Basketball: Wellington Saints cruise past Taranaki Mountain Airs to remain unbeaten

Corey Webster. Photo / Photosport
Corey Webster. Photo / Photosport

The Wellington Saints remain unbeaten in the National Basketball League after cruising to a 100-87 victory over the Taranaki Mountain Airs.

Corey Webster had 31 points in 29 minutes for the Saints who move to 5-0 for the season, while the Airs drop to 3-3.

With a bit of luck, the Airs could have come into this game unbeaten. Trent Adam's side had lost twice this season in the final seconds, one being last week, when they were up 20 on the Supercity Rangers before losing import centre Daniel Gomis to a broken hand - eventually falling in the clutch.

Gomis' injury - sidelining him for at least three weeks - denied the Airs the use of one of the best defensive centres in the league, and it showed as the Saints continued their impressive scoring spree.

It took them a while to get going, with initial attempts to post-up replacement starting centre Xavier Shaw having mixed success.

On the other end, the Airs were finding holes in the Saints defence, with Houston O'Riley and Alonzo Burton finding some driving lanes, while a rare Thane O'Leary three kept them in touch, down 24-21 at quarter time.

The Airs edged in front early in the second period, but that was the last time they would have the lead, with Webster taking over. Despite some decent defence from Burton, Webster had 22 points at the half, hitting some tough threes and making the Airs pay whenever they had defensive errors.

The Saints' ball movement was far smoother and faster than the Airs, with Shea Ili's bizarre statline of one point (on zero shots), one rebound and 10 assists displaying his team-first mindset. Their threes started dropping as the lead ballooned out in the third quarter, at one stage reaching 29.

The Saints were able to rest their starters for their match-up against the Rams on Saturday, and the Airs took some consolation from a good garbage-time showing, scoring 35 last quarter points.

Burton ended with 24 points and seven rebounds, while import Tylor Ongwae had 18 points and five rebounds for the Airs. Josh Duinker put up 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Saints.

- NZ Herald

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