WELLINGTON Saints remained the benchmark team of the competition last night with a 26-point victory over Nelson Giants at TSB Bank Arena last night, whilst over at the Fly Palmy Central Energy Trust Arena, Otago Nuggets needed overtime to take home the points against a plucky Manawatu Jets outfit in the grand final rematch.
In the thrilling overtime victory, Otago Nuggets raced out to an early lead against the winless Jets, posting a 23-19 first term and 21-16 second quarter to lead by nine points at half-time. The second half was a reverse of the first, as the Jets started to build momentum to win the third term 26-21 and the final quarter 19-15 to be level by the final buzzer. In fact, if it was not for a buzzer-beater from the Nuggets’ Isaiah Moss at the end of the fourth quarter, then the Jets would have taken home the win.
With 3:37 left in the last quarter, the Jets – courtesy of a Daishon Knight triple – led by seven points, 80-73. What the Nuggets pulled off over the next three and a half minutes was remarkable, as the Jets could not hit a shot, and the Nuggets, through Moss, Sam Timmins and Gerasimos McKay levelled the score out of nowhere to force the game into overtime. The momentum carried into the extra period, with nine of the first 12 points going the way of the visitors, making it 16 of the last 19 points up until the final 90 seconds. From there, the Nuggets answered each Jets basket, and got the win, 92-85.
Otago Nuggets had the higher overall field goal percentage with 46 per cent from the field, though the bulk of their shots came from inside the arc (57 to 44 per cent), whilst the Jets’ success came from beyond it (33 to 23 per cent). The Nuggets won the rebounds (51-47), blocks (4-3), points in the paint (64-36) and second chance points (10-7), really taking control inside. The Jets had six less personal fouls (13-19) and were better with ball-in-hand thanks to 15 assists to 12 and eight steals to five.
Timmins was absolutely ridiculous with 29 points and 25 rebounds – 20 defensive – to really stand up in the crunch moments, collecting three assists and two blocks as well. Moss had the 19 points and 10 rebounds in another double-double effort, whilst McKay (10 points, five rebounds and three assists) and Richie Rodger (16 points, two rebounds) both made double-figure points.
For the Jets, Deandre Daniels had an impressive double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds, whilst Shane Temara had the 12 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks in an all-round effort. Three-point machine Nikau McCulloch hit five of eight from long-range for 15 of his 19 total points to come from that region. Knight (18 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals) also put up a big total, and Jake McKinlay (six points, nine rebounds, three steals and two assists) was influential off the boards.
In the more one-sided contest, it took a half to separate the sides, but when the game broke open, Wellington Saints were unstoppable. The teams went into the first two breaks unable to be split, with the Saints and Nelson Giants both scoring 19 and 20 points in those respective terms to be 39-apiece at half-time. After that though, it was all the Saints, piling on 56-30 in a complete domination, scoring 34 points in the third term to almost equal their first half score in half the time, for the 95-69 victory.
The Saints had a far greater efficiency from the field (51 to 35 per cent, and nailed 13 triples to the Giants’ eight, whilst easily winning the rebound (46-32), assist (20-10) and block (8-1) counts. They took control in the paint with 38 points to 30, and whilst the Giants had more second chance points (11-7), the Saints had more points from turnovers (21-18) and off their bench (27-15).
Taane Samuel scored the most points in the Saints’ win, picking up 24 (eight from 10 from the field including five of seven from long-range), four rebounds and three assists. Dion Prewster (14 points, four assists and three rebounds), Kerwin Roach Jr (12 points, nine rebounds, six assists and four steals) and Tohi Smith-Milner (10 points, nine rebounds, five assists and five blocks) were everywhere for the top of the table side. Ken Tuffin (seven points, 10 rebounds and three steals) was the most influential off the bench.
For the Giants, Hunter Hale racked up 26 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assts, while Donte Ingram (14 points, three rebounds) also contributed to the cause. Coming off the bench, Nic Trathen had the 11 points, while Thomas Ingham (six points, three rebounds and two assists) was also solid despite the loss. Sam Dempster only had the two points, but picked up a team-high nine rebounds, as well as two steals in defeat.
Both the Nelson Giants and Otago Nuggets have a quick turnaround with matches tonight, as the Giants travel to face the Hawkes Bay Hawks, while the Nuggets also hit the road in order to clash with Taranaki Mountainairs. The Wellington Saints host Franklin Bulls on May 20, whilst the Manawatu Jets have an extended break until May 23 where they host the Taranaki Mountainairs.
Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL