Basketball: Airs break winning streak against Saints

Sunday, Jun 09 2024

Basketball: Airs break winning streak against Saints

NZ Sports Wire

Photo by: John Velvin.

The Wellington Saints have eased through Saturday night with a win against the Taranaki Airs in the National Basketball League (NBL).

The Saints led wire-to-wire in an unexpectedly lop-sided top-four clash against the Taranaki Airs at New Plymouth's TSB Stadium, winning 96-85.

Tall Blacks forward Tohi Smith-Milner had one of his best all-around games of the season despite poor three-point shooting, finishing with a game-high 28 points (11/23 FG, 3/13 3pt, 3/5 FT), with 16 rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

Taane Samuel was equally impressive, with 22 points (9/12 FG, 3/6 FT), six boards and two steals, while Tall Blacks guard Izayah Le'afa put up 16 points (4/16 FG, 3/9 3pt, 5/5 FT), seven rebounds, 11 assists and two steals.

Off the bench, import Malik Benlevi added 15 points (6/12 FG) and six boards, while Australian guard Ben Ayre had 11 points (9/11 FT) and a team-high eight assists as the Saints assisted on 24 of 33 field goals.

NZ Breakers development forward Carlin Davison led the Airs with 19 points (9/14 FG), eight rebounds and five assists, supported by 15 points (7/14 FG), 13 boards and three blocks from Australian big Sam Froling.

Breakers guard Mitch McCarron had 13 points (5/5 FG), nine boards, six assists and two steals, while Tobias Cameron provided 12 points (4/13 FG, 3/4 FT) off the bench.

In a game where neither team shot the ball well, the Saints went up 12 points late in the first period with an 11-0 run. Taranaki answered with an 11-2 burst in the second to tie it up again.

The Saints led by just one late in the third quarter before outscoring the Airs 15-5 over the next three minutes to lead 72-61 entering the final period. Seven straight points extended the lead to 18 points with 5:58 remaining.

In Week 12, the Saints (10-4) are off until next Sunday (tip-off 6.30pm), hosting the Franklin Bulls (8-4), while the Airs (9-4) head to Dunedin for the first game of their Deep South double-header against the Nuggets (6-8) on Wednesday (tip-off 7.30pm)