Magic 45
Thunderbirds 44

The Magic have made the best possible start to the ANZ Championship - and Silver Ferns coach Wai Taumaunu has a few new names for her notebook.

Written off before the season, the Magic showed they still have plenty to offer with a brilliant 45-44 win over the Adelaide Thunderbirds on Saturday afternoon.

It was a highly impressive performance, especially as the team lost experienced mid courter Courtney Tairi in the second half and were without injured captain Casey Kopua.

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The introduction of Malia Paseka turned the match, with the young shooter putting in a nerveless performance against experienced international defender Eboni Beckford-Chambers.

Playing in just her seventh ANZ Championship match, the 20-year was superb. She shot 14 from 18, allowing the Magic to overturn a halftime deficit. The visitors took the lead midway through the third quarter and never surrendered it, despite the usual frenetic finish from the Thunderbirds.

Aside from Paseka, 18-year-old Kristiana Manu'a was also a standout. Making her competition debut, Manu'a showed remarkable poise in the defensive circle against the experienced duo of Erin Bell and Carla Borrego.

The Magic came into this match as a bit of a mystery. They lost all five of their matches at the pre-season tournament and Kopua was missing her first ANZ Championship match since the competition begun in 2008, a run of 107 consecutive games.

But the Waikato side had a similarly poor pre-season output last season, before eventually making the preliminary final. And regardless of personnel, they have an incredible team spirit and culture. It was a key component of their success under Noeline Taurua and Julie Fitzgerald built on that last year.

The Magic have always matched up well against the South Australian side; before yesterday's match they had won seven of 11 clashes against the Thunderbirds.

In front of a capacity crowd, Adelaide started with intensity, trying to blow the visitors off the court. There attack was fast and slick with Bell and Borrego delivering inside the circle. But rather than be intimidated, the Magic stayed in the game; they hung on, scrapped and pressured as they worked their way into the match.

The Thunderbirds built decent leads in the first half but couldn't kick away and the new defensive combination of Leana de Bruin and Manu'a was highly impressive. They gradually strangled the life out of the Adelaide attack, while Paseka and Joanne Harten won their battles at the other end.

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Magic 45
Thunderbirds 44

Q1: 12-14 Q2:21-23 Q3: 36-32 Q4:45-44