Max Darling made a welcome and loud return for the Wheeler Motor Company Canterbury Rams on Sunday afternoon as they saw off a spirited Taranaki Steelformers Mountainairs side 92 - 68.
Darling finished with 10 points, including two thunderous dunks (one of which is a sure nominee for play of the year), in his return from the Australian NBL. He picked up in the second where EJ Singler left off, having given the Rams a healthy buffer from the get go. The Airs, to their credit, stuck within 15 of the Rams until the fourth quarter, having suited up less than 24 hours after going doing to the Saints in Wellington.
Tai Wynyard showed deft touch around the rim, while Francis Mulvihill worked hard on defence for the Airs, but the talent of the Rams was too much, aided by Joe Cook-Green in his second game back from injury.
The fourth quarter was when the home team pulled away, Deshon Taylor putting on a show for the Rams crowd, and the Airs bench, including throwing an incredible no look, over the shoulder, alley-oop pass for a marauding Darling, who almost brought the hoop down.
Canterbury Rams (92) beat Taranaki Airs (68) - BOXSCORE
Rams: EJ Singler (24pts, 9-15fg, 13rbs), Deshon Taylor (21pts, 9-14fg)
Airs: Tai Wynyard (16pts), Marcel Jones (16pts, 10rbs)
Stuff MVP Votes
EJ Singler (Rams) 10
Deshon Taylor (Rams) 8
Tai Wynyard (Airs) 4
Sam Smith (Rams) 3
Marcel Jones (Airs) 3
Alex Talma (Rams) 1
Carlin Davison (Airs) 1