A year after sitting out the 2020 New Zealand-National Basketball League season, Wellington reclaimed its throne.
Kenneth Tuffin and the Saints of Wellington withstood a tough challenge by Hawke’s Bay in the Sal’s Grand Final, eventually taking a 77-75 victory, Friday afternoon at the Te Rauparaha Arena in Porirua.
Dominant was Wellington all season-long, finishing the elimination round with a 16-2 slate in the elimination round before booting out Auckland in the semis, 99-73, yesterday.
But the Hawks, who ousted Southland, 98-91, in the other bracket, almost foiled the plans of the Saints.
With 3:10 left, Hyrum Harris was able to find Ethan Rusbatch underneath for a 71-70 lead.
That’s when the Saints decided to push the pedal.
A Tohi Smith-Milner basket 11 seconds later gave the Saints the lead it would not relinquish.
Though Rhys Vague was able to cut the lead down to two with 37 seconds left while Samuel’s miss and Kerwin Roach committing a late turnover, Devondrick Walker could not nail a drive that would have sent the game into overtime.
Samuel led the Saints scorers with 26 big points while Roach scattered 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and a steal. Prewster added 15 points as he played all 40 minutes in the game.
Ken Tuffin, who was with Taranaki a season ago, had five markers and four boards.
This is the Saints’ 12th championship.
Devondrick Walker led the gallant stand of the Hawks with 31 points and seven rebounds and was followed by Harris with 22 markers.