Using a 63-38 second half surge, the Wellington Saints from New Zealand dominated the Chinese Taipei in the MVP Cup opener, 108-80 held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Friday.
An aggressive Wellington squad showed up in the opening chapter of the MVP Cup as the punished the ring with their early throw downs. They got the lead for the entire first half with Ray Turner providing the initial baskers from the paint as he had eight points in the team’s 15-5 start. New Zealand erected the double-digit separation within five minutes as their Chinese Taipei counterparts could not find the stroke from deep.
24 of New Zealand’s 31 first quarter points came from interior points as the hot start done by Turner was continued by Brook Ruscoe, who scored nine in the period. On the other hand, Chinese Taipei struggled with their turnovers, and had a hard time locating their shooters, as they ended the first ten minutes of action down by seven already.
Ruscoe kicked off the second quarter with a triple to extend their lead but Chinese Taipei started to play solid defense to start their fight back. However, the Saints’ frontline proved to be too much with them grabbing the lion’s share of the boards. As the game also started to get chippy and physical, the putbacks of Bryan Davis and the hustle plays of Damian Ekenasio contributed to a 45-34 lead of New Zealand with 1:51 left in the half.
After a timeout, Chinese Taipei made the game a close one as they finished the first half on a strong 8-0 run including two triples from Shie-Nien Chen and Chih-Shan Hung. They ended the half with six more triples despite having a 14-rebound disparity against New Zealand.
Losing their lead late in the second, Bryan Davis took charge for New Zealand in the third quarter as he was unstoppable in the offensive end. He scored 10 of his team’s first 14 points to reinstall the double digit edge at 59-49. In addition, they got most of their buckets while running in transition. Meanwhile, Chinese Taipei only had three field goals in the first seven minutes of the third that slowed down their scoring.
At the tail-end of the quarter, Ruscoe put on the finishing touches with two booming triples in the final minute to cement a strong 31-pt quarter by his squad. Having no signs of a comeback, Chinese Taipei had a hard time piling up the points against an impressive showcase both on the offensive and defensive end by the Saints. The fourth quarter was played to be a garbage-time canto with the New Zealand still winning the scoring of the last ten minutes, 32-20 to finish the demolishion job against their opponents.
New Zealand had more rebounds, 53-29, more assists, 24-19 and less turnovers at 14-18. Five players scored in double figures with Ruscoe and Turner leading the way with 25 points each. Cheng Liu anchored scoring for the Chinese Taipei crew with 13 markers.
Wellington Saints(108) – Ruscoe 25, Turner 25, Davis 18, Watkins 14, Edwards 13, Braswell 8, Newton 3, Ekenasio 2, Bloxham 0, Mills 0
Chinese Taipei(80) – Liu 14, Tien 11, Tsai 11, Lu 9, Davis 8, Wu 7, Chen 7, Chen 5, Hung 5, Chen 4, Lin 0
Quartescores: 31-24, 45-42, 76-60, 108-80
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