In a crucial game for their race to the Final 4, the Wheeler Motor Company Canterbury Rams have outlasted the EnviroNZ Franklin Bulls 87-71.
The win takes the Rams to a 7-6 record and just a win outside the top four, while the Bulls have slipped to a 4-10 record and won't be heading to Porirua.
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The Rams got off to a slow start, scoring just three points in just under five minutes of action with five turnovers cruelling them as the Bulls helped themselves to seven points of the errors.
Down 3-10 at the halfway mark of the opening quarter Rams coach Mick Downer injected a returning Jack Salt into teh action along with Max Darling, which instantly brought a little composure offensively against a hard-working Bulls zone.
By quarter time the Rams had worked their way to the front, taking a 17-12 lead off the back of a quickfire 14-2 run.
Joseph Nunag started the second quarter with a triple to spark some energy into the home team, Kyrin Galloway threw down a couple of huge dunks and Manel Ayol continually drove to the hoop, but amongst it all the Rams held firm with Deshon Taylor and EJ Singler dropping enough points to take the Rams to the half with a 43-35 lead.
The visitors upped the ante when play resumed, forcing the Bulls into a number of ball-handling errors as Singler, Darling and Sam Smith got on top. By the end of the third period the Rams led 67-56, though Galloway and Ayol were doing all they could to keep the Bulls in striking distance.
Within four minutes of play to start the last period the Rams had put the pedal to the metal and pushed to a comfortable 79-59 advantage, the baskets coming thick and fast via some slick offensive transition.
The final 16-point margin was a fair reflection on a game that outside of the opening five minutes belonged to the visitors.
Both teams are back in action on Saturday night, the Bulls heading to a cauldron to take on the high-flying Taylor Hawke's Bay Hawks, while the Rams head to Palmerston North to meet the Property Brokers Manawatu Jets.
Franklin Bulls (71) lost to Canterbury Rams (87) - BOXSCORE
Bulls: Isaac Davidson (19pts), Manel Ayol (19pts), Kyrin Galloway (17pts).
Rams: Deshon Taylor (24pts), EJ Singler (18pts, 12rbs), Sam Smith (12pts).
Stuff MVP Votes
Deshon Taylor (Rams) 9
EJ Singler (Rams) 8
Isaac Davidson (Bulls) 7
Manel Ayol (Bulls) 3
Max Darling (Rams) 2
Kyrin Galloway (Bulls) 1
(Photo Credit: PhotosportNZ)