KEN Tuffin's late spurt could not save the Taranaki Mountainairs from falling at the hands of the Canterbury Rams, 112-101, in the 2020 Sal's NBL Showdown Saturday at The Trusts Arena in Auckland.
The Fil-Kiwi forward from Far Eastern University scored seven of his 14 points in the final frame but failed to turn the tides in favor of the Airs, who tasted their first defeat in three outings.
Playing as a starter anew, Tuffin also grabbed six rebounds in 24 minutes of action.
Taylor Britt starred for league-leading Canterbury with a near-triple-double performance of 30 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists. Samuel Smith had 23 points to his name as the Rams went up to 3-0.
Derone Raukawa led Taranaki with 25 points, while Marcel Jones got a double-double of 19 points and 14 rebounds, on top of four assists and two steals.
Francis Mulvihill, a Kiwi guard studying in Enderun, also tallied seven points and two rebounds in 14 minutes off the bench.
The Mountainairs will take a three-day break before facing the Auckland Huskies on Tuesday.