The Battle of the North has delivered once again, and this time it was a celebration for Blitz the Bull and his charges from Pukekohe.
The EnviroNZ Franklin Bulls have started their charge back up the Sal's NBL ladder with a tough 78-70 win over arch rivals, the Sky Tower Auckland Huskies.
Played in front of a bumper crowd on the North Shore, the Bulls came armed with new Australian import Manel Ayol, who joined returning local star Isaac Davidson and quickly settling young forward Kyrin Galloway.
The dangerous trio led the way for the visitors, with strong support from Denhym Brooke.
The opening five minutes belonged to the Bulls as they jumped to a 20-8 lead, before some steadying leadership from Tom Vodanovich (also returning from the ANBL) and Chris Johnson pulled the Huskies back into the contest.
An even second quarter filled with plenty of highlights had the Bulls ahead 45-38 at the half.
Though neither team was shooting well the action was non-stop as the Bulls constantly opened up mini-gaps, only to be clawed back in by the gallant Huskies.
The last quarter battle kept the fans on the edge of their seats as both teams tried to land killer blows in a game that featured a massive 113 rebounds, 10 blocked shots and high number of dunks.
In the end the Bulls held firm with Galloway in particular starring. The win snaps a five-game losing streak for the Bulls and keeps the race for the finals tight.
Auckland Huksies (70) lost to Franklin Bulls (78)
Huskies: Chris Johnson (23pts, 11rbs, 4blks), Tom Vodanovich (22pts).
Bulls: Kyrin Galloway (25pts, 15rbs, 2blks, 5 treys), Manel Ayol (19pts, 11rbs), Denhym Brooke (14pts).
Kyrin Galloway was only in his second game with the Bulls but he looked like he'd been there forever. From the outset he was everywhere, working tirelessly to show he has a big future ahead of him with the Breakers - whose coaching staff just happened to be in the stands watching on.
Manel Ayol was quick grab by the Bulls during the week as they frantically searched for imports to fill the gap created by an injured Zane Waterman, and they Australian didn't disappoint in his first Sal's NBL game. He looks a good get.
Tom Vodanovich has just returned off a big ANBL season with the Sydney Kings and though he looked in need of spending some more time with his new Huskies teammates, he quickly showed he will once again be a force here in New Zealand. Look for the 2020 Showdown MVP to deliver big numbers in the weeks ahead.
Stuff MVP Votes
Kyrin Galloway (Bulls) 10
Chris Johnson (Huskies) 8
Tom Vodanovich (Huskies) 5
Manel Ayol (Bulls) 3
Dontae Nance (Huskies) 2
Denhym Brooke (Bulls) 1
Isaac Davidson (Bulls) 1
-Story by NZNBL -