Saints scrape by Airs with late defensive stand

The Wellington Saints have narrowly avoided what would’ve been the upset of the season tonight at TSB Stadium, scraping past the Taranaki Steelformers Mountainairs 89-81.

There was a near-capacity crowd in New Plymouth and for 35 minutes it looked as if the Airs had improved their chances of dodging the dreaded wooden spoon.

However, the Saints suffocated the Airs down the stretch and forced the hosts into consecutive misses and turnovers. Tai Wynyard also fouled out late in the piece, allowing the visitors to get numerous second goes.

The duo of Tohi Smith-Milner and Dion Prewster also kick started a sputtering offence in the second half, whereby the five-minute mark in the fourth they finally took the lead and would hold it.

Experience counted for a lot in the closing stages, but you have to feel for veteran Marcel Jones who came within a whisker of directing the Airs to a memorable victory.

His intent, along with all of his teammates, was evident from the tip and resulted in them take a 23-17 advantage into the first break.

The same thing happened across the next two periods, but as alluded to earlier, the Saints go themselves into a rhythm towards the back end of the third and took it up a gear when it mattered most.


Taranaki Airs 81 lost to Wellington Saints 89 - BOXSCORE

Airs: Marcel Jones (29pts, 6rbs & 6ast), Tai Wynyard (11pts & 4rbs), Scott Telfer (11pts & 3rbs).

Saints: Tohi Smith-Milner (25pts & 15rbs), Dion Prewster (24pts & 6rbs), Taane Samuel (14pts).


Game Highlights

  1. Dion Prewster put in ANOTHER captain's knock, but there's no way the Saints win this one without Tohi Smith-Milner. The big man had his eye in whilst in possession of the ball and made himself a nuisance for opposing big Tai Wynyard - he held the seven footer to four rebounds.
  2. It's hard not to feel for a player like Marcel Jones who is doing all he can to capture the win but coming up short more times than not. He and the young Airs will grow through what they've gone through this season.
  3. Travel restrictions meant there was last-minute reshuffling with this round's officials. This fixture was refereed by three locals without any NBL experience and they did a good job considering the manner in which they were called in.


Stuff MVP Votes

Marcel Jones (Airs) - 8

Tohi Smith-Milner (Saints) - 7

Dion Prewster (Saints) - 7

Scott Telfer (Airs) - 4

Taane Samuel (Saints) - 2

Tai Wynyard (Airs) - 1

Dru Leo-Leusogia-Ape (Airs) - 1


(Photo Credit: PhotosportNZ)


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