Nelson’s Giant win over title contender

IT as the in that further proved Nelson Giants have what it takes to lift the 2022 New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) trophy, defeating the in-form Otago Nuggets by 11 points at the Edgar Centre last night. The Nuggets looked in control throughout the first half to lead by eight points at the main break, before the Giants hit their straps in the last 20 minutes of the match, piling on 54 points to 35 to run over the top of the Nuggets and record an 89-78 victory.

OTAGO NUGGETS 22 | 21 | 16 | 19 (78)
NELSON GIANTS 22 | 13 | 29 | 25 (89)

Otago Nuggets went into their clash with the Nelson Giants as favourites, having put themselves within reach of top spot, but the visitors were up for the fight early. Both sides scored 22 points in front of around 2000 people in Otago, and the scores remained level for the first half of the second term. When star Giants import Trey Mourning scored one of two from the charity stripe – after hitting a jump shot moments earlier, the Giants had drawn within three points with 2:53 on the clock. A triple from Nikau McCullough and then dunk from Jack Andrew have the Nuggets an eight-point advantage (43-35) at half-time.

Alexander McNaught (seven points) and Sam Dempster (six) started the third quarter on fire, as they drew level with the Nuggets at the midway mark of the term. When Jarrod West stepped up to the plate, the Giants hit the front for the first time with 3:26 left in the quarter, and they had gained the momentum. That continued for the rest of the term despite the best efforts of Sam Timmins and Todd Withers, with a 29-16 third term suddenly handing the Giants a five-point buffer (64-59) at the last change.

Putting together some good form in the second half, Samuel Thompson ensured the Giants remained on top, with Dempster and West nailing some three-pointers, to cancel out deadeye McCullough’s efforts. The lead got out to as much as a 14 points midway through term, before the Nuggets cut it back to single digits. It would be a case of too little, too late however, as a last basket from McNaught made the final margin 11, 89-78.

Both teams shot at 46 per cent from the field, with the Nuggets more prolific from inside the arc (56 to 52 per cent), but 13 triples to six from long-range meant the Giants were more influential from beyond the arc. Nelson also won the rebound count (43-33), as well as assists (13-10), second chance points (15-7) and points from turnovers (17-13), while the Nuggets had more steals (10-8) and one more block (2-1).

West put up a massive 27 points – 10 of 18 from the field – as well as 10 assists, five rebounds and two steals to be a standout for the Giants. Thompson (16 points, six rebounds) and Dempster (19 points, nine rebounds and two steals) both stood up with plenty of points, while Mourning only managed the six – two of 11 from the field – but had 11 rebounds, three steals and two assists. Otago Nuggets only had two key scorers, with McCullough (24 points, three rebounds and two steals) and Keith Williams (23 points, eight rebounds) among the home team’s best.

Nelson Giants take on Franklin Bulls on June 11, with the Otago Nuggets having a bye in Round 7 before locking horns with top of the table Auckland Tuatara on June 16.

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