Nelson vs. Franklin: Bulls Win Thriller in Final Seconds

The Franklin Bulls took to the court for the first time in the 2024 Sal’s NBL at the daunting Trafalgar Centre to secure a victory against the NBS Nelson Giants with just enough defense in the finals seconds to seal the road win. New recruits Sam Timmins and Ethan Rusbatch were joined by fresh-off-the-plane Luther Muhammed, who had arrived from Finland less than 20 hours before the game… not that you could tell! He exploded for 15 points in the first quarter of the game, as the Bulls used the size of Sam Timmins to their advantage, doubly so when the biggest Giant, Dan Fotu, found himself in early foul trouble.

Trailing by 5 at halftime, the Giants saw that deficit double early in the third as they couldn’t buy a bucket, but the endeavour of Dan Grida kept them in it until the points started to fall, with Grida and Fotu finding form, and ways to expose the Bulls defence, late in the third. Fotu put an exclamation mark on the comeback late in the third with a thunderous dunk over K.C. Nwafor as the Giants took the lead for the first time.

The Giants extended their lead early in the fourth, as the energy started to pump around the Trafalgar Centre. Dru-Leo Leusongi-Ape, however, had different ideas. Alongside Muhammed, Leusongi-Ape put on an exhilarating display of driving and finishing at the hoop to get the Bulls back into it. The lead flipped back and forth throughout the final minutes, with Fotu giving the Giants a lead with just second left on the shot clock, only for Muhammed to answer back with 4.1 seconds left in the game. Fotu couldn’t get the would-be game winner to drop,   and Bulls began their season on a winning note. 

Result: NBS Nelson Giants (85) lost to Franklin Bulls (86)

Leading Players

[Giants]: Dan Grida (22pts, 12reb), Dan Fotu (19pts, 5reb, 4ast), Nick Davidson (15pts) 

[Bulls]: Luther Muhammed (34pts, 9-9 FT), Dre-Leo Leusogi-Ape (17pts, 3 rbs), Sam Timmins (12pts, 17 rebs) 

MVP Votes: Luther Muhammad (Bulls) - 10 votes, Sam Timmins (Bulls) - 8 votes, Dan Grida (Giants) - 6 votes, Dan Fotu (Giants) - 3 votes, Dru-Leo Leusogi-Ape (Bulls) - 2 votes, Liam Davis (Bulls) - 1 vote

In the earlier Sky Broadband Rapid League game:

The young Giants crew continued their fine start to the Sky Broadband Rapid League season. Besides an incredible two handed flush from Kaleb Chamberlain, the highlight was 18 points from Nelson College year 12 student James Matthews. The NZ U17 representative was brilliant as he led the Giants to the biggest score of the RL season so far, using his speed and guile to get what he wanted. Late addition Coen “The Wish” Williams performed well also, contributing 8 points in the shortened game.

Result: Giants (48) defeated Bulls (20)

Leading Players

[Giants]: James Matthews (18pts, 4reb, 3ast), Kaleb Chamberlain (7pts, 5 reb)

[Bulls]: Hala Maile (3pts, 4reb), Brody Perry (4pts, 3reb)

MVP Votes: Kaleb Chamberlain (Giants) - 9 votes, James Matthews (Giants) - 5 votes, Aston Inwood (Giants) - 4 votes, Harri Coker-Grey (Bulls) - 3 votes, Coen Williams (Giants) - 3 votes, Nick Davidson (Giants) - 2 votes, Liam Davis (Bulls) - 2 votes, Brody Perry (Bulls) - 1 vote, Halasiale Maile (Bulls) - 1 vote


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