Author: Taylah Melki

Wildcats regain top spot with win over Hawks

ROUND 14 of the National Basketball League (NBL) continued last night with Perth Wildcats securing their 17th win of the season downing Illawarra Hawks by 14 points (83-69). It was a tale of two halves as the game was evenly poised in the opening quarters, before the class of the Wildcats shone through in the third stanza to really create some separation and steal the win.

Perth controlled proceedings in the first quarter with Todd Blanchfield and John Mooney opening the account for the side. They piled on the first five points of the game and continued to mount scoreboard pressure as the quarter went on. But the Hawks did not lie down though answering the call as Tyler Harvey and Sam Froling got busy, levelling the scores midway through the term.

Only three points separated the teams at half time as the Wildcats looked to extend their lead through the hands of Clint Steindl as they established a five-point lead. With the intensity building, Hawks upped the ante in the second quarter and capitalising on their chances. Froling and Harvey continued to attack the rim and provide opportunities for the Hawks as they once again levelled the scores with less than five minutes to play in the half. Momentum continued to ebb and flow with neither side able to gain any form of continuity in their game play. However it was Illawarra that struck with Deng Adel landing a layup with three second on the clock to steal a one-point lead at the main break.

With it all to play for in the second half, the Wildcats proved their premiership credentials with a dominant third term. Although Bryce Cotton was slow in the opening half, the star guard ignited his side alongside the likes of Mooney. Their overall defence stepped up as they limited the opportunities for Illawarra to hit the scoreboard keeping them to a mere eight points for the term. Playing with more confidence across the court Perth established a handy buffer heading into the final stanza.

Justinian Jessup worked his way into the match eating into the margin with a handy jump shot to draw within six points. But that momentum was short lived as the Wildcats bit back moments later to re-establish an eight-point ball game. Cotton started to find his range and become a real threat for Perth as they added to their tally and subsequently increased the margin to run out eventual winners. The Hawks’ voodoo in the West continued with the record extending to 34 losses from 35 appearances despite their best efforts.

After a quiet start Cotton ended up topscoring for the Wildcats producing 18 points at a lowly 28 per cent only managing two from nine of attempts from long range. Blanchfield also impressed with 18 points, six rebounds and two assists while Mooney had a night out recording a double-double thanks to his 17 points and 15 rebounds. Jesse Wagstaff was strong off the bench managing 12 points and six rebounds while Mitch Norton chimed in with a handy seven points, four rebounds and five assists.

For the Hawks, it was Froling that dominated the scoreboards thanks to his 15 points while also lending a helping hand off the boards with eight rebounds seven of which were defensive. He also managed three assists, two steals and three blocks. Harvey was a force to be reckoned with 14 points and six rebounds. Justin Simon plied his trade with 10 points at 50 per cent from the field along with three steals and five rebounds. Deng Deng was another handy option chiming in with eight points as Andrew Ogilvy shot at 100 per cent for his seven points.

Kings get one back against Phoenix with seven point victory

SYDNEY Kings hit back last night, exacting their revenge on the South East Melbourne Phoenix to secure a seven-point victory (97-90). After suffering a 14-point loss last week at the hands of the Phoenix the Kings seemed to have all the answers in this clash to ward off their opponents. Heading into the clash, the Kings were hit with the devastating news that Dejan Vasiljevic will miss the remainder of the season after rupturing his Achilles, but that only spurred on the side which withstood a fourth quarter comeback.

The intention from the Kings was clear from the opening minutes of play piling on the first four points of the game and dictating the terms of the game. their ability to control the ball and the play was second to none, pushing the Phoenix onto the backfoot as they opened up a handy five-point lead at the break thanks to Didi Louzada’s ability to find the basket.

The second quarter was more of the same as the Kings managed to continue on their merry way as the Phoenix endeavoured to drag themselves back into the contest. Tightening things up in defence, South East Melbourne reduced the freedom in which their opponents were scoring but were unable to eat into the deficit with both sides producing 22 points to head into half time staring down the barrel of a five-point margin.

It was a completely different tale in the third as the Kings exploded out of the blocks, wowing the Phoenix and forcing them into panic stations as the game slipped through their fingers. The old firm rung true as both Brad Newley and Daniel Kickert got busy to pile on the scoreboard pressure and create plenty of attacking forays. They were not alone as Louzada continued to make his mark on the game, continuously attacking the rim and sending a warning shot to the rest of the competition after somewhat of a quiet season by his standards so far. Sydney simply could not be denied as they added an impressive 28 points to their total while completely halting the Phoenix in their tracks. South East Melbourne failed to generate any real fluidity in attack, only adding a mere 12 points to their scoreline as the deficit grew to a whopping 21 at the final change.

With it all to play for in the final term it was an unsung hero in developing New Zealander Izayah Le’Afa that led the troops for the Melbourne-based side. He upped the ante in the fourth quarter, sparking an inspired comeback from the Phoenix as Le’Afa proved to have the ball on the strong and the rest of the team drawing off his energy. The cogs really started to tick along for South East Melbourne with the likes of Mitch Creek and Ben Moore finding their touch as the side piled on 33 points to the Kings’ 19. Le’Afa slotted the last six points of the game but unfortunately his fourth quarter heroics were not quite enough to get the Phoenix over the line.

With no Vasiljevic and also missing the services of Jarrell Martin the Kings proved that they have a wealth of depth that are able to step up to the plate and deliver the goods. Casper Ware was well and truly down on his lofty standards recording a mere two points but did get busy with four rebounds and six assists. The real star of the show was Next Star, Louzada who led all comers with 28 points at 72 per cent from the field to accompany his eight rebounds and block. Kickert was a reliable source throughout the match sinking 17 points and six rebounds with Newley also delivering the goods for 17 points of his own at 70 per cent from the field. Jordan Hunter was the sole other player to notch up double-digits with 11 and six rebounds.

For the Phoenix it was Le’Afa who had a game to remember, dropping a game-high 29 points at 62 per cent. It did not stop there as he also recorded two rebounds and three steals in an all-round solid effort. Moore plied his trade with 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists while Creek was influential with 17 points, six rebounds and four blocks. Adam Gibson chimed in with a handy seven points and five rebounds as Kiefer Sykes struggled to find his mojo but still produced four points and five assists.

2021 Big V Women’s preview: Round 5

BULLEEN Boomers are the only side that remain undefeated heading into Round 5 of the Big V Women’s with Keilor Thunder suffering their first loss of the season last round and looking to bounce back this weekend. Meanwhile up the other end of the ladder, Whittlesea Pacers are on the lookout for their inaugural win in 2021.

Keilor vs. Southern Peninsula
Saturday, April 17 @6:00pm

Dropping their first game of the season last week by 19 points expect Keilor Thunder to be on the prowl for their next win and to solidify their standings in the top four with a strong performance here. On the flip side, Southern Peninsula have shown glimpses of dominance and will be hoping to find a level of consistency in their performance against Keilor.

Bianca Babic has been a key cog for the Thunder in season 2021 with her tenacity and willingness to drive to the basket a couple of fundamentals in the way she approaches the game. Babic alongside the likes of Emily Suckling, Ally Keating and Ellen Kett will have to be on their a-game if they are to bounce back from last week’s loss and pile on the pressure against Southern Peninsula. When it comes to the Sharks, Tanarly Hood is the main playmaker, able to get her hands to plenty of ball and most importantly score while Ashleigh Wright is the other one to keep an eye out for. Fiona Darnell has proven to be dominant off the boards and will need to be on full alert in this clash while Jayde Popovski will be hoping to recapture her hot form.

Hume vs. McKinnon
Saturday, April 17 @8:00pm

Both sides will be looking to creep their way up the ladder with McKinnon on the hunt for their third win of the season and Hume hoping to notch up their second. Coming into the Round 5 clash both sides will be riding high with McKinnon securing a 37-point win while Hume notched up an impressive 45-point victory.  With this in mind expect both teams to come out firing and to play with great flair and tenacity across the court as they look to replicate their attacking ways.

When looking at McKinnon there are a number of players that are capable of stepping up to the plate with Amelia Todhunter and Rosie Fadljevic capable of leading the way. The duo combined for 42 points last week and will be eager to replicate that type of performance against the lowly Hume Broncos. Other players to keep a key on throughout the clash are Katie Blazer and Isobel Anstey given their ability to bob up and hit the scoreboard. Hume have struggled to generate a wealth of scoring opportunities but when they do it is Leilani Siamoa that leads the way producing a team-high 11 points last round. Tashia Overby and Hailey Wynd will need to up their output if they are to worry McKinnon while Ellen Wright is a strong option off the boards and will have to bring that intensity on Saturday night.

Casey vs. Whittlesea
Saturday, April 17 @8:00pm

Casey will be searching for their fourth win of the season while Whittlesea will be aiming to secure their first for the year. It will be an uphill battle for the Pacers given the dominance of Casey who have proven they have the calibre to mix it with the best, currently holding onto second spot on the ladder.

There is no denying that Shereesha Richards is the main port of call for Casey with her explosive nature and all-round star power often earning her the limelight and for good reason. Coming off a 29 point and 12 rebound haul the Pacers will have their work cut out for them when it comes to finding ways to shut her down. Rachel Bunn is another player that poses a threat while Tegan Fowler and Rebekka Mawdsley are no slouches on the points scoring front. All eyes will turn to Indiana Bodley when she steps out on court for Whittlesea registering an impressive 21 points last round but at a lowly 35 per cent. If she can up the ante it will go a long way in troubling the second placed Casey. She will need support from the likes of Saule Kontautaite and Lyndsey Hoogenhout who have proven to be viable scoring options when given the time and space but just need to ensure they can have a sustained impact.

Sunbury vs. Bulleen
Saturday, April 17 @8:00pm

The final game of the round will see a huge clash between top four sides Sunbury and Bulleen with the latter looking to keep their unbeaten record intact. It is going to be a tantalising matchup as both teams are coming in hot with their ability to attack the rim a key feature in both their game plays.

The Jets will be hoping that Orla O’Reilly and Courtenay Wragg can combine once again to put some fear into the opposition and keep the scoreboard ticking over. Notching up 29 points collectively last round they proved to be real handy across the court while Tahnee Cannan is no slouch given her scoring prowess. Emily Conn is known for her ability to get busy while Bianca Dfelmeier is influential both on the scoreboard and off the boards. But anything that Sunbury can do, the Boomers can do bigger and better boasting a multi-pronged attack filled with WNBL talent. It is hard to ignore the likes of Kate Gaze and  Louella Tomlinson who are simply unstoppable once given a taste. Gaze put up a staggering 47 points in a showing of just how explosive she is while Tomlinson recorded a triple double. But if those two are kept quiet there are a wealth of other options that are capable of taking the reins with Annie Garrick and Kate Sturzaker able to chime in with some handy points and defensive plays to halt opposition teams in their tracks.

Taipans stun 36ers with come-from-behind win

AN inspired and gutsy effort from Cairns Taipans saw them overrun Adelaide 36ers last night to snap a three-game losing streak and steal a narrow three-point victory (91-88). It was a topsy-turvy encounter with the 36ers holding the lead for majority of the game but Cairns working gallantly to change their fortunes.

Both sides were riddled with injuries heading into the clash with a number of key figures sidelined such as Scott Machado for the Taipans and Tony Crocker out for the 36ers. Crocker joined Isaac Humphries on the sideline but that did not seem to faze Adelaide who got off to a hot start, shooting the ball with confidence and relative accuracy to skip out to an early lead. Although scores were level at nine points apiece midway through the term, Adelaide kicked it up a gear to create some much needed separation thanks to the services of Daniel Johnson who well and truly had his radar on. Adelaide capitalised on their opponents inaccuracy as they put down 26 points to 17.

Holding a nine-point margin at the first change the 36ers looked to extend their margin and edge one step closer to a much needed win. Spearheaded by Jack McVeigh the 36ers continued their merry way, with not only the scoreboard increasing but so too McVeigh’s tally with the guard racking up 12 points before half time. However the brakes were quickly put on as the Taipans came out refreshed and raring to go. Hunting down the 16-point lead, Cairns toiled exceptionally hard to quell the offensive play of Adelaide and apply pressure of their own largely due to Cameron Oliver who was proving to be a menace off the boards. Sinking eight points straight the home side ate into the deficit and continued to build momentum with the likes of Mojave King also finding his feet and the basket.

It was a two-point ball-game at half time, with the Taipans sensing a chance to strike and push ahead of their opponents. The intensity lifted a notch with neither side willing to relinquish the ball or the lead as Adelaide put in the hard yards to extend their margin. but Cairns proved to be up to the fight, combatting everything that was thrown at them and rising to the occasion. Producing 21 points to 20, the Snakes managed to dwindle the margin to a mere point at the final change setting up an action packed final stanza.

Having held onto the lead for majority of the game, the 36ers simply ran out of legs in the last quarter while the Taipans found a way to win. Digging deep and heavily undermanned, Cairns showed nothing but grit and determination in the last quarter to not only hold on but to overcome a deficit. It was a frantic finish to the game with the Taipans establishing a seven point lead with a tick under a minute left to play, but the lead disappearing before their eyes as the clock ticked down. Huge plays from Sunday Dech and McVeigh’s ability to convert from the foul line saw Adelaide get back within just one with 13 seconds left and while Josh Giddey had a chance to level things his shot was off, gifting the Taipans a hard fought win.

It was a heart in your mouth finish to the game with a number of key cogs stepping up to the plate and leading the way for their respective sides given the calibre of missing players. Oliver had a game to remember for Cairns producing a scintillating 25 points and 17 rebounds with 16 of them defensive while Jordan Ngatai made his presence felt thanks to his 15 points. King upped the ante this match recording 14 points, five rebounds and one block as teammate Jarrod Kenny got busy on the assist front with seven to his name. Both Nate Jawai and Tad Dufelmeier produced strong performances with 13 points for Jawai and 12 points and eight rebounds for Dufelmeier.

Johnson was once again the go-to man for the 36ers racking up 22 points and four rebounds in his 34 minutes on court. McVeigh had a break out game producing an impressive 22 points at 52 per cent from the field while also racking up four rebounds, all of which were defensive. Brandon Paul was the only other player to reach double-digits thanks to his 18 points as he also collected six rebounds and two assists. Giddey fell short of a double amassing eight points, nine rebounds and seven assists as Dech registered seven points and seven rebounds.

2021 Big V Men’s: Round 5 preview

ROUND 5 of the Big V sees both Sunbury and McKinnon look to increase their winning streak and solidify their standing atop of the ladder. Down the other end of the table and four sides including West Port and Blackburn are in search of their second win this season to leapfrog past teams.

Hawthorn vs. Wyndham
Saturday, April 17 @6:30pm

Wyndham will be looking to make it three wins from five appearances in their clash against Hawthorn Magic to open Round 5 of action. Both sides are coming into the game off significant losses with Wyndham suffering a 14-point loss and Hawthorn a 22 point loss meaning this game will be a showing of pride and desperation. Wyndham currently sit higher on the ladder with an extra win under their belt a feat Hawthorn will be trying to replicate with a win.

The Magic’s Kirk Smith was a real gamechanger last round and while his side did not get the win he still produced a handy 20 points and will be looking to extend his hot form. Support from Ryan O’Sullivan and Matt Hallam will be necessary to get the Magic over the line. Nathan Guscott is another player to keep an eye out for given his skillset. When looking at Wyndham it is hard to go past the services of Aaron Dolny who is one of their most prolific shooters having produced 22 points last round. Cameron Hutton is another key cog for Wyndham. He has proven he does not need a lot of court time to do damage on the scoreboard with teammates Kobe Pearson and Kane Hynes other vital members of the team that can create scoreboard pressure.

Western Port vs. Sunbury
Saturday, April 17 @7:00pm

Sunbury will be eager to keep their unblemished start to the season happening as they take on Western Port on Saturday night. Western Port have struggled to generate any winning momentum only registering one victory for the season and will have their cut out for them against a well-oiled and consistent Jets outfit that know how to win. It will be an enthralling battle as both sides look to impress and use the ball well with Western Port in particular having the odds stacked against them.

There is no denying that Trevon Clayton has been the barometer for the Jets with his accuracy and proficiency a couple of key characteristics to his game play. Coming off a 23-point and 10-rebound performance Clayton will be riding high so expect the likes of Jayce Beasley and Cory Bellman to feed off that type of energy in this matchup. There is no denying that Daryl Corletto is the go-to man for Western Port, and if the Jets are any chance to keep their undefeated record in-tact they will have to account for his shooting presence. Matt Pollard and Jay Allen are the other two main facilitators for Western Port that often able to bob up and have an influence to dictate the play. Matt Turner has proven to be a handful off the boards for Western Port so expect Sunbury to put a lot of work into him, in order to limit his opportunities to reel in the rebounds.

Blackburn vs. Casey
Saturday, April 17 @8:00pm

Blackburn have a firm hold on bottom spot on the ladder and will need to put out their best performance to date if they are to get over the top of the higher placed Casey side. Casey currently only have one more win to their name than their opponents but are playing with more conviction and dominance across the court making for a thrilling matchup.

Bul Niop is the gamechanger for Blackburn and Casey will have to be aware of what he can produce if they are to comfortably get over the top of the Vikings. Niop is strong both when it comes to scoreboard presence and so too off the boards. Jah Soloai is another exciting contributor for Blackburn that can impose himself as can Cooper Applegate and Terrance Swayne given their ability to hit the scoreboard and stop opposition players in their tracks. it is hard to go past Anthony Williams Jr who has proven to be a stalwart for Casey with his drive to the basket while Calvin Enge had a game to remember and is likely to bring that energy into the upcoming clash. Angus Howey and Matt Donlan are others that are known to chime in with a handy couple of points to worry opposition teams and create pressure which Casey will need if they are to win.

Hume vs. McKinnon
Saturday, April 17 @6:00pm

It is going to be an interesting battle between the two sides as McKinnon look to make it five straight and Hume aim to walk away with their second victory of the 2021 season. McKinnon are in red-hot form and do not look like slowing down any time soon and will be eager to impose themselves against a struggling Broncos outfit that are yet to hit their stride.

Mackuei Puondak is a real livewire for Hume consistently able to add to the scoreboard and inflict pain off the boards with his sheer presence causing headaches for opposition sides. Puondak will need support from the likes of Jake Martin and Shayan Mahboobi if the Broncos are any chance to rattle the undefeated side that is McKinnon. Both Martin and Mahboobi are exciting players able to use their signature flair to have an impact while Anthony Dell’Orso is a menace when it comes to blocks. Although Hume have a number of viable options, McKinnon are not short of excitement machines with Jack Wilson in ripping from while Jordan Geer is coming off a double-double. Luke Shelley has been a consistent figure for McKinnon both on the scoreboard and off the boards while Jordan Vandenberg is not to be underestimated

Keilor vs. Chelsea
Saturday, April 17 @8:00pm

The final game of the round sees, Keilor and Chelsea go head-to-head in a battle of third versus seventh. Although it is expected that Keilor will win the contest do not underestimate Chelsea given they only have one win to their name. The thunder on the other hand, will be riding high having notched up their third straight win and will have no intentions of dropping the ball with a loss here.

Leading the league for points, Luke Sist is the lynchpin for Keilor averaging a whopping 24 points a game along with 20.33 rebounds proving just how much of a force he is. His accuracy is another key aspect in his game play, able to not only hit the scoreboard frequently but consistently. Matt Spencer plays a strong supplementary role and will be wanting to keep that going in this performance while Jeffrey Ofoedu is another option for the Thunder that can step up to the plate and lead the charge. Nathan Frost has been in scintillating form and will need to bring his a-game against a red-hot Keilor side. Frost alongside with Corey Standerfer and Blake Newman-O’Brien will have their work cut out for them and will need to regularly attack the basket to worry the Thunder and notch up their second win of the season.

2021 NBL Round 14 preview: Melbourne United look to maintain top spot

ROUND 14 of the National Basketball League rolls around tonight with the top spot once again up for dispute as Melbourne United and Perth Wildcats battle for pole position. Cairns Taipans look to work their way off the bottom of the ladder, while the mid-table logjam continues to develop.

Cairns Taipans vs. Adelaide 36ers
Wednesday, April 14 @7:30pm

Adelaide have strung together two consecutive wins and will be on the hunt for their third when they take on Cairns. Although the Taipans will have their home crowd spurring them on, the 36ers have winning momentum and that counts for a lot given the current they trounced Perth Wildcats. With a sense of belief amongst the team expect the 36ers to capitalise on the Taipans who have struggled all season with consistency and man power to trouble opposition teams for a full four quarters.

Rookie Josh Giddey has been a revelation this season for Adelaide with his spatial awareness and impressive skillset doing all the damage. In his 19 games, Giddy has averaged 11.16 points, 6.84 rebounds and 7.05 assists highlighting his prowess while teammate Daniel Johnson has dominated the points scoring column with a tick over 20 points a game. Brandon Paul is another figure to keep an eye out for in the clash with guard able to effectively ply his trade to keep the scoreboard ticking over, coming off a 20 point performance last round. For the Taipans it will be up to the damaging pairing of Scott Machado and Cameron Oliver to do the heavy lifting. Machado has an average of 17.09 points, 7.36 assists and 3.68 rebounds while Oliver produces 16.55  points, 9.27 rebounds and 1.18 assists. However they will need support from the likes of Kouat Noi, Mirko Djeric and Nate Jawai if they are to overrun the 36ers.

Sydney Kings vs. South East Melbourne Phoenix
Thursday, April 15 @7:30pm

Having only played the week earlier, the Sydney Kings will be hoping to turn their fortunes around and get the win over the Phoenix in front of their home crowd. The Kings have only won one game in their last five outings, while the Phoenix have been in much better form recording three victories to hold onto third spot on the ladder. Sitting outside the top four in sixth position the Kings really need a win here as we enter the backend of the NBL season if they are to keep their finals hopes alive.

Spearheaded by Casper Ware the Kings have a reliable source of points and a real energiser bunny that can change the course of a game within a heartbeat. Ware has an impressive stat line consisting of 19.09 points, 3.64 rebounds and 4.23 assists to partner up with the likes of Jarrell Martin who has been a revelation this season. Martin is another one the Phoenix will be looking to keep a lid on as he produces 17.88 points and 6.94 rebounds on average. Teammates, Dejan Vasiljevic and Didi Louzada will need to find their groove and momentum to hit the scoreboard and provide some additional support for the duo. South East Melbourne, have no shortage of impact players with Mitch Creek often leading that contingent coming off a 26 point and five rebound effort. Creek is not alone with Kyle Adnam having a season to remember thanks to his average of 14 points while Cameron Gliddon has been a strong presence and will be eager to assert himself once again in this contest. The influence of Ryan Broekhoff and Keifer Sykes is undeniable with the duo able to cause waves both in offence and defence.

New Zealand Breakers vs. Brisbane Bullets
Friday, April 16 @7:30pm

The Bullets produced a stunning victory over Perth Wildcats in Round 13 and while they went down to United in their second clash of the round will still have a sense of belief coming into their contest against the lowly ranked New Zealand Breakers. The Bullets have shown glimpses of dominance, able to work their way back into the contest and apply a wealth of pressure something they will have to impose on the Breakers who have been known for their fast starts.

Nathan Sobey is a real livewire for the Bullets with his ability to navigate past the defence and hit the scoreboard effectively. Currently boasting an average of 23.29 points a game, Sobey will be the one to watch while the likes of Lamar Patterson and Jason Cadee have proven to be impactful players that can change the course of a game in an instant. Both Matthew Hodgson and Harry Froling are other viable options for the Bullets boasting averages of 10.35 points and 7.52 points apiece. For the Breakers it will be the services of Tai Webster and Finn Delany that will be required if they are to topple the Bullets. Webster leads the side in points with an average of 19.35 to his name along with 5.12 rebounds while Delany is a commanding presence coming off a 25 point showing against the Wildcats. Both Tom Abercrombie and Robert Loe are other figures to keep an eye out for when the Breakers take on Brisbane on Friday night.

Perth Wildcats vs. Illawarra Hawks
Friday, April 16 @9:30pm

Perth will be chomping at the bit as they look to get back on the winners list after suffering back-to-back losses to much lower ranked opponents. But the job does not get any easier for the Wildcats as they prepare to lock horns with Illawarra Hawks who are keen to keep their season alive with a much needed win here in order to secure their spot in the top four. It has been an up and down past couple of weeks for Illawarra but are hoping to build on their recent winning form to make it three wins on the trot.

There is no denying that Bryce Cotton is the barometer for the Wildcats, not only leading his side when it comes to points but so too the competition thanks to his 25.33 points a game. Cotton is also crafty with ball in hand registering 5.67 assists, meaning the Hawks will have to shut down his entire game in order to stop Perth. John Mooney is another key cog given his prowess off the boards averaging 12.05 a game along with 16.76 points. Todd Blanchfield is a force to be reckoned with, finding his form last round while Jesse Wagstaff is reliable. When looking at Illawarra it is the contributions of Tyler Harvey and Justinian Jessup that Perth will have to look out for given their capacity to break the game wide open. Harvey leads the way with an average of 20 points with Jessup sitting on 14.83 points and 4.22 rebounds. Cameron Bairstow often sneaks under the radar but is a key contributor with his 11.43 points and 6.21 rebounds.

Melbourne United vs. Illawarra Hawks
Sunday, April 18 @3:00pm

Melbourne United do not open their Round 14 account until Sunday, where they take on the Hawks in what will be a short turn around for Illawarra. The added break could work wonders for United as they look to hold onto top spot and keep their winning ways going sitting a game clear of the Wildcats. Expect the top four battle to have plenty of feeling as they look to assert themselves and prepare for the final stages of the season given Illawarra had a mixed bag of results in Round 13.

United are rich with scoring options with Jock Landale dominating in his sides performance against the Bullets and looking to replicate that type of form in his outing against Illawarra. Landale produces on average 16.5 points, 8.23 rebounds and 2.45 assists with teammate Chris Goulding a reliable figure thanks to his 16.19 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.13 assists. The unassuming Mitch McCarron can turn a game on its head while Jo Lual-Acuil is a menace off the boards averaging 5.48 rebounds. Once again Harvey and Jessup will have to be on their a-game if they are to topple United at home. If Sam Froling can find some room to hit the scoreboard and Deng Adel can get busy it will go a long way in pushing United and potentially securing a win.


Other games:

South East Melbourne Phoenix vs. Adelaide 36ers
Saturday, April 17 @5:30pm

Sydney Kings vs. Cairns Taipans
Saturday, April 17 @8:00pm

Perth Wildcats vs. New Zealand Breakers
Sunday, April 18 @5:00pm

Each of these teams will gear up for their second appearance in Round 14 as the competition continues to heat up. The Phoenix will take on Adelaide while Sydney Kings play host to Cairns Taipans on Saturday night. Perth close out the round against the Breakers for the second time in as many weeks with the Wildcats hoping to notch up another win to keep in touch with Melbourne United.

Wildcats break New Zealand hearts with an overtime victory

PERTH Wildcats prevailed in an overtime thriller, just edging out New Zealand Breakers (85-79) thanks to some Bryce Cotton magic to hit a three and send the game into extra time. It was a monumental occasion for the National Basketball League (NBL) with the game being held in Launceston, the first time an NBL match has been played in Tasmania in over a decade and the contest well and truly lived up to the hype.

New Zealand Breakers are renowned for their fast starts and this game was no different as they left the Wildcats in the lurch thanks to a scintillating 23 to nine point first quarter of play. They piled on the points early skipping out to a 12-4 point start and maintained that level of intensity throughout the first quarter inspired by Robert Loe who got busy with a handy six points. The overall team defence from the Breakers was impressive as they limited the influence of Cotton and John Mooney.

After impressing in the first term, Perth flipped the script to answer the call in the second and prove their dominance on the competition. Re-igniting their offensive prowess and hitting the scoreboard with more ease thanks to the likes of Mitch Norton and Jesse Wagstaff the Wildcats were able to steadily edge their way back into the contest. Increased defensive pressure came to the fore in the second quarter as Perth locked down the likes of Loe to reduce the ease in which New Zealand could score. Heading into half time only one point separated the two sides credit to the rise in intensity from the Perth side as they slotted 19 points to four to round out the quarter.

The tables well and truly started to turn in the third as Perth stole the lead for the first time of the game and put the Breakers on the backfoot. Cotton started to find his mojo after a difficult start plagued by inaccuracy as they held onto a three-point lead. With it all to play for in the final quarter Perth got out to a seven point lead but New Zealand were not about to back down and let the game slip through their fingers. Some huge plays from Tom Abercrombie and new recruit Levi Randolph dictated the term keeping New Zealand’s chances alive. The lead chopped and changed several times with neither side able to gain any real ascendancy with the game coming to a crescendo with a second left on the clock in normal time. Abercrombie made his presence felt in his 350th game while Corey Webster got involved in the action to cut the deficit to a mere point with a tick over 30 seconds to play.

The intensity continued to rise as the Breakers could sense a chance to topple their higher ranked opponents as William McDowell-White delivered a much needed layup and then converted the two free-throws to once again swing the lead back into the Breakers’ favour albeit by three points. But cometh the moment, cometh the man with Cotton draining a huge three to send the game into overtime, after struggling with inaccuracy all game.

Racing out to a handy lead in the first few minutes of overtime it looked as if the Breakers had secured a huge upset win. But the class of the Wildcats shone through as they strung together a 13 point to two point run to steal a nine point win, in an absolute heart stopper.

Finn Delany controlled proceedings for New Zealand just falling short of a double-double with nine rebounds and a team-high 25 points. Webster managed 11 points, three rebounds and eight assists in the loss while Abercrombie slotted 10 points of his own. Colton Iverson registered eight points, nine rebounds and two assists for the Breakers as Loe was handy with his 10 points and five rebounds.

Cotton led the charge for the Wildcats and despite his inaccuracy still managed to top the table with 34 points and dish off three dimes. Todd Blanchfield had an influence on the outcome thanks to his 16 points, six rebounds and three steals as teammate Norton produced 11 points and nine rebounds eight of which were defensive. Mooney was well and truly down on his usual productivity only managing three points but still reeling in nine rebounds and four steals. Wagstaff was the other key contributor thanks to his 10 points and five rebounds.

2021 Big V Women’s wrap: Round 4

BULLEEN managed to keep its winning streak alive notching up a fourth straight victory in Round 4 of the Big V Women’s competition. The top four battle between Casey and Keilor lived up to the hype with the two plying their trade.

Southern Peninsula (40) defeated by McKinnon (77)

McKinnon dominated in their clash against Southern Peninsula to secure their second win of the season and leapfrog their opponents on the ladder to hold onto fifth spot. McKinnon dictated the terms of the game early creating a handy eight point lead and while Southern Peninsula hit back in the second that was shortly lived, Southern Peninsula were well and truly smothered in the second half only able to register a mere 11 points while McKinnon stacked on 43 points of their own in a white wash.

Tanarly Hood continued her strong start to the season for Southern Peninsula producing a team-high 13 points. She could have had more had she been more accurate from the field only converting at 33 per cent. Ashleigh Wright was a workhorse for her 11 points, four rebounds and four steals as Abbey McNamara also added five points to the scoreboard but it did little to worry McKinnon. The victors looked to both Rosie Fadljevic and Amelia Todhunter to lead the way and put up a competitive total. Fadljevic was the main source of pain knocking back 23 points and 10 rebounds in the win while Todhunter registered 19 and eight steals. Isobel Anstey also made an impact through her 11 points in an impressive shooting display to convert at 100 per cent from the field. Claire Ioannidis also plied her trade to walk away with nine points and three rebounds.

Casey (87) defeated Keilor (68)

Casey got the job done against Keilor Thunder to earn third spot on the ladder and push their opponents down the ladder. It was a strong showing from the opening term for Casey as they peppered away at the basket to create a handy 11-point ball game to commence the first break. This momentum trickled into the second quarter before establishing a 20-point lead at half time alone. Keilor managed to cut into the deficit marginally in the third term but that was short-lived as Casey claimed bragging rights in the final stanza of play and ultimately the game itself to run out 19-point victors.

Shereesha Richards was at her damaging best once again for the winners producing a scintillating 29 points at 77 per cent while also securing 12 rebounds in an all-round impressive performance. Rachel Bell did a lot of the heavy lifting for Casey thanks to her 26 points, five rebounds and six assists. Tegan Fowler was the sole other player able to make it to double-digits thanks to her 10 points to accompany her eight rebounds and three assists. Bianca Babic was the main playmaker for the Thunder side knocking back 21 points at 40 per cent from the field. She also managed five rebounds with only Ellen Kett out-rebounding her thanks to her nine. Emily Suckling was a force to be reckoned with draining 13 points as Ally Keating also kept the scoreboard ticking over for Keilor with 11 points in 30 minutes.

Bulleen (82) defeated Wyndham (71)

Bulleen picked up where they left off downing Wyndham in another convincing performance. The Boomers made all the running in the first quarter to create a five-point lead before Wyndham worked their way back into the contest, outscoring their opponents 22-20. That momentum was only shortly lived as the Boomers came out firing in the second half, playing with some serious conviction to add to their tally and limit the opportunities for Wyndham.

It was a phenomenal performance from Kate Gaze who simply had the ball on a string. Gaze was everywhere and could not be denied scoring over half of Bulleen’s points thanks to a staggering 47-point performance. She single-handedly led her side to victory and while Louella Tomlinson chimed in with a handy 16 points and managed a triple double thanks to her 12 rebounds and 11 assists it was Gaze’s game. Gaze converted eight of her 12 attempts from down town while also reeling in five rebounds and three assists. Kate Sturzaker plied her trade in her 14 minutes on court producing eight points. The efforts of Georgia Tauschke and Courtney Middap did not go unnoticed with the pair producing 17 and 15 points respectively. Jamilee Pearce was a strong option for Wyndham registering 12 points and 10 rebounds with teammate Jessica Slade also chiming in with a handy 10 points but not enough to bypass the Boomers.

Hume (90) defeated Whittlesea (45)

It was a tough day at the office for Whittlesea Pacers as Hume doubled their score to reign supreme and claim their first win of the season. It was a convincing performance by the Broncos leading from start to finish and never giving the Pacers a chance to build any form of momentum. Keeping Whittlesea to just seven points in the first quarter while adding 22 points of their own it was clear that Hume came to play and were going to capitalise on a flailing Pacers outfit. The Broncos outscored Whittlesea every quarter in a real showing of dominance, cleanliness and star power to not give up the chase and intensity.

There were a couple of key figures for Hume that paved the way with Hailey Wynd leading the charge credit to her 19 points. She was a commanding presence off the boards as shown through her 13 rebounds while she also racked up four dimes. Ellen Wright made her mark with 12 points in her 25 minutes on court while also producing seven rebounds. Charlotte Lord contributed nine points to Hume’s winning margin as Leilani Siamoa also posted nine points of her own albeit at 44 per cent. The reliable duo in Saule Kontautaite and Lyndsey Hoogenhout were formidable for Whittlesea with 17 and 11 points respectively. Kontautaite’s game did not stop there recording a double-double with her 10 rebounds, five assists and five steals.

2021 Big V Men’s wrap: Round 4

IT was a mixed bag of results in Round 4 of the Big V Men’s with a number of blowouts and a couple of close calls. McKinnon and Sunbury continued their winning ways while Keilor Thunder kept the good times rolling with a narrow win over Casey to round out Saturday’s day of action.

Hawthorn (59) defeated by Hume (81)

Hume Broncos made light work of Hawthorn, defeating them comfortably by 22 points. Racing out of the blocks in the opening term to post 25 points to seven, the game was almost done and dusted before half time. Although scoring dried up in the second half with the Magic finding their groove a bit more and the Broncos unable to penetrate their defence as easily, Hume had done enough to secure the points to walk away with their fourth straight win.

Kirk Smith did all the damage for Hawthorn posting an impressive 20 points at 50 per cent from the field. It did not stop there for Smith as he recorded five rebounds, two assists and two steals. He was ably assisted by Ryan O’Sullivan and Jarrod Molnar who both managed nine points apiece to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Although Noah Dempsey was not overly prolific on the scoring front he still managed to reel in 10 rebounds, all of which were defensive, showcasing his strength off the boards while Matt Hallam tried his best with seven points and five rebounds to his name. The scoring was somewhat shared around for Hume as a trio of players hit the double-digit mark, seeing Mackuei Puondak topscore with an impressive 21 points at 58 per cent from the field. Teammate Jake Martin was the next best with a double-double in hand, walking away with 14 points and 11 defensive rebounds of his 13 total. Shayan Mahboobi made his presence felt with 11 points, six rebounds and four steals as Joel Rimes was a menace off the boards finishing with eight rebounds and nine points.

McKinnon (85) defeated Wyndham (71)

McKinnon kept their undefeated record intact with a strong 14-point victory over Wyndham on Saturday night. It was always going to be a high-scoring game with both sides proving their intentions early, as McKinnon knocked back 23 points and only dropped below the 20-point mark in the final term, while Wyndham also found their way to the rim with relative ease. Field goal percentage seemed to be a key difference between the two sides with McKinnon able to take chances when needed to establish the lead and not let go.

McKinnon had no shortage of options when it came to scoring with five players hitting double digits in a showing of versatility and excitement. Jack Wilson took the chocolates as the most dominant McKinnon player on court playing 41 minutes and producing 18 points and nine rebounds to just fall short of a double-double. Luke Shelley was not far behind contributing 17 points to the tally as Matt Tolnai knocked back 16 points of his own. Jordan Vandenberg had a night to remember putting up 14 points and an impressive 11 rebounds as Jordan Geer rounded out the double figure scores securing 11 for the game despite shooting at a lowly 18.2 per cent from the field. For Wyndham it was the ever-reliable Aaron Dolny that took charge, commanding the ball and shooting accordingly thanks to his 22 points and 50 per cent accuracy from the field to accompany his seven rebounds and five assists. Cameron Hutton impressed with his 13 points and four rebounds as Kobe Pearson sunk nine points in his 22 minutes on court. Both Tomi Ayilara and Kane Hynes managed eight points apiece but it was not enough to get their side over the line.

Western Port (79) defeated Chelsea (74)

It was a close finish to the game with Western Port just prevailing against Chelsea by a mere five points. After an even first term of play which saw the sides unable to be separated at 23 points apiece, Western Port started to break the game wide open narrowly edging ahead at half time. With their tails up at the main change, Western Port came into the third term with a real sense of confidence and belief piling on 28 points to 23 to extend the lead. However the game was not over and done with yet, as Chelsea bit back in the fourth to eat into the margin, albeit by two points, but subsequently not enough to alter the outcome.

Once again it was Daryl Corletto that starred and took centre stage sinking 28 points at 58 per cent from the field. His accuracy from long range was also impressive nailing five of 11 attempts. Both Jay Allen and Matt Pollard secured 10 points and four rebounds for Western Port with the latter also notching up three assists. Matt Turner also made his mark with 10 points and a whopping 16 rebounds credit to his clever positioning and defensive nous. Nathan Frost led from the front with a commanding 27 points and scintillating 19 rebounds in an all-round dominant performance despite being in a losing side. Corey Standerfer also imposed himself on the contest walking away with 17 points, nine rebounds and four assists as Blake Newman-O’Brien was the only other player to reach the double-digit mark for Chelsea producing 12 points at 71 per cent from the field.

Blackburn (71) defeated by Sunbury (87)

Sunbury made it four wins straight getting over the top of Blackburn by 16-points in yet another strong showing by the top of the table side. Sunbury had all the control from the opening quarter of play and never looked like relinquishing that dominance grinding out each quarter to claim the ascendancy. By half time the Thunder had established an 18 point lead and while Blackburn worked their way back into the contest in the final term to outscore their opponents 23-20 it was not enough to topple the first placed side.

It is no surprise that Bul Niop did the bulk of the damage for the Vikings producing a team-high 21 points to accompany his four rebounds, three assists and three steals. Jah Soloai worked tirelessly in his 17 minutes on court to get busy and produce 11 points at 67 per cent from the field while Terrance Swayne notched up nine points and 11 rebounds of his own in the loss. Points scoring machine, Trevon Clayton took the game by the scruff of the neck and dominated with 23 points. He recorded another double-double reeling in 10 rebounds while also collecting six assists and four steals. Jayce Beasley hit the ground running with 13 points and a 100 per cent accuracy from the charity strip as Cory Bellman also contributed a handy 12 points to the winning total.

Casey (79) defeated by Keilor (82)

The final game of the round saw Keilor edge out Casey in a thrilling three-point ball-game. Casey got the jump early establishing a handy three-point lead before the Thunder hit back in the second to steal a two-point buffer of their own. The lead continued to ebb and flow with neither side really able to claim any form of ascendancy and assert themselves on the contest. With it all to play for in the final term, it was the Thunder that prevailed, leaving nothing to chance and dominating with a 24-18 final stanza.

Calvin Enge was a menace for Casey recording a team-high 21 points and converting at 69 per cent to accompany his 10 rebounds while Angus Howey effectively plied his trade with 16 points in his 18 minutes on court. Matt Donlan inflicted some scoreboard pain with 12 points as Anthony Williams Jr also kept Casey in the contest with 10 points, five assists and four steals. Michael McInnes was strong off the boards reeling in seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. For Keilor it was Luke Sist that continued his dominant form producing a game-high 24 points at 59 per cent from the field. But it did not stop there, as he reeled in a staggering 15 rebounds to round out a strong performance. Matt Spencer was next best with 20 points while Jeffrey Ofoedu contributed a handy 11 points in 18 minutes.

Melbourne United hold on in thriller

MELBOURNE United continued their winning streak last night, producing a nine point victory over Brisbane Bullets (98-89) to further lament their position on top of the ladder. But it was not easy going for United as the Bullets showed plenty of grit and determination to fight their way back into the contest and give their opponents a real fright.

Coming in off an upset win against Perth Wildcats only days earlier, the Bullets were keen to make it two from two against the top sides but United clearly had other plans bursting out of the gates in the opening term. Jock Landale was unstoppable, finding his range from deep to sink three consecutive triples. This energy filtered across the United outfit as they looked to dominate from downtown as 12 of their first 25 points stemmed from three-pointers. They simply could not be denied as the undermanned Brisbane side failed to get going or have an answer for Melbourne as they skipped out to an 11-point lead at the first change.

It was more of the same in the second term as United picked up where they left off playing with great conviction and class to weave the ball down the court and deny Brisbane any chance to attack the rim themselves. A timeout called by Brisbane seemed to be what the doctor ordered as they came out firing, spearheaded by Nathan Sobey. The side worked in overdrive culling the lead to a mere eight points before unrest filtered across the court with Matt Hodgson sitting Chris Goulding down. With tempers rising Hodgson registered an unsportsmanlike foul as did Mitch McCarron while Jo Lual-Acuil was tech-fouled putting an early end to his night. Although the Bullets worked their way back into the contest their efforts were overawed by some last minute baskets to McCarron and Sam McDaniel.

The Bullets came into the third quarter with a real pep in their step and ready to take up the challenge that United had lay down to them. Their energy across the court was causing all sorts of trouble for Melbourne who could not keep a lid on the courageous Bullets. Sobey continued his merry way as Lamar Patterson found his groove to reduce the margin to a mere five points as the clock ticked down. Brisbane outscored their opponents 23-12 in a complete turn of events and making for an enthralling finish to the game.

With it all to play for in the final stanza it was Yudai Baba that landed the first blow to establish a 10 point lead for United. But the Bullets were not done with yet, dwindling the margin back to a mere five points midway through the term. However United did enough to hold on and grind out the game despite missing the likes of Shea Ili, Scotty Hopson and Jack White to claim their 17th win of the season and create some much needed ladder separation.

Landale was the most prolific player on court for United producing 23 points at 42 per cent from the field. His output was elite as he reeled in 13 rebounds, eight of which were defensive along with three assists, three steals and two blocks. Goulding was his ever-reliable self, getting busy with 18 points and three rebounds. Teammate, McDaniel plied his trade in the win registering 15 points at an impressive 60 per cent from the field while also dragging in four rebounds and three assists. Baba had a game to remember off the bench walking away with 16 points as Lual-Acuil presented a strong front with nine points and five rebounds before being sent off.

For the Bullets, it was Sobey that did the heavy lifting in a dominant captains performance. His accuracy from long range was key, nailing six of his nine attempts while also securing six rebounds and a steal. Harry Froling made his mark with 15 points, four rebounds and three assists as Hodgson worked tirelessly thanks to his 13 points and eight rebounds. Patterson found his feet producing 12 points and four rebounds off the bench while Jason Cadee managed to register seven assists and eight points.