By Murray McKinnon
The James Blond Super City Rangers are on the board, grabbing their first win of the NBL season with victory over the Canterbury Rams, 103-87, at the AUT Sports Centre on Saturday.
Play was even through the first quarter, with the Rangers left open from the arc, allowing Lindsay Tait, Reuben Te Rangi and right on the buzzer Brook Ruscoe to slot in three pointers. Rangers were ahead 27-25 going into the next 10 minutes.
With the score at 46-36 mid-way through the second quarter Canterbury, fresh from beating the Southland Sharks at home, burst into life with ten unanswered points, Ethan Rusbatch and new point guard Justin Graham pivotal in the run.
However the Rangers responded going to the break ahead 52-46 helped by a corner three from Josh Bloxham.
The up tempo affair continued in the third period with the two teams trading baskets leaving the Rams still six points in arrears at three-quarter time.
It was a struggle for the Rams in the final quarter the Rangers winning the period 29-19. Terrence Roberts was in top form in the last few minutes for the Rangers putting on a great show of eight points in succession including a couple of dunks and a long range three.
Tait was outstanding with 19 points, 15 assists and five defensive rebounds. Devendorf ended with 21 points and five rebounds and Roberts 17 points and six rebounds.
Rusbatch was the Rams top scorer for the second straight game with 22 points, Marcel Jones had 20 points and 11 rebounds and Marcus Alipate contributed 15.
Coach of the Rams Mark Dickel said that the tough travel schedule was not a factor in losing.
“No excuses, Super City played really well they were desperate and they wanted the game more than we did and all credit to them they really deserved the win, we just didn’t play hard enough or well enough to deserve to win,” he said.
Dickel added that he has a good team if they put the effort in.
“We’re more than capable if we play the game right and we share the ball and everyone hustles, we’ve got good players but you gotta to put the effort out on the court.”
Rangers’ coach Jeff Green said it was great to get the monkey off their back and secure a win.
“At least I’ve got a job for another week, I’ve never started off 0-3 in my whole career whether it’s mini-ball or the NBL so it was new territory for yourself and the team and to start to think about what was going wrong,” said Green.
The Rangers coach said there were three factors that went into their win.
“It was a combination of the defence which we haven’t been able to play on a consistent basis. I think we played great defence which led to great offence so we got a lot of easy points off transition. So that put them under a lot of pressure and then I thought offensively in the half court our execution was outstanding we ran some plays that were good. And the third factor was our big guy Terrence Roberts came to play he showed he is 6ft 10in with a 7ft 2in wing span he didn’t foul out that’s because I took him out before he fouled out. But it was all about defence, we ran them off the three point line, they got hot for a little bit but then we kept extending it and they’d come back which is what basketball is all about, swings and roundabouts,” he said.
Green finally saw the team in action that he knew he had.
“When you’re consistent on both ends of the court that’s the sort of team that I know we’ve got. We’re undersized, they’re a beast they got seven offensive rebounds in that third quarter which kept them in it but if they hadn’t got those it would have been a bigger blow-out..”