The final two teams of the New Zealand NBL have been decided as both the Pacific Jewellers Saints and the Payroll Hawks won their semi-final games. The two best teams of the Regular Season (the Hawks finished first, the Saints second) will now duke it out in the final to be played July 5th.
PJ Saints vs. Nelson Giants, 89-71
Wellington based franchise the Saints downed the Nelson Giants thanks largely to a massive first half that put the team beyond reach. The Saints powered through the first quarter and shocked the Giants with 28 huge points while only conceding 15 points. The onslaught continued in the second period as the Saints nailed another 26 points to the scoreboard and stayed tight in the defensive paint to put the score at 54-32 at halftime. The damage had been done, but Nelson did win the third quarter 17-24 to ensure the Saints could not relax, but the score was still 71-56 after 30 minutes. That cushion allowed the Jewellers to ease down the stretch and win the last quarter to book a place in the New Zealand NBL final.
Corey Webster set the tone for victory with 19 points, while Lindsey Tait secured 19 points and 6 rebounds for the Saints. Dion Prewster took 14 points and 7 boards to aid the cause for the winners.
Josh Pace was the top player of the game as the Giants swingman secured a game high 26 points for the team.
IMA Hawks vs. Southland Sharks, 100-87
The Hawks swept to victory by sinking the Sharks thanks to an explosive third quarter to book a place in the New Zealand NBL final after an exciting match up. A high octane first frame did little to separate the teams as both sets of players troubled the basket with consistency. However, after 10 minutes the Sharks had plundered a small one point lead with the score at 24-25. The Hawks responded in the second stanza by taking more control of the game to outpace their opponents to a 46-44 halftime lead. The Hawks extended the lead through an impressive third quarter that saw the team pour in 25 points and restrict Southland to 16 (71-60). In the fourth quarter the Hawks extended their lead as both teams drilled the basket for points and sewed up the game.
Paora Winitana and Everard Bartlett scored 24 points apiece in victory, while Tai Wesley and Kevin Braswell secured 20 points each for the losing effort.