Bulls make early charge to stamp authority in win over Giants

FRANKLIN Bulls’ three quarter dominance of Nelson Giants helped the Bulls secure an impressive 12-point win in the 2020 Sal’s National Basketball League (NBL) Showdown clash last night. The Bulls won the first three quarters of the match to lead by 19 points at the final break, and while Nelson hit back to win the last term 19-12, it was too little, too late as the Bulls celebrated a nice 82-70 victory.

NELSON GIANTS 18 | 10 | 23 | 19 (70)
FRANKLIN BULLS 28 | 13 | 29 | 12 (82)

[ … FULL GAME STATS … ]

The Nelson Giants were undermanned in this uphill battle, but fought the Franklin Bulls valiantly all night. Unfortunately they put themselves in a hole early and spent the rest of the game trying to dig themselves out of it. Dane Brooks got the fans out of their seats early at the Trusts Arena with what was a no look, falling down layup that somehow found its way through the hoop. Very early into the game, the Giants’ defence looked fierce with back-to-back blocks from Josh Ledger. However Sam Timmins would come back with a gigantic block, right off the backboard. From the get-go, the match looked to be a highly competitive night.

But that thought came way too soon as the Giants offence instantly looked dire and stagnant. One second they were running the floor with first quarter liveliness, the next – they were not. With less than four minutes remaining in the first, the Bulls had already made twice as many field goals with three times the amount of assists. The Bulls’ decision to run plays through Isaac Davidson was working, as he was playing very aggressive. Shooting with confidence, clearing his way to the paint, he was foundational in the Bulls leading by 10 at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter saw both teams play more smoothly. The Bulls stepped up on defence and the Giants started running screen heavy plays. This change in energy was nice to see, but late. Although it took the Giants way too long to realise that the constant dribble handoffs to the left side was simply not working, as the 10-point lead remained constant. And when they finally began to attack the middle, the Bulls clogged them up beautifully. 

It really cannot be said enough – the Bulls’ defence, especially when going around screens, was sensational. Their hustle on that side of the floor was the most exciting feature of the second. They forced the Giants to shoot wild threes with no seconds left on the shot clock. Despite the fierce defensive pressure from the Bulls, with a lot of luck, Thomas Ingham was able to hit one from long-range. The end of the half looked like a before training shootout, with four three point attempts from both teams in less than 30 seconds. It ended with the Bulls leading 41-28. 

One of the biggest differences in style was just the patience shown by the Bulls on offence. They spread the floor and attacked the rim when they should have. Not just when they could have. There were numerous times when the Giants just drove in on two or three defenders, just for the ball to bounce off the rim and into the hands of the Bulls. The Giants’ deficit continued to climb and with that came more ugly shots. By the time the buzzer sounded, the Bulls led 70-51 with one period left. 

The fourth appeared to be the classic, ‘winning team takes foot off the pedal as win is assured’ quarters. The Bulls scored only 12 while the Giants nailed in 19, finishing the game with dignity. The Giants shot 13 threes in the last period making only three, while the Bulls ran with the second unit. What struck out from this game was the similarities in rebounding numbers. Clearly effort was not what was holding the Giants back, that would be missing teammates – five more turnovers – and missing shots – 40.6 per cent from the field, 10 per cent less than their opponents – which are areas the Giants can work on for their next match.

Giants’ captain, Ingham was one of the few in the blue jerseys with a hot hand, dropping 18 points on 46 per cent from the field. He would also be the only player in the starting line with double figures on his stat sheet. Nic Trathen worked hard off the bench for 15 points, draining three of four from long-range in the process, while Alexander McNaught had seven assists, almost half of his team’s total.

For the Bulls, it was all about Dominique Kelman-Poto who ended the contest with 26 points in 28 minutes while shooting an insane 78 per cent from the field, as well as eight rebounds. He was far from alone though with Davidson sinking 16 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Chris McIntosh (10 points, three of which were triples) also reached double figures.

Both teams next play on Saturday night with Nelson Giants taking on Canterbury Rams in a bottom two battle, while Franklin Bulls lock horns with Otago Nuggets.

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