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Rams extend streak; Airs rout Sharks

The Canterbury Rams have joined the Auckland Tuatara with 12 wins in the National Basketball League (NBL).

The defending champion and league-leading Rams extended their NBL winning streak to 11 games with a tough 97-95 road win over the Nelson Giants at the Trafalgar Centre on Thursday night.


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Australian centre Lachlan Olbrich was outstanding in a willing front-court battle, going off for 27 points (11/22 FG, 4/6 FT), 17 rebounds and four assists, while young Kiwi guard Kaia Isaac had 14 points (4/7 FG, 2/4 3pt, 4/4 FT) off the bench.

The Rams other four starters also scored in double-digits, with Walter Brown with 13 points (4/7 FG, 3/3 3pt) and six boards, MJ Walker 12 points (4/9 FG, 3/4 FT) and two steals, Taylor Britt 11 points (3/10 FG, 4/6 FT) and eight assists, and KJ Buffen 10 points (4/8 FG) and four boards.

American guard Kobe Langley was spectacular for the Giants, hitting six threes in his game-high 32 points (10/17 FG, 6/9 3pt, 6/7 FT), along with four rebounds and six assists, playing 39 of 40 minutes.

He was backed up by the two Dans - Fotu and Grida - who both finished with 21 points. Kiwi Fotu shot 8-of-17, including two triples, and grabbed five boards, while Australian Grida went 9-of-28, with nine rebounds and two steals.

Lachlan Olbrich Canterbury Rams NBL basketball
Lachlan Olbrich had a monster double-double with 27 points and 17 rebounds for the Canterbury Rams. PHOTO: NBL

The Giants had their way in the early stages, leading by as many as eight in the first period, before the Rams dominated the second.

Still down five, Canterbury went on a 19-6 run, including a three from Walker and three-point play from Max Darling, to go up eight late in the quarter.

Nelson got within one late in the third period on an 11-3 burst but the Rams answered with nine of the next 11 points. They held the Giants at arm's distance until a Langley three with 20 seconds remaining and two free-throws closed the gap to one with four seconds left.

The Rams (12-2) will look to make it 12 straight wins at home against the struggling Manawatu Jets (1-13) at Cowles Stadium on Saturday (tip-off 4pm), while the Giants (6-9) are away to the Bay Hawks (6-8) in Napier on Saturday (tip-off 7.30pm).

In a season full of blowouts, none have been more lopsided than the Taranaki Airs' 94-61 victory over the Southland Sharks at Invercargill's ILT Stadium Southland on Friday night.

Taranaki never trailed, led by as many as 20 points in the first quarter, by 37 at halftime, and as many as 41 points in the third period, before calling off the dogs.

A 16-2 run midway through the first period, including four triples from Flynn Cameron, put the Airs up 28-8 and they never looked back. Head coach Sam McKinnon gave extended minutes to his second unit, as they scored just 29 points in the second half.

Australian forward Sam Froling led the way with a game-high 31 points (12/14 FG, 7/8 FT), six rebounds and four assists, while Cameron had 16 points (6/13 FG, 4/9 3pt), seven boards and three assists.

For the Sharks, Kiwi big Callum McRae top-scored with 18 points (7/14 FG, 4/5 FT), 11 rebounds and three assists, while import guard Caleb Asberry put up 15 points (6/16 FG) and five assists.

In Week 13, the Airs (11-4) have an extended period off before playing the Franklin Bulls (9-4) on the road next Sunday (tip-off 6.30pm), while the Sharks (1-14) remain at home to host the Tauranga Whai (5-9) on Friday (tip-off 7.30pm).

Canterbury Rams 97 (Lachlan Olbrich 27, Kaia Isaac 14, Walter Brown 13, MJ Walker 12, Taylor Britt 11, KJ Buffen 10) Nelson Giants 95 (Kobe Langley 32, Dan Fotu 21, Dan Grida 21). 1Q: 13-17, HT: 42-37, 3Q: 73-68

Taranaki Airs 94 (Sam Froling 31, Flynn Cameron 16, Carlin Davison 12, Elijah Minnie 12) Southland Sharks 61 (Callum McRae 18, Caleb Asberry 15, Alonzo Burton 10). 1Q: 35-15, HT: 65-28, 3Q: 79-41


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