The Cigna Wellington Saints have started the Sal’s NBL season with an emphatic 106-79 win over the Taylor Hawks with Nick Kay (25pts) and Shea Ili (22pts) the standout performers, both shooting at very high clips.
In front of a large and vocal home audience in the nation’s capital, the Saints raced to an early lead and never looked back, entertaining their fans with plenty of free-flowing basketball. The end margin was the biggest of the game.
Kay was the star of the show for the winners and looks set for a big season, the talented Australian completing his transfer earlier in the day before making the most of his first game with the Saints.
Ili picked right up from where he left off last season, while Jordan Ngatai (17pts), Reuben Te Rangi (17pts) and Sunday Dech (12pts) also got amongst the action.
Daniel Kickert (14pts) didn’t waste much time showing everyone how important he will be to the Hawks this season with a number of sublime baskets in the first half, however a back complaint sidelined the Hawks’ star recruit for the second half.
Other leaders for the Hawks included Edward Singler (19pts) and Ethan Rusbatch (17pts).
Though no doubt the Hawks will improve as they settle, the early signs from the Saints were ominous. Last season’s runners-up clearly came to play and displayed the enormous depth many onlookers had talked about during the pre-season.
The Saints will now face newcomers the Southern Huskies next Friday in Wellington, while for the Hawks the turnaround is much quicker as they race home to Hawke’s Bay to play the Supercity Rangers tomorrow night.