With a huge second half burst, the Wellington Saints of New Zealand overcame a fair first half to squeeze a 101-78 victory at the expense of undermanned Talk N’ Text Tropang Texters late Sunday afternoon at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Josh Bloxham led the charge of the Kiwis with 20 markers and seven boards. He also shot 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.
Both teams started out flat to open the first period as two squads just made two field goals each in the first half of the first quarter. New Zealand took a quick 5-4 advantage before two squads exchange baskets in the next few minutes. However, the Wellington Saints managed to pull off a six point advantage at the end of the canto, 20-14.
Top Tropang Texter rookie Moala Tautuaa led his squad with a quick six markers in the opening quarter as Rich Edward of the visiting team led the other side of the court in terms of scoring.
Tautuaa went cold in the second quarter as his co-rookie Troy Rosario started to hit his mark from the perimeter to help their squad inch closer to the Saints. Larry Fonacier aided Rosario in scoring as the Texters consistently brought down the lead to a solidary point, but the Kiwis tried to muster mini runs and never surrendered the lead. At the end of the half, the Kiwis found themselves still up, 48-43.
The Texters kept up with the Kiwis as the managed to equate the five 3-pointers of their opponent while only turning the ball over three time compared to New Zealand’s seven. However, the Kiwis’ height advantage has been evident as they outscore the Filipinos 24-16 underneath.
At the start of the second half, the Texters pounded a quick run to claim a slim two-point lead. However, off a time out of New Zealand playing Coach Kevin Brasswell, the Kiwis went back and surged for as much as a 14-point advantage. They ended the third canto with a 12-point lead, 72-60. Brasswell sat out of the match citing providing minutes to his guys as a reason. He scored 25 markers against Gilas a day before their match up with another Philippine-based squad Talk N’ Text.
The Wellington Saints used a huge 16-5 run to open the payoff period. Through the run, the Texters found themselves down by 23 with exactly six minutes left in the game. The Kiwis though, did not let their guard down as they exchanged baskets until the final buzzer as they seal the deal for their final game of the 3-day cup.
Tautuaa led all Texters with a 24-point performance. He shot well on the field only missing four of his 16 attempts.
After three games, New Zealand managed to rank second in the four-team tournament with a 2-1 slate. Talk N’ Text, meanwhile, dropped to 1-2. Kiwis’ lone loss came from the Gilas Pilipinas while the Texters’ lone victory was at the expense of the Taiwanese national squad.
The Quarterscores: 20-14, 48-43, 72-60, 101-78