The Mike Pero Nelson Giants struggled to contain the undefeated Cigna Wellington Saints tonight as TSB Arena, as Tall Blacks Shea Ili and Jordan Ngatai took the Saints winning tally to nine in a row.
The Giants' Daniel Grida stood out for the south island visitors, driving to the post early with Saints struggling to contain the Australian import. But Shea Ili matched that attached with speed, driving, ducking and side-stepping to the rim, shooting with confidence outside the arc.
Leon Henry put his hand up for more, running as shot maker late in the firstquarter, eagerly mastering any open looks thanks to slick Saints passing. The Saints drew out to 30 to 24 at the end of the first quarter. That lead would have been stretched if it had not been for the strong defence by Nelson, particularly the height of the young Tyrell Harrison.
In the second, Nelson’s Jordair Jet s
The Giants Tyrell Harrison opened the third with what is likely to be a dunk of the week, collecting a Jordair Jett miss and sending it home. Jett went back for a second look moments later, hitting a bucket and picking up an And1. The Giants appeared to spur from Coach Fitchett’s half-time rally and Grida refused to let up. Yet the Saints remained unfazed.Leon Henry feeling so at home he dropped a three pointer from just inside half way as they continued their onslaught. End of the third, Saints led 88 to 71.
Kruz Perrott-Hunt enjoyed more minutes and made the most of it with some nice threes from deep, but the Saints continued to shoot the lights out, as they did all night. Henare loosened the lock on the bench to give his younger players a run including Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones
Reuben Te Rangi surprisingly had a very quiet night with only 8 points despite his 30 minutes, clearly content to late Ngatai and Ili fire at will. And Ili did, again showing why he’s one of the best point guards in Asia and leading the scoring throughout. The Saints cruise to a 111 to 100 win.
Mike Fitchett will be returning to the South looking to turn around their three-game slide and strategise how they will get to the Final Four in Christchurch on 20 and 21 July, but first his team has a showdown in Taranaki against the Airs that must return nothing less than a win.
Wellington Saints 111 def Nelson Giants 100
Saints - Ili 26pts, Ngatai 16pts, Dech 15pts, Henry 14pts.
Giants - Grida 23pts, Perrott-Hunt 18pts, Jett 17pts.
Stats That Matter - one of the key differences in this contest were the points scored off turnovers, the Saints taking 20pts, the Giants with 10pts.
TAB MVP Votes - Shea Ili (Saints) 10, Dan Grida (Giants) 7, Jordan Ngatai (Saints) 6, Nick Kay (Saints) 3, Leon Henry (Saints) 2, Kruz Perrott-Hunt (Giants) 1, Jordair Jett (Giants) 1.