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Bulls tame Rams; Hawks roll in NBL

The Franklin Bulls have joined the Wellington Saints, Otago Nuggets and Auckland Tuatara with two wins after two weeks of the National Basketball League (NBL).

The Bulls powered away in the middle quarters on the way to a 93-83 victory over the defending champion Canterbury Rams in Pukekohe, while the Bay Hawks routed the winless Southland Sharks 107-80 in Napier on Sunday.

Bulls import guard Luther Muhammad led all scorers with 31 points (12/19 FG, 3/4 3pt) while he added four rebounds, six assists and two steals in another quality outing.

Kiwi centre Sam Timmins was another stand-out for the home side as he scored 23 points (10/12 FG), 11 boards and four blocks, and Isaac Davidson posted 14 points (4/7 FG, 5/5 FT) and Ethan Rusbatch 10 points (3/12 FG), five rebounds and two steals.

The Rams, who were without Max Darling and Lachlan Olbrich, were led by Taylor Britt's 24 points (6/11 FG, 11/12 FT), while James Walker Jr posted 20 points (6/12 FG, 5/7 3pt) and two steals, and Kaia Isaac 19 points (8/12 FG, 2/5 3pt) and six boards.

The win at 'The Stockyard' lifted the Bulls into a four-way share of the lead atop the NBL standings, joining the Saints and Nuggets at 2-0.

Luther Muhammad Franklin Bulls NBL basketball
Luther Muhammad went off for 31 points for the Franklin Bulls. PHOTO: NBL

The two sides struggled to find their range in the first period, trade baskets in a low-scoring quarter.

The short-handed Rams were able to take control in the second quarter on the back of Britt, before the Bulls got their act together in the final minutes of the first half.

It was all go for the home side when the teams returned from the locker-rooms, as the Bulls opened up a 16-point lead by late in the third period.

The Bulls host the Manawatū Jets in Pukekohe next Sunday (tip-off 6.30pm), while the Rams face the Auckland Tuatara earlier in the day in Christchurch (tip-off 3pm) in a replay of last season’s decider.

The Hawks soared to their first win of 2024 on the back of a breakout game from Australian guard Keanu Rasmussen at Pettigrew Green Arena.

NBL rookie Rasmussen scored a week-high 35 points (12/19 FG, 5/10 3pt, 6/7 FT) to go with two steals as the Hawks consigned the Sharks to their third straight loss.

While Rasmussen was the three-star performer, the Hawks got strong support from the rest of the starting lineup.

Josh Roberts added 19 points (9/11 FG) and 15 boards, Isaiah Moore 17 points (6/15 FG, 2/4 3pt), seven rebounds, 10 assists and four steals in his first NBL game, Lucas Sutherland 16 points (7/14 FG) and Jordan Ngatai 11 points (4/12 FG, 2/8 3pt), six boards, six assists and three steals.

LaGerald Vick put up 26 points (10/19 FG, 4/8 3pt), 11 rebounds and six assists, while Callum McRae posted a double-double (14 points and 10 rebounds), and Marcale Lotts scored all of his 10 points in the final quarter.

The Sharks, despite having parted company with American guard Josh Turner earlier in the week and being without the services of injured captain Alonzo Burton, made a promising start.

Keanu Rasmussen Bay Hawks NBL basketball
Keanu Rasmussen hit five threes in his week-high 35 points for the Bay Hawks. PHOTO: NBL

Vick lit up the opening quarter, the Memphis native scoring 15 points as the visitors appeared to have put their issues behind them to open up a 24-18 lead.

The Hawks welcomed back Ngatai after a season playing in Finland and the 77-cap Tall Black tied proceedings early in the second period.

A triple from Rasmussen stretched the Hawks lead to eight points before McRae’s inside points and Andrew Wheeler’s arching treble cut the deficit to two at the major break, the Hawks ahead 45-43.

Three triples – two from Rasmussen and one from Ngatai - gave the Hawks a 60-48 advantage and with Rasmussen drilling his fourth from beyond the arc and Moore a second from deep, the hosts outscored the Sharks 28-15 in the third.

The Hawks continued their dominance in the fourth, with Rasmussen and Co in no mood to give up their advantage in front of the home fans. The Sharks were outscored 62-37 in the second half.

Next up for the Hawks is a trip to Palmerston North on Thursday to take on the Jets (tip-off 7.30pm), while the winless Sharks wreturn to Invercargill to host the unbeaten Wellington Saints next Monday (tip-off 7.30pm).

Franklin Bulls 93 (Luther Muhammad 31, Sam immins 23, Isaac Davidson 14, Ethan Rusbatch 10) Canterbury Rams 83 (Taylor Britt 24, James Walker Jr 20, Kaia Isaac 19, Tamatoa Isaac 11). 1Q: 17-19, HT: 38-32, 3Q: 66-50

Bay Hawks 107 (Keanu Rasmussen 35, Josh Roberts 19, Isaiah Moore 17, Luke Sutherland 16, Jordan Ngatai 11) Southland Sharks 80 (LaGerald Vick 26, Callum McRae 14, Marcale Lotts 10). 1Q: 18-24, HT: 45-43, 3Q: 73-58


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