Author: Connor Ferris

NBL Semi-finals wash-up

THE long regular season is over and we have arrived at the NBL Finals. The first seeded Perth Wildcats secured a home court advantage throughout the finals, with the reigning champions Melbourne United securing home court for their first round matchup.

Perth Wildcats vs Brisbane Bullets series recap (Perth win series 2-0)

Game one

The Wildcats opened up their finals run with a home game against Brisbane who just managed to sneak into the finals on the final week of the regular season. The atmosphere was electric in Perth with the Wildcats fans eager to see their team go on another run towards a championship. The Bullets were use to the high pressure stakes, having essentially played finals type basketball for the past month, just to get themselves into the tournament and as a result they brought the intensity right out the gates. The Bullets sound gameplan was able to slow down Perth’s offence and keep the game as a defensive battle for the first 20 minutes. The Wildcats held a narrow 41-40 lead heading into the halftime break. The third quarter would prove to be the difference however, as the Wildcats made the proper halftime adjustments en route to a 30-15 third quarter to expand the lead heading into the final 10 minutes. The Bullets were unable to get any offence going in the fourth quarter, as Perth’s defence held the Bullets to just four points, to run away with an 89-59 win. Bryce Cotton led the way with 22, with teammates Nathan Kay and Terrico White adding 18 and 19 respectively. Bullets leading scorer Lamar Patterson was held to just three of 14 shooting from the field and kept in single figures with nine points, a tremendous defensive effort from the Wildcats.

Game two

The Bullets returned home, hoping to keep their season alive and sending the series to a win or go home game 3. Perth have proven to be a terrific road team throughout the season, so registering their first victory of the series was going to be no easy task. Lamar Patterson responded to his poor performance in game one, scoring six points in the early minutes to pace Brisbane and keep them in the game. He enjoyed a back and forth battle with Terrico White who led the way for his team. The two teams battled throughout the contest, with the lead never reaching double figures as we were set up for a grandstand finish. The Wildcats held a narrow seven point lead heading into the last quarter as the game had the feel of one which would come down to the final minutes. The Bullets battled right to the end and even cut the lead to just two points with three minutes remaining. To their credit, the Wildcats pushed the lead back up to six with one minute remaining before Cameron Gliddon made a huge three pointer to keep the game alive. Nicholas Kay then stepped up to the free throw line and made a pair of clutch free throws to put the game out of reach. The Wildcats advance to the grand final series, while the loss sees the Bullets season come to an end.

Melbourne United vs Sydney Kings series recap (Melbourne win 2-0)

Game one

The rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney was reignited as Melbourne United and the Sydney Kings battled it out in the NBL Semi final series. Despite finishing with the same record at the end of the regular season, Melbourne United gained a home court advantage and as a result would have the decisive game three at Melbourne Arena if required. A star studded series saw Andrew Bogut and Jerome Randle battle Casper Ware and his well rounded United team. The first quarter was electric as both teams lit it up from the field, with shots falling from just about everywhere. Melbourne United continued their hot shooting in the second quarter, while also keeping the Kings to just 11 second quarter points, which helped them open up a big halftime lead of 52-35. The Kings slowly cut into the lead in the third but United never let them get within realistic striking distance and managed to win the quarter by a point to carry a comfortable lead into the fourth. United put the game away early and eventually cruised to a 22-point win to take control of the series and move one step closer to defending their title. All the key players for United were on their game when it mattered most, with Josh Boone, DJ Kennedy, Mitch McCarron, Casper Ware and Chris Goulding combining for 88 of the teams 95 points. The Kings struggled on offence as United shut down Jerome Randle, holding him to just 13 points on just five for 13 from the field. League MVP Andrew Bogut also had very little impact with just seven points and seven rebounds.

Game two

The series shifted to Sydney on Sunday afternoon where Melbourne United looked to lock down their Grand Final meeting with the Wildcats and Sydney looked to extend the series. Jerome Randle once again struggled early, seemingly unable to get even the easiest of shots to fall, something that would continue throughout the game. This coupled with him having to chase Casper Ware around on the defensive end of the floor made for a tough outing for the Kings star, as he was thoroughly outplayed and outsmarted by the Melbourne team. Despite his struggles, the Kings kept themselves in the contest throughout and had every chance to emerge victorious. Melbourne once again took control in the third quarter to open up the game and put themselves in the drivers seat. Melbourne United played a fantastic final term to put the game and the series away, with a decisive 90-76 win. Casper Ware was absolutely unstoppable, with 30 points to lead the way, alongside teammate Chris Goulding who once again performed at his best. Randle finished with just one made field goal from his 15 attempts and was held to a season low two points in an incredible effort. The win moves Melbourne United into the second consecutive grand final series where they take on the Perth Wildcats. For the Kings, a fantastic resurgent season comes to an end, as does Andrew Gaze’s time as head coach of the club. Andrew Bogut will also be seeking an NBA contract as their season comes to a close, with a number of teams having expressed interest in the veteran big man, who could be a key contributor on a playoff side.

Weekend wash-up: NBL – Round 18

THE regular season is in the books and for six teams, their 2018/19 NBL season comes to an end, while for the Perth Wildcats, Melbourne United, Sydney Kings and Brisbane Bullets, the postseason awaits.

New Zealand Breakers 130 defeated Illawarra Hawks 96

Two teams who will not be taking part in the postseason tournament faced off on Thursday night with the winner moving into sole possession of 6th place on the NBL ladder. The Breakers were hoping their final home game of the season would be a great one and something that would give their fans hope heading into the offseason. The Breakers crowd were rocking early on, with their team jumping out to a huge first half lead, a lead which they would continue to build throughout the game. New Zealand won every quarter and built the lead to almost 40 points several times throughout the game before closing out with a 130-06 win. Eight players scored in double figures for the home side, led by Shawn Long’s 21 and Corey Webster’s 18. The Breakers season is one of definite disappointment as they had shown the potential to be one of the better teams in the league when they played their style of game, however the consistency just was not there on a week to week basis. For the Hawks, the loss signals back to the beginning of the season where their defence let them down and cost them a number of games. Their offence was serviceable throughout the game, especially when the second unit entered the game, with three bench players scoring in double figures.

Melbourne United 85 defeated by Cairns Taipans 87

If ever there was a trap game, this was it! Melbourne United opened the first of a two game homestand for the final round and a chance to secure homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs for a second consecutive year. The homestand began with a contest against the bottom of the table Cairns Taipans. United got off to a poor start, struggling to stop the Taipans offence, led by Melo Trimble and David Newbill, as well as an inability to hit shots of their own. The Taipans built a strong lead heading into the fourth quarter and continued to execute the gameplan and put themselves in position to steal a win. Cairns held an 86-79 lead with just three minutes remaining before United finally got on a roll and shut down the Taipans offence. A 6-0 run over the next two minutes, cut the lead to just one with 30 seconds remaining before Jarrod Kenny hit a clutch free throw in the final 10 seconds to increase the lead to two. Melbourne United had one final chance to escape with a win, however unfortunately for the Melbourne fans, Mitch McCarron’s three pointer would just miss, as Cairns ended Melbourne United’s hopes of claiming top spot. Trimble and Newbill combined for 39 points as the duo enjoyed quite the duel with Casper Ware and Bryce Cotton who combined for 40.

Perth Wildcats 93 defeated Adelaide 36ers 85

Following Melbourne United’s loss the night before, the Wildcats had a chance to claim top spot with a win over Adelaide, who were hoping to tighten their grasp on the final playoff spot. In a potential first round matchup, Adelaide were impressive early on but Perth would eventually find their rhythm. Heading into the final quarter, the 36ers held a narrow four point lead as the game had the feel of one that would come down to the wire. The Wildcats came out with a flurry to begin the final term where Bryce Cotton would prove just how valuable he is as he once again rose to the challenge and carried his side to victory. Big shots, electric drives and clutch plays from Cotton led the Wildcats to an eight point win and with it top spot and homecourt advantage in the playoffs. Cotton finished with 29 while Terrico White added a further 20. The loss significantly hurts the 36ers chances of securing the fourth seed and opens the door for the Bullets later in the round, to take their spot.

Sydney Kings 89 defeated Cairns Taipans 84

Looking to record their second consecutive upset over the big three this round, the Taipans rolled into Sydney for their final game of the season. The Kings would require a victory and a loss by Melbourne United to claim the second seed and homecourt in the first round. Both teams brought the intensity early, with Cairns once again proving they’re a better team than their record and ladder positioning may show. The Kings turned up the intensity of the defensive side of the ball, something that has been a staple of their turnaround season and with it ceased control of the game in the second half. The Taipans would not go quietly, taking the game into the final minutes before the Kings superiority shun through as they closed out a tight win. A huge win in the context of the season and a huge win without Jerome Randle. Andrew Bogut was his usual reliable self with a 12 point, 12 rebound double double to go with 6 assists as he once again facilitated the offence. Melo Trimble did everything he could to get his side the win but the lack of support around the star player was once again on full display. Trimble’s terrific season comes to an end as does the teams season as a whole.

Brisbane Bullets 84 defeated New Zealand Breakers 78

As the classic NBA line goes; ‘’win or go home’’. The Brisbane Bullets had a simple task. Win and go to the playoffs, or lose and watch the playoffs from home. The Brisbane crowd provided the energy for their team early on and the players responded, producing a sound first half and carrying a narrow lead. Shawn Long and Tai Wesley kept the visitors in the game, combining for over half of the team’s total points in the end, with 40 of the total 78. Long and Wesley went toe to toe with Lamar Patterson and Jason Cadee for Brisbane who scored almost half of their sides points with 41 between them. With just two minutes remaining the game was tied at 77 and the hometown crowd were on the edge of their seats. Lamar Patterson knocked down a layup to give the Bullets the lead before coming down the very next possession and drilling a three pointer to put the game out of reach. The big shots from Patterson assured the Bullets fourth place on the NBL ladder and the final spot in the playoffs, where they will take on the 1 seed Perth Wildcats.

Melbourne United 81 defeated Perth Wildcats 70

The final game of the regular season took place Sunday afternoon in Melbourne with the two best teams in the competition going head to head in a potential Grand Final preview. The Wildcats had already secured top spot but had every intention of ruining United’s quest for the number two spot and homecourt against the Kings in the first round of the playoffs. The game was an offensive struggle, a combination of poor shot selection, bad turnovers and some tight defence overall which saw no team score over 20 points in a single quarter for the first three periods. Down seven heading into the final 10 minutes it looked as though Melbourne would fall for the second consecutive game this weekend and drop to third on the ladder. The Wildcats maintained the lead of seven into the final three minutes before United locked down their offence and started to hit shots of their own. Two consecutive layups from Casper Ware and Mitch McCarron cut the lead to a one possession game before Chris Goulding nailed a huge three to tie the game with 15 seconds remaining. The Wildcats had a chance to end the game in regulation but were unsuccessful as we were sent into an extra session. In the overtime period, United took complete control, outscoring Perth 13-2 and closing out the season with a win despite Casper Ware going just 3 of 16 from the field. Credit goes to DJ Kennedy and Mitch McCarron who combined for 36 points.

A huge finals series ahead with the top seeded Perth Wildcats hosting the Brisbane Bullets in one side of the bracket, while the reigning champions Melbourne United host the resurgent three seed Sydney Kings in the other series.

Weekend wash-up: NBL – Round 17

IN just the penultimate round of the regular season teams battle for the final available spot in the finals, while the three teams entrenched in the top four jostle for home court advantage throughout the playoffs.


New Zealand Breakers 107 defeated by Adelaide 36ers 114

With finals out of reach for the Breakers they hosted the 36ers with a chance to put a dent in Adelaide’s finals hopes and keep last years runners up out of the top four. After an inconsistent start to the season the 36ers seem to have found their stride at the right time and head into the final weeks of the season playing as well as anyone in the league. Adelaide came out the gates strong and opened up a double figure lead heading into halftime. Shawn Long and Nathan Sobey enjoyed quite the back and fourth duel as Long did everything he could to keep the Breakers within striking distance. New Zealand were able to cut the lead to single figures early in the final quarter and with momentum on their side appeared to be on their way to causing an upset victory. To their credit, the 36ers responded and put the game out of reach and established themselves as a force to be reckoned with. Nathan Sobey finished with 27 points, five rebounds and nine assists in an excellent all around game, while teammate Ramone Moore added 18 points off the bench, providing a huge spark for the 36ers in his first game since January.

Brisbane Bullets 98 defeated Illawarra Hawks 87

The Bullets came into round 17 just a game out of the top four, needing to make up one game on the Adelaide 36ers over the final two rounds. They played host to the Illawarra Hawks who have had a great second half of the season but appears as though it will be too little too late. The two teams played the best game of the round, in what was mostly a defensive struggle with a slow tempo but an exciting game none the less. The margin was in single figures for much of the game and would come down to the final seconds of regulation. A pair of huge free throws from Adam Gibson with just 10 seconds left allowed the Bullets to tie the game and send it into overtime. In the extra session the Bullets took firm control, outscoring the Hawks 14-3 and keeping their finals hope alive. Lamar Patterson continued his strong stretch of play with 24 points to pace Brisbane, while the Hawks used an all around team effort which saw six players score in double figures, led by four bench players.

Sydney Kings 97 defeated Melbourne United 85

In the biggest game of the round and of the season to this point, the Sydney Kings hosted Melbourne United in Sydney, a place that has seen many successes for the visiting side. Both teams brought the intensity of the defensive end from the start of the game as baskets were hard to come by. Melbourne especially struggled to find their flow, with their usual high scoring offence scoring just 39 points in the first half. The Kings made key half-time adjustments to build on their narrow lead, opening up a 12 point advantage heading into the final quarter. Melbourne United were unable to make any inroads on the lead as the Kings got the huge victory and cut into United’s lead above the top of the table. The point guard, centre duo of Jerome Randle and Andrew Bogut was huge, with Bogut controlling the inside and creating space on offense for Randle to penetrate, attack and kick out to shooters. Randle finished with 21 points, while Bogut added 15 points and 12 rebounds. Melbourne United star Casper Ware struggled to put his imprint on the game, going just seven of 19 from the field for 17 points. The win drops United back into a three way tie in the loss column with the Kings and Wildcats as the race for home court in the playoffs heat up.

Cairns Taipans 79 defeated Brisbane Bullets 68

The Taipans have enjoyed a nice month of basketball, winning three games in the past four weeks after winning just one of their first 15 games. On paper this looked like an easy win for the Bullets which would further allow them to establish themselves as a finals fancy. This would absolutely not be the case however as the Taipans blitzed the Bullets early on, establishing a comfortable lead, which they would not surrender. The Taipans defence was unbelievable all day, keeping the Bullets to just 68 points for the entire game, this was highlighted by a first quarter in which they held them to only 11 points and a third quarter where they held Brisbane to 13 points. Their elite defence will be something to watch next season with the last several games showing the potential they have moving forward. Melo Trimble is a star who continues to impress with each passing game, scoring 23 points to lead the home team. Outside of Lamar Patterson and Jeremy Kendle the Bullets could not get anything going on the offensive side of the ball. The loss drops them two games behind Adelaide with just three to play and sees their final hopes fade.

Illawarra Hawks 81 defeated by New Zealand Breakers 96

After a disappointing outing in Brisbane earlier this weekend, the Hawks returned home to take on the Breakers who were also coming off a loss. The Hawks have been a tough out at home all season and their exciting play has energised the fans, helping to create a home court advantage and a difficult place to play. Unfortunately for the great fans of Illawarra there was not much to cheer about in this contest as the Breakers controlled the game from start to finish in a wire-to-wire victory where they never surrendered the lead. Shawn Long’s big stretch continued and teammate Tai Wesley had his best game in months, scoring 23 points on 10 of 14 from the field. For the Hawks, Brian Conklin impressed with 20 points but the lack of offensive success hurt the Hawks with just 81 points for the game.

Adelaide 36ers 87 defeated by Melbourne United 89

In the first of two huge Sunday afternoon games, Melbourne United continued their road trip when they took on Adelaide. Both teams looked good early and the intensity was there from both teams in a tight back and forth first half, where Adelaide held a 52-48 lead at the half. The defences took control in the third quarter in just a 18-16 third term which allowed the 36ers to build a solid six point lead heading into the final 10 minutes. Melbourne United as they have done so many times over the past two seasons, stormed home and turned the game into a tight one which would come down to the final minutes. Chris Goulding’s back to back clutch shots, tied the game at 84 and gave United the 86-84 lead. The 36ers had several chances to tie or take the lead in the final minute but were unable to. This resulted in a clutch stepback jumpshot from Casper Ware who iced the game and secured a huge win for United. The loss for Adelaide drops them back to only one game ahead of the Bullets heading into the last round. The win for United is huge in that it ties them for top spot with the Perth ahead of their huge encounter next week.

Perth Wildcats 95 defeated Sydney Kings 86

If we thought the game between Melbourne United and the Sydney Kings was intense earlier this round, then this game was something else. With both teams tied with only nine losses the Wildcats hosted the Kings looking to leapfrog them and head into the top spot in the standings. The Kings completely shut down the Wildcats in the first quarter, jumping out to a 26-12 lead and looked all the goods to take the game over. The Wildcats slowly crept back into the game, cutting the lead to 10 at the half and then four heading into the fourth quarter. The Wildcats finally took the lead early in the fourth quarter and set us up for a grandstand finish. Jerome Randle got hot, scoring seven points in a one minute stretch to regain the lead for Sydney. This run was immediately answered by Nathan Kay and Damian Martin who hit huge shots down the stretch to tie the game at 77 with just 24 seconds remaining. The Kings had a chance to close out the game in regulation but Randle missed a floating shot which allowed the Wildcats a chance to win at the buzzer which was also unsuccessful. The game would go into overtime before the Wildcats used their second half momentum to run out nine point winners and drop the Kings to third on the ladder, putting their name forward for home court advantage. The superstar guards Bryce Cotton and Randle put on a show for their teams, with Cotton winning the battle, outscoring Randle 27-25 as well as the win.

Weekend wash-up: NBL – Round 16

A HUGE round 16 featured two mini playoff series with the New Zealand Breakers and Melbourne United, as well as the Brisbane Bullets and Sydney Kings playing a home and home series over the weekend. The top three was officially locked up with Melbourne, Perth and Sydney all securing their place in the post season while several teams will battle for the final spot as we head into the business end of the season.

New Zealand Breakers 87 defeated by Melbourne United 107

The round kicked off Friday night as Melbourne United travelled to New Zealand to take on the Breakers. The Breakers enjoyed some early season success against United and were hoping to replicate that performance and keep themselves alive for a playoff berth. Melbourne United to their credit came out of the gates on fire and took care of business as was expected. United opened up a 25 point lead at halftime and never allowed the Breakers to get a rhythm. David Barlow and Chris Goulding paced the visitors with 47 points between the two, as well as strong games from DJ Kennedy and Josh Boone which were much needed as star Casper Ware struggled. The win allows United to maintain their position atop the NBL ladder and all but ends the season for the New Zealand Breakers.

Brisbane Bullets 93 defeated by Sydney Kings 95

The Kings and Bullets met for their first of two contests for the weekend. The two teams played out an incredible game with big plays across the board from superstar players on both sides. The game was back and forth for the most part with Sydney gaining the early edge before the Bullets fought their way back into the game to make it into a ten minute contest in the final quarter. Both teams were fantastic on defence in the final quarter, forcing the opposition into tough shots and making their life difficult. The teams traded big buckets down the stretch with the Bullets trying to steal a win after trailing much of the contest. David Wear hit a huge three to put the Kings up three, before Reuben Te Rangi answered back immediately to tie the contest up once again. Jerome Randle made a huge drive to the basket and converted for two to give the Kings what would ultimately be the game winning basket in a 95-93 victory.

Perth Wildcats 104 defeated Illawarra Hawks 90

The Wildcats have found their footing once again after going through a midseason slump and appear set to chase another championship. They took on the Illawarra Hawks who are looking to scrape into the top four and secure their spot in the playoffs. The Hawks came out the gates hot on offence but couldn’t slow the Wildcats down, surrendering 60 points in the first half. Terrico White and Bryce Cotton were both unstoppable, combining for 53 points in the end, while Nathan Kay also added 17 points and 12 rebounds. The Hawks put together a strong second half and were able to withstand the great shooting of the Wildcats and slow them down however the start would ultimately doom them as Perth never allowed them to get within striking distance. Brian Conklin carried the load offensively for the Hawks, scoring 20 points in an efficient performance.

Cairns Taipans 91 defeated by Adelaide 36ers 100

With bottom spot on the NBL ladder already well and truly secured, the Taipans are hoping they can find some form leading into the offseason whilst also spoiling the season of those teams whom they play. They put up a strong fight but were jumped at the start before finding their footing and making a contest of it. As has been the story all season Melo Trimble was spectacular, leading the charge for Cairns, scoring 21 points. The 36ers managed to use a total team effort from the likes of Daniel Johnson (24 points, right rebounds), Nathan Sobey (14 points) and three other players in double figures. With a minor lead at the half, the 36ers used a strong third quarter, outscoring the Taipans 31-21 and putting themselves in a position to close out the contest. The win allows the 36ers to take possession of the four spot in the standings and push for a finals berth, with the hope of avenging their championship series loss from a year ago.

Sydney Kings 107 defeated Brisbane Bullets 91

The Kings and Bullets met for the second time this weekend with the Kings looking to complete the clean sweep and keep the pressure on their competitors Melbourne and Perth atop the standings. The Kings used the momentum and confidence they’d gained from the last encounter and electrified the home crowd in the first quarter, going ahead 34-18. The starters did a great job establishing the tempo early on and four of five starters ended up in double figures as Andrew Bogut scored 13 points, Kevin Lisch added 21, 14 from Brad Newley and a standout 26-point game from their superstar Jerome Randle. The big four for the Kings went head to head with Lamar Patterson and Cameron Bairstow who combined for 43 but the Kings team performance would prove to be too much to overcome as the Kings cruised to another win. Another damaging loss for the Bullets as they lose grip on their spot in the top four with the 36ers taking sole possession.

Melbourne United 111 defeated New Zealand Breakers 102

Much like the Kings earlier in the day, Melbourne United had the opportunity to sweep the home and home series against the Breakers. Unlike Friday night, United were unable to take control and impose their will on the Breakers as New Zealand played them tough throughout the first half to keep the game close. Melbourne appeared to be on their way to victory after a 34-23 third quarter but it was the Breakers who came home strong closing out the final quarter on a 28-16 run, including a big three from Corey Webster to tie the game with just 10 seconds left and send the game into overtime. The teams battled right to the end before David Barlow hit a three to put the game away and secure a huge win for United. Mitch McCarron and DJ Kennedy combined for 48 points as they outplayed Shawn Long and Corey Webster who combined for 44 points for New Zealand.

Illawarra Hawks 110 defeated Cairns Taipans 95

The Hawks had a golden opportunity to get themselves back into contention for a playoff berth following the back to back losses for Brisbane. The Hawks inconsistent play throughout much of the first half of the season was in large part due to their inability to get strong consistent performances out of multiple players. This contest against the Taipans may have been the best all around game for the team with seven players scoring in double figures in what ended up as an easy victory. The Taipans also had a strong team performance with all five starters scoring in double figures however with a bad game by Melo Trimble’s standards were unable to remain competitive. The loss drops the Taipans to just four wins and 21 losses from their 25 games and drops them further behind the rest of the competition. The Hawks with the win now move to within one game of fourth just behind the Brisbane Bullets.

Weekend wash-up: NBL – Round 13

AS the regular season winds down, teams continue to jostle for positions in the final weeks, as the postseason draws near. It was another round filled with upsets, thrilling finishes and huge comebacks.

Illawarra Hawks (96) defeated by Adelaide 36ers (102)

Two teams battling to keep pace kicked off the round in an important contest. The Hawks continued their red hot shooting form of recent weeks, jumping out to a huge lead early in the first half as they controlled the rhythm and pace of the game. The 36ers were able to up the intensity on the defensive end after the first quarter in which they gave up 32, holding the Hawks to just 21, 25 and 18 points in the final three quarters. As the game slowed down, Adelaide was able to gain control and gradually cut the Hawks’ lead down. Adelaide used a 30-18 final quarter to run over the top of Illawarra and restart its push towards a finals berth. Brian Conklin and Todd Blanchfield did their part to keep the Hawks in contention but were unable to contend with Nathan Sobey and Ramone Moore who combined for 45 points and were catalysts in the victory. The win for the 36ers brings them to within just one game of Brisbane as we head into the final month of the season.

Sydney Kings (100) defeated New Zealand Breakers (92)

After a perfect week last week for the Breakers, going 2-0 with two impressive victories, they headed on the road to do battle with the ladder leaders, Sydney Kings. The teams enjoyed a fiercely competitive battle throughout the first three quarters, with the margin never reaching double figures, as the Kings took a one-point lead into the final term. The Kings’ hot shooting propelled them to an early lead in the fourth, one which they would not surrender thanks to the big shot-making ability of Brian Bowen who owned the final 10 minutes. Kevin Lisch and Jerome Randle were impressive as usual and made the key plays when it mattered most on both the offensive and defensive end. The ability of the Kings to win the close games has been critical for them all year and is the biggest factor in them maintaining first place to this point.  Their situational awareness and fearlessness in the biggest of moments will leave them in good stead come the postseason. The Breakers, despite the loss once again, showed they can compete with the best sides in the competition. They appear to be hitting their stride at the right time, led by Shawn Long, who is enjoying his best stretch of the season.

Perth Wildcats (79) defeated by Cairns Taipans (81)

The Wildcats and Taipans met for the third time this season,with Perth looking to go up 3-0 in the season series, having won the first two games by double digits. The Wildcats’ offensive woes of recent weeks continued in the first half, with them seemingly unable to generate any easy baskets to go along with the poor outside shooting. Their tenacity on the defensive end kept them  in the contest as they held the Taipans to just 44 points in the first half. TheTaipans continued to hold the lead deep into the contest before Perth came home with a huge flurry, cutting the lead to one in the final moments. Melo Trimble split a pair of free throws to increase the Taipans’ lead to two with seven seconds remaining, which set us up for the grand slam finish. Bryce Cotton got off a good look from three to win the game but was unsuccessful, as the Taipans won their second game in as many weeks and knocked Perth down to third on the ladder. Trimble starred for the winning side with 32 points and enjoyed a nice duel with Nicholas Kay and Bryce Cotton, who combined to score 38 points for Perth.

Adelaide 36ers (90) defeated by Brisbane Bullets (102)

After a crucial win on Thursday, the 36ers found themselves with a huge chance to jump the Brisbane Bullets and take over fourth position. They were well on their way to another win, holding a nine-point edge heading into the fourth quarter before going cold in the final 10 minutes as the Bullets got hot and found their offence. The Bullets outscored the 36ers 35-14 in the final term and ran out 12-point victors in a loss that significantly damages Adelaide’s chances as we draw closer and closer to the finals series. Lamar Patterson and Matthew Hodgson put in double doubles, controlling the offensive and defensive boards while former Chicago Bull, Cameron Bairstow provided the bulk of the offence with 20 points. Demitrius Conger added his second straight strong game for Adelaide and showed he can be a key part of their side moving forward. The victory for the Bullets puts them at 11 wins and nine losses from their first 20g ames, while the 36ers drop to 10-10 and miss out on a huge opportunity.

Sydney Kings (84) defeated by Illawarra Hawks (96)

The Kings returned home to take on the Hawks in a Sunday afternoon clash. With Perth losing earlier in the round, the Kings had a chance to increase their lead above the Wildcats and continue to hold off Melbourne United breathing down their neck. As was the case last week however, the Kings were unable to take advantage of the opportunity in front of them, dropping a rare home game in a largely noncompetitive game. Illawarra took advantage of the Kings early and jumped out to a double figure lead, which they would maintain for the majority of the contest. The Kings’ offence never really kicked into action, with the role players outside of Jerome Randle and Kevin Lisch unable to get going. Andrew Bogut did put in a strong game offensively but had limited opportunities on just six shots. The bench unit for the Hawks kept the lead well when the starters went out of the game, with Jordair Jett and Emmett Naar pouring in 34 points in limited action, providing the instant offence. The Hawks continue to be a tough out and will be a side to watch in the final weeks.

Cairns Taipans (89) defeated by Melbourne United (99)

In the final game of the round, the second place Melbourne United had a chance to keep pace with the Sydney Kings and close the round out even in the loss column. After winning just two of their first 15 games, the Taipans had a chance to have their first perfect week and start their first winning streak of the season. The Taipans appeared to be well on their way to that second straight victory after Melo Trimble hit a big three to put them up by 13 points with under five minutes to go. Out of the time-out, United were able to make the necessary adjustments to edge themselves back in the game and be in a position to pull off an improbable win. David Barlow’s three-pointer with 17 seconds remaining tied the game and with the Taipans missing the final shot, the game went into overtime. In the extra session, United continued the momentum they built at the end of regulation, scoring the first 12 points of overtime and ultimately cruising to an easy win. Despite the loss, Melo Trimble turned out the highest scoring game of the year, scoring 42 points and hitting seven three-pointers in an unbelievable effort. Casper Ware did his best to match Trimble’s heroics scoring 27 points to go along with his six assists and five rebounds. The win pulls United into a tie in the loss column with the Kings, just one victory away from top spot.

Weekend wash-up: NBL- Round 12

ROUND 12 saw a number of huge upsets as some of the top teams in the league were toppled in disappointing performances. The top three teams in the competition (Sydney, Perth and Melbourne) all suffered defeats over the weekend while the bottom three teams (Cairns, Illawarra and New Zealand) all tasted victory.

Cairns Taipans (109) defeated Brisbane Bullets (80)

The Taipans came into the round well and truly entrenched into bottom spot on the National Basketball League (NBL) ladder and their season a complete disaster to this point. However, their round 12 performance would prove to be an absolute masterclass as they flashed their full potential in a dominant performance over the in-form Brisbane Bullets. The Taipans won all four quarters and built their lead to as much as 30, firing on all cylinders at the offensive end while also locking down the Bullets offence. The win for the Taipans was just their second of the year but gives their fans hope through the second half of the year that they can be a force to be reckoned with in the future. Devon Hall, Nathan Jawai, DJ Newbill, Melo Trimble and Jarrod Kenny all scored in double figures in what was Cairns’ most complete team performance to date. For the Bullets, their offence was almost non-existent outside of Lamar Patterson,who scored 27 points on an efficient 10 of 14 from the field.

Adelaide 36ers (96) defeated by New Zealand Breakers (104)

The Breakers and the 36ers entered the round just one game out of a top four position as the two teams met in a crucial clash which could have bigger ramifications down the line. The 36ers have been struggling to rediscover their form from last season, seemingly unable to put together a strong game plan for the full four quarters. This was exemplified in this game as they came out the blocks on fire and led 49-41 at the half. From that point on however, it would be the Breakers who took all the momentum and ran away with the victory. Shawn Long was near unstoppable for New Zealand with a 28 points, 18 rebounds double-double. His ability to generate second shots for his team whiet also restricting the second-chance opportunities for Adelaide were a big key to victory. Teammate, Tai Wesley also added a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds as the two nullified the influence of Adelaide’s big men, leaving much of the load to guard, Nathan Sobey,who was impressive despite the loss.

Illawarra Hawks (78) defeated Sydney Kings (71)

The Kings came into the round in a three team battle for top spot and had a golden opportunity to separate themselves from Melbourne and Perth. They took on the Hawks who had been impressive of late in what was expected to be a tough outing. The two teams played an old school, grind-it-out defensive battle, with the top scorers for both teams being held relatively in check. Illawarra controlled the majority of the contest but was unable to create enough separation to put the Kings away. The Kings had the lead down to as low as one point with 40 seconds remaining before Brian Conklin hit four clutch free throws down the stretch to ice the game. Kevin Lisch led the Kings in scoring with 19 with his offence being crucial, given the poor shooting game of Jerome Randle and the lack of impact from Brad Newley. The second unit would prove to be the difference for Illawarra with Brian Conklin and Tim Coenraad combining for 35 points in just 37 minutes of play.

New Zealand Breakers (97) defeated Perth Wildcats (84)

The Wildcats were flying high early in the season and appeared to be returning to the championship form of seasons past, however their form in recent weeks has raised some alarm bells. This coincided with them taking on a New Zealand team who had found its stride in recent weeks and was coming off an impressive victory earlier in the round. In almost a repeat of their contest against Adelaide from earlier in the round, the Breakers fell behind early and struggled to find a rhythm. The third quarter would once again be the charm for the Breakers though, as they doubled Perth up with a 26-13 stretch to take a lead into the final term. From there, the Breakers took over and cruised to a comfortable 13-point victory and dropped the Wildcats to yet another loss. The duo of Shawn Long and Tai Wesley were impressive once again,combining for 53 of the team’s 97 points and protecting the rim on the defensive side of the ball. The two former NBA stars for the Wildcats in Bryce Cotton and Terrico White enjoyed some success for Perth with 43 points between them, but ultimately would not be enough for the win.

Brisbane Bullets (95) defeated Melbourne United (86)

Following the losses of the Kings and Wildcats, the defending champions, Melbourne United had a golden opportunity to reclaim their place atop the NBL ladder. That task would not be so simple as they took on the Bullets in Brisbane. The two teams engaged in a tough battle from start to finish as we entered the fourth quarter with the Bullets ahead by one point.The Bullets took control of the final term early and never allowed United to get back in the game, with the Melbourne side seemingly unable to get the defensive stops when it mattered most. Casper Ware made some big shots down the stretch to cut into the margin, scoring a game high 29 but it would not beenough as the Bullets knocked the reigning champs off to continue the round of the underdogs. A total team performance saw four of their five starters score in double figures, led by Matthew Hodgson’s 17 points. It was a huge win for the Bullets following their disappointing outing against the Taipans from earlier in the round to ensure they maintain their spot in the top four, just three games behind the top-of-the-table Sydney Kings. The loss for Melbourne United sees them drop back to third, whereas a win would’ve placed them atop the standings.

Cairns Taipans (82) defeated by Sydney Kings (86)

The Taipans continued their home stand with an encounter against the Sydney Kings to close out the round. In another strong outing, the Taipans had the home crowd buzzing as they gave the Kings everything they could handle and almost pulled off another monumental upset. After falling behind by 11 points in the first quarter, the Taipans played three near perfect quarters and left themselves an opportunity to steal a victory. Trailing by one point with two minutes remaining, the Kings got huge shots from Kevin Lisch, Jerome Randle and Daniel Kickert on consecutive possessions to put the game out of reach and get the Kings a huge bounce-back win. Nathan Jawai played his best all-round game of the season with 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists on 8/10 from the field. Melo Trimble also stuffed the stat sheet with 22 points, six rebounds and five assists. For the Kings though, it was the huge game from Andrew Bogut who controlled both ends of the floor with 15 points and 17 rebounds, while acting as the team’s defensive anchor.