The EnviroNZ Franklin Bulls responded positively after their defeat to the Auckland Huskies the previous day with an 82-70 victory over the Mike Pero Nelson Giants.
The injury-ravaged Mike Pero Nelson Giants, without the services of their Tall Black trio Mike Karena (ankle), Josh Bloxham (concussion) and Mika Vukona (appendix), fought gamely but lacked the manpower to seriously trouble the Bulls.
Franklin forward Dom Kelman-Poto enjoyed a field day, finishing with 26 points on 78% shooting (11/14FG) and eight rebounds whilst Isaac Davidson (16 points), Chris McIntosh (10 points) and Joel Vaiangina (8 points) also had productive outings.
Nelson was well served by tireless captain Tom Ingham (18 points), with Nic Trathen (15 points), Theo Johnson (10 points) and Dane Brooks (nine points and eight rebounds) providing useful hands. Rookie guard Alex McNaught exemplified the Giants effort with four points, seven assists and a couple of steals.
Thane O’Leary, having incurred a shoulder injury in the opening game of the season, made a welcome return to the Giants line-up. Along with young centre Josh Leger, the pair did a good job containing Sam Timmins although Kelman-Poto’s 10 points eased the Bulls to a 28-18 lead in the opening period.
A Bensemann triple and Ingham pull-up jumper initiated the Giants scoring in the second quarter and with Tom Gargiulo navigating his way through the paint the Giants were in touch trailing 35-28 deep into the first half.
With Nikau McCullough and Kelman-Poto having the final say of the half, the Bulls headed to the locker room with a 41-28 advantage.
Brooks and Johnson made buckets for the Giants, but McIntosh and Vaiangina kept the Bulls in the ascendancy; 57-43 ahead with four minutes to play in the third frame.
Zeb Lovell and McIntosh scores cancelled each other out but Davidson’s buzzer-beater to conclude the third stanza meant Franklin were 70-51 ahead.
The Giants stuck to their task in the final quarter but couldn’t make much impression on the Bulls lead. Nelson slips to 3-7, the Bulls are now 6-4 and firmly inside the top-three on the ladder.
Sky City MVP Votes:
Dom Kelman-Poto (Bulls-10), Isaac Davidson (Bulls-7), Tom Ingham (Giants-7), Chris McIntosh (Bulls-4), Nic Trathen (Giants-2).