Article by George Berry
As cheers echoed throughout an electrifying Cowles Stadium, the Canterbury Rams cemented their spot in the NZNBL top 4 standings with a 95-82 win over the Taranaki Mountainairs last night.
The game was heated from the moment the fixture began, and was relatively close for the first half, where the Rams went into the break with just a 2 point lead.
However, as the third quarter approached, the Rams took it to another level and put the clamps on the visitors with a 22-9 third quarter. They used this run to their advantage and extended their lead to as many as 20 to claim the win.
The Rams confidently took advantage of slips in the Mountainairs’ defensive system, leading to quick points and big dunks for players Tohi Smith-Milner and Marcel Jones.
The poor weather may had passed the Garden City by the time the game begun, but Rams Guard Marcus Alipate made it rain, splashing five three’s by the end of the first half. The crowd were on their feet as Alipate simply could not miss. He ended up with 18 points and shot 66% from three-point land, assuring other players in the league that he is the most consistent three point shooter in the country.
Captain Marques Whippy was too much for the Mountainairs to handle inside the paint. He made his presence known to the side early in the piece, having 5 rebounds in his first eight minutes of gameplay.
Marcel Jones again led his side with 22 points, nine rebounds and five assists, and Jeremy Kendle played a more distributive role dishing 13 assists with crafty behind-the-back and no look passes.
The Rams bench production was a key ingredient to the convincing win. Led by Alipate, they collectively scored 35 points in comparison the Mountainairs bench, who contributed just 7 points to their score.
The Airs deserve credit for their efforts and the energy they brought to the match. They were carried by athletic small forward Tylor Ongwae who had 33 points, Alonzo Burton scored 14 and Houston O’Riley added 13.
But in the end the Rams were too much, shooting 53% from the field, 45% from behind the three-point line and dished out 31 assists compared to Taranaki’s 18. Although, Taranaki did out-rebound the Rams, which could be a concern going forward into their next game in just two days time.
The Rams now improve to a 4-3 record in the NZNBL, and will search for their fifth win when they play the Wellington Saints for the third time this season on Easter Monday. The match will be played at TSB Arena in the capital, and tips-off at 3pm.