In front of another bulging crowd, the Wellington Saints have sent a warning shot across the Sal's NBL with an emphatic 32-point demolition of arch rivals Southland Sharks, taking a 105-73 win in the nation's capital.
When you consider the Sharks led 24-17 after the first quarter, you quickly come to realise just how good this win was by the League's undisputed leaders.
Armed with a defensive strategy, the Sharks created plenty of troubles early for the Saints, especially Dion Prewster and Kerwin Roach as both Wellington guards struggled to be an influence.
If you isolate the opening 10 minutes you will appreciate the plan the Sharks were executing, but credit to Saints coach Zico Coronel and his ability to adapt his own game plan as he directed his team to start working through forwards Taane Samuel and Tohi Smith-Milner.
It was a masterstroke.
Samuel and Smith-Milner turned on a show and over the next three quarters the Saints owned the Sharks, highlighted by 29-15 second period, and ending with a 34-11 barnstorming final quarter.
With Samuel in particular starring, the perimeter started to open up, inviting Prewster and Roach to find their groove, while there was a lot to like about the spacing and patience of Kenneth Tuffin and Troy McLean as they too found their stroke.
Though the Sharks had one last push in the opening minute of the last quarter, there was simply no stopping the Saints as they successfully crafted not only their third successful win of the season, but undoubtedly their best.
Some telling signs will be examined closely by the Sharks, who now have to back up in less than 24 hours and face the Hawks. Committing turnovers (19 of them, from which the Saints scored 29 points) and allowing a 16/32 clip from three-point range, are troubles that will need addressing.
For tonight though, it's all kudos to the Saints as they send a clear warning to the other nine teams, while once again all others are chasing the champs.
Wellington Saints (105) defeated Southland Sharks (73) - BOXSCORE
Saints: Taane Samuel 26pts & 5 treys, Dion Prewster 22pts, Kerwin Roach 16pts, Tohi Smith-Milner 14pts.
Sharks: Brayden Inger 12pts, Alonzo Burton 12pts, Courtney Belger 12pts, Dom Kelman-Poto 11pts.
1. Taane Samuel and Tohi Smith-Milner took the spotlight off the guards in this one in a commanding performance by the Saints forwards. It was an impressive performance, especially by Samuel who finished with 26pts.
2. As both teams mixed up their defence, it was the Saints getting the best of it by forcing the Sharks into 19 turnovers and punishing them by scoring 29pts off those turnovers.
3. Despite looking out of sorts early, Dion Prewster delivered the good once again, and impressively he worked his way into the game by grabbing rebounds (7) and dishing out assist (6), which soon resulted in getting open looks for his 22pts.
Stuff MVP Votes
Taane Samuel (Saints-10)
Dion Prewster (Saints-8)
Tohi Smith-Milner (Saints-3)
Dom Kelman-Poto (Saints-3)
Kerwin Roach (Saints-3)
Courtney Belger (Sharks-2)
Alonzo Burton (Sharks-1)