Author: Peter Williams

2019/20 WNBL weekend preview: Round 9 – Top three clash to end round on a high

A MASSIVE clash between Southside Flyers and University of Canberra Capitals on Sunday caps off a split round of Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) action which sees the Flyers and Townsville Fire open the round on Friday night, then back up with second games. Plenty is on the line in the other games between Adelaide Lightning and Bendigo Spirit, and Perth Lynx and Melbourne Boomers.

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS v. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Friday, December 13, 7.30pm
Dandenong Stadium

In the opening game of the round, top of the table Southside Flyers host bottom two side, Townsville Fire at Dandenong. The Fire leapt off the bottom of the table last round following a nice win over the now cellar dwellers, Bendigo Spirit by 14 points. The Fire had won just one of the eight games prior to that victory, and still remain with just two wins from nine games – the complete opposite to Southside enjoying a four-game winning streak for 10-1 ladder leaders. The matchup will be the third time these sides have clashed this year, and the Flyers have unsurprisingly won both, winning by nine points in Round 1 over the Fire, before completely taking control in the second game on November 23, scoring 91-59. Mercedes Russell will once again be a key player in the center for Southside, averaging 16.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per game and likely to be the difference on court. Leilani Mitchell (16.2 points and 6.0 assists) and Rebecca Cole (15.9 points and 3.8 assists) have been important in the guard positions for the favourites, while Townsville has had some strong individual performances from its forwards. Abby Bishop has been the shining light in season 2019/20 for the Fire, averaging 18.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.4 steals per game. Darcee Garbin is coming off an impressive performance last week and will be hoping to add to her 12.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, and help Townsville cause a huge upset. Both these teams play a second game in Round 9 on Sunday in different states, so management will be key.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING v. BENDIGO SPIRIT
Sunday, December 15, 1pm
Titanium Security Arena

Heading west to South Australia, the fourth placed Adelaide Lightning are narrowly clinging to a finals position at this point of the season, just one and a half games clear of Sydney Uni, and two and a half games clear of Perth and Townsville. Whilst it may seem comfortable, Adelaide is three games away from the top three, and had a couple more losses than any of the sides about it. Having left the door to the top four ajar with a loss to Sydney Uni last week, Adelaide must simply rebound with a victory at home against this season’s cellar dwellers. Bendigo dropped to the bottom of the table with a sixth consecutive loss last weekend, going down to previous ladder carriers, Townsville. With the equal most games played in the league at 11, Bendigo must find a way to flick the switch and make a run from this point, with its season on life support if a change does not happen soon. The positive for Bendigo is that one of its wins did come against Adelaide, getting up by 13 points earlier in the season, before going down by 28 points in a forgettable performance on the road. Stephanie Talbot has been a consistent player for the Lightning this year, posting up 16.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game, sharing the load off the boards with Brianna Turner (14.8 points, 9.9 rebounds). Lauren Nicholson (15.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists) has also been prominent as expected, while the introduction of Kathryn Westbeld (11.3 points, 5.0 rebounds) over the past three games has helped. The Spirit have one of the most even teams across the board, with no one standout player. Their highest scorer is Tessa Lavey, averaging just 10.7 points, as well as 3.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Kelly Wilson (9.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 6.4 assists) and Rebecca Tobin (8.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2,0 assists) are others who have had some seriously dominant moments, but it is just piecing it all together.

PERTH LYNX v. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Sunday, December 15, 1pm
Bendat Basketball Stadium

Continuing the trip west down the highway, Perth Lynx host Melbourne Boomers in Western Australia with last year’s finalists season slowly slipping away. The Lynx have to see this as a must-win, losing their past four games and winning just three from 11 to sit two and a half games adrift of fourth spot. The good news for Perth is, two of its wins have come at home, though it has hardly been a fortress, dropping three games at the same time. For the Boomers, the road trip holds no fears, recording four wins from five games when travelling and they only have to look to last week for form when Melbourne got up over Perth by nine points at the State Basketball Centre. The last time these two sides played in Perth was last season, when the Lynx got up by 14 points. Alison Schwagmeyer has been superb for the Lynx this year, averaging 16.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, teaming up well with fellow Americans Imani McGee-Stafford (13.8 points, 9.6 rebounds) and Ariel Atkins (9.7 points, 4.7 rebounds) when they played. Katie-Rae Ebzery has also been a reliable option at the guard position, averaging 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game this season. The Boomers have had plenty of contributors across the list, with Cayla George being enormous as one of the bigs, averaging 14.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. Lindsay Allen (16.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists) and Madeleine Garrick (12.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists) are others

TOWNSVILLE FIRE v. SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Sunday, December 15, 1pm
Townsville Stadium

In what will be Townsville’s second game of the round, the Fire will be hoping to burn brighter and faster than their opponents when Sydney Uni Flames come to town. Back-to-back wins for Townsville will be crucial in keeping the faint hope of finals alive, but it will be a tough ask given Sydney Uni have a top four spot on the line with a win. The points difference is too great to immediately leapfrog Adelaide Lightning into a finals position, but the Flames will need to win to keep touch with the top four given the Lightning also play the bottom of the table Bendigo Spirit. These two sides have only clashed the once thus far in season 2019/20 with Sydney Uni getting up by nine points at home on November 7. Last season when the Flames finished on the bottom, Townsville won all three head-to-head encounters and will hope to channel that energy for this game. Aside from Bishop’s impact and Garbin’s recent form, Tess Madgen (11.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists) and Bridget Carleton (10.9 points, 5.1 rebounds) are the other two Fire players who average double-figure points this season. For the Flames, Alice Kunek averages a team-high 17.9 points per game as well as 4.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Colleen Planeta‘s best is as good as anyone else in the competition with the American posting up 16.4 points and 7.4 rebounds, slightly more than American teammate, Jessica Kuster. The forward has sank 12.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, but has shot at a deadly 60.2 per cent from the field. Sydney Uni will be favourites in this game, but Townsville has its season on the line in this clash.

UC CAPITALS v. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Sunday, December 15, 5pm
National Convention Centre (Canberra)

The best game has been saved until last with third placed University of Canberra (UC) Capitals hosting top of the table Southside Flyers in the nation’s capital on Sunday evening. The Capitals are the only side to have penetrated the otherwise unflappable defence of the Flyers, winning 91-72 on the road in one of the performances of the year. It gives the Capitals great confidence coming into this clash now they return home, while for Southside, there is perhaps further motivation on top of getting the win by levelling the two teams head-to-head for this season. The Capitals’ starting five is superb, and with the success that has come, they have started blooding some youngsters as well. Kia Nurse (21.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists) is the key scorer, while Kelsey Griffin (17.9 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.3 steals) is once again a Most Valuable Player (MVP) contender. Olivia Epoupa (8.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 3.2 steals) is not a huge scorer but just contributes across all areas, while Gemma Potter has come off the bench every week gaining valuable minutes for future development. A couple of others for the Flyers who have been important up the forward end are Sara Blicavs (14.9 points, 6.6 rebounds) and Jenna O’Hea (14.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists) rounding out a strong starting five with Russell, Mitchell and Cole, even with the bulk of the scoring only come from those players. The Capitals depth might see them turn the tables on Southside, and have a six-game winning streak themselves, but one thing is for sure, this game is going to be a cracker.

2019/20 NBL Team of the Week: Round 10

IN a weekend of high intensity and huge individual scores in the National Basketball League (NBL), it was difficult to determine a Draft Central NBL Team of the Week for Round 10. In the end, eight of the nine teams were represented, with Melbourne United and South East Melbourne Phoenix both having two members in the team, while cellar dwellers, Illawarra Hawks were the only side without a player making the final 10.

Shawn Long‘s remarkable season continued with 34 points and 15 rebounds, shooting at 71.4 per cent from the field in his standalone game against Adelaide 36ers on the weekend. He along with teammate Melo Trimble were the clear standouts for United, while for Adelaide, Eric Griffin was just as dominant across the court, picking up 34 points, nine rebounds, three steals, two assists and two blocks with a field goal shooting percentage of 78.6. The other forward in our starting side is a huge Most Valuable Player (MVP) contender and our Draft Central Medal leader, Lamar Patterson. The Brisbane Bullets big man helped himself to 27.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.5 steals across two games.

It was no surprise to see the top guard of the weekend, with Perth Wildcats’ Bryce Cotton having another stellar weekend. Cotton averaged 26.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in the Wildcats’ back-to-back wins. He was joined in the starting team by Cairns Taipans’ Scott Machado who finished with 21.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 8.0 assists and 2.0 steals from the Taipans’ two wins. Looking to the bench, the Phoenix had a couple of players with Ben Madgen and Mitch Creek both making the side. Also in the side was Team of the Week regular, Andrew Bogut, while the final spot was taken up by the controversial Glen Rice Jr. While his off-court antics led to him having his contract terminated, he went out with a bang picking up a double-double and almost a triple-double in one of the games of the year for the New Zealand Breakers.

As with every week there were some seriously unlucky omissions, but such was the tight competition in Round 10. Those in contention for a spot were Cairns trio D.J. Newbill, Cameron Oliver and Matt Hodgson, New Zealand duo Corey Webster and Brandon Ashley, Perth trio Terrico White, Dario Hunt and Nick Kay, Sydney guard Casper Ware and Illawarra’s Sunday Dech.

STARTING FIVE:

G: Bryce Cotton (PW) – 26.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.0 blocks, 50.0 FG%
G: Scott Machado (CT) – 21.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 48.0 FG%
C: Shawn Long (MU) – 34 points, 15 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 steals, 4 blocks, 71.4 FG%
F: Eric Griffin (AD) – 34 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 78.6 FG%
F: Lamar Patterson (BB) – 27.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.5 blocks, 53.7 FG%

BENCH:

G: Ben Madgen (SEM) – 20 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 58.3 FG%
G: Melo Trimble (MU) – 20 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, 63.6 FG%
C: Andrew Bogut (SK) – 12.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.0 steals, 2.0 blocks, 75.0 FG%
F: Mitch Creek (SEM) – 31 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 steals. 0 blocks, 61.1 FG%
F: Glen Rice Jr (NZ) – 30 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks,  42.3 FG%

2019/20 WNBL Team of the Week: Round 8

IN an action-packed weekend of Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) action, our Draft Central WNBL Team of the Week for Round 8 was difficult to pinpoint. Plenty of players, particularly in the guard position stood tall and produced some memorable individual performances, while a number of forwards also picked up big numbers. Overall, Adelaide Lightning, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals and Southside Flyers all had two players in our team, while Bendigo Spirit was the only side without a member in the 10-player team.

Adelaide’s Stephanie Talbot earned a coveted starting guard position with 22 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three steals and 2.5 blocks in one of the top weekend’s of any player. She was joined in the team by teammate, Nicole Seekamp, while Lauren Nicholson was one of the more unlucky omissions. Also in the starting guard position was high volume shooter, Kia Nurse who poured on 32 points, three rebounds, three assists and one block, joined in the team by regular Team of the Week member, Kelsey Griffin. Starting in the center was Melbourne boomers’ Cayla George who earned the spot rather than a forward position because her effort of 15.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals was too good to ignore.

Moving onto the starting forwards, Sydney University Flames’ Colleen Planeta and Townsville Fire’s Darcee Garbin had outstanding performances to be their team’s sole nominee in the Team of the Week, but also round out the starting side. Planeta scored 28 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks and one assist for the Flames, while Garbin finished with 27 points, seven rebounds, three assists and one steal for the Fire. Looking to the bench, Perth Lynx’s Imani McGee-Stafford was named in the guard spot, while Southside Flyers’ duo Mercedes Russell and Jenna O’Hea both make the side in the bench center and forward positions respectively.

Among the other unlucky players to miss out were Melbourne’s Madeleine Garrick and Lindsay Allen, Southside’s Leilani Mitchell and Sara Blicavs, Sydney Uni’s Alice Kunek, Bendigo’s Tessa Lavey, Townsville’s Tess Madgen and UC Capitals’ Marianna Tolo who all came into consideration for a spot in the side.

STARTING FIVE:

G: Stephanie Talbot (AL) – 22.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 3.0 steals, 2.5 blocks, 41.7 FG%
G: Kia Nurse (UC) – 32 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 steals, 1 block, 57.9 FG%
C: Cayla George (MB) – 15.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.5 blocks, 40.6 FG%
F: Colleen Planeta (SU) – 28 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 steals, 2 blocks, 55.0 FG%
F: Darcee Garbin (TF) – 27 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 68.8 FG%

BENCH:

G: Nicole Seekamp (AL) – 10.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks, 36.3 FG%
G: Imani McGee-Stafford (PL) – 12.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.0 blocks, 42.9 FG%
C: Mercedes Russell (SF) – 14 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks, 50.0 FG%
F: Kelsey Griffin (UC) – 15 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 66.7 FG%
F: Jenna O’Hea (SF) – 22 points, 2 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 0 blocks, 50.0 FG%

2019/20 WNBL Team of the Week: Round 7

THEY have had differing formlines of late and even this season, but Southside Flyers, Melbourne Boomers and Bendigo Spirit finished the weekend with a couple of players in our Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) Team of the Week. In what was another difficult week to narrow down the players to just 10, every other team had at least one nominee with the exception of cellar dwellers Townsville Fire who missed out on a nominee this round.

Bendigo’s duo of Tessa Lavey and Rebecca Tobin both made the starting line-up, with Lavey sinking 16 points, five rebounds, 11 assists and two steals, while Tobin was instrumental in center with 8 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and three blocks. Tobin won the stating spot over Mercedes Russell with the Flyers’ center also impressing with a double-double average. Russell was joined on the bench by teammate, Jenna O’Hea.

Melbourne Boomers’ duo Madeleine Garrick and Cayla George also made the starting side, with Garrick a standout guard over the round, posting 26 points, three rebounds, four assists and three steals, while George was named as a forward this week with five points, 14 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and four blocks. Rounding out the starting side was Team of the Week regular, Kelsey Griffin who had 27 points, seven rebounds, two steals, one assist and one block over the weekend.

Perth Lynx’s Katie-Rae Ebzery and Adelaide Lightning’s Lauren Nicholson fill out the bench guard spots for Round 7, while forward, Jessica Kuster has been named in the side. They were far from the only contenders however, with a trio of Flyers (Rebecca Cole, Leilani Mitchell and Sara Blicavs), a duo from Sydney Uni Flames (Alex Wilson and Alice Kunek), a duo from Townsville Fire (Julie Vanloo and Abby Bishop), UC Capitals’ Kia Nurse and Adelaide’s Stephanie Talbot.

STARTING FIVE:

G: Madeleine Garrick (MB) – 26 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 0 blocks, 56.3 FG%
G: Tessa Lavey (BS) – 16 points, 5 rebounds, 11 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 36.8 FG%
C: Rebecca Tobin (BS) – 8 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks, 40.0 FG%
F: Kelsey Griffin (UC) – 27 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 block, 73.3 FG%
F: Cayla George (MB) – 5 points, 14 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, 4 blocks, 16.7 FG%

BENCH:

G; Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL) – 14 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 33.3 FG%
G: Lauren Nicholson (AD) – 13 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, 38.5 FG%
C: Mercedes Russell (SF) – 20.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 3.0 steals, 2.0 blocks, 53.8 FG%
F: Jessica Kuster (SU) – 19.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.5 blocks, 76.5 FG%
F: Jenna O’Hea (SF) – 10.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.0 blocks, 37.0 FG%

2019/20 NBL Team of the Week: Round 9

THREE National Basketball League (NBL) teams recorded two or more players in the Draft Central Team of the Week for Round 9, with Sydney Kings and New Zealand Breakers both enjoying good wins, while Melbourne United went down in two games but still performed strongly. South East Melbourne Phoenix, Adelaide 36ers, Cairns Taipans and Illawarra Hawks all had one player each in the team, while Perth Wildcats and Brisbane Bullets did not register a player in the team after losses this weekend.

New Zealand had an impressive victory over Illawarra Hawks, with Finn Delany (20 points, 10 rebounds, one assist and one steal) recording a double-double to make Team of the Week. He was only overshadowed by Illawarra Hawks’ young gun, LaMelo Ball who recorded his second consecutive triple-double with 25 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, while Delany was joined by teammate Brandon Ashley. The Sydney Kings also had a couple of players make the team on the bench with Casper Ware and Jae’Sean Tate both putting out impressive games in a competitive week for spots.

Adelaide 36ers’ Daniel Johnson was named in the center position this week, producing the second best performance of any player over the weekend as he lead the 36ers to an upset win over Perth courtesy of 29 points, 17 rebounds, two assists and one steal. Also in the starting side was South East Melbourne Phoenix’ Ben Madgen (23 points, four rebounds, six assists and one steal) and Cairns Taipans’ Cameron Oliver (17 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks).

Looking to the bench and rounding out our Team of the Week were a couple of Melbourne United players who earned a spot with Melo Trimble and Shawn Long in the side again. There were quite a few unlucky players to miss out this round with New Zealand’s Sek Henry, Adelaide’s Jerome Randall, South East Melbourne’s Mitch Creek, Brisbane’s Lamar Patterson, Cairns’ Scott Machado, Perth’s Bryce Cotton and Melbourne’s Chris Goulding.

STARTING FIVE:

G: LaMelo Ball (IH) – 25 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 35.7 FG%
G: Ben Madgen (SEM) – 23 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 64.3 FG%
C: Daniel Johnson (AD) – 29 points, 17 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 68.8 FG%
F: Cameron Oliver (CT) – 17 points, 12 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 steals, 3 blocks, 46.7 FG%
F: Finn Delany (NZ) – 20 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 53.8 FG%

BENCH:

G: Casper Ware (SK) – 27 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, 64.3 FG%
G: Melo Trimble (MU) – 24.0 points, 1.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 48.5 FG%
C: Shawn Long (MU) – 14.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.0 steals, 2.0 blocks, 46.1 FG%
F: Brandon Ashley (NZ) – 10 points, 14 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals, 0 blocks, 50.0 FG%
F: Jae’Sean Tate (SK) – 25 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 80.0 FG%

2019/20 WNBL Team of the Week: Round 6

EIGHT of the 10 players in our Draft Central Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) Team of the Week are from the top three sides, showing their dominance across the weekend. University of Canberra (UC) Capitals and Southside Flyers both recorded three players in the Team of the Week, while Melbourne Boomers had two. Perth Lynx and Sydney Uni Flames rounded out the team with a player each in the side, as Adelaide Lightning, Bendigo Spirit and Townsville Fire missed out on having a player in this week’s team.

It was highly competitive for spots in the Round 6 team, as UC Capitals’ duo Kelsey Griffin (19 points, 15 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one steal) and Kia Nurse (18 points, seven rebounds, six assists and one steal) both made the starting side. Marianna Tolo also made the team on the bench after her 12 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, one steal and three blocks in the center position. Southside Flyers had a couple of starters in the team as well, with Mercedes Russell taking that center spot once again thanks to 17 points, nine rebounds, two assists and one block, shooting at an impressive 77.8 per cent from the field. She was joined in the team by Sara Blicavs who starts in the forward half after 12 points, 13 rebounds and four assists, while Rebecca Cole slots onto the bench.

Melbourne Boomers had two players make the team, albeit on the bench. Ezi Magbegor and Lindsay Allen were both named in the forward spots after a couple of impressive performances over two games. To round out the starting side, Alison Schwagmeyer was once again a shining light for Perth Lynx, sinking 22 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and one steal across two matches. The final member of the 10-player team was Sydney Uni Flames’ Alex Wilson who filled out the second guard spot on the bench.

With so many incredible individual performances over the weekend, it was hard to split some players, with Adelaide’s Brianna Turner, Townsville’s Abby Bishop and Bendigo’s Rebecca Tobin all unlucky not to be a representative in the team. Others who impressed but just missed out on selection were Perth’s Lauren Mansfield, Southside’s Leilani Mitchell and Jenna O’Hea, Sydney Uni’s Colleen Planeta and Lauren Scherf, along with Melbourne’s Cayla George.

STARTING FIVE:

G: Alison Schwagmeyer (PL) – 22.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 57.6 FG%
G: Kia Nurse (UC) – 18 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 36.8 FG%
C: Mercedes Russell (SF) – 17 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 steals, 1 block, 77.8 FG%
F: Kelsey Griffin (UC) – 19 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 46.7 FG%
F: Sara Blicavs (SF) – 12 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 50.0 FG%

BENCH:

G: Rebecca Cole (SF) – 20 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 60.0 FG%
G: Alex Wilson (SU) – 16 points, 3 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 41.7 FG%
C: Marianna Tolo (UC) – 12 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 3 blocks, 44.4 FG%
F: Ezi Magbegor (MB) – 11.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.5 blocks, 47.6 FG%
F: Lindsay Allen (MB) – 18.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.0 blocks, 46.7 FG%

WNBL Round 6 review: Top three move two games clear

BACK-to-back wins over the weekend to Melbourne Boomers, and victories to Southside Flyers and University of Canberra (UC) Capitals meant the top three in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) moved two games clear of fourth. The other game saw Perth Lynx keep their finals hopes alive with an important win over Sydney Uni Flames.

Adelaide Lightning 57 defeated by Melbourne Boomers 71

Melbourne secured a vital road win against fourth placed Adelaide Lightning to gain a bit of separation inside the top three. The Boomers trailed by three points at the first break, but hit back with a 17-8 second term, and went on with it from there, restricting the Lightning to just 30 points in the last three quarters, while piling on 57 themselves to run away with a 71-57 victory. Lindsay Allen was the top scorer with 20 points, six rebounds, five assists and one steal, while Ezi Magbegor picked up a double double in her best performance of the year with 13 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. Cayla George (13 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocks) was superb, while Penina Davidson had 11 points and nine rebounds off the bench. For the Lightning, Nicole Seekamp sank 15 points, two rebounds and three assists, while Brianna Turner (10 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks) and Chelsea Brook (10 points, five rebounds) were the other two players who reached double figure points. Stephanie Talbot tried hard with seven points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals, but ultimately the home side could not put enough points on the board.

DC Medal: 3 – Lindsay Allen (MB), 2 – Ezi Magbegor (MB), 1 – Cayla George (MB)

Sydney Uni Flames 82 defeated by Perth Lynx 91

Perth finally snapped its four-game losing streak with an important nine-point victory over Sydney Uni – the side it last beat all the way back in Round 1. The Lynx edged ahead in the second term after an even first quarter, but then added 23 points to 18 in the third to lead by 10 at the final break. The Flames hit back to cut the deficit back to nine, but it would not be enough in the end. Alison Schwagmeyer produced another stunning game, picking up a double double with 25 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and one steal to be best on court, while Katie-Rae Ebzery returned from Opals duties to post 20 points, three rebounds and three assists in the win. Ariel Atkins continued her good start to her WNBL career with 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals off the bench. Maddison Allen was also strong with 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks. For the Flames, Colleen Planeta was the best with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Alex Wilson shared the top scorer billing with 16 points, three rebounds and nine assists. Lauren Scherf (14 points, five rebounds, four assists and two blocks) and Jessica Kuster (13 points, nine rebounds) were the other two key scorers for the home side.

DC Medal: 3 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), 2 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), 1 – Colleen Planeta (SU)

Townsville Fire 59 defeated by Southside Flyers 91

Southside Flyers bounced back from their first loss of the WNBL season with a big statement over cellar dwellers, Townsville Fire. Sitting at opposite ends of the ladder, the Flyers piled on 30 points to 19 in the opening term, then proceeded to win all four quarters in a one-sided, dominant display. Never letting up, it was clear to see that Southside is one of the title contenders, producing such an effort on the road. Jenna O’Hea (21 points, seven assists and two steals) and Rebecca Cole (20 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals) were the key scorers, while Mercedes Russell continued her dominant start to the season with an impressive 17 points, nine rebounds and two assists. It was hard to find the top player for the Flyers with Sara Blicavs also picking up a double double thanks to 12 points, 13 rebounds and four assists, while Leilani Mitchell had eight assists and three rebounds to go with her 13 points. Abby Bishop was the clear standout for the Fire with 20 points and eight rebounds, while Micaela Cocks (10 points, three rebounds and three assists) was the other player to reach double figures in what was a disappointing loss for the home side.

DC Medal: 3 – Mercedes Russell (SF), 2 – Sara Blicavs (SF), 1 – Jenna O’Hea (SF)

Bendigo Spirit 59 defeated by Melbourne Boomers 75

Rounding out a good weekend for the Boomers, Melbourne took home the points on the road against Bendigo Spirit in a 16-point win. The Spirit started strongly to lead by three points at the first break and half-time, before the Boomers took over to lead by the same margin with a quarter to play. They built on that momentum in the final term to post 24 points to 11 and run away with the contest in a margin that was not completely accurate of the game’s tightness. Allen was again the team’s top scorer with 17 points, four assists and two steals in the win, while Madeleine Garrick stepped up to contribute 12 points, six rebounds and two steals. Magbegor (10 points, seven rebounds and two steals) and George (10 points, six rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks) were also prominent across the board. For the Spirit, Abigail Wehrung was a lone hand in the scoring department with 13 points, as well as two rebounds and two assists, while Kelly Wilson picked up nine of her team’s 16 assists, though had seven of her side’s 27 turnovers. Rebecca Tobin was the dominant player off the boards with 15 rebounds to accompany her six points, four assists and two steals.

DC Medal: 3 – Cayla George (MB), 2 – Lindsay Allen (MB), 1 – Madeleine Garrick (MB)

UC Capitals 84 defeated Perth Lynx 66

Reigning premiers, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals finished strongly at home to run over the top of Perth Lynx and maintain touch with Melbourne and Southside in the top three. The Lynx surprised the home crowd in the opening term to lead by a point at quarter time, before the Capitals piled on 23 points to 16 in the second term. Perth got back on top in the third to reclaim the lead by two points at the final break. Like any good side on the ropes, the Capitals found a way to breakthrough and eventually piled on the points in the final term, sinking 32 points to 12 to run away with an 18-point win in a game where – like the previous one – the final margin did not accurately reflect how close the game was. Kelsey Griffin was unbelievable with 19 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and two blocks, while Marianna Tolo (12 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three blocks) also picked up a double double, Kia Nurse played her best game for the season in terms of overall impact and not just points, picking up 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists, while Maddison Rocci also impressed with 13 points, three rebounds and three assists. Coming off the bench, young gun Gemma Potter scored nine points and had two assists. For the Lynx, Lauren Mansfield scored a game-high 23 points, as well as five rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Schwagmeyer added another 19 points and seven rebounds to her season totals. Nadeen Payne (10 points, 10 rebounds) picked up a double-double, while Atkins had six points, five rebounds, three steals and three assists.

DC Medal: 3 – Kelsey Griffin (UC), 2 – Kia Nurse (UC), 1 – Lauren Mansfield (PL)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

16 – Kelsey Griffin (UC)
15 – Cayla George (MB),
14 – Mercedes Russell (SF)
13 – Lindsay Allen (MB)
12 –
11 –
10 – Brianna Turner (AL), Alison Schwagmeyer (PL)
9 –
8 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL)
7 – Leilani Mitchell (SF), Abby Bishop (TF), Colleen Planeta (AD), Jenna O’Hea (SF)
6 – Keely Froling (UC), Stephanie Talbot (AL), Kia Nurse (UC)
5 – Alice Kunek (SU), Tahlia Tupaea (SU), Olivia Epoupa (UC)
4 – Imani McGee-Stafford (PL), Kelly Wilson (BS)
3 – Carley Ernst (BS), Rebecca Tobin (BS), Sara Blicavs (SF), Madeleine Garrick (MB),
2 – Crystal Langhorne (AD), Micaela Cocks (TF), Rebecca Cole (SF), Chelsea Brook (AD), Ezi Magbegor (MB), Lauren Mansfield (PL)
1 – Bridget Carleton (TF), Lauren Nicholson (AL), Sophie Cunningham (MB), Jessica Kuster (SU), Nicole Seekamp (AL), Tess Madgen (TF), Ariel Atkins (PL)

2019/20 WNBL weekend preview: Round 6 – Top four clash to tip-off round

AFTER a weekend off with many players stepping up to Australian Opals’ duties, the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) is back with Round 6 tipping off on Friday night. The Melbourne Boomers and Perth Lynx play two games across the weekend to try and break up the mid-table gap between fourth and fifth.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING v. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Friday, November 22, 7pm
Titanium Security Arena

In one of two games to open Round 6 of the WNBL, Adelaide Lightning hosts Melbourne Boomers for the first time in the 2019/20 season. The top four clash could have big ramifications for both the winner and loser, with the winner to take outright third and keep in touch with the top two, while the loser will slip at least a game behind third and possibly two games behind the top two, while remaining only a game ahead of the ensuring bottom four sides. The last time these sides played was in January this year which saw the Boomers get the points in Adelaide, the third time they had won during the season after narrow wins in Melbourne in the two previous encounters. The Lightning won their last contest and will head in with the form compared to the Boomers who after winning four consecutive games, have suffered back-to-back losses. The interesting fact within the game is Adelaide is yet to lose at home from two matches, while Melbourne is yet to suffer a defeat on the road from the same amount of games.

Brianna Turner has been a key player for the Lightning this season, averaging 17.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals, while working well in tandem with Lauren Nicholson (17.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 steals). Stephanie Talbot is also enjoying a purple patch of form, sinking 14.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.8 steals in season 2019/20. For the Boomers, Lindsay Allen has been the key player with 18.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game, while Cayla George is averaging a double double from her six matches, thanks to 16.0 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Madeleine Garrick is an underrated player on the Boomers side, comfortable across most areas with a 10.2-point, 3.0-rebound, 2.7-assist and 1.2-steal average.

Adelaide is in good form so will head in as favourites, but Melbourne are due to bounce back so it will be an incredibly tight contest.

SYDNEY UNI v. PERTH LYNX
Friday, November 22, 7pm
Brydens Stadium

It is still early days in the season, but both Sydney Uni and Perth would realise the importance of getting a ‘W’ in this clash. After making the finals last year, Perth sits fifth, two wins outside the top four and having only won two games from six starts. Both of those were at home which is all the more important for them to break their road trip record with a win here. For Sydney Uni, they just need a win, sitting with a far worse points difference than Perth (-69 to +11), and having lost an extra game with two wins from seven starts. Both their wins have come at home so that is a positive for the Flames, though the fact they lost to this Lynx outfit in the last start is less positive. A win would see the Flames propel themselves into fifth temporarily, and at least move within a game of fourth spot.

Alice Kunek (17.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists) and Colleen Planeta (14.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks) have been the two staples in the Flames’ outfit week-in, week-out, while Tahlia Tupaea (10.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.3 steals) has also started in all seven games. Jessica Kuster is one who has stepped up throughout the season, with the 188cm forward sinking 10.4 points and 5.9 rebounds, as well as a block per game. For Perth, Alison Schwagmeyer has been enormous all season, pumping out 17.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, only bettered in that department by Imani McGee-Stafford (14.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks). Katie-Rae Ebzery has also been a phenomenal passer this year, averaging 7.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds to go with her 16.0 points and 1.5 steals.

Perth Lynx should breakthrough for their first on the road win, but the Flames could make a statement with a win here.

TOWNSVILLE FIRE v. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Saturday, November 23, 6pm
Townsville Stadium

Sitting at polar ends of the WNBL ladder, the panic button would have been pressed for the Fire who have just one win from six attempts, while the Flyers are in the opposite position with just one loss from seven games. There will still be fire in the belly from the visiting side however, with the Flyers going down to UC Capitals by 19 points in Round 5 to reduce their stranglehold at the top of the table to just one game. The Flyers are unbeaten from two tries on the road, while the Fire are yet to win in front of their home fans. There is no better occasion to celebrate their first win in front of a passionate crowd than downing one of the title contenders. It will be far from easy though and the Flyers will be keen to atone for last round and hit the court with a bang. These sides last played back in Round 1, with Southside coming out nine-point winners at Dandenong.

Abby Bishop has been a real star for the Fire, posting up 20.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.2 steals per game, the clear standout for the side in an otherwise disappointing start to the year. The issue has been consistency, with Tess Madgen (12.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists), Darcee Garbin (12.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.7 steals) and Bridget Carleton (11.2 points, 4.8 rebounds) all contributing. The Flyers on the other hand have had the same five starters every week, and allowed all bar two players to take the court in each of the seven games. Mercedes Russell has been the recruit of the off-season, with the 198cm center posting 15.6 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, complimenting the likes of Leilani Mitchell (15.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.6 steals) and Rebecca Cole (14.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.6 steals) perfectly.

It is hard to look past the ladder leaders in this game with Southside predicted to add another win to the tally, but as the Fire showed in Round 1, they can be competitive in most games.

BENDIGO SPIRIT v. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Sunday, November 24, 2pm
Bendigo Stadium

Bendigo Spirit return from a long break at home against Melbourne Boomers who are coming off their second game for the round. Returning from no doubt a thrilling clash in Adelaide, the Boomers will be pumped up for the clash, but might also be sore compared to the fresh Spirit. A strong start is crucial for the home side given they might have the legs to outrun them in the end, though the Boomers are third for a reason and will be difficult to topple. If the Boomers go down to Adelaide it will be three consecutive losses, while the Spirit also enter the game with back-to-back losses and will be keen for a victory. Considering Bendigo is 2-1 at home it may be a great opportunity to get a victory, but Melbourne are unbeaten on the road prior to this round. The last time these sides faced was in Round 2, with an earlier clash in Round 1 – both of which were won by the Boomers. A third meeting in seven rounds will end their head-to-head fixturing for the season and Bendigo will be desperate to get a win back on their metropolitan counterparts.

Kelly Wilson (11.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 6.4 assists) and Carley Ernst (10.7 points, 8.0 rebounds) have been the two key players in the Spirit line-up, though Marte Grays has been a welcome inclusion to the side with 10.0 points and 5.6 rebounds. Tessa Lavey has also proven to be a key playmaker in the front court with 4.3 assists to go with her 9.4 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. While the Boomers have slipped up in the past two matches, they remain a strong side across the board, with Allen, George and Garrick just three of their strong contributors. Sophie Cunningham (12.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists) and Ezi Magbegor (10.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks) are two others averaging double-figure points this season.

Melbourne should take home the win here, though Bendigo knows how important this victory is in the context of its season.

UC CAPITALS v. PERTH LYNX
Sunday, November 24, 5pm
National Convention Centre

The final game of the round will have equally as important ramifications on the season with the second placed University of Canberra (UC) Capitals hosting Perth Lynx at the National Convention Centre on Sunday evening. The Capitals will have the longest wait of any side in the competition having not played since November 9 and will have a 15-day gap between matches, while the Lynx will be coming off a Friday night clash against Sydney Uni Flames. Mathematically if the Lynx can win both games, they are back in contention with the top four sides and adding a bit of points difference would not go astray either. But for the Capitals, coming off a fresh win over Southside Flyers, the reigning premiers will be keen to keep the streak going and add to their three-straight wins of late. Yet to lose at home they will be difficult to beat, while the Lynx are yet to win on the road and will be keen to take home a pair of victories when they travel to NSW/ACT this round.

The reigning premiers have a multitude of stars across the court with Kia Nurse (20.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists) the scoring machine working well once again with Kelsey Griffin (16.9 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.6 steals). Keely Froling has been a strong performer this season putting up numbers of 16.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists, while Olivia Epoupa (8.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 4.0 steals) has been a huge addition to the already impressive outfit. For the Lynx, much has been spoken about the regular starters, but Ariel Atkins has been important since landing in Australia, playing two games off the bench for an average of 13.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists, while Lauren Mansfield has also showed her clean hands with 9.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.8 steals.

The Capitals are strong favourites and hard to beat at home so it will be difficult to see them losing, but the Lynx will hope that they bring form throughout the weekend and stage a massive upset.

2019/20 NBL weekend preview: Round 7 – Throwdown III to light up Melbourne

WITH one game down and still plenty of action to come over the weekend, we preview Round 7 of the National Basketball League (NBL), with a wrap-up of these games and preview of the final game of the round on Monday.

MELBOURNE UNITED v. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Saturday, November 16, 5.30pm
Melbourne Arena

In just seven rounds, the third Throwdown will take place with the winner to emerge as the overall series leader given the teams are tied at 1-1 from the first two encounters. In Round 1, the Phoenix got up over their established rivals, before Melbourne United managed to level the head-to-heads with a great win earlier this month. There is plenty on the line for both sides, with Melbourne sitting third and South East Melbourne in fourth, but have two games in hand. United look a completely different side to the one that was 1-4 to open the season, having strung together four consecutive victories to move out of the bottom two and into the top four. They are the most in-form side in the competition, and a win here would give them a much needed breather on their cross-state rivals. The Phoenix on the other hand need a win in order to force their way back into the top three, and will be keen to seek revenge after suffering their first loss to United.

Looking at the statistics so far, Shawn Long has had an absolutely stunning season for his new side since crossing from the Breakers. Long has posted 21.9 points and 10.4 rebounds to be the dominant center of the competition alongside Andrew Bogut. Fellow recruit, Melo Trimble has also been building in recent weeks averaging 21.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. The steadying influence of Chris Goulding (21.0 points) and Mitch McCarron (11.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals) cannot be underestimated either. For the Phoenix, it is no surprise to see Mitch Creek up near the top when it comes to dominant points scorers. The former NBA player has averaged the 21.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.1 steals per game. John Roberson (20.1 points, 5.7 assists) and Ben Madgen (12.1 points, 5.9 rebounds) are a couple of others averaging double-figure points, while Dane Pineau has had an underrated season with 7.3 rebounds to accompany his 8.1 points and 1.6 blocks per game.

Melbourne United’s form is hard to look past, but the Phoenix are a quality side, so this will go down to the wire.

CAIRNS TAIPANS vs. BRISBANE BULLETS
Saturday, November 16, 8pm
Cairns Convention Centre

The Saturday night game might not have the expectations of its Saturday evening counterpart, but there is still plenty on the line for the Queensland sides as they battle it out in a ladder-defining clash. Brisbane is on the verge of a top four berth and is a 22-point differential behind fourth placed South East Melbourne Phoenix. If United get up and the Bullets can win this game, then they could well sneak into the top four. A big win (or big loss to United) could also see them overtake Melbourne instead, if they can manage it. For Cairns, they have struggled to start the season, sitting at 2-6 from eight games with the positive being that the ladder is still very even outside the consistent Kings, and a win would put them right back into contention. Both sides are coming off losses – the Taipans having lost the past two – so they will be keen to bounce back. Cairns is 1-2 at home, while the Bullets are 2-3 on the road, so heading up to Cairns might have some worries for them. These sides have already played once this season, with Brisbane getting the job done back in Round 2.

A man mountain who has been throwing his weight around this season is Cairns Taipans’ forward Cameron Oliver. The 203cm and 102kg forward has put up 17.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game to be the clear standout in a so far underwhelming season for the Far North Queensland side. He, along with Scott Machado (14.0 points, 7.5 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals), Majok Deng (13.5 points. 5.0 rebounds) and Kouat Noi (10.3 points, 6.4 rebounds) have held their own throughout the season thus far. The clash between Oliver and Brisbane star Lamar Patterson will be a fascinating one, with Patterson one of the standout performers this season across the court. He can match Oliver with his 196cm and 102kg frame, sinking 18.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.0 steals from his eight games. Speaking of man mountains, there is not many bigger than 211cm, 115kg center Matt Hodgson who will no doubt cause some problems for the opposition coaching box. He averages 11.3 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, while former 36ers guard, Nathan Sobey has had a solid introduction in the Sunshine State with 15.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists.

Cairns has shown promising signs at times this season, and at home will give it a real shake, but Brisbane’s big two in Patterson and Sobey might have the ultimate say on this contest.

SYDNEY KINGS v. ILLAWARRA HAWKS
Sunday, November 17, 3pm
Qudos Bank Arena

The two sides at opposite ends of the ladder are facing off in the first of two Sunday games. The Sydney Kings are on a hot streak this season, with only a narrow loss to Melbourne United ruining an otherwise perfect start to the season. The Kings are cruising atop the NBL ladder, winning eight of a possible nine games, including an unbeaten streak of four at home and won their past two after six in a row to open the season. They are a massive plus-88 in points differential clear of Perth Wildcats in second, so there is not much chance at slipping down the ladder. The Kings have been well drilled this season and should eye this game as a simple must-win. The Hawks have only just got over the line a couple of times, winning two of a possible nine games, both of which have come against second last placed Cairns. They are just one win from four on the road, which does not bode well against a massive opponent that has struggled to lose even when on the ropes. They have not played so far this season, with Illawarra upsetting the Kings way back in January – not once, but twice – including in Sydney.

There have been no shortage of performers for the Kings this season, with Casper Ware standing up in his new colours, averaging 20.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, working well with fellow American, Jae’Sean Tate who has used his height to advantage on his way to 14.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. NBA Next Generation Academy star, Didi Louzada has been building nicely of late and the Brazilian born big man has complemented the team nicely. Throw in the work of Bogut – who has averaged 8.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game, and it is easy to see why this team is on top of the ladder. They often run the court rather than look for too many assists, but are strong off the boards to deliver second chance points, and deny their opposition up the other end. All the talk this season was about teaming up American NBA and future NBA players Aaron Brooks and LaMelo Ball respectively. While Brooks’ season unfortunately ended early due to injury, he has still had an impact, averaging 17.9 points and 4.1 assists prior to that. It will now place more expectations on the shoulders of the incredibly talented, but lightly built Ball, who at 198cm and 82kg and the grace and agility of a small man, has been sensational at his best, with 14.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.0 steals. Unfortunately for Illawarra, there has not been enough consistency across the board in terms of individual efforts, with Todd Blanchfield and Andrew Ogilvy averaging the next most points with 9.7 and 8.8 respectively.

Sydney should win this one fairly comfortably, and it would take a massive Ball effort for Illawarra to cause an upset.

PERTH WILDCATS v. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Sunday, November 17, 5pm
RAC Arena

Perth will revel being back at home after Friday night’s game, hosting New Zealand Breakers in this contest. The Wildcats will head in as favourites given New Zealand’s inability to win on the road. The Breakers are yet to salute from three attempts, while Perth has won three of its four home games – a loss to Cairns at RAC Arena the only blemish. You do not have to go too far back to see these sides facing off, with Perth heading across to New Zealand in Round 5 and returning home with a five-point win in the bag. A victory would keep the sides chasing the Wildcats at bay, though a win for New Zealand is incredibly important in order to stay in touch with the top six.

The Wildcats will know what to expect from their ‘Big Two’ in Bryce Cotton (22.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.8 steals) and Terrico White (16.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists). Though it could be argued that Nick Kay is providing ample support as a forward, posting 13.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, teaming up well with Dario Hunt (9.6 points, 6.1 rebounds) with both big men standing at a hard to beat 206cm and 104kg. While the Wildcats have their fair share of American talent, the Breakers just keep finding them. With Scotty Hopson‘s injury threatening to derail their season the New Zealand side picked up Glen Rice Jr who in his two games has already had a big say, posting 22.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 steals, which while the Breakers lost both games, showed what he can offer on the court. Corey Webster has been sensational all season, averaging 19.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists for the Breakers, while RJ Hampton is another Next Gen Academy member with some big wraps, averaging 9.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, but more importantly 1.5 steals per match. British forward Brandon Ashley stands at 206cm and has played an underrated role, averaging 13. points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

Perth should get up in this one without too many worries, but it is never a sure thing in this competition.

2019/20 NBL weekend preview: Round 7 – Adelaide vs. Perth

IN a standalone Friday night game, two finals hopefuls go head-to-head with Adelaide 36ers hosting Perth Wildcats in a huge night of Round 7 action. The Wildcats dropped their first game after gaining some strong momentum, sitting two games adrift of top spot, while the 36ers languish in sixth place following three consecutive losses. It is safe to say a win is non-negotiable for either side with Wildcats then hosting New Zealand Breakers on Sunday and Adelaide travelling to Melbourne for a Monday night blockbuster against South East Melbourne Phoenix.

In season 2019/20, Adelaide have won two games from three at home, but the question is whether or not they can knock off a big scalp, with no victories against the top four sides, and two of their three wins against the bottom two. Daniel Johnson has averaged 18.9 points and 8.1 rebounds for the 36ers in a dominant season thus far, while Jerome Randle, Ramone Moore and Eric Griffin have all had an impact throughout the season. For the Wildcats, they are coming off a disappointing 19-point loss to Sydney and will be keen to bounce back here. Terrico White has put up 16.3 points per game and stepped up when Bryce Cotton was missing, but the Most Valuable Player (MVP) contender has still managed 23.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.8 steals from eight games. Nick Kay has been a big presence from long range, also averaging 13.6 points and 7.6 rebounds.

These two teams have not played since February this year when Perth got up by eight points in, which followed on from a win the month before which resulted in the Wildcats getting up by 19. Adelaide had the wood over Perth at home eight days earlier though, getting up by 13 points – the last time these teams played in South Australia. Perth head into the clash as deserving favourites, but never discount the 36ers at home, especially with the Wildcats coming off a disappointing loss.