The Wellington Saints set out to prove that their loss to the SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks on Friday night - their first L since 2018 - was nothing but a blip, when they rolled into Cowles Stadium on Saturday with the bit between their teeth.
They kept a hard-working Wheeler Motor Company Canterbury Rams side to just 9 pts in the first quarter, with Zico Coronel's defensive gun, Kenneth Tuffin, upsetting and disrupting the Rams at every turn. The Rams were solid on defence themselves, giving up just 38 first half points and trailing by six at the big break, but at points in the game the home team couldn't buy a bucket especially from deep.
The Saints, whose defensive energy and intensity was streaks above the previous night's efforts, turned it on offensively in the second half. Kerwin Roach managed to draw some gasps even from the staunchest Rams fans with two earth shattering dunks, while Taane Samuel and Dion Prewster picked up points at will.
On the other end, the Saints did a magnificent job on Rams imports Deshon Taylor and EJ Singler, and while Quintin Bailey and Alex Talma scored admirably, the Rams clearly lacked the firepower with their imports finding it so hard to score.
Mick Downer emptied the bench down the stretch, with the biggest cheer of the night coming when local debutant Jarred Burnett scored the Rams only three-pointer of the night (they finished 1-15 from deep) to record his first NBL points. It was a positive finish to a night the Rams will want to forget.
Canterbury Rams (64) lost to Wellington Saints (89) - BOXSCORE
Rams: Quintin Bailey (19pts, 9rbs), Deshon Taylor (12pts 6ast), Alex Talma (11pts, 6rbs)
Saints: Kerwin Roach Jr (23pts, 5rbs), Dion Prewster (22pts, 6rbs), Taane Samuel (16pts, 7rbs, 4ast)
Stuff MVP Votes
Kerwin Roach Jr (Saints) 10pts
Taane Samuel (Saints) 7pts
Dion Prewster (Saints) 6pts
Quintin Bailey (Rams) 5pts
Alex Talma (Rams) 2pts