TWO separate stunning single quarter efforts from Canterbury Rams and Wellington Saints proved to be the difference in their respective New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) clashes overnight. The Rams deflated the Taranaki Mountainairs in the opening term with a 37-point quarter to all but suck the life out of the contest on the road on their way to an 18-point win, whilst the Saints blew the Manawatu Jets away in the third quarter with a dominant 43-point term to win by 23 points.
Canterbury Rams powered to an 18-point advantage at quarter time courtesy of a stunning 37-point first term, which ultimately proved the difference between the sides. The Rams pushed it out to 20 points at the half, and whilst the Airs did win the third term, the visitors settled in the last to run out 103-85 winners, not losing control of the lead from the midpoint of the first term, and almost getting out to a 30-point advantage.
The Rams shot at an impressive 55 per cent from the field, ahead of the Airs’ 47 per cent, shooting a massive 12 triples from 26 attempts, as the home team struggled from long-range, converting just three of 19. Taranaki also won the assists (23-18) and steals (17-13) in a high turnover game as the teams combined for 53 turnovers (27-26 towards the Rams). The Rams had 28 points from turnovers compared to the Airs’ 25, whilst also winning the bench points (22-18). Taranaki won the rebounds (36-33), blocks (4-2), points in the paint (56-42) and second chance points (17-8).
EJ Singler produced arguably the best performances of the season for the Rams, not missing a single shot from 16 field goals attempts for a massive 41 points – six triples – as well as nine assists, seven rebounds, three steals and no turnovers in a stunning effort. Deshon Taylor (20 points, five rebounds and five steals) chipped in, but by contrast had 10 turnovers. Alex Talma (12 points, five rebounds) and Mason Whittaker (10 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals) also hit double-figure points.
For the Airs, Tai Wynyard topped the scoring with 16 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals, while Marcel Jones notched up another double-double of 15 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and three steals. Haize Walker (13 points, three rebounds), Carlin Davison (12 points, five rebounds and two assists), Francis Mulvihill (11 points, three steals and two assists) and Dru-Leo Leusogi-Ape (11 points, three rebounds and three steals) all had double-figure points.
In the other match, the impressive Wellington Saints were well matched by the plucky Manawatu Jets for a half, before putting the foot down in the third term. Leading by just four points at half-time, the Saints stepped up the intensity for a stunning 43 points to 13 in the third term to blow it out to a game-high 34-point final break lead. The Jets to their credit did reel it in a little with a 30-19 term, but despite their strong finish could not cut the deficit back enough and the Saints won, 100-77.
The Saints were deadly from three-point range which was the difference, shooting at 41 per cent – 18 of 43 – to the Jets’ 28 per cent – eight of 28 – for a total efficiency of 47 to 45 per cent. They also lead the rebounds (45-32), assists (21-9), second chance points (16-14) and points from turnovers (19-13), and had three less turnovers (10-13). Manawatu won the steals (6-5), blocks (4-1) and bench points (32-23) and were at least impressive from inside the arc (20 of 34 for a 58 per cent efficiency).
Tohi Smith-Milner won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award for the night with 21 points – four of seven from long-range – nine rebounds and two assists. Kerwin Roach Jr also picked up a double-double of 14 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Dion Prewster (16 points, eight assists and six assists), Ken Tuffin (15 points, two assists) and Taane Samuel (11 points, eight rebounds) also stood out in a really strong starting five performance for the Saints.
Daishon Knight was the clear best for the Jets, putting up 25 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals in an all-round effort. Deandre Daniels hit 14 points, five rebounds and two assists, whilst coming off the bench, Nikau McCullough produced four of 10 from long-range for 16 points from 22 minutes, as well as four rebounds. Kalib Marsich-Mullins (10 points, two rebounds) also held his own in 20 minutes on court.
Canterbury Rams have a Thursday night road trip in a few days up against Auckland Huskies, whilst Wellington Saints take on Hawkes Bay Hawks on Friday night. In other matches, Taranaki Mountainairs then face the Saints on Saturday, before Manawatu Jets front up against the Hawks on Sunday.
Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL