It was a winning start to R12 of the Sal's NBL with two finals-bound teams celebrating convincing wins, the first coming at Palmerston North where the Southland Sharks cemented their Final 4 spot with a convincing 122-79 victory over Manawatu Jets, while down in Nelson the Canterbury Rams shook off the Giants with a 97-74 win.
The Sharks went in against the Jets knowing a win would confirm their title defence at Horncastle Arena and it didn't taken them long to ensure the result was going to go their way. a 25-13 start was quickly backed up with a 37-14 second quarter, effectively ending the contest at the long break.
The Sharks enjoyed a strong spread of minutes and by game's end had no less than eight players in double-digit scoring, led by Todd Blanchfield with 25pts. For the Jets, who shot at a lowly 31% for the game, Shane Temara hit 19pts as star players Wally Ellenson (5/23) and Daishon Knight (3/13) struggled to land a blow.
In Nelson, the Giants did what they have done too many time this season - compete hard for the best part of three quarters only to see the opposition skip away and grab the win. This time the Rams got the job done with a 27-12 last quarter.
Once again without star import defender Isaiah Wilkins, who was sidelined with shoulder injury, the Rams led for most of the game, the Giants constantly making a run at their more fancied opponents, but never quite able to skip past them.
Mike Karena led the way with 19pts in another deep team effort by the Rams, while for the Giants it was Rhys Vague (21pts) and Jordan Jett (19pts) carrying the load.
Manawatu Jets 79 lost to Southland Sharks 122
Nelson Giants 74 lost to Canterbury Rams 97
Still to come in R12;
Hawks vs Sharks (Saturday @ 7pm)
Huskies vs Airs (Saturday at 7pm AUS / 9pm NZ)
Saints vs Jets (Sunday at 3pm)
Rams vs Rangers (Sunday at 5pm)