The Mike Pero Nelson Giants have landed another big blow in the Sal's NBL taking down the Wheeler Motor Company Canterbury Rams in a Saturday evening thriller to improve to a 3-1 record, while the Rams drop to 3-2 with a quick trip to meet the Saints ahead of them.
The Giants got off to a flying start courtesy of guards Jarrod West and Alex McNaught, a back-court combination that is quickly becoming known equally for a pestering defence as much as a growing ability to score.
West in particular was electric at the offensive end over the opening quarter with 12 points, while collectively McNaught and West joined for 4 steals, helping the home team build a slick 27-17 lead.
The Rams battled back over the opening minutes of the second period to close the gap to 6-points (31-25) before Trey Mourning brought the Giants' fans to their feet with back-to-back triples, forcing Rams coach Judd Flavell to call a time-out with his team down by 12.
Trailing by as much as 15 points in the first half, the Rams settled towards the main break with Sunday Dech and Taylor Britt combining for 25 points to draw the visitors back to within a couple of baskets (45-41).
Surprisingly off the back of his 17-point winning performance against the Bulls the previous round, Giants captain Sam Dempster was held scoreless across the first half and didn't put up a shot attempt, while back the other way Rams import Ryan Taylor was also struggling as he failed to bother the scorers as well.
The third quarter was filled with highlights at both ends, but importantly for the Rams both Taylor (two triples) and Dech (11-points for the quarter) got going to help their team move to a narrow 66-65 lead with a period to play.
The signs were there late in the third for the Rams to make a run to the final buzzer, however the best was yet to come from the Giants.
With scores tied at 71-71 and five minutes to play, it was time for the imports on both teams to shine. West and Mourning were everywhere for the Giants, with Dech equally as active for the Rams. On the back of two made baskets by Mourning the home team opened a mini break, only to have Dech plug it back once more with another huge triple, his sixth of the game.
As the game entered the last minute, Mourning hit a peak with a put-back two to put the Giants up 80-74, drawing a time-out by the Rams in an effort to find some late baskets.
Upon the re-start, as he had done on five previous occasions already, West came up with a steal (his sixth) and put a nail in the coffin with a quick pass up the court to a free running McNaught, who strode in for a lay-up to ensure the win.
From there the result was done and another full house in Nelson enjoyed the last few seconds to toast another win for the rising Giants.
SCORE: Giants 85, Rams 77
Giants: Trey Mourning 37 PTS, 17 REB| Jarrod West 25 PTS, 6 STL | Alex McNaught 11 PTS
Rams: Sunday Dech 35 PTS, 6 TREYS | Taylor Britt 16 PTS
Full box score HERE.
Stuff MVP Votes
Trey Mourning (Giants) - 9 votes
Jarrod West (Giants) - 9 votes
Sunday Dech (Rams) - 6 votes
Alex McNaught (Giants) - 4 votes
Taylor Britt (Rams) - 2 votes
Giants - May 28 vs Hawke's Bay Hawks
Rams - May 22 @ Wellington Saints
Round 4 Sal's NBL Schedule