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Rampton Special Seals Finals Berth For Nelson

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Rampton Special Seals Finals Berth For Nelson

Wellington, June 18 NZPA - Nelson have elbowed their way into the National Basketball League (NBL) final the hard way -- by overcoming a late deficit to edge past Wellington.

They made the most of a parochial home crowd in Nelson to prevail 83-82 in extraordinary circumstances in tonight's semifinal.

They now head into the best-of-three finals series against either reigning champions Waikato or Christchurch next week. Those two sides are to contest the other semifinal in Te Awamutu tomorrow night.

The lead seesawed through a tight affair before Wellington snuck clear 72-66 with four minutes 45 seconds remaining when they nailed two free throws gifted them after Nelson coach Chris Tupu drew a technical foul for his overly enthusiastic advice for the match officials.

But the final outcome came down to the very last second of an enthralling match when forward John Barber had the opportunity to force the match into overtime.

With Nelson behind 79-82, Barber faced three free throws after a foul from Lindsay Tait.

He calmly slotted the first two but the third rimmed out, only for Tony Rampton to nab the rebound and grab the extra two points to steal victory.

Wellington officials were in deep discussions after the match and there was every chance they would lodge an official protest because they considered time was up when Rampton's matchwinner fell through the hoop.

But it was a particularly sweet reward for the 2.14m Rampton, who left his heart out on the court.

The current Tall Black international took his place despite a broken thumb on his non-shooting hand and was more than nuisance value for Wellington despite the obvious handicap.

Rampton showed the heart of a champion to contribute 16 points to his team's cause, six less than former international and three-point sharp shooter Phill Jones, among Wellington's best was livewire guard Mike Efevberha with 24 points.


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