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Nelson Giants ease past Jets in NBL

The retooled Nelson Giants have eased to a 15-point win over the Manawatu Jets in the National Basketball League (NBL).

The Giants scored 54 first-half points and led by 22 points as they tipped off Week 4 with a wire-to-wire 92-77 victory over the struggling Jets at Nelson's Trafalgar Centre on Wednesday night.

Australian Dan Grida led six Giants players in double-digits, with 19 points (6/10 FG, 6/9 FT), five rebounds and three steals.

New 6-foot-11 centre Theo Akwuba finished with 14 points (5/8 FG, 4/6 FT), seven rebounds and three blocks in his NBL debut, while Tall Blacks forward Dan Fotu also had 14 points (6/11 FG), four boards and three steals.

American guard Kobe Langley managed 13 points (6/12 FG), with a monster 15 assists and five steals, captain Sam Dempster provided 12 points (5/9 FG, 2/4 3pt) and four boards, and Hayden Jones 11 points (4/9 FG).

The Jets were led by import guard Mustapha Heron, with a game-high 29 points (11/19 FG, 2/5 3pt, 5/6 FT), while Campbell Scott hit six triples for 22 points (8/17 FG, 6/10 3pt) and five rebounds, and Simon Lafaele produced a double-double with 12 points (5/11 FG) and 16 boards.

Kobe Langley Nelson Giants NBL basketball
Kobe Langley put up 13 points, 15 assists and five steals for the Nelson Giants. PHOTO: NBL

The Jets lost their second-leading scorer Troy Baxter Jr in the second quarter to injury, with the American forward, averaging a little more than 20 points per game, going scoreless in 13 minutes.

That topped off a bad first half for the visitors, as the Giants went into the main break up 22 points.

Fotu had seven early points as Nelson went on a 13-0 run midway through the first period, but the Jets were able to close within five by quarter-time. An 11-1 burst, that included threes from Grida, Dempster and Langley took the lead above 20 points.

Manawatu hit back in the later part of the third period, with Heron scoring seven points during a 16-6 run which closed the gap to 11 points. The Jets got within 10 points just once in the fourth before the Giants pulled away again.

The Giants (2-3) are now off until Sunday, April 28 (tip-off 6.30pm) when they host the Taranaki Airs (2-1), while the Jets (1-5) return to the court at home against the Auckland Tuatara (3-2) next Saturday (tip-off 4pm).

Nelson Giants 92 (Dan Grida 19, Dan Fotu 14, Theo Akwuba 14, Kobe Langley 13, Sam Dempster 12, Hayden Jones 11) Manawatu Jets 77 (Mustapha Heron 29, Campbell Scott 22, Simon Lafaele 12). 1Q: 22-17, HT: 54-32, 3Q: 70-58


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