Canterbury Rams show some positive signs
The Canterbury Rams were unable to make a dream return to the national basketball league, but showed enough to suggest they will be competitive this season.
Canterbury was beaten 89-79 yesterday by seven-time champions Wellington Saints in front of a sellout 1300 crowd at Christchurch's Cowles Stadium.
The Rams trailed by double digits for much of the contest, but fought their way back at the start of the fourth quarter. They went on a 9-0 run to trim the Saints' advantage back to just six points with 6 minutes and 37 seconds to play, but their classy opponents kept their composure.
It was Wellington's third NBL game within a week and they played like a team familiar with each other and their systems.
Canterbury, on the other hand, are a work in progress. Their starting power forward, Richie Edwards, only landed in Christchurch on Friday after finishing up his US college career at Arizona State University.
Tall Black international Corey Webster, who scored a game-high 29 points connected with an important three-pointer to push Wellington's lead back out to nine.
Another triple shortly after, from impressive backcourt partner, Lindsay Tait swung the game firmly in their favour.
Canterbury were punished in the first half, allowing the Saints to score 57 points and jump out to an 11-point buffer.
Wellington were red-hot on offence in the first half, shooting 21 from 35 from the field (60 per cent) with Webster hitting 18 first half points. They converted five of their nine first half three-point chances and were able to get away in transition finishing strongly at the rim.
The Rams struggled with their rebounding. Wellington got too many second chance opportunities on the glass. They out-rebounded Canterbury 50-32 for the game, with offensive boards hurting Canterbury the most.
Rams' American import Matt Rogers, who had a pleasing debut with 24 points and nine rebounds, believed his team would be better off for their first hitout.
"We're a young team. Everyone on the team is new. Whereas some of these other teams we're playing have been together for a while.
"We've got a lot of growth, but I think I saw a lot of great things [yesterday]. We've got some more games coming up and we're only going to get better and better."
Fellow American Glen Dandridge scored 19 in the loss on 7/19 shooting. Edwards warmed up as the game went on. He finished with 16 points and five rebounds and showed plenty of hustle. Rams' skipper Jeremy Kench handed out 11 assists, to go along with six points.
The fans were in full voice in the final quarter when the Rams threatened to haul themselves back into the game, but it was not to be.
AT A GLANCE
In Christchurch: Wellington 89 (Corey Webster 29, Lindsay Tait 21, Elijah Obade 14) Canterbury 79 (Matt Rogers 24, Glen Dandridge 19, Richie Edwards 16, Ethan Rusbatch 8) Quarter scores: 21-28, 46-57, 60-75, 79-89. In Auckland: Waikato 85 (C Henry 20, A Wright 17) Super City 75 ( D Bailey 18, E Devendorf 17) In New Plymouth: Manawatu 82 (P Jones 33, A Trousdell 12) Taranaki 74 (A Oliver 30, S Braimoh 16).