Otago Nuggets and Nelson Giants to make NBL grand final

The Otago Nuggets are off to their first National Basketball League grand final in team history.

Third  seeded Otago knocked over the second ranked Nelson Giants 89-74 in  Friday’s semifinal – setting up a grand final against the Auckland  Tuatara on Saturday at Eventfinda Stadium (7.30pm start).

Otago  took out the Covid-19 inspired NBL Showdown in 2020, beating the  Manawatū Jets in the final, but have never made the big dance of a full  season NBL competition.

A  first-time champion will be crowned with the Nuggets never having won  the NBL and the Tuatara in their first season competing in the league as  a new entity.

The  Nuggets’ victory was built around their clinical defence and  rebounding, dominating the Giants on the glass and forcing them into an  uncharacteristic sloppy showing.

Nelson  would have been bitterly disappointed by their sub-par performance,  saving one of their worst efforts of the season for last.

Otago’s win means the NBL's top two seeds have been eliminated in back-to-back nights in the semifinals with the Taranaki Airs edged in overtime by the Tuatara on Thursday.

Nelson  battled to get into their rhythm all game long and were well below  their best with Otago taking away their strengths on the offensive end.

Fresh  off 30 points in the win over the Hawks, American point guard Tray Boyd  was strong again with 20 points, nine rebounds, and five assists.