Game of two halves as Giants lose to Saints, both move on to Finals Weekend
The defending champion Cigna Saints have clinched the regular season title with a 91-75 win over Mike Pero Nelson Giants.
LJ Peak led the way with 21 points, Shea Ili had 18, and in his first start Shaun Bruce added 15 for the Saints who finish the regular season with a 15-3 record.
Nelson Giants lead by by two at halftime, it was the Saints that came out firing in the third quarter outscoring the Giants 28-14. Head coach, Kevin Braswell, had to go to his bench early when centre, Majok Majok, committed his fourth foul, but his replacement Shane Temara would respond with nine third quarter points which included a three and a two handed alley-oop dunk.
Nelson will be disappointed with their second half, after making an aggressive start to the game which saw them restrict the Saints to 14 first quarter points. The visitors were able to extend their lead by as many as 11 in the second.
Point guard, Kyle Adnam was getting into the paint at will, scoring 15 points in the first half. After scoring 30 last week in the overtime win against the Saints, guard Damon Heuir looked like he was going to have a repeat performance when he scored 10 in the first quarter.
Saints would finish the second quarter with a 10-2 run to close within two at the half.
In the second quarter Wellington were able to do a better job of containing the Giants in particular Adnam and Heuir as the referees allowed more physicality. Adnam would only score four points in the second half, while Heuir was kept scoreless for three quarters.
Nelson did welcome back forward, Finn Delany, who was relatively quiet with nine points, but were missing American forward Jerry Evans Jr. The Giants (13-4) will move south where they will play the SIT Zerofees Sharks (12-4) on Sunday. The two teams will also face each other in the upcoming semi-finals next week. The winner of Sundays clash will seal the second spot.
Wellington will face the fourth placed Taylor Hawks (10-6) in the other semi. Both teams have a rich playoff history and rivalry, the two teams last faced each other in the 2014 Grand Final.
Cigna Saints 91 (LJ Peak 21, Shea Ili 18, Shaun Bruce 15)
Mike Pero Nelson Giants 75 (Kyle Adnam 19, Tohi Smith-Milner 15, Damon Heuir 10)