Author: Ben Pascuzzi

2019/20 NBL weekend preview: Round 10 – Blockbusters galore in huge round of action

FIVE teams play twice in a huge round 10 of the National Basketball League (NBL). We take a look at the seven games across this weekend.

CAIRNS TAIPANS vs. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Friday December 6, 7.30pm
Cairns Convention Centre

The round again opens in Cairns with the Taipans and Breakers both looking to make it two on the trot. The Taipans hosted Melbourne last Friday night and made it two wins in a row against the current third-placed side in the league. Cameron Oliver, Majok Deng and D.J. Newbill led the scoring for the Taipans, with the last win pushing them into sixth place on the ladder – just one win outside the top four. For the Breakers, they registered their third win of the season and lifted themselves off the bottom of the table with a strong 12-point victory over Illawarra. A dominant first quarter set up the triumph, as Sek Henry and Finn Delany led the scorers. Both sides will be eager for success, as they both return for back-up matches later in the round so they will be wanting to start their double-headers off on a good note.

PERTH WILDCATS vs. SYDNEY KINGS
Friday December 6, 9.30pm
RAC Arena

The Wildcats and Kings lock horns in a mouth-watering top-of-the-table Friday night matchup. Both sides have two games this round so the importance of a win in their first game of the round is crucial, especially since the two sides are the current leaders of the league. Perth will be wanting to bounce back on their home floor after they suffered just their fifth loss of the season last round to the 36ers. Bryce Cotton was one of only three players to hit double figures in scoring for the Wildcats, something that will have to change drastically if they are to stand any chance at overcoming the table-topping Kings. Sydney on the other hand continued on their winning ways, notching up win number 11 against Melbourne by 10-points. Casper Ware and Jae-Sean Tate continue to have standout seasons as both were instrumental in the big win.

MELBOURNE UNITED vs. ADELAIDE 36ers
Saturday, December 7, 5.30pm
Melbourne Arena

Melbourne United will be looking to bounce back and start another winning streak when they host Adelaide on Saturday afternoon. United’s winning run came to an end when they lost to the Kings in Sydney last round by 10 points. Not even a 32-point haul from Melo Trimble was enough to pull United over the line, as the Kings exacted their revenge. Chris Goulding and Shawn Long were both kept relatively quiet as well, so both will be looking to bounce back stronger against Adelaide. For the 36ers, they achieved one of the toughest tasks in the NBL – a road win against the Wildcats. Daniel Johnson made up for not being in during crunch time the previous week against the Bullets by scoring 29 points, whilst Jerome Randle continued his impressive season with 20 points. Still, that win was not enough to propel them into the top four, so they’ll be seeking a win this weekend to finally breakthrough into the finals places.

BRISBANE BULLETS vs. ILLAWARRA HAWKS
Saturday, December 7, 8pm
Queensland State Netball Centre

The Bullets will be looking to bounce back and keep in touch with the top four when they host the last-placed Hawks on Saturday night. The Bullets have now lost two matches on the trot after they fell to South East Melbourne for the second time this season. Jason Cadee, Lamar Patterson and Nathan Sobey led the way for the Bullets, but it was not enough as the Bullets lost on their home floor. For the Hawks, a second successive triple-double form LaMelo Ball was not enough to propel them over the line as they fell to New Zealand. The Hawks are now on the bottom of the NBL ladder and will be without Ball for this weekend who is out with a foot concern. The likes of Todd Blanchfield and Andrew Ogilvy will need to step up from disappointing outings against the Breakers if the Hawks hope to overcome Brisbane.

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX vs. PERTH WILDCATS
Sunday, December 8, 3pm
Melbourne Arena

South East Melbourne return home after they bounced back to end their three-game losing streak last weekend against the Bullets. The Phoenix had been close in their three-match losing run, but they finally broke through with a hard-fought 15-point win over the Bullets. Ben Madgen led the way with 23-points, with Mitch Creek and John Roberson also putting up big numbers. For the Wildcats on the other hand, this match will be their second of the round after they host the ladder-leading Kings on Friday night. It is a tough weekend for the Wildcats who take on two of the top-four teams in the competition, and they’ll be hopeful for strong performances from Cotton and Nick Kay to ensure they maximise their results this weekend.

SYDNEY KINGS vs. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Sunday, December 8, 5pm
Qudos Bank Arena

The Kings and Taipans will lock horns to play their second matchup of the weekend on Sunday afternoon in the Harbour City. Sydney travel to take on the Wildcats on Friday night in one of the toughest tasks in the league, but regardless of the result, they still face a tough matchup in taking on the Taipans. Casper Ware and Jae-Sean Tate will need to be on song in both matches if the Kings are to keep up their current winning streak which sits at five wins. For the Taipans, after they knocked off United for the second time this season, they host the Breakers on Friday night and will definitely see both games as winnable as they continue to hunt for a place in the top four.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS vs. BRISBANE BULLETS
Monday, December 9, 3.30pm
Qudos Bank Arena

New Zealand and Brisbane round out a massive round 10 when they go to battle on Monday afternoon. The game will mark both side’s second games of the round, and both will eager for wins as they both sit outside the top four. The Breakers face a tough task on Friday night against the Taipans, but they will have Glen Rice Jr return to the fold which will be a huge boost in both matches as they look to add to their three-win tally. For the Bullets, they will have two chances to bounce back after their disappointing home loss to the Phoenix last round. After their clash with the Hawks on Saturday afternoon, they will be hoping they can get two wins against the two bottom of the table teams in the competition this round.

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2019/20 NBL weekend preview: Round 9 – First and third do battle in headline clash

SYDNEY and MELBOURNE’s clash on Sunday afternoon headlines numerous enticing matchups for Round 9. We take a look at the five games across this weekend.

CAIRNS TAIPANS vs. MELBOURNE UNITED
Friday November 29, 7.30pm
Cairns Convention Centre

The round opens with Cairns hosting United in a rematch of their epic Round 4 encounter. At the time, United had just broken through for its first win of the season earlier in the round, but they would find themselves in the lower reaches of the NBL ladder when they fell to a resurgent Taipans outfit by five points, with the win being only the Taipans’ second of the season at the time. Now, United sit third on the table with seven wins and are undoubtedly the in-form team of the competition. Melo Trimble has well and truly found his feet in the United rotation and will be out to exact revenge against his old side. For the Taipans, they have been terribly unlucky to only have the four wins next to their name, but they only sit one win outside the top four. D.J. Newbill put in 27 points against the Hawks last round and his side will be hoping for a repeat effort if they stand a chance to end United’s winning run.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS vs. ILLAWARRA HAWKS
Saturday, November 30, 5.30pm
Spark Arena

The Breakers and the Hawks will go toe to toe on Saturday night in Auckland. Both sides currently sit in the bottom two on the NBL ladder, but both have shown far greater potential than their ladder placings suggest. New Zealand thrashed Illawarra in the sides’ Round 2 encounter, with the Breakers prevailing by a whopping 31-points on their home floor. But with that win being only one of two so far for the season, they’ll be desperately hoping to repeat that performance. RJ Hampton is having a strong season so far while Sek Henry is starting to find his own in the Breakers’ lineup. For the Hawks, LaMelo Ball is not only the talk of the NBL fraternity, but also of the basketball world. His triple double performance on Monday night against the Taipans in overtime was one of the performances of the season so far, and truly shows how much he has taken the Hawks under his wing since the loss of Aaron Brooks to a season-ending Achilles injury. If Ball can continue his recent strong form, then the Hawks may be able to atone for their poor Round 2 performance against their rivals this weekend.

BRISBANE BULLETS vs. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Saturday, November 30, 8pm
Queensland State Netball Centre

In what shapes up as one of the matches of the round, South East Melbourne escape their home state for only the second time this season as they travel up to Brisbane to face a determined Bullets outfit. The Phoenix have played a staggering seven of their first ten games as a new club at home this season, with their only game away from Victoria resulting in an embarrassing 31 point humiliation in Perth. They are currently on a three-game losing streak, which was compounded by a four-point defeat to the top-of-the-table Kings last weekend. Mitch Creek, who has surged into MVP contention, and John Roberson will need to have strong performances if the Phoenix stand any chance of ending their losing run. For the Bullets, a last-gasp put back from Lamar Patterson gave them a 2-point win over the 36ers last Saturday night. The win sees them still sit behind the Phoenix and 36ers on the ladder, but a win over the Phoenix could propel them into the final spot in the top four. In order to make that happen, Nathan Sobey and EJ Singler will need to aid Patterson if they stand to add more misery to the Phoenix’s recent run of matches.

SYDNEY KINGS vs. MELBOURNE UNITED
Sunday, November 30, 3pm
Qudos Bank Arena

The Kings host United in what is undoubtedly the most anticipated match of the round. In their only previous clash this season, United prevailed by three points back in Round 5, ending the Kings’ unbeaten start to the season and is still the only loss the Kings have suffered this season. And with both sides on four and six game winning streaks, respectively, this game shapes up as a mouth-watering matchup that should go the distance. The Kings are coming off a tense four point win over United’s cross-town rivals South East Melbourne, with Jae’Sean Tate and Casper Ware leading the way. For United, this match is their second away game of the weekend after they travel to Cairns on Friday night. From whichever angle you look at this game, it looms as being an epic, with the state rivals’ second match potentially eclipsing their first one.

PERTH WILDCATS vs. ADELAIDE 36ers
Sunday, November 30, 5pm
RAC Arena

Perth will be out to keep their current second spot on the NBL ladder when they host the 36ers on Sunday afternoon. The Wildcats suffered their fourth loss of the season and a second at the hands of the Taipans last Saturday night. Despite leading by 10 points heading into the final quarter, they faltered in the final term to fall by seven points. Clint Steindl and Nick Kay led the scores, while Bryce Cotton was kept relatively quiet. Cotton will be looking to bounce back strongly against the 36ers. Adelaide let go of a win against the Bullets on Friday night, before bouncing back on Sunday to prevail strongly against the Breakers. Jerome Randle and Anthony Drmic led the way on both nights, while Michael Harris had a breakout performance on Sunday to help them bounce back. All will need to be at their best if they stand a chance at taking out the Wildcats on their home floor.

2019/20 NBL weekend preview: Round 8 – Red hot United look to extend streak

MELBOURNE United will be looking to extend their current winning streak to six games as they go in as the in-form team in round eight. We take a look at the six games across this weekend.

BRISBANE BULLETS vs. ADELAIDE 36ers
Friday November 22, 7.30pm
Queensland State Netball Centre

The round opens with Brisbane hosting the 36ers as both sides look to force their way into the top four. This game marks the first of two games this round for both sides, with the Bullets also travelling to take on Melbourne United in Melbourne on Sunday, but in both games they’ll be hoping for wins after suffering a tough loss to their state rivals Cairns last round. Lamar Patterson was held to a quiet 17 points, while Nathan Sobey led the way with 20 points. Both will be looking to have stronger showings tonight, particularly Patterson who has been having a season to remember so far. The 36ers on the other hand are coming off a huge road win over South East Melbourne. Jerome Randle and Anthony Drmic dominated in the win, with Randle looking more and more comfortable with Adelaide every week.

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX vs. SYDNEY KINGS
Saturday, November 23, 5.30pm
Melbourne Arena

The Phoenix will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak when they host the table-topping Kings on Saturday afternoon. South East Melbourne fell to Melbourne United last Saturday, before hosting the 36ers on Monday night which saw them lose consecutive games for the first time in their history. John Robertson bounced back from a quiet outing against United to post 21 points on Monday night, whilst Mitch Creek led the way on both nights as he is beginning to regain his feet in the NBL. Sydney on the other hand is sitting pretty atop the NBL ladder and continued their winning ways with a hard-fought five-point win over Illawarra last round. Casper Ware and Jae-Sean Tate continue to have strong performances for the Kings, and will look to continue their strong starts to the season.

CAIRNS TAIPANS vs. PERTH WILDCATS
Saturday, November 23, 7.30pm
Cairns Convention Centre

Cairns host the Wildcats on Saturday night where they’ll be hoping to make it two wins in a row against Perth. The Taipans have just the three wins to their name so far in NBL 19/20, which they added to in round 7 with a 9-point win over the Bullets. Their starting five all reached double figures in scoring, with even Majok Deng coming off the bench chiming in with 13 points. Cameron Oliver was quieter than usual, so he will be looking to have stronger outing on Saturday night. For the Wildcats, they are sitting pretty in second place on the ladder, with their eighth win of the season coming against the Breakers last weekend. Bryce Cotton will be looking to back up a dominant 34-point outing this weekend as he continues his stellar season.

MELBOURNE UNITED vs. BRISBANE BULLETS
Sunday, November 24, 3pm
Melbourne Arena

United will be looking to add to their five-game winning streak when they host the Bullets on Sunday afternoon. After a disappointing start to the season, Melbourne is now third on the NBL ladder and is the in-form team of the competition. Last weekend they held on to a one-point win over cross-town rivals South East Melbourne, with Melo Trimble and Chris Goulding again having strong outings. Shea Ili was also a force off the bench, and will be hoping to continue his recent patch of good form. For the Bullets, this game is their second for the weekend, and if they stand any chance against the in-form United, Patterson and Sobey will need to lead the way.

ADELAIDE 36ers vs. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Sunday, November 24, 5pm
Adelaide Entertainment Centre

The 36ers play their second match of the weekend when they host the New Zealand Breakers at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre late Sunday afternoon. They will need to back up a Friday night trip to Brisbane when they host New Zealand, but they sit just one game outside fourth spot which is occupied by the Phoenix, the side they beat last weekend. Randle continues to have a strong start to the season, and the 36ers will be hoping for nothing less on Sunday against the Breakers. New Zealand haven’t had the greatest of seasons to date, and after seven rounds, they have just the two wins to their name. The Breakers suffered a 11-point loss to the Wildcats last weekend, but Corey Webster and Brandon Ashley were the shining lights. Meanwhile, RJ Hampton will be hoping to bounce back this weekend after a quiet four-point outing last round.

ILLAWARRA HAWKS vs. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Monday, November 25, 7:30pm
WIN Entertainment Centre

Illawarra hosts Cairns in the final match of round eight on Monday night and will be desperately looking to lift themselves off the bottom of the NBL ladder. Illawarra have had a lot of tough luck to start their NBL 19/20 campaign, headlined by a season-ending Achilles injury to star import Aaron Brooks who was topscoring for the Hawks. But since his departure, LaMelo Ball has taken his game to new heights, and as such his NBA draft stocks continue to rise. Ball had 16 points against the Kings last weekend, as Todd Blanchfield led the way with 22 points in what was a tough five-point loss to Sydney. For Cairns, this game will be their second for the round after they face off against the Wildcats at home on Saturday. They’ll be hoping for the opportunity to make it two wins in a row, but either way they will fancy themselves against the bottom-placed Hawks.

NBL 2019/20 Weekend Preview: Round 6

MELBOURNE United will be looking to continue their recent good form when they start Round 6 off with a road trip to New Zealand. We take a look at the six games across the weekend.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS vs MELBOURNE UNITED
Thursday, November 7, 5.30pm
Spark Arena

The round opens with the Breakers and United locking horns for the second time this season on Thursday in Auckland. The last time these two clashed was in Round 4 at Melbourne Arena, a game which produced Melbourne’s first win of their 2019/20 season. Since then, United has gone on to win two of their past three games, with those two wins both coming last round against South East Melbourne and the previously unbeaten Sydney Kings respectively. United now sit just one win outside the top four, and it is fair to say with the outstanding performances from Shawn Long and Chris Goulding, they are well and truly back into title contention. The Breakers on the other hand have just the two wins next to their name so far, but they have shown a lot of fight despite not having the wins to show for it. RJ Hampton continues to impress as his draft stocks rise, while Glen Rice Jr makes his debut tonight and if what is coming out of the New Zealand camp is anything to go by, he could be the biggest talent to ever come to the NBL.

BRISBANE BULLETS vs. SYDNEY KINGS
Friday, November 8, 7.30pm
Queensland State Netball Centre

The Bullets will be out to make it their second win in a row against a top two side when they host the Kings on Friday night. Brisbane shocked Perth last Friday night which helped lift themselves into third place come the end of the weekend where they easily accounted for Illawarra on Sunday. Lamar Patterson continues to lead Brisbane in scoring while the contributions from Nathan Sobey and Jason Cadee is helping the Bullets turn into a genuine finals contender. For the Kings, their unbeaten start to the season came to an end on Monday night in Melbourne where they lost by three-points to United in a nail-biting affair. But they will not be buoyed by the tough result, as they did it with Didi Louzada out for the second half as Casper Ware took charge and had a dominant 34-point haul to prove he is well and truly fit in to the Kings rotation.

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX vs. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Saturday, November 9, 5.30pm
Melbourne Arena

After starting their inaugural season with three straight wins, South East Melbourne have faltered in two of their last three outings. Coming off a poor Throwdown II showing which saw them lose by 12-points, the task does not get much easier as they host the Breakers who play their second match of the round. The Phoenix could not find a match for United’s Shawn Long, but Mitch Creek and John Roberson continued their sensational starts to the season, while Ben Madgen also chimed in with a handy 16-points in what was his best game of the season so far. If all three are firing, then it is hard to say why they cannot bounce back and get back on the winners’ list against a Breakers side who will face a stern task this round facing the two Melbourne sides who are both in the top five.

CAIRNS TAIPANS vs. ILLAWARRA HAWKS
Saturday, November 9, 8pm
Cairns Convention Centre

Cairns and Illawarra will go head-to-head for the second time this season with both sides desperate for a win to keep their slim finals chances alive. The Taipans have been playing far better than their two-win record suggests, pushing the Breakers last round but falling short once again. Cameron Oliver has been the Taipans most prolific scorer this season and he continued that against the Breakers, while Majok Deng had a strong performance and will be hoping to make it consistent when playing the Hawks. Illawara suffered their seventh loss of the season when they fell to Brisbane last Sunday, as Lamelo Ball had to do the bulk of the scoring given Aaron Brooks is out for the season with that achilles injury. They will be desperately looking to replace him if they are to keep any hopes of a finals appearance alive. However, they cannot worry about that this weekend as it presents itself as one of their better opportunities to record their second win of the season.

MELBOURNE UNITED vs. ADELAIDE 36ers
Sunday, November 10, 3pm
Melbourne Arena

United plays its second match of the round when they host the 36ers on Sunday afternoon. For Melbourne, they will be hoping this clash brings about an opportunity to make it two wins from their two matches this round, but regardless of their Thursday night result, they will be looking to defend home court against a strong 36ers outfit who sit just behind them in sixth place. The 36ers suffered a heart-wrenching two-point overtime loss to the top-of-the-table Sydney Kings in Adelaide on Saturday night, as Jerome Randle was unable to will his troops over the line against his old side. Randle will be looking to atone for the heartbreaking loss, as will the likes of Ramone Moore and Daniel Johnson who both have been strong so far this season. They will all need to be at their best if they stand any chance at coming away from Melbourne against an in-form United with a win.

SYDNEY KINGS vs. PERTH WILDCATS
Sunday, November 10, 5pm
Qudos Bank Arena
The Kings host the Wildcats in a top-of-the-table showdown on Saturday afternoon in what will be their second match of the round. After suffering a nail-biting loss to United on Monday night, the Kings will back up on Friday night when they travel to Brisbane, before hosting the Wildcats in what shapes as being one of the matches of the season. Louzada will be hoping he is able to return after he missed the second half against United with a back injury, while Ware and Andrew Bogut will be looking to continue their strong seasons so far. The Wildcats tasted their second loss of the season at the hands of the Bullets last Friday night, but they bounced back strongly by defeating the Breakers in New Zealand on Sunday. Terrico White has been having a season to remember, while Nick Kay and Dario Hunt have been exceptional and will be looking to continue that this weekend.

NBL 2019/20 Weekend preview: Round 5

THE second Throwdown headlines Round 4 of the NBL season as the top four begin to separate themselves from the chasing pack. We take a look at the six games across this weekend.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS vs. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Friday, October 31, 5.30pm
Spark Arena

The Breakers host the Taipans in what shapes up as a mouth-watering matchup. The Breakers had a mixed round last week, breaking through for their first in NBL 2019/20 against the Taipans on Thursday night, before faltering against United on Saturday night in Melbourne. Corey Webster, Sek Henry and Brandon Ashley all starred in both encounters, and will need to put in similar outings against a Taipans side who seem to be finally heading on the up. The Taipans had a slow start to their season and it appeared that they were going to taste a similar lack of success as they had last season. But despite a tight four-point loss to Adelaide on Friday night last week, they bounced back in the final match of the round on Monday night to defeat Melbourne by five-points. But they now have to travel and face off against the Breakers in New Zealand, one of the toughest tasks in the league and will need all of Cameron Oliver, Nathan Jawai and D.J. Newbill to continue their strong patches of form in their sole game for the round.

BRISBANE BULLETS vs. PERTH WILDCATS
Friday, November 1, 7.30pm
Queensland State Netball Centre

The Bullets will be looking to bounce back when they host Perth on Friday night. Brisbane suffered their fourth loss of the season when they travelled to Sydney and were defeated comprehensively by the unbeaten Kings. They have been up and down so far this season, but cannot afford a slump against the Wildcats who have lost just the one match so far this season. Lamar Patterson has been having a season to remember so far for the Bullets and will need to continue that if they are to get a win tomorrow night, whilst Nathan Sobey has worked back into form and could very well continue his recent purple patch. For the Wildcats, they will be hoping to making it a sixth win for the season and keep in touch with the unbeaten Kings. Perth played on last Friday against South East Melbourne and handed the new franchise their first loss, smashing them by a whopping 31-points. They will be bringing that momentum into this weekend, and with Terrico White and Bryce Cotton continuing to dominate week-in week-out, the Wildcats will be going in with confidence.

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX vs. MELBOURNE UNITED
Saturday, November 2, 5.30pm
Melbourne Arena

After suffering their first loss as a franchise against the Wildcats last weekend, the Phoenix will be looking to make it 2-0 against their Throwdown rivals who handed them their first win in their inaugural match. After suffering a crushing defeat to the Wildcats, the Phoenix had to back up and host the 36ers on Sunday – which they did to record their fourth win of the season. John Roberson got himself into foul trouble early against United the last time they played, and if he stays out of it, it looks like he will continue his blistering start to the season. United on the other hand, have just the one win to their name which came against the Breakers on Saturday night, before they fell to the in-form Taipans on Monday night. Shawn Long, Chris Goulding and Melo Trimble have been the main stars for United thus far, and they will all be looking to have strong performances against their cross-town rivals as United will be desperate to avoid going down 0-2 to the new team.

ADELAIDE 36ers vs. SYDNEY KINGS
Saturday, November 2, 7:30pm
Adelaide Entertainment Centre

The 36ers will be out to end Sydney’s unbeaten start to NBL 2019/20 as they host the Kings on Saturday night. Adelaide currently sit inside the top four and will be looking to keep it that way after they had a mixed Round 4, beating the Taipans on Friday night before falling to the Phoenix on Sunday. Both were close matches, but the positives from both were that Jerome Randle is certainly feeling right back at home with the 36ers, whilst Daniel Johnson is still leading the way on the scoring end. For the Kings, this will be their first of two matches this round, and they will undoubtedly be looking to maintain their perfect start to the season. They played the 36ers in Round 2 and won by a convincing 22-points which will bring them a lot of confidence, with the emergence of Didi Louzada and the addition of Casper Ware taking the Kings to new heights and early favouritism for the championship.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS vs. PERTH WILDCATS
Sunday, November 3, 3:00pm
ILT Stadium Southland

The two most dominant NBL franchises for the past decade will lock horns for the first time this season in Auckland on Sunday. Both sides sit on either end of the ladder, but that will not stop this matchup likely going down to the wire. The Breakers host the Taipans on Thursday night while the Wildcats will be travelling from Brisbane who they face on Friday night, but the rest in between will do the sides no harm as they look to re-engage in their decade-long rivalry. For the Breakers this weekend poses a brilliant opportunity to get back in touch with the top four as they have only won the one game so far this season, whilst for Perth, they have the chance to close the gap or potentially overtake the table topping Sydney Kings should they come away from this round with two wins.

ILLAWARRA HAWKS vs. BRISBANE BULLETS
Sunday, November 3, 5:00pm
WIN Entertainment Centre

The Hawks have only registered one win for the season and have been handed one of the the cruellest blows learning earlier this week that star import Aaron Brooks will miss the remainder of the season due to an Achilles injury. It is a crushing blow to the young Hawks, as Brooks has been their top scorer in almost all of their matches thus far this season. They will need to rely more on LaMelo Ball who will now be the Hawks’ number one scoring option from a guard’s perspective, while Tim Coenraad put in 18 points against the Wildcats last weekend which is something Illawara will definitely need. For the Bullets, it will be their second matchup of the round after they host the Wildcats on Friday night. It looms as a crucial weekend for the Bullets as they currently sit just one game outside the top four.

MELBOURNE UNITED vs. SYDNEY KINGS
Monday, November 4, 7:30pm
Melbourne Arena

A blockbuster state rivalry concludes an enthralling Round 5 of NBL action, with the underwhelming Melbourne United hosting the championship favourite Sydney Kings. This match will be both sides’ second of the weekend as they each play on Saturday against South East Melbourne and Adelaide respectively. United were one of the favourites heading into the season, but should they lose against their crosstown rivals on Saturday, then the importance of this match goes through the roof. They have won just the one match this season, so if they cannot come away from this tough double header this weekend with at least one win, then the writing may very well be on the wall already. For Sydney, they will head in as favourites in both matches, and deservedly so after they have had a dominant start to the season to lead atop the ladder with five straight wins.

NBL 2019/20 Weekend preview: Round 3 – Breakers return to Kings double

THE New Zealand Breakers will make their first appearance in NBL 2019/20 as Round 3 marks the first round all teams will be in action. We take a look at the seven games across the weekend.

SYDNEY KINGS vs. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Friday, October 18, 7.30pm
Qudos Bank Arena

The round opens with the Kings and Breakers going head-to-head in what will be the Breakers’ first NBL 2019/20 match of the season. The Breakers are coming off two games in the United States as part of the NBAxNBL pre-season program, and with the hype surrounding 2020 NBA prospect RJ Hampton, they will be hoping to make a statement against one of the championship favourites. Both the Breakers and Hampton struggled against the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder, but a fresh start against the juggernaut that is Sydney could set them on a path to the championship this season. Sydney meanwhile have lived up to expectations so far this season, accounting for both the Taipans and 36ers to open up their 2019/20 season account in ideal fashion. New recruit Casper Ware’s transition from United to the Kings has been the spark the Kings may have needed all along, while Andrew Bogut, Brad Newley and Kevin Lisch have all been outstanding and are a big reason as to why the Kings will go in as favourites to defend their home court tonight.

PERTH WILDCATS vs. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Friday, October 18, 9.30pm
RAC Arena

The Wildcats are one of the three undefeated sides left in the competition and will be favoured to extend that streak when they host the winless Taipans. Unfortunately for the Taipans, after the two rounds they seem to have come back where they left off from last season, which saw them win just six games. They faced the Bullets and Hawks last round, and despite getting smashed by their state rivals, they bounced back strongly against the Hawks and fell by just one point. D.J. Newbill and Majok Deng starred for their side in the loss to the Hawks, and they will need to repeat their strong performances if their side is any chance to knock off the Wildcats at RAC Arena. Bryce Cotton and Terrico White, along with Nick Kay have been standouts for Perth, and all will be looking to feast on the winless Taipans in the later game tonight.

ADELAIDE 36ers vs. BRISBANE BULLETS
Saturday, October 19, 5.30pm
Adelaide Entertainment Centre

The 36ers made their first appearance in NBL 2019/20 last week and will be looking to breakthrough for their first win when they face off against the Bullets. Adelaide fell convincingly to the Kings last weekend but Daniel Johnson and Jerome Randle proved their worth, with Randle marking his return to the 36ers with a strong outing. Both will need to be at their best against the Bullets, who lost their first game of the season against South East Melbourne last Sunday. Brisbane had beaten the Hawks and Taipans in the Bullets’ first two games, but fell to a three-point happy Phoenix who simply torched them to hand them their first loss. Lamar Patterson was the lone star for the Bullets after his 30-point haul against the unbeaten newcomers, and his season has been exceptional to date which he’ll be undoubtedly looking to extend against the 36ers on Saturday afternoon.

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX vs. ILLAWARA HAWKS
Saturday, October 19, 7.30pm
Melbourne Arena

South East Melbourne will welcome the Hawks for their second home game as the newest NBL side will be looking to extend their unbeaten start to their first season as a club. Thanks to John Roberson’s stellar 30-point outing, which included draining 9-11 from beyond the arc, the Phoenix made light work of the Bullets last weekend to make it two wins from their first two games. Mitch Creek has also been instrumental for the Phoenix, all in the absence of Tai Wesley who’s injury replacement was named early this week as Jeffrey Crockett. The Hawks on the other hand have had a mixed start to their season, losing their first two games before breaking through by a solitary point against the bottom-placed Taipans last Sunday. Todd Blanchfield, Aaron Brooks and AJ Ogilvy all put in big performances to ensure they wouldn’t go into this weekend still without a win, and if they are to upset the unbeaten Phoenix, they will all need to have big outings in Melbourne.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS vs. SYDNEY KINGS
Sunday, October 20, 3pm
Spark Arena

The Breakers and Kings will lock horns for the second time this weekend, with the Kings this time having to play away in Auckland at Spark Arena for what will be New Zealand’s first home game of the season. It will also be the Breakers’ second game of the season, and will be hoping the likes of Hampton, Tom Abercrombie and Corey Webster all have strong outings as they’ll be hoping to come away from this weekend with at least one win. For the Kings, they’ll be hoping for a win on their home court on Friday night and that this matchup will mark the opportunity for them to make it four wins from as many games to kick off their season in the perfect way.

MELBOURNE UNITED vs. PERTH WILDCATS
Sunday, October 20, 5pm
Melbourne Arena

United will be looking for their first win of NBL 2019/20 when they host their Wildcats on Sunday. Melbourne hosted their cross-town rivals South East Melbourne in the season opener in Round 1, but they fell by three points and had to face off against two NBA opponents in the NBAxNBL pre-season program last weekend. They lost to both the LA Clippers and Sacramento Kings, but Chris Goulding, Melo Trimble and Shawn Long all impressed across the two games and will be all hoping to build on that to get United’s NBL campaign back on track. For the Wildcats, it will be their second game of the round and if they are to do what is expected and account for the winless Taipans on Friday night, they’ll be hoping for a win against United to extend their unbeaten start to the season to four games.

ILLAWARA HAWKS vs. ADELAIDE 36ERS
Monday, October 21, 7:30pm
WIN Entertainment Centre

In the final game of the round, the Hawks and 36ers lock horns on Monday night in what will be both sides’ second game of the round. The Hawks will be looking for their second win of the season on Saturday night against South East Melbourne, while the 36ers will be looking for their first against the Bullets who they host on Saturday afternoon. Regardless of the results of their early Round 3 matchups, both will be eagerly hoping for a win when they clash on Monday night, as the result of this match presents a great opportunity for both to kickstart their seasons and chase a place in the top four.

NBL 2019/20 Weekend preview: Round 2 – Taipans, Bullets and Hawks set for double-ups

THE Adelaide 36ers will make their first appearance in NBL 2019/20 as numerous juicy matchups headline round 2. We take a look at the five games across the weekend.

BRISBANE BULLETS vs. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Friday, October 11, 7.30pm
Queensland State Netball Centre

The round opens with the Bullets and Taipans locking horns in the all-Queensland clash. The Bullets were able to quell the LaMelo Ball hype with a 9-point win over Illawarra last Sunday and will be aiming to make it two wins on the trot as they gear up for a two-game weekend. They’ll be looking for strong performances from Lamar Paterson and Nathan Sobey, who led the Bullets in scoring against the Hawks. For the Taipans, they lost their season opener to Sydney and will certainly be looking to bounce back after failing to defend their home court. The Taipans outscored the Kings by eight points in the opening quarter, but they were outscored by a staggering 14 points in the final term which saw them fail to hold on to their six-point lead. Kouat Noi and Scott Machado will need to back up their strong showings in Round 1 as the Taipans will want to get on to the winners’ list as soon as possible to avoid a repeat of their wooden spoon last season – and there’s no better opportunity than to do it against their state rivals.

PERTH WILDCATS vs. ILLAWARRA HAWKS
Friday, October 11, 9.30pm
RAC Arena

The Wildcats host the Hawks for their second home game to open up their season, and they will be looking to make it two wins on the trot when they welcome LaMelo Ball’s side tonight. The Wildcats had do to do it tough last Saturday night against Melbourne United, coming from behind to start their campaign with a 1-point win. Dynamic duo Bryce Cotton and Terrico White were dominant in the win, and will be looking to replicate their 41-point haul against a Hawks side who will be hungry to taste their first win of the season. Illawarra clashed with the Bullets last weekend and despite strong showing from Aaron Brooks and NBA prospect Ball, they were unable to get a first round win. Both players will need to be at their best however if they want to achieve the toughest task in the NBL – a road win against the might of the Wildcats.

SYDNEY KINGS vs. ADELAIDE 36ers
Saturday, October 12, 5.30pm
Qudos Bank Arena

Sydney will be looking to build from their performance in round 1 as the host the 36ers who play their first NBL 2019/20 game after playing against the Utah Jazz last week. This matchup is particularly spicy as Jerome Randle will officially mark his return to the 36ers in an NBL match, after previously playing for the Kings after his first stint in Adelaide. The two-time 36ers Most Valuable Player led the way for his side with 18 points in their trying loss against the NBA’s Jazz and will need to do so again agains this former side. The Kings on the other hand were led by stars Casper Ware, Kevin Lisch and Andrew Bogut in their first round road win over Illawara. They looked like the real deal against the Hawks and look like they will be one of the favourites for this season’s Championship. This Saturday’s matchup against the 36ers poises as a great opportunity to continue on from last week and get their season off to the perfect start.

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX vs. BRISBANE BULLETS
Sunday, October 13, 3pm
Melbourne Arena

South East Melbourne will play their first home game since their inception as they host the Bullets. The Phoenix could not have asked for a better start in their debut outing after they held off a resurgent fightback from cross-town rivals Melbourne United to prevail by three points. Mitch Creek’s 28 points and 11 rebounds led the way for the Phoenix, who will want the former NBA player to build from that performance as they make their mark in the NBL. John Roberson put in 20 points despite being limited due to getting into early foul trouble, so if he is able to stay clear of that this weekend, the Phoenix will have a strong ace up their sleeves. For the Bullets, it will be their second game of the round as they will be returning from a Friday night matchup against their state rivals the Cairns Taipans.

ILLAWARRA HAWKS vs. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Monday, October 14, 7:30pm
WIN Entertainment Centre

In the final game of the round, all eyes will be on Ball yet again as he suits up for their second match of the round. The match will also be the Taipans’ second of the round, with both sides playing on Friday night against the Brisbane Bullets and Perth Wildcats respectively. Both suffered first round losses and will be looking to bounce back on Friday night despite facing two difficult tasks. Should they both falter under the Friday night lights, then this matchup will pose as the perfect opportunity for either to open up their win account for the new season. Ball, Brooks and AJ Ogilvy will need to have strong outings for the Hawks, as will Noi, Scott Machado and Cameron Oliver for the Taipans.

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