The Wellington Saints have been crowned the New Zealand National Basketball League champions for the eighth time after defeating the Hawkes Bay Hawks 85-69 in the final in Wellington.
Both teams were neck and neck until the fourth quarter when the Saints upped their defensive intensity, outscoring the Hawks 23-10.
Corey Webster again led the way for the hosts with 22 points, small forward Brandon Bowman added 20 and the Finals Most Valuable Player Lindsay Tait scored 19.
The Hawks shooting guard Everard Bartlett was outstanding for the regular season champs scoring a game high 23 points, Dustin Scott had 15 points and eight rebounds, and veteran forward Kareem Johnson grabbed 14 rebounds.
Rebounding was won by Wellington, led by centre Bryan Davis who had 17 for the Saints who out-rebounded the Hawks 45-33.
It was the first championship for Head Coach Shane Heal, who got his troops to peak at the right time.
After missing the playoffs last season, the Tab Baldwin coached Hawks were superb this season with 16 wins.
The Hawks only trailed by four with under six minutes to go, but Wellington would finish the game strong outscoring them 14-2.