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Airs, Bulls fire up to score NBL wins

The Taranaki Airs and Franklin Bulls have enhanced their National Basketball League (NBL) top-four credentials.

The Airs used a big third quarter to ease to a 116-97 victory over the Nelson Giants in Nelson, while the Bulls built a big early lead, then hold on for an 85-74 win over the Mid-North Whai in Pukekohe on Sunday.

NZ Breakers development player Carlin Davison scored a game-high 26 points (9/13 FG, 3/5 3pt, 5/6 FT) and eight rebounds, while American forward Elijah Minnie had 22 points (9/12 FG, 3/4 3pt).

The pair combined for 23 points - Davison 11 points and Minnie 12 points, both off the bench - as the Airs pulled away with a 36-point third period, turning a seven-point game at halftime into a blowout.

Australian forward Sam Froling put up 21 points (7/11 FG, 7/11 FT), seven rebounds and three assists, while Kiwi guard Derone Raukawa had 12 points (4/7 FG, 2/5 3pt), Mitchell McCarron 11 points (3/5 FG, 4/4 FT), six boards and eight assists, Quintin Bailey 10 points (4/5 FG), and Flynn Cameron nine points, eight assists and two steals.

The Giants had three main contributors - American guard Kobe Langley, Kiwi forward Dan Fotu and Australian forward Dan Grida.

Langley had 24 points (10/16 FG, 4/7 3pt), six assists and five steals, Fotu 23 points (10/14 FG) and five rebounds, and Grida 22 points (9/19 FG, 2/4 3pt), six boards and two steals. Alex McNaught added 14 points (4/7 FG, 4/6 3pt) and four assists, and Sam Dempster 10 points (3/6 FG, 3/5 3pt).

The Airs (4-2) return to New Plymouth for a top-four clash with the Bulls (5-1) on Saturday (tip-off 4pm), while the Giants (2-4) head south for the Deep South double-header, starting with the Southland Sharks (0-7) on Friday (tip-off 7.30pm).

The Bulls rebounded from their first loss of the season, building a 14-point lead after the first quarter, and held on despite some nervous moments in the fourth quarter when the Whai cut their lead to three.

Kiwi big man Sam Timmins was the best for the Bulls, finishing with a double-double of 23 points (7/11 FG, 9/9 FT), 11 rebounds and two blocks, while import forward Luther Muhammad had 22 points (8/15 FG, 6/6 FT) and six boards.

Of the other double-digit scorers, Isaac Davidson provided 11 points (4/8 FG, 3/7 3pt) and five rebounds off the bench, Josh Scott 10 points (4/6 FG) and five assists, and Jarrell Brantley 10 points (4/7 FG) and three steals.

The Whai had four players in double figures, led by Phil Carr's 19 points (9/18 FG), six rebounds and two blocks, but got just nine points from the rest of the lineup.

Fellow American Vance Jackson Jr finished with 18 points (7/13 FG, 3/6 3pt) and seven boards, Tall Blacks guard Kruz Perrott-Hunt 17 points (5/16 FG, 4/11 3pt) and two steals, and import guard Demarcus Holland 11 points (4/5 FG) and five assists.

The Bulls are away to the Airs on Saturday, while the first-year Whai (2-4) will look to regroup against the Bay Hawks (2-3) in Napier on Wednesday (tip-off 7.30pm).

Taranaki Airs 116 (Carlin Davison 26, Elijah Minnie 22, Sam Froling 21, Derone Raukawa 12, Mitch McCarron 11, Quintin Bailey 10) Nelson Giants 97 (Kobe Langley 24, Dan Fotu 23, Dan Grida 22, Alex McNaught 14, Sam Dempster 10). 1Q: 34-25, HT: 59-52, 3Q: 95-74

Franklin Bulls 85 (Sam Timmins 23, Luther Muhammad 22, Isaac Davidson 11, Josh Scott 10, Jarrell Brantley 10) Mid-North Whai 74 (Phil Carr 19, Vance Jackson Jr 18, Kruz Perrott-Hunt 17, Demarcus Holland 11). 1Q: 29-15, HT: 48-36, 3Q: 62-52


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