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Razzle dazzle as Waikato Pistons hit their straps

Courtesy of Te Awamutu Courier
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CANTERBURY Rams Rewi Manahi (33) and Nathan Hyde (20) can only watch as Waikato Pistons’ forwards Puke Lenden (33 black) slams an alley-oop dunk set up by super import
Jason Crowe. 163071AD

By Dean Taylor

Te Awamutu’s Events Centre played host to a razzle-dazzle display of basketball from the Waikato Pistons as they demoralised the Canterbury Rams for the second time in a week. The home side took out the match 101-70, winning every quarter, in the week’s live televised match.

The only success for the rams was shutting out star import Jason Crowe after he topped scored with 22 points in their previous match. In foul trouble early, Crowe struggled to find his offensive game, but his speed and six steals still played a vital part in the result.

The win puts the Pistons into a clear fourth spot ahead of the Auckland Stars. They have two games to take one more win and guarantee a play-off berth. Two wins gives them the chance to host a semi-final, although they would have to topple top placed Harbour Heat tomorrow night away and then seventh placed Taranaki Mountain Airs at Hamilton’s YMCA on Friday night.

One win is vital as Auckland has just one game in hand, but it is against bottom placed Otago Nuggets.

Thursday night’s game started with a hissand-a-roar when Tall Black captain Pero Cameron hit a three-pointer, then Ben Hill converted a three-point play to end the first quarter 27-18 ahead. Kevin Smith hit another three pointer to open the second quarter, then the home side went on a rampage, scoring 11 unanswered points. Ahead by 19 at the half, Waikato never lifted their hold on the game, and after another 10-0 run in the third quarter, the match was all but over. Even Waikato’s bench outscored the visitors in the last quarter to take the commanding win.

Waikato’s perimeter play provided the platform for the result, with plenty of opportunities for Hill and Luke Martin to score from outside. But when the defence came out, Pistons players showed their ‘highlight reel’ game, with alley-oops, hook shots, fade-aways and drives to dunk. Hill top scored with 20, followed by Smith with 19 and Puke Lenden off the bench for 12.