The Mike Pero Nelson Giants made a solid start to the season with a 93-79 win over the Taranaki Mountainairs on Saturday night.
With a new coach and new look line-up, the Giants had plenty to prove in their opening encounter at the Trafalgar Centre.
Nelson opened the season’s scoring through 2.14m debutant Tyrell Harrison, who sank two from the free throw line.
The Mountainairs struggled to find net early on until Derone Raukawa hit the night’s first three pointer as the sides went neck and neck in the opening 15.
Aussie imports Rhys Vague and Daniel Grida made their presence felt in their inaugural outing at the Hangar, with Vague netting the home side’s first three pointer of the season.
Jordair Jett also got in on the act as the Giants took a 23-20 lead after the first 15.
The Giants managed to hold a slim lead thanks to a late Sam Dempster three pointer to hold a 49-46 lead at half-time.
Nelson got plenty of value from the reserve bench with Kruz Perrott-Hunt and Tom Ingham putting in solid performances with eight and six points, respectively. Bronson Beri also chipped in with five rebounds and an assist.
The Giants put the foot on the throat and monstered the Mountainairs in the last quarter for a comprehensive 93-78 win to retain the Brian Rampton Memorial Trophy.
While the Mountainairs kept in touch with the Giants’ overall shooting percentage of 50, it was inside the paint where the hosts really dominated, dropping 50 points compared to Taranaki’s 22.
The new recruits all chipped in with crucial baskets, Vague topping the scoring charts with 21 points, and Grida and Jett not far behind, sinking 17 and 15 points respectively.
Grida says while it was ugly at times, it’s always good to start the season with a win.
He says remaining poised will be a key work-on for the side as they move forward.
“We got a bit crazy at-times and fouled a bit but that’s an easy fix, so signs are positive for a good season ahead.”
Giants 93 (Vague 21, Grida 15, Jett 17)