The EnviroNZ Franklin Bulls rode home on a high energy performance from big man Sam Timmins to inflict a second consecutive loss on the Fluid Recruitment Otago Nuggets in the Sal’s NBL Showdown at Trusts Arena tonight, with the Bulls centre all energy and passion in an MVP performance as his side won 85-79.
The Nuggets were back on the hardwood 24 hours after their first loss of the Sal’s NBL Showdown, going down to the Taranaki Airs last night and while they put in a much improved second half (they lost the second half 68-31 against the Airs last night), they could not stop a Timmins inspired final quarter surge.
The first half was positively raining threes with everyone in on the act, Jordan Hunt nailed all three of his triples for the Nuggets while Bartlett, Vaiangina, McCullough and Davidson were accurate from beyond the arc for the Bulls as both teams drained 6 of their first half long range attempts.
The action wasn’t all from outside though, with Timmins especially busy in the paint for the Bulls, the big centre was backing defenders down in the post and contesting every board in a high energy display, putting up 9 points and 5 boards in the first 20 minutes.
The Bulls took a five-point lead at 40-35 into the main break and did so with leading scorer Isaac Davidson having a relatively quiet night with just 5 points on 2 of 8 shooting.
After last night’s second half capitulation the Nuggets appeared to have learned their lesson as they won the third quarter here by 7 points, again on the back of strong three point shooting, making 4 of 7 in the quarter to lead 61-59 with ten minutes to play.
But what they hadn’t factored in was an incredible display from Timmins as the Tall Black put aside the frustration of some early looks spinning off the rim to score 7 consecutive points for the Bulls, including an open three with two minutes to play. He was doing it at both ends of the floor, affecting Nuggets shots and picking up a vital steal in the dying moments to cap a stellar performance.
The Nuggets never gave it away though, competing until the final seconds, with captain Jordan Ngatai making 10 of his 15 points in the final quarter, he and fellow Tall Black Jarrod Kenny were joined by Josh Aitcheson and the again impressive Jordan Hunt in double figure scoring.
Timmins was literally a standout for the Bulls, showing his value to the new franchise with an impressive double-double of 24 points and 12 rebounds and an always menacing presence in the paint.
Timmins received good support from bench guard Nikau McCullough (14 points) and starters Dom Kelman-Poto and Davidson (13 points each) in a balanced team effort that sees the Bulls move to 3-2 on the season while the Nuggets drop to 2 and 2.
Final Score: Bulls 85 Nuggets 79
• Otago Nuggets 79 (J Hunt 18, J Ngatai 15, J Aitcheson 13, J Kenny 13)
• Franklin Bulls 85 (S Timmins 24 &12, N McCullough 14, D Kelman-Poto 13, I Davidson 13)
• A breakout performance from Sam Timmins, the Tall Black centre bossed the paint and but for a number of shots spinning off the rim could easily have posted a 30 point double double.
• Back to back losses for the Nuggets take some shine off their good start to the campaign, but showed good resolve to be competitive less than 24 hours after a big loss to the Airs
SkyCity MVP Votes
Sam Timmins (Bulls-10), Isaac Davidson (Bulls-5), Jordan Hunt (Nuggets-5), Jordan Ngatai (Nuggets-5), Dom Kelman-Poto (Bulls-4), Jarrod Kenny (Nuggets-1).