The EnviroNZ Franklin Bulls left their surge late in tonight's clash with the SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks, but it was enough to see them win 82-73 at Franklin Pool and Leisure Centre.
The acclaim from the fans was thrown in the direction of Zane Waterman (31pts & 9rbs), as the import seemingly made up for an off night from fellow import and leading MVP-vote getter, Josh Selby.
Surprisingly, it was the visitors were the better side out of the blocks and at one stage during the opening spell were up 23-9 thanks to 10-point first quarters from Dom Kelman-Poto (25pts & 15rbs) and Josh Cunnigham (15pts & 12rbs).
Things started to settle at the tail end of the quarter and the momentum shifted in the Bulls' favour after the break. The game's leading scorer, Waterman (31pts &9rbs), and best supporting act, Joseph Nunag (17pts) doing the bulk of the work to wrestle back control.
As you'd expect, the Sharks found it in them to fight back after receiving a few jabs and found ways to score from all areas of the floor.
Their last one came at the hands of guard Courtney Belger (12pts & 7rbs) and drew the scores level (43 all) before splitting for oranges.
The to and fro didn't stop when play resumed, with neither side able to capitalise after getting a stop in their own half. The point totals stayed within a possession of each other right up until 60 a few minutes into the fourth before the Bulls slowly started to edge away through scores from Waterman and Nunag.
Franklin Bulls (82) defeated Southland Sharks (73) - BOXSCORE
Bulls: Zane Waterman 31 pts & 9rbs, Joseph Nunag 17pts, Jaylen Gerrand 12pts.
Sharks: Dom Kelman-Poto 25pts & 15rbs, Josh Cunningham 15pts & 12rbs, Courtney Belger 12pts & 7rbs.
1. Zane Waterman was seemingly without his running mate in Josh Selby tonight, as the leading MVP-vote getter struggled from the field. His team needed him to give that little bit extra and he delivered.
2. Frontcourt duo Dom Kelman-Poto and Josh Cunningham were notable names to mention in this clash, with both forwards nabbing double-doubles. Their teammates didn't have as much luck with their displays which lead to their demise.
3. Every team needs a spark plug off the pine and Joseph Nunag is shaping as that guy for the Bulls. He poured in 17 tonight, bumping his season average to 14 and some change.
Stuff MVP Votes
Zane Waterman (Bulls) - 10
Dom Kelman-Poto (Sharks) - 8
Joseph Nunag (Bulls) - 6
Josh Cunningham (Sharks) - 3
Josh Selby (Bulls) - 2
Jaylen Gerrand (Bulls) - 1