The Supercity Rangers and Taranaki Mountain Airs have kicked off their NBL campaigns with victories tonight.
The Rangers tipped over the Canterbury Rams in a high-tempo clash, 114-107, while the Airs rode a strong second quarter to a 93-76 victory over the Nelson Giants.
It was in Waitakere were the most action was, with the Rangers and Rams predictably getting out and running in a game heavy on transition, but sloppy at times.
The Rangers held a steady lead throughout, and had to hold off a frantic Rams comeback as they started bombing threes to get within five late in the piece, after being down 17 in the fourth quarter.
Supercity were led by Lindsay Tait, who continues to play at a high level at age 35. Tait had 29 points, six rebounds and four assists to lead a short-handed Rangers who only went six deep with NBL contributors.
Their imports performed though, with Australian guard Mitch McCarron as advertised with a smooth 28 points, six rebounds and six assists, while centre Nnanna Egwu overcame some early struggles to end with 16 points and nine rebounds.
Brook Ruscoe was his usual self getting to the hoop at will for the Rangers, scoring 22 points, while young Hyrum Harris shone in a greatly increased role, contributing 17 points, six rebounds and three assists in just 18 minutes of play.
The Rams struggled keeping the Rangers out of the paint, especially in transition, with Supercity only hitting four of 18 threes but doing most of their damage inside. Conversely, the Rams were a bit more stagnant, relying heavily on Jeremy Kendle and Marcel Jones before swinging the ball around more later in the contest.
Kendle showed why he was labelled the MVP front-runner, dropping in 39 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing five assists - looking potent at creating his own shot, and hitting six threes.
Jones added 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists, but fouled out early in the fourth quarter. Foul trouble was a constant issue for the Rams, who had sharpshooter Marcus Alipate also foul out, with the Rangers winning the game at the line, shooting 39 free throws to the Rams' seven as they dominated in transition.
In Nelson, the Giants slumped to 0-2 on the season as the Airs rode a 16-1 run at the end of the first half to a solid first-up victory.
Airs import Tylor Ongwae put up big numbers on debut, with 28 points, six rebounds, three assists and four steals. His fellow import, centre Daniel Gomis, was impactful too with seven points, 16 rebounds and four assists.
The Airs got good contributions from their local players too, with Houston O'Riley notching 17 points, five boards and five dimes, Alonzo Burton dropping 14 points and five boards, and Aaron Bailey-Nowell putting up his usual 13 and eight as the Airs won the rebounding battle, 45-32.
Once more, the Giants didn't get enough production from their starters. Finn Delany played all 40 minutes to score 26 points, and Curtis Washington had a better outing with 16 points and seven rebounds.
However, Dion Prewster was again held scoreless, playing only 10 minutes due to foul trouble, while import Joe Slocum mustered just seven points and five assists on 2/9 shooting.
The NBL round concludes tomorrow when the Rams travel on the back-to-back to face the Bay Hawks, with the game live streamed at 3.00pm on nzherald.co.nz.