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Giants score crucial NBL win over Whai

The mid-table race for the final playoffs berth is heating up in the National Basketball League (NBL).

The Nelson Giants dominated inside on Friday night to record a pivotal road win as that four-way battle intensifies, topping the Tauranga Whai 84-73 at Mount Maunganui's Mercury Baypark.


Tall Blacks forward Dan Fotu scored a game-high 23 points (9/15 FG, 4/8 FT), while American guard Kobe Langley was influential with 15 points (6/11 FG), four rebounds, four assists and four steals.

Australian forward Dan Grida put up 14 points (6/14 FG), five boards, two steals and three blocks, while import centre Theo Akwuba and captain Sam Dempster were also influential, going for nine points and 10 rebounds, and eight points and nine boards, respectively.

In his second game with the team, Ira Lee led the Whai with 18 points (7/15 FG, 4/6 FT), 12 rebounds and two blocks, and was supported by former 3x3 Tall Blacks guard Jayden Bezzant with 17 points (7/16 FG, 3/7 3pt).

The Whai's other imports carried their weight, Demarcus Holland going for 15 points (6/10 FG) and three assists, and American big Phil Carr 13 points (5/11 FG), five boards, three steals and three blocks.

Dan Fotu Nelson Giants NBL basketball
Dan Fotu scored a game-high 23 points for the Nelson Giants. PHOTO: NBL

The Giants, who scored 18 points off the Whai's 20 turnovers and won the rebounding and points-in-the-paint stats handily, trailed only once in the game, for just 87 seconds in the opening minutes of the contest.

However, 10 straight points and then another 9-0 run late in the first period saw them lead by 14. After the Whai got back within five midway through the second, Nelson pushed back out by 17 early in the third.

The Whai got as close as six points twice the rest of the way, the last time at 79-73 with 1:15 remaining in the game, before Fotu and Hayden Jones free-throws killed off the rally.

Next week, the Giants (6-8) host the Canterbury Rams (10-2) on Thursday (tip-off 7.30pm) at the Trafalgar Centre, while the Whai (5-9) are on the road against the Auckland Tuatara (12-2) next Sunday (tip-off 3pm).

Nelson Giants 84 (Dan Fotu 23, Kobe Langley 15, Dan Grida 14) Tauranga Whai 73 (Ira Lee 18, Jayden Bezzant 17, Demarcus Holland 15, Phil Carr 13). 1Q: 26-14, HT: 48-34, 3Q: 64-57


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