17 Jun 2017

Saints go undefeated to win title

8:46 pm on 17 June 2017

The Wellington Saints have created history with a 108-75 win over the Southland Sharks, claiming their 10th National Basketball League title in Tauranga.

Saints player Corey Webster.

Saints player Corey Webster. Photo: Photosport

It meant the Saints went 20-0 for the season, the first time a team has gone through the NBL unbeaten.

Shea Ili scored a game high 31 points and Corey Webster tallied 27 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds for Wellington, who have won five championships since 2010.

After a tight first quarter which saw the scores level at 21 apiece it would be all Saints who would win each of the final three quarters, including a 34-17 fourth.

The Sharks took an early five point lead, and when Saints forward Tai Wesley committed his third foul in the second quarter it presented the Sharks an opportunity to make a run.

A jump shot from Alex Pledger put the Sharks up 33-30 with four minutes left, but six straight points from Webster, and back to back three's from Ili and Jordan Ngatai put the Saints up 42-33.

After the break it was all Wellington who outscored the Sharks 64-38. Wellington shot 15-27 from three (55 percent) and dished out 22 assists and committed only seven turnovers.

Derone Raukawa came off the bench to score a team-high 15 points, Nick Kay added 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Alex Pledger had a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Ngatai scored 18 on 4/4 from three, and Wesley added 14 points, five assists and five rebounds.

Webster won New Zealand's Most Valuable Player award, and Ili was named the Finals Most Valuable Player.

Saints coach Kevin Braswell, who has taken the side to back to back championships with a record 24 straight wins, won coach of the year.