Giants rise to hand Bulls first loss

NELSON Giants have handed Franklin Bulls their first loss of the 2022 New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) season, running out 17-point winners in a low-scoring contest. Piling on 25 points in the second term, the Giants were able to build a double-digit lead heading into the second half, which ultimately lead to the win. Though the Bulls challenged them in the third term, the Giants steadied to pile on 21 points to 12 in the last stanza, and secure the 73-56 victory.

FRANKLIN BULLS 11 | 17 | 16 | 12 (56)
NELSON GIANTS 14 | 25 | 13 | 21 (73)

It was a low-scoring start to the opening term, with a late three-pointer from Riley Bensemann splitting the sides and helping the Giants head into the first break with that exact lead. A fast start from the Giants through Alexander McNaught and Jay Marsh blew the lead out to double-digits and the visitors lead 22-11 just over a minute into the second term. The Bulls made a mini-charge to get it back within four, but the Giants depth was starting to get away from the Bulls’ staunch defence. Trey Mourning and Sam Dempster were impressing for the Giants, whilst Anzac Rissetto and Denhym Brooke were trying hard for the Bulls. By the half-time side, the lead stood at that 11 points.

Nelson would match each Franklin in the first half of the third term, with both sides missing chances. Isaac Davidson scored a two-pointer to get it back into single digits midway through the quarter, but the Giants answered again. Another late basket to Davidson – after a back-to-back three-point misses from the Giants – resulted in the Bulls cutting the deficit back to eight by the final break. An early fourth quarter basket from Davidson further put pressure on the Giants, but the long-range shooting of McNaught and Jarrod West made life difficult fo the Bulls. Though protective of the key, the Bulls were having to deal with versatile shooters, and the Giants put the icing on the cake through West and Dempster with eight consecutive points in the final minute and a half to blow out the lead and eventually win by 17.

Nelson was damaging from long-range, hitting 12 triples to Franklin’s seven, though the Bulls were more efficient from inside the arc (46 to 43 per cent). The Bulls lead the rebound count (36-32), but the Giants were on top in most areas, with advantages in assists (15-9), steals (10-4) and less turnovers (10-19). The latter resulted in the visitors putting up 20 points to four from turnovers, and also getting 13 points from its bench compared to the Bulls’ three.

Dempster ended up being named the pick for the MVP with 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists, shooting four of seven from beyond the arc. He teamed up well with West (12 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals) and mourning (12 points, four rebounds and two steals), whilst McNaught managed the 11 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals. Jayden Bezzant only had the four points, four rebounds and four assists, but was efficient with the ball, as Davidson (15 points, three rebounds and two assists) lead the scoring. Kane Bennett-Keil had 11 points and six rebounds to be amongst the best, whilst Rissetto managed 11 points and five rebounds in the loss.

Franklin Bulls take on Otago Nuggets on Friday night, whilst the Nelson Giants will face off against Canterbury Rams on Saturday evening.

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