The Canterbury Rams have claimed the regular season title with an emphatic 116-98 win over the Super City Rangers.
The last time the franchise won the NBL regular season was 1993, and this is their third overall, claiming their 13th win and sixth straight of the season.
Again, it was a collective performance by the home side as they turned a six point first quarter to win the next three quarters 96-72. Marcel Jones had another double-double of 27 points, 10 rebounds and McKenzie Moore also tallied one of 23 points, and 10 assists to go along with his eight rebounds.
Moore has been a revelation for the franchise who have gone 10-2 since he joined the squad. The Rams also got healthy bench production from Oceania recruits Marcus Alipate (18 points) and Marques Whippy (15 points).
It is the third straight defeat for the Rangers, who are still yet to clinch a playoff spot. They came out playing at a frantic pace taking a 20-10, but from there on it would be all Canterbury rallied to take a ten-point lead in the second quarter.
The Rams looked like they were going into half time with an eight-point lead, but after some confusion with the shot clock, the referees decided to add more time to the last play. Reuben Te Rangi would make a deep three to mitigate the Rangers quarter to only trail by five.
After the break the Rangers started the period well, closing to within one point. But that would be short lived as the home side piled on the points, leading by as many 22.
The one shining light for the Rangers was the play of Corey Webster, who dusted off his shooting woes to score a game high 37, hitting seven treys and shooting 14/26 overall. Terrence Robert tried hard, tallying an efficient 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Eric Devendorf added 17 for the Rangers who drop to 9-8.
The Jeff Green coached side will now re-group and will try to end the regular season on a happy note when they travel to Invercargill tomorrow to play the SIT Zerofees Sharks (10-7), a win clinching their second straight playoff appearance.
Canterbury Rams 26
Wellington Saints 22
Southland Sharks 20
Nelson Giants 18
Super City Rangers 18
Taranaki Mountainairs 14