The Mike Pero Nelson Giants have won a thriller on their home deck against the Wellington Saints, taking down the 2021 champions 97-94 in another example of just how close the 2022 season is in the Sal's NBL.
Both teams were at full strength, including a third import (Walker Miller) joining the Saints in the hours leading up to the clash.
Down by as many as 13 points during the second half, the home team found a way to edge clear in the final few plays and in so doing the Giants heaped more pressure on the Saints as the team from the capital valiantly tries to stay in contention for the Final 6.
The win takes the Giants to a 6-3 record, while the Saints slump to 3-6.
The Giants delivered a 29-24 start but soon found themselves playing catch-up after the Saints found their stroke through the second quarter and went to the half-time break up 55-47.
Despite trailing throughout the third quarter, a late basket by Sam Thompson brought the Giants to within six points (71-77) at three-quarter time and delivered some hope ahead of the final period.
Triples to Sam Dempster, Thompson and Jarrod West over the first half of the last quarter, along with a three-point play by Trey Mourning, brought the Giants back to with two points of the misfiring Saints (83-85) and from there the fans found their voice.
Long range makes by Nic Trathen, Dempster and a further two triples from Jarrod West proved too much for the Saints as the Giants held firm down the stretch. All up the Giants dropped seven treys in the final period, good enough for a 26-17 quarter and a memorable win.
West was the star with 35 points, 10 assists and six triples, cementing his place through eight rounds as the league's top point guard, while Dempster and Mourning played the perfect cameos with 18 points apiece.
Tom Vodanovich did his bit for the Saints with 30 points and six treys, but on a night when a win was a must the visitors simply could not withstand the hot finish from the Giants.
The loss leaves the Saints in a perilous position ahead of a Sunday showdown with the Bulls at The Stockyard, while the Giants start to firm as a Final 6 chance with a trip north to face the Tuatara coming up next week.
SCORE: Giants 97, Saints 94
Giants: Jarrod West 35 PTS, 10 AST | Sam Depster 18 PTS, 12 REB | Trey Mourning 18 PTS, 9 REB | Sam Thompson 16 PTS
Saints: Tom Vodanovich 30 PTS, 9 REB | Xavier Cooks 23 PTS, 8 REB | Taane Samuel 16 PTS
Full box score HERE.
Stuff MVP Votes
Jarrod West (Giants) - 10 votes
Tom Vodanovich (Saints) - 7 votes
Sam Dempster (Giants) - 4 votes
Xavier Cooks (Saints) - 4 votes
Trey Mourning (Giants) - 3 votes
Jordan Ngatai (Saints) - 2 votes
Giants - June 24 @ Auckland Tuatara
Saints – June 19 @ Franklin Bulls
Round 8 Sal's NBL Schedule