auckland University Sports Centre on Tuesday night. The composition of the teams was based on where the team members played their junior basketball with Auckland taking on the South.
The game went into overtime after a bizarre finish to regulation time resulted in the scores being tied 110-110. The scoreboard showed Auckland ahead by five points with a handful of seconds remaining. Auckland allowed Dillon Boucher an uncontested lay up and even when Reuben Te Rangi slipped when receiving the inbounds pass to allow Boucher to score again on the hooter it appeared Auckland had won by a single point. However the scoresheet showed the scores tied and an extra period was required.
Josh Bloxham scored the first points in the additional period but it was the younger legs of the Auckland team that made the telling plays of the final five minutes reeling off 14 unanswered points to record a 129-115 victory – Breakers players Duane Bailey and Reuben Te Rangi in fine form
South veterans Dillon Boucher and Paul Henare were to the fore in the early exchanges as they scored 15 of their team’s first 17 points and when Hayden Allen punished a Lindsay Tait technical foul the Southerners were ahead 27-21. Auckland guard Shea Ili responded strongly getting himself to the charity stripe on multiple occasions to cut the South lead to a single point at quarter time – 33-32.
Josh Bloxham showed some nice scoring touches off Dillon Boucher assists in the second period as the Auckland offense stuttered the South built a handy 55-48 half time advantage.
The quality passing of experienced trio Henare, Boucher and Puke Lenden was a sight to behold as they constantly found the open man, Allen the major beneficiary as he stroked four triples in the quarter, to help the South to a handy 84-76 advantage.
Auckland coach Benny Anthony encouraged his charges to quicken the pace of their offence, a tactic that worked for them as they opened the fourth quarter with a decisive 15-0 run courtesy of a Houston O’Riley three and additional buckets from Ana Haku, Nick Barrow and Lindsay Tait.
South coach Jeff Green signaled a time out, Bloxham and Jordan Ngatai scoring immediately after the break.
Unfortunately Hayden Allen exited the contest with a serious looking leg injury and when his team found themselves 10 points down, 101-91, with less than 4 minutes to play an Auckland win looked certain. However a Morgan Natanahira tip in, a couple of Ngatai triples and that the strange finish gave the small crowd an additional five minutes of entertainment.
Auckland 129 – Bailey 25, Tait 23, Te Rangi 20, Haku 17, Ili, 16, O’Riley 10, Barrow 10, Patrich Bolstad 8.
115 – Allen 22, Boucher 20, Ngatai 19, Henare 18, Natanahira 15, Bloxham 14, Lenden 8.