The Press

Rams storm into semifinals


A fresh-faced Canterbury Rams produced a second big knockout game in 24 hours to book an NBL Showdown semifinal against the table-topping Otago Nuggets.

Led by a 21-point game from 18-year-old Thomas Webley, the Rams upset the Auckland Huskies 98-84 in last night’s eliminatio­n final in Auckland to send the Kevin Braswell-coached side packing. They’d won eight from 14 in the regular season to finish third.

The previous night the Rams – who finished seventh and last in the regular season with four wins – toppled the sixthplace­d

Nelson Giants 93-89.

Now the Nuggets loom in today’s first semifinal (5.30pm), with the Manawatu Jets playing the Taranaki Mountainai­rs, who last night beat the Franklin Bulls 99-90 in the second semi.

A storming opening to the second half, led by Webley, turned the contest on its head after the Huskies led 42-36 at halftime.

The Rams won the third quarter 39-20 and had the luxury of a 12-point buffer entering the final period.

Auckland got within six points at 88-82 with 2:21 on the clock, but Canterbury kept cool heads and closed it out.

For the Huskies Izayah Mauriohooh­oLe’afa was massive, scoring 39 points plus six rebounds and five assists.

The Rams had six in double figures, led by Webley, with captain Taylor Britt (16) and Sam Smith (16) next best. Britt had 10 assists and Smith was lethal from long range, hitting all four of his three-point attempts, while Toby Gillooly had 12 points.

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