Nelson Giants upset Canterbury Rams to notch second consecutive win
American-born Dion Prewster propelled the Nelson Giants to the upset win of the National Basketball League in Christchurch on Friday night.
The 2-6 Giants stunned the 4-5 Canterbury Rams 92-82 in front of a packed Cowles Stadium to record their second win in as many games.
Prewster poured in 30 points in a classy performance, and got sound support from guard Kyle Adnam (22 points) and forward Finn Delany (16).
Fresh off a campaign boosting opening win against Taranaki, Nelson came out swinging to lead for the majority of the match, and led by as many as16 points during the third quarter.
"It was great for the guys to turn it up," new Giants coach Brendon Bailey said.
"There has been a lot of upheaval and changes the past couple of weeks, so to pull out two out of three games so far is a testament to these guys."
Bailey replaced Alan McAughtry after the Giants started the season 0-5, before a sixth loss condemned them to their worst start in club history.
However, judging by the high-energy and passion the Giants showed in Christchurch, things appear to be on the way back up.
"Thats been the change around, really," Bailey said. "The guys are just believing themselves, not letting their heads drop and just busting their a**** every time.
"That's what they did on the defensive end. To keep a team like [the Rams] to 82 points was a great job."
The Giants had their way with the Rams inside, who are clearly missing a quality big.
Interestingly, British import Will Neighbour was nowhere to be seen on Friday night. However, Rams co-captain Ethan Rusbatch wouldn't comment on whether he had been cut or not.
Rams coach Mark Dickel cut a frustrated figure after the loss and headed straight to the changing room.
Dickel and the Rams appeared rattled form the get go. After all, things were supposedly meant to get easier after playing the defending champion Saints three times in the first half of the season.
The Giants came out firing, before holding their cool and condemning the Rams to a second consecutive loss.
"We struggled, we gave them a lot of easy looks," Rusbatch said.
"They had 34 points in the paint in the first half, that really sums it up. We dug ourselves an early hole and it was tough to get out of.
"It just starts with the first half, we came out too soft and we gave them too many easy looks. They just got rolling early and we couldn't answer back."
Rams forward Marcel Jones (26 points, 15 rebounds) and Rusbatch (16 points, 12 rebounds) both recorded double-doubles in the loss.
Meanwhile, guard Jeremy Kendle added 19 points, but the Rams only connected on six of their 30 (20 per cent) three-point attempts on the night.
But it was Prewster's night. He drilled 11/16 from the field, including three from deep, and was a class above.
He and Adnam, who did a fine job running his team's offence, also earned special praise from Bailey for their defensive work.
They were instrumental in slowing down the Rams, whose usual up-tempo offence spluttered all night.
The Giants play the Southland Sharks in Invercargill on Saturday, while the Rams are on the road against the Bay Hawks on Tuesday.
AT A GLANCE
Nelson Giants 92 (Dion Prewster 30, Kyle Adnam 22, Finn Delany 16) Canterbury Rams 82 (Marcel Jones 26, Jeremy Kendle 19, Ethan Rusbatch 16) 1Q: 22-17; HT: 48-43; 3Q: 73-65.