Saints Make It 17 Straight In Bizarre Clash

It's hard to work out what to make of a 17th straight win by the Wellington Saints, this time a 76-69 come-from-behind win over fellow Final 4 opponent the Canterbury Rams, such was the inconsistent nature of this clash.

The Saints, who are odds on favourites to win the Sal's NBL title in two weeks time, simply came out of the blocks ice cold and looked anything but the league's best team in a first quarter that delivered just 10 points and no field goal to any of their loaded starting unit.

In fact so bizarre was the poor shooting by the Saints that their starting five players collectively missed their first 20 shots of the game.

However, down 10-22 after the opening quarter and clearly not at their best, the Saints then turned on arguably the best defensive quarter of the season, holding the Rams to paltry three-points. As the screws tightened it helped drag the visitors back into the contest and by half time the gap was back to just a long range basket, the Rams leading 25-22.

In what had been a slog it was a sign that the Saints could fight defensive fire with fire and it appeared only a matter of time before their studs finally start making shots. So out of character was it that Nick Kay, one of the league's hot MVP favourites, was 0/11 from the field before he finally found the bottom of the net.

A 27-16 third period by the Saints finally opened the game up and from there they went on and won the arm-wrestle with Tom Abercrombie (20pts) celebrating his birthday with a stellar performance. For the Rams, Cam Gliddon helped himself to 24pts.

The Rams finished the game on a 36% shooting clip, the Saints on 33%. Canterbury's 18 turnovers were a worry, while equally Wellington's 7/30 from beyond the arc wasn't up to scratch.

Despite the slugfest, the Saints got the job done in the end and look certain now to head to the Final 4 unbeaten (they play Rangers next week). The win over the Rams also gives them a 3-0 sweep over a team that if they see again will be in the Grand Final.


Canterbury Rams 69 lost to Wellington Saints 76

Rams - Cam Gliddon 24pts, Taylor Britt 10pts.

Saints - Tom Abercrombie 20pts, Shea Ili 12pts & 9ast.

Stats That Matter - not much to see here, maybe Canterbury's 18 turnovers and Wellington's 7/30 from downtown being the two stats each coach will pick apart.

TAB MVP Votes - Tom Abercrombie (Saints) 9, Cam Gliddon (Rams) 9, Shea Ili (Saints) 5, Rob Loe (Saints) 5, Taylor Britt (Rams) 1, Mike Karena (Rams) 1.

Talking Points

  1. Hard to believe, but by qtr time in this clash the Saints had only scored two field goals with their 10pts including six made free throws. Even more bizarre was that no starter made a shot (Jordan Ngatai hit two free throws). In fact such was the drought that it took until two minutes before half-time before Ngatai dropped a triple before we saw a made field goal beside a starting line-up that reads - Ili, Te Rangi, Ngatai, Loe, Kay.
  2. The fight back by the Saints during the middle quarters was superb. After keeping Canterbury to just 3pts in the second quarter, the Saints finally got cracking in the third term and dropped 27pts, which finally gave them the gap they needed to secure a tight win.
  3. When Tom Abercrombie joined mid-season everyone knew the Saints had just added the definitive piece that should lead them to a title. While the championship favourites were already stacked with talent, the addition of Abercrombie has taken them to a new level. After a slow start, Abercrombie has now hit form and is arguably just as important to the team as Ili and Kay, and against the Rams he was even more important. With the Saints struggling to score early against the Rams, it was Abercrombie who kept them ticking over with 10 of his teams opening 16 points.



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