ARTICLE BY BRENDON EGAN
Marcus Alipate made the most of extended minutes as the Canterbury Rams made it three straight National Basketball League victories.
Canterbury coasted to a 101-70 victory over the struggling Taranaki Mountain Airs at Cowles Stadium on Saturday night.
The Rams, who have already clinched a top four finals berth, moved to 9-7 and kept the pressure on Southland (10-6) and Super City (9-6) for second and third spot.
Tongan sharpshooter Alipate impressed with 19 points and 10 assists, making up for the absence of star American guard McKenzie Moore, who sat out with a foot injury sustained in last week’s win over Southland.
Canterbury’s victory was built around a strong team performance with big men Mike Karena and Gareth Dawson both providing plenty of energy inside and dominating on the glass.
Rams skipper Ethan Rusbatch bounced back from a poor offensive showing against Southland the week before, posting a game-high 20 points, six rebounds and three assists.
Six Rams scored in double digits with Karena producing his best game since joining the side mid-season with 17 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.
Dawson was busy also with 14 points and five boards in 18 minutes of court-time.
Forward Marcel Jones, again coming off the bench for the Rams, produced a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Canterbury shot well from the field, converting 39/72 (54 per cent) and landed 11/26 (42 per cent) from three point range with Alipate and Rusbatch both hitting four.
The Rams cleaned up every facet of the game, getting the better of Taranaki on the boards 50-31.
Canterbury did a great job of sharing the basketball, generating 30 assists for the game, compared to Taranaki’s 13.
Alipate punished Taranaki in the first term, draining 3/5 from three point range as Canterbury raced out to a 22-14 advantage by the end of the quarter.
The Rams were in firm control at halftime, leading 51-35 against a Mountain Airs side, who were beaten 91-70 by Southland in Invercargill on Friday night.
Canterbury shot an impressive 20/36 (56 per cent) from the field in the first half, while also landing 6/13 from deep.
By the end of the third quarter it was game over with Canterbury in complete control up by 25 points (76-51).
Meanwhile, the top of the table Canterbury Wildcats improved to 8-1 in the women’s basketball championship (WBC) with a comfortable 82-55 victory over Taranaki in the earlier game at Cowles.
The Wildcats shot out to a 36-16 halftime lead and held Taranaki to just 20/61 (33 per cent) shooting for the game.
Ashlee Fane was a standout in the win, landing six of 10 threes in her 20 point haul, while also handing out four assists.
Tessa Morrison and Terai Sadler chimed in with 13 and 11 points respectively, while Connie Poletti hauled down 11 rebounds.
AT A GLANCE:
Canterbury 101 (Ethan Rusbatch 20, Marcus Alipate 19, Michael Karena 17, Marcel Jones 14, Gareth Dawson 14, Jeremy Kendle 13) Taranaki 70 (Houston O’Riley 15, Jaylen Gerrand 15, Aaron Bailey-Nowell 10) 1Q: 22-14, HT: 51-35, 3Q:76-51
The Rams take on the Nelson Giants THIS THURSDAY at Cowles Stadium 7pm tipoff. Get your tickets now for the last home game of the regular season!