WELLINGTON Saints reigned supreme over Nelson Giants, claiming a 12-point win in the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL). It was a tight contest throughout the game, with neither side able to really pull away as the lead chopped and changed until the top of the table Saints put the foot down (86-74).
The Giants came out with a real pep in their step early to control proceedings and create an early lead. The margin blew out to as much as eight points midway through the first term before the Saints were able to peg their way back into the contest with some crafty court play and big shots. Nelson held a handy three point lead at the first change but Wellington refused to go away constantly niggling at their opponents to eventually steal the lead in final seconds of the term.
From there on out the Saints rallied momentum to forge ahead landing the first shot of second half to kickstart the action. But in true testament of this match-up the Giants hit back. They quickly levelled the scores at the seven and a half minute mark before putting the foot down as Hunter Hale and Donte Ingram came to life. It was once again time for the Giants to skip out to a handy lead as they established a four point buffer but it was not enough to put their opposition away as the seesawing affair continued. Somehow in the final minutes of the third term Wellington kicked things up a gear with a flurry of shots to hold the lead heading into the last term. Once things started to fall into place for Wellington, nothing was stopping them as they upped the ante both in offence and defence.
When looking at the stats it is incredibly hard to split with Wellington Saints only just holding the upper hand with 36 rebounds in comparison to the Giants’ 35. Wellington also recorded nine assists to seven and led the way with six steals in comparison to five. A main difference was the turnovers the Giants racked up two more than their opponents with 14 compared to 12.
Hale commanded the ball for the Giants as he poured on 25 points in his 37 minutes out on court. He also got busy with three assists and three steals to keep his side within touching distance. Hunter was ably assisted by the likes of Ingram who chimed in with 17 points at 46 per cent from the field along with eight rebounds. Five of those rebounds were defensive, highlighting his capacity to get down and help out on D. Thomas Ingham was influential in the loss producing 12 points, while the efforts of Anzac Rissetto did not go unnoticed as he finished with 12 points, five rebounds and two blocks to his name.
Looking at the victors and it was the impact from their two key cogs in Taane Samuel and Dion Prewster that got them over the line in this clash. Samuel led the way on the points scoring front with a team-high 25 points and converted at a relatively high accuracy with his 64 per cent clip from the field. Prewster managed 20 points and also racked up six assists, three rebounds and a steal in the win. Tohi Smith-Milner was also amongst the thick of things draining 14 points for the Saints as he also showcased his class to record seven assists and seven rebounds. Kerwin Roach Jr and Leon Henry both plied their trade with 14 and 10 points respectively to keep the Saints ahead and push them over the line for a win.
Photo credit: Wellington Saints Twitter