Author: Taylah Melki

2019/20 NBL preview: Round 16 – Milestones to highlight big round heading into finals

WITH only four rounds to go in the National Basketball League (NBL), expect some big performances and ladder defining games to take place in hope to secure that all elusive finals spot. Round 16 also marks plenty of milestones for a host of key players adding further excitement to the clashes.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS v. SYDNEY KINGS
Friday, January 17, 5:30pm
TSB Stadium

After gathering some momentum, the Breakers hit a wall last round dropping both their games and relegating them back to eighth spot on the ladder while their opponents firmed their spot on top. The Kings have been the team to beat all season and this game will be no different with Sydney looking to well and truly announce themselves on the competition and iron out any inconsistencies in their game play. However, finals are not completely out of the picture for New Zealand and they will know that, making for a game jam-packed with action. The Breakers have shown that they can do the unthinkable and stamp their foot down with their clever ball movement but the biggest obstacle will be shutting down livewire Casper Ware and big man Andrew Bogut. Both players are influential for the Kings able to turn the game on its head within an instant. Ware can score from anywhere and at any given time while Bogut’s no-nonsense attitude and big frame at the basket is hard to stop. But the Breakers have their own stalwart of players with the likes of Robert Loe and Scotty Hopson able to drop hefty totals when needed. Loe was well held in his second game last week, but knocked back 24 points in the game before showcasing his skillset and scoring prowess. If New Zealand are any chance to make finals they must win this clash against the Kings, which will be no easy feat.

PERTH WILDCATS v. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Friday, January 17, 9:20pm
RAC Arena

Being one win away from first place on the ladder expect the Wildcats to come out with plenty of intensity against the Phoenix in hope to snatch prime position. Both sides have the same winning pattern in the last five rounds – two wins, three losses – and will be looking for consistency heading into the finals. The Phoenix are a smoky to make finals but if they can pull off a coup here it could set them up for a finals berth but they must bring their A-game. On the other hand, Perth are well aware of the stakes at hand if they drop the game with the gap between them and third reducing. In recent weeks, superstar Mitch Creek has struggled to have his usual prolific impact on the scoreboard and will want to rectify that if South East Melbourne are any shot of toppling the Wildcats. Kendall Stephens made a big splash in Round 15 posting a team-high 20 points while veteran Ben Madgen also stood up to take control of the game. Both players will be hoping to duplicate their performances again this round to keep their finals hopes alive. It will prove to be a milestone game for Bryce Cotton with the Perth Wildcats shooting machine set to play his 100th NBL game. Cotton is no stranger to the big stage or big moments and will be looking to deliver once again while teammate Terrico White has also found some form in the past couple of games making them a deadly combo. Nick Kay should not be forgotten about able to hit the scoreboard and collect rebounds making them a well-rounded team.

BRISBANE BULLETS v. ILLAWARRA HAWKS
Saturday, January 18, 5:30pm
Nissan Arena

It has not been a great year for Illawarra who have struggled from the get-go and the Bullets will be aiming to capitalise on their inconsistencies in hope to progress further up the ladder. Brisbane will be searching for their fourth win in five weeks showcasing the hot form they are in meanwhile the Hawks will be looking to secure just their sixth win for the season. The Bullets have consolidated in recent weeks, running the court well and sharing the load around making them a real threat to be reckoned with. To continue the round of celebrations, Nathan Sobey will make his 150th NBL appearance while opposition player, Josh Boone will play his 100th with both players looking to leave a lasting imprint in their milestone matches. The Hawks will have their work cut out for them up against Lamar Patterson who can turn on the afterburners. Patterson is a real barometer for the Bullets, once he gets started he is hard to stop, going to post, dishing off assists and collecting rebounds. Support from Sobey, Cameron Gliddon and Taylor Braun will help to set up a strong foundation for the Bullets. Todd Blanchfield has been a shining light for the Hawks this season with the captain consistently leading from the front and doing his part to post a competitive total. He will need assistance from the likes of Sunday Dech and Tim Coenraad if they are any chance to rustle their opponents feathers.

CAIRNS TAIPANS v. ADELAIDE 36ers
Saturday, January 18, 8:00pm
Cairns Convention Centre

This could quite easily be one of the games of the round given how much is at stake for both teams. The Taipans have a firm grip on third spot, sitting slightly ahead of Melbourne United but the Adelaide 36ers cannot be discounted nipping at the heels of the top four. Cairns are coming off a loss last round while the 36ers will be riding high after securing a hard-fought win making it an enthralling clash between the two sides. Adelaide have proven they have what it takes to play finals and a win here could all but secure them a spot but the Taipans will be out for vengeance. DJ Newbill has been a key player for Cairns leading the way both on the scoreboard and with rebounds while Majok Deng has come into his own in recent weeks knocking back 18 points and six rebounds in Round 15. However, the most deadly duo for Cairns is Scott Machado and Cameron Oliver with the two able to single handily change the course of a game with their scoring prowess and basketball nous. Both had relatively quiet games by their lofty standards last week and will be looking to make amends against the 36ers. Adelaide are not without their own plethora of star players with the likes of Eric Griffin and Jerome Randle headlining the attack. Randle is renowned for his ability to stand up in clutch moments and deliver while Griffin is an imposing figure across the court. Daniel Johnson is another key player for the 36ers and will have to perform if his side is going to make it to finals.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS v. MELBOURNE UNITED
Sunday, January 19, 3:00pm
Spark Arena

New Zealand will host the inconsistent Melbourne United who have struggled to maintain their winning ways throughout the season. With a spot at finals on the line the Breakers cannot afford to leave anything to chance and must dominate from the first buzzer if they are to keep Melbourne at bay. Much like the Breakers, United will have to get on the front foot early to solidify their spot in the top four making it a do-or-die clash for both teams. Melbourne are coming off a disappointing loss and will be seeking to prove themselves against their lower ranked opposition and most importantly iron out any gaping flaws. In his 50th NBL game and career best form Shawn Long will be hoping to set the court alight with his damaging style of play, attack on the scoreboard and tenacity. Paired with the likes of fellow 50 gamer Melo Trimble the two could cause all sorts of havoc add in captain, Chris Goulding expect plenty of fireworks. The trio have plenty of potential with Stanton Kidd also developing into a key figure in the line-up and Shea Ili returning. Young gun RJ Hampton can have an impact for the Breakers while Sek Henry and Tom Abercrombie all know how to hit the scoreboard.

SYDNEY KINGS v. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Sunday, January 19, 5:00pm
Qudos Bank Arena

In the final game of the round there is plenty on the line with South East Melbourne Phoenix looking to stay in touch with the rest of the pack while the Kings are hoping to pull further away at the top of the ladder. It will be a tantalising match-up given the star power both sides have, however inconsistency has plagued South East Melbourne throughout the season and Sydney will be looking to exploit that. The Kings have gone from strength to strength and have an impressive win-loss ratio in front of their home crowd only dropping two games and winning nine giving them the upper hand heading into the clash. The hosts have plenty of options when it comes to scoreboard pressure with Jae’Sean Tate able to pile on the points along with Brad Newley and Didi Louzada. Throw in Ware and Bogut and the Phoenix are up for a tough battle but they will know how much a win here could change their season. Dane Pineau was red hot last round recording a double-double thanks to his 19 rebounds and 14 points while John Roberson is as cool, calm and collected as they come making him a game changer for the Phoenix. This game could go down to the wire so expect plenty of fireworks.

2019/20 WNBL Round 13 preview: Boomers and Flyers to go at it again

WITH the finals within reach the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) is about to ramp up with a host of key match-ups headlining Round 13, none bigger than the clash between Melbourne Boomers and Southside Flyers.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING v. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Friday, January 10, 7:05pm
Titanium Security Arena

It will be a blockbuster opening to Round 13 with the Adelaide Lightning hosting the in form Melbourne Boomers who have shown they have skill to boot. The Lightning have rallied in recent weeks claiming four of their last five wins much like the Boomers, making for a hotly contested game. The Boomers currently sit second on the ladder but a loss here could see them potentially drop down the ladder, meaning the Lightning have a lot to play for. Both sides are relatively evenly matched when it comes to points scored, but Melbourne could find themselves in a world of hurt if they do not get on top of Adelaide early when it comes to points scored from fast breaks. With the likes of Lindsay Allen and Cayla George leading the way the Boomers have a plethora of options when it comes to damaging the scoreboard. Madeleine Garrick can also post her fair share of points making the Boomers a deadly counterpart once they get going. Lucky enough for the Lightning they have a pretty stacked line-up with the likes of Brianna Turner a points scoring machine. Turner along with Lauren Nicholson and Stephanie Talbot can do a wealth of damage to trouble not only the scoreboard but so too the Boomers.

TOWNSVILLE FIRE v. UC CAPITALS
Friday, January 10, 7:05pm
Townsville Stadium

The Townsville Fire have struggled for consistency throughout the 2019/20 season as opposed to reigning premiers the UC Capitals who have left their mark on the competition. Despite dropping a few games here and there the Capitals, despite a shock loss last week against the lowly ranked Spirit, have been hailed as a team to watch with their best hard to stop. Headlined by Kia Nurse, UC have scoring prowess and class across the board while Keely Froling and Marianna Tolo are no slouches able to consistently hit the scoreboard. It is not only their work in the points department but ability to gather the rebound or dish off assists that makes the Capitals a damaging opponent.  Although the Fire do not have the same depth as their competitors they have their own key players in Darcee Garbin and Abby Bishop. Both players are known for their ability to put points on the board and if they can get enough of the ball early will help to set up a good foundation for the game. Townsville and Canberra are both coming off losses and will be looking for redemption but given the Capitals have that extra bit of star power it will be an uphill battle for the last placed Fire.

SYDNEY UNI FLAMES v. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Sunday, January 12, 1:05pm
Brydens Stadium

The fifth placed Sydney Uni Flames are set to take on the Townsville Fire who will have played their second game in as many days. The Flames have worked their way up the ladder and will be looking to consolidate on their recent form against the struggling Fire who have only notched up three wins so far. Despite the Flames dropping their last two games they still have a wealth of key players that can have an influence and help dictate the flow of the game. The Flames would be well aware that if they lose this match it could be the end of their albeit slim finals hopes. Alice Kunek has been a scoring machine for the Flames leading the way with a whopping 292 points so far this season and while she had a quiet game last week she will be looking to bounce back. Teammates Colleen Planeta and Jessica Kuster are just a couple of other game changers for the Flames with their dynamic style of play. For the Fire the usual suspects in Bishop and Garbin will have to step up but expect the likes of Bridget Carelton to have an impact.

PERTH LYNX v. BENDIGO SPIRIT
Sunday, January 12, 1:05pm
Bendat Basketball Stadium

It will be a battle of the two lower placed teams with Perth Lynx playing host to the Bendigo Spirit on Sunday. The Spirit will be riding high after notching up a surprise win against the Capitals last round and will be aiming to replicate that strong showing once again. Bendigo have had an up and down season this year but a win here could see them leapfrog their opponents on the ladder. On the other hand, Lynx will be holding on tight to ensure they do not drop down the ladder with the end of season quickly approaching. Kate Ebzery and Alison Schwagmeyer have been the shining light for the Lynx able to win a game off their individual performance. Schwagmeyer has posted some hefty totals throughout the year and will have to pull out all the stops to get over the top of the Spirit who are on a two-game winning streak. Imani McGee-Stafford is another player that can tear games wide open making her an ominous threat for the Spirit. But Bendigo should not be worried with the likes of Carley Ernst a handful to control. Ernst can apply plenty of scoreboard pressure while Shyla Heal has continued to develop as the season has worn on making for an intriguing battle.

MELBOURNE BOOMERS v. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Sunday, January 12, 5:05pm
State Basketball Centre

The final game of the round is set to finish with a bang with one versus two. The Boomers will be suiting up for their second game of the round, while the Southside Flyers will be hoping to capitalise on their opponent’s fatigue. Having not played since last round the Flyers will be hoping to exploit any potential cracks in their cross-town rivals and get some separation on top of the ladder with a win. Southside are littered with a wealth of game changes in the form of Rebecca Cole and Mercedes Russell. Both players can knock back some lofty totals with Cole dropping 30 points in one game last week highlighting her sheer explosiveness if left unattended. Other key players such as Leilani Mitchell and Sara Blicavs pose a dominant threat for the Boomers given their ability to flick a switch and cause an impact. The Boomers have the firepower to inflict some pain on the Flyers with Ezi Magbegor, George and Allen all able to have an influence while dual athlete Monique Conti offers plenty of skill. With stacked line-ups and relatively even statistics across the board it will be an enthralling game for all involved.

2019/20 NBL Round 15 preview: Race for finals set to tighten

WITH one win separating the first placed Sydney Kings and second placed Perth Wildcats a loss in Round 15 could see a new ladder leader. The battle does not stop there with a mere three wins separating third from eighth meaning each game this round could alter the ladder and shape the finals race.

CAIRNS TAIPANS v. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Thursday, January 9, 7:30pm
Cairns Convention Series

At the start of the season not many would have expected this to be the game of the round but both sides are coming in hot and are looking to extend their respective winning streaks. New Zealand have won their past five games while the Taipans have made it four from their last five making it a tantalising Thursday night battle. The Breakers have been dealt their fair share of struggles throughout the season but have found the winning formula in the last couple of rounds and will want to keep that momentum going if they are to make finals. Scotty Hopson has been key for them hitting the scoreboard time and time again while Tom Abercrombie has shown his worth recording a team-high 24 points in their last outing. The likes of Finn Delaney and Robert Loe have also been important for the Breakers with the duo combining nicely across the court. In front of a home crowd expect the likes of Scott Machado and Cameron Oliver to stand up and relish the pressure. Both know how to put on a show with their rangy shooting while Oliver has proven he is an asset coming off a strong performance of 12 rebounds and 21 points. It will be a tight battle and with plenty on the line expect the Taipans and Breakers to leave no stone unturned to secure prime position on the ladder.

ILLAWARRA HAWKS v. PERTH WILDCATS
Friday, January 10, 7:30pm
Win Entertainment Centre

It has been a testing year for the Illawarra Hawks who have been dealt a handful of injuries to key players and struggled to make a real splash. On the other hand, the Wildcats have continued to go from strength to strength despite suffering a shock loss last round. The Hawks have put up a strong contest week in, week out but have fallen short and with the Wildcats looking for redemption could be in for a tough match. Bryce Cotton has been up to his usual tricks shooting from anywhere and most importantly capitalising, making him a real danger man for the Hawks. If he and Terrico White can get off the chain early they could pose a dominant threat and cause havoc for their opposition given their scoring prowess. Another key player to look out for will be Nick Kay who can have a profound impact if given the time and space. The addition of NBA star Miles Plumlee will provide further depth, class and firepower to an already stacked Perth line-up. Illawarra will once again be without star recruit LaMelo Ball who has proven to be a real game changer and will be sorely missed in the clash given his tenacity, class and flashy gameplay. Josh Boone has made a splash in recent weeks along with Todd Blanchfield but if the Hawks are any chance to get over the line they will need big performances from their star players.

SYDNEY KINGS v. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Saturday, January 11, 5:30pm
Qudos Bank Arena

The top of the table Sydney Kings will be aiming to extend their lead, taking on the Taipans who have put their hand up for finals contention. Cairns have been in hot form in the past month but having played one game already this round could suffer some fatigue, something they cannot afford to do against a slick Kings outfit. The Kings have a plethora of star power both on the court and bench with Casper Ware the main instigator when it comes to scoring. Ware can explode out of the blocks with his dynamic movement and hustle to get in tight and attack the boards, meanwhile big man Andrew Bogut is a prominent threat for the Taipans given his stature and basketball nous. Throw in Jae’Sean Tate and the Taipans could be in for a real battle but have proven on more than one occasion that they can mix it with the best in the business. DJ Newbill is as experienced as they come and is a real leader for the group using his skill and body positioning to get within scoring range or gobble up rebounds. Fellow Cairns teammates Machado, Oliver and Nate Jawai must weather the storm that is the Kings and bring their signature play to the table to topple the ladder leading Kings in what could be another enthralling battle.

ADELAIDE 36ers v. MELBOURNE UNITED
Saturday, January 11, 8:00pm
Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Expect plenty of excitement on Saturday night with both sides coming off important wins and looking towards the finals. Melbourne United had a slow start to the season unable to string consecutive wins but have found some form as of late, claiming victory in three of their past five games and will be looking to consolidate against Adelaide. The 36ers had a mixed bag of results in Round 14 and will be looking to potentially leapfrog the Taipans if they are held winless this round. It will be an interesting battle with United having a wealth of options to choose from and headlined by former New Zealand Breakers star, Shawn Long who is in career-best form. Melo Trimble has been relatively quiet in recent weeks and will be hoping to have a big impact against Adelaide to get his side over the line. The combination between Chris Goulding and Trimble has shown to be impactful in the past with their dynamic style and ability to bounce off each other while Stanton Kidd came into his own last round in a dominant outing. The 36ers are not without their own weaponry in the likes of Jerome Randle who if left unattended can cause all sorts of trouble collecting 43 points last round across two outings. Eric Griffin is another key player for Adelaide, able to have an impact at the basket, while Daniel Johnson provides plenty of excitement.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS v. BRISBANE BULLETS
Sunday, January 12, 3:00pm
Spark Arena

In their second game of the round and back on home soil the Breakers will be hoping to make it two from two to cap off a successful week. The Bullets have had an up and down season to say the least but will be seeking revenge after a loss on the buzzer two weeks ago against cross-ditch rivals. The Breakers have shown class and composure under pressure in recent weeks to prevail in tight matches, but will have to bring their A-game against the Bullets who have Lamar Patterson. The forward knocked back 35 points last round and will be wanting to replicate his hot form once again to guide his team to victory. Nathan Sobey and Ej Singler showed their worth last round going to post and using their skill to mount pressure both offensively and defensively for Brisbane. The Bullets have a tendency to fade in and out of games but if they find the right time to strike they could fly home happy. Youngster RJ Hampton has his moments but if he can have a big game for the Breakers it could set the side up and make them a real threat with finals quickly approaching. Sek Henry is another one that could explode out of the blocks after a couple of quieter games.

ILLAWARRA HAWKS v. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Sunday, January 12, 5:00pm
Win Entertainment Centre

It has been a disappointing past couple of rounds for the Phoenix who have simply fallen off the wagon making this clash with Hawks an interesting one. Although the Hawks have only registered five wins for the year they have shown glimpses of brilliance but have not regularly performed. South East Melbourne have struggled to maintain their consistency, putting together solid patches with key wins over higher ranked sides but then dropping the ball. Expect former NBA star Mitch Creek to be out for revenge after a quiet game last round only managing a mere 11 points by his lofty standards while John Roberson has continued to stand up and score freely no matter the situation. Roberson sunk 31 points in his side’s loss and will need support from the likes of Ben Madgen and Dane Pineau if they are any chance of winning against the Hawks. Illawarra will be looking for big performances from Emmett Naar and Sunday Dech who can both hit the scoreboard and apply defensive pressure with three steals collectively.

2019/20 NBL Team of the Week: Round 14

AFTER a big round of action, it is no surprise that a host of Sydney Kings players made this week’s Draft Central Team of the Week. There were some shock losses and unexpected wins, showcasing just how much a season can turn around with a couple of strong performances from key players across the court. The Wildcats failed to have any one in the side this week after a disappointing loss while the Adelaide 36ers got some recognition for a hard fought win.

Lamar Patterson left his mark once again on the competition in his second game of the round. He was the main catalyst for the Bullets, pushing his side over the edge to claim a 13-point win over the second placed Wildcats. Despite a quieter game by his lofty standards earlier in the round with 16 points, four rebounds and six assists, Patterson knocked back 35 points in his outing against Perth to prove how much of a barometer he is for his side.

Adelaide 36ers livewire Jerome Randle was up to his usual tricks, hitting the scoreboard with ease and causing havoc for opposition teams. Randle showcased his hot hand in his first game of the round, collecting 24 points despite losing and while he did not up the ante in the second, he still managed 19 points. South East Melbourne Phoenix guard, John Roberson was electric despite the loss posting a whopping 31 points along with eight assists highlighting his class off the boards and ability to hit the scoreboard.

It is hard to look past the performance of former NBA player and Aussie great Andrew Bogut who once again reigned supreme in his sides victory. Bogut put in the hard yards both offensively and defensively to come up with the goods in the form of a double-double to finish with 13 points and 10 rebounds. He also managed two blocks while teammate Jae’Sean Tate was also solid, notching up one block, 20 points and seven rebounds in a comprehensive performance.

DJ Newbill earned Team of the Week honours albeit on the bench after a solid performance for the Taipans in Round 14 posting 28 points in his sides narrow win over Brisbane. Fellow Taipan, Cameron Oliver also worked his way onto the bench thanks to a strong showing knocking back 21 points and 12 rebounds to notch up a double-double. He was a real presence across the court as was Melbourne United’s Shawn Long who nailed 17 points and collected seven rebounds along with two steals highlighting his defensive skillset. Joining Long on the bench is teammate Chris Goulding who took control in the offensive half with a team-high 21 points to get his side over the line. Tom Abercrombie rounds out the bench for Round 14’s Team of the Week thanks to his hot hand sinking 24 points.

STARTING FIVE

G: Jerome Randle (AD) – 43 points, 3 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 45 FG%
G: John Roberson (SEM) – 31 points, 0 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 42 FG%
C: Andrew Bogut (SK) – 13 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 steals, 2 blocks, 75 FG%
F: Jae’Sean Tate (SK) – 20 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 75 FG%
F: Lamar Patterson (BB) – 51 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 56 FG%

BENCH:
G: Chris Goulding (MU) – 21 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 40 FG%
G: DJ Newbill (CT) – 28 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 64 FG%
C: Shawn Long (MU) – 17 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 53 FG%
F: Cameron Oliver (CT) – 21 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 steals, 2 blocks, 57 FG%
F: Tom Abercrombie (NZ) – 24 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 50 FG%

2019/20 WNBL Team of the Week: Round 12

IN the first outing of 2020 for the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) the Southside Flyers, Melbourne Boomers and Adelaide Lightning had some key players put their hand up for Draft Central’s Team of the Week.

Southside Flyers duo Rebecca Cole and Mercedes Russell impressed once again with the two proving a deadly combo. Cole hit the scoreboard in her first game of the round, finishing with 30 points to her name and while she had a quieter outing against Adelaide, she still plied her trade with 18 points, four assists, and three rebounds. Flyers center, Russell recorded a double-double in both games with 15 points, 11 rebounds and 28 points, 10 rebounds respectively to give her the starting position.

Marianna Tolo inflicted her fair share of scoreboard pain in knocking back 26 points, but the damage did not stop there with Tolo also showing her strength off the boards by picking up 17 rebounds. She was a key asset for the Capitals along with Keely Froling who proved she was no slouch when it came to scoring, posting 22 points and 11 rebounds despite her sides’ loss. Melbourne Boomers star, Cayla George continued her hot form, pushing her side to another convincing victory and recording a double-double thanks to her 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Nicole Seekamp also made her way into Round 12’s Team of the Week credit to her craftiness with ball in hand, amassing a whopping 20 assists and while she did not do a wealth of damage on the scoresheet, was the key playmaker for Adelaide. Teammate, Brianna Turner was a shining light for Adelaide, finding her way to the basket with ease and running amok when given the time and space. She nailed 17 points in her first outing and added another 25 to her growing points tally.

Even though the Townsville Flames did not walk away with the win, Darcee Garbin stood tall once again with the talented forward nailing 21 points to be her sides’ leading points scorer while also managing seven rebounds to cap off her performance. Youngster Shyla Heal had a standout game in Bendigo’s victory with the 18-year-old making it look easy notching up 24 points, eight rebounds and one assist. Fellow guard Madeleine Garrick also earned a spot in the side after a convincing performance against the lowly Sydney Uni Flames sinking 19 points, seven rebounds and an impressive five steals.

STARTING FIVE:
F: Keely Froling (UC) – 22 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, 43.8 FG%
F: Cayla George (MB) – 18 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 46.6 FG%
C: Mercedes Russell (SF) – 43 points, 21 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, 2 blocks, 59 FG%
G: Rebecca Cole (SF) – 48 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 65 FG%
G: Nicole Seekamp (AL) – 10 points, 14 rebounds, 28 assists, 3 steals, 0 blocks, 59 FG%

BENCH:
F: Darcee Garbin (TF) – 21 points, 7 rebounds, 0 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 56.3 FG%
F: Brianna Turner (AL) – 42 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 steals, 2 blocks, 61 FG%
C: Marianna Tolo (UC) – 26 points, 17 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 54.5 FG%
G: Shyla Heal (BS) – 24 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 54.5 FG%
G: Madeleine Garrick (MU) – 19 points, 7 rebounds, 0 assists, 5 steals, 1 block, 37.5 FG%

NBL Round 14 review: Breakers notch up fifth straight win

SOME narrow losses and big wins saw the ladder change slightly at the end of Round 14 of the National Basketball League (NBL), with the Kings restoring their winning ways and Taipans continuing their fight for finals. The Breakers kicked it up another gear while South East Melbourne Phoenix struggled to find their momentum in attack.

Cairns Taipans (91) defeated Brisbane Bullets (89)
A mere two points separated the sides at the final buzzer despite Will Magnay converting two free throws in the dying seconds of the match. It was a tight game with both sides unwilling to give an inch and pushing each other to extremes in hope to creep up the ladder. Cairns got the jump on their opposition early and did not look like giving up but a 30-point last quarter from Brisbane saw the Taipans almost drop the game. DJ Newbill was solid as ever posting another 28 points to lead all points scorers from both sides and once again proving just how crucial he is to the Cairns line-up. Cameron Oliver also made his presence felt, recording a double-double thanks to his 21 points and 12 rebounds. He was a real beast under the ring, gobbling up anything that came his was with the next closest Magnay with eight. Scott Machado provided some excitement for the Taipans with 16 points and six assists to his name. For the Bullets, Ej Singler led the way finding the basket with ease and most importantly converting to finish with 20 points and six rebounds. Magnay had a standout game for the Bullets recording 14 points while Nathan Sobey played his role piling on 10 points and picking up five rebounds and five assists.

DC Medal: 3 – DJ Newbill (CT), 2 – Cameron Oliver (CT), 1 – EJ Singler (BB)

Illawarra Hawks (91) defeated by Melbourne United (104)
A gallant effort by the hosts could not contain Melbourne United who had a point to prove after dropping both their games last round. The Hawks looked to have it in the bag thanks to a big third term, piling on 24 points to 17, but the tables quickly turned in the fourth for Melbourne to regain control and ultimately walk away with the four points. United went on a scoring spree in the fourth to add 32 points to the table, while keeping the Hawks at bay and only allowing them 17 points. Chris Goulding lit up the court once again for United, contributing 21 points along with four assists. Teammate Stanton Kidd had a breakout game scoring 21 points and five rebounds while Shawn Long was right amongst the action with 17 points and seven rebounds. It was not all bad for Illawarra who once again proved they can mix it with the best with Josh Boone leading the way with a double-double thanks to his 12 points and impressive 14 rebounds. Other key contributors Tim Coenraad (18 points) and Todd Blanchfield (14 points) also made an impact on the scoreboard however it was not enough to get their side over the line.

DC Medal: 3 – Chris Goulding (MU), 2 – Shawn Long (MU), 1 – Josh Boone (IH)

Sydney Kings (91) defeated Adelaide 36ers (77)
The Sydney Kings found their mojo once again, dismissing the Adelaide 36ers by 14 points in a strong performance by the highly touted side. It was game on from the first whistle with only two points the margin before the Kings started to build momentum and steadily increase the lead to all but grant them the win. The Kings were close to unstoppable from two-point range, sitting at 65 per cent compared to Adelaide’s 35 per cent and proving that was where the game was won and lost. Brad Newley had the magic touch for the Kings sinking 20 points while big man Andrew Bogut also got involved, racking up yet another double-double with 10 rebounds and 13 points. Jae’Sean Tate continued his dominant form, dropping 20 points and finding a wealth of ball off the boards with seven rebounds and three assists. It was a disappointing outing for the 36ers who fell away when it counted but the likes of Jerome Randle and Daniel Johnson led the way. Randle topscored for the away team with 24 points while Johnson contributed a double-double of his own with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Eric Griffin also did not muck around, adding 12 points to the tally but Sydney ultimately showed what they can do.

DC Medal: 3 – Jae’Sean Tate (SK), 2 – Andrew Bogut (SK), 1 – Jerome Randle (AD)

South East Melbourne Phoenix (92) defeated by New Zealand Breakers (97)
The Breakers’ five point victory over the Phoenix marks the fifth consecutive win for the New Zealand based side who are on a roll at the moment after completely turning their season around. It is a tale of two stories with the Phoenix jumping out of the box early but fading away as the season wares on whereas New Zealand have built into the season finding good synergy across the court and posing a real threat to opposition teams. John Roberson was the main target for South East Melbourne with the talented guard contributing over a third of the sides overall score with 31 points along with eight assists. Dane Pineau was in hot form knocking back 17 points and collecting a whopping 20 rebounds while Tai Wesley stood up for the Phoenix posting 14 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Superstar Mitch Creek was well handled, unable to have his usual influence across the court and only mustering up 11 points credit to the work of the Breakers. Tom Abercrombie plied his trade for the Breakers nailing 24 points and was aided by the likes of Scotty Hopson  with 19 points and eight assists alongside Finn Delaney who piled on 18 points. The solid contribution across the board from New Zealand helped to surge them ahead and secure fifth spot on the ladder.

DC Medal: 3 – John Roberson (SEM), 2 – Tom Abercrombie (NZ), 1 – Scotty Hopson (NZ)

Brisbane Bullets (97) defeated Perth Wildcats (85)
After a narrow loss earlier in the round, the Bullets bounced back accounting for the second placed Perth Wildcats in what was a convincing performance. Brisbane looked like a new and improved unit against Perth, owning the court and denying them any easy chance pushing forward. Lamar Patterson put on a masterclass knocking down 35 points and running the courts with ease while Nathan Sobey upped the ante, scoring 17 points and collecting seven rebounds. Matthew Hodgson was solid across the board converting 17 points and racking up six rebounds credit to his clever positioning around the rim with teammate Magnay also collecting nine rebounds. The Wildcats struggled to fire on all cylinders with Bryce Cotton having to do a bulk of the work putting on 24 points and six rebounds. Nick Kay also plied his trade adding some scoreboard pressure with his 18 points but it was not enough to quell the efforts of the Bullets who were simply unstoppable. Terrico White had little to no effect with 10 points, four rebounds and three assists to his name capping off a relatively disappointing outing for the reigning premiers.

DC Medal: 3 – Lamar Patterson (BB), 2 – Bryce Cotton (PW), 1 – Nathan Sobey (BB)

Adelaide 36ers (102) defeated Illawarra Hawks (96)
The 36ers got their name back in the winning books with a six point victory over the depleted Hawks who were once again without NBA potential number one draft pick LaMelo Ball. The Hawks were so close yet so far, pushing the 36ers to their limits but ultimately were outrun by Adelaide who had a point to prove if they were to stay in the race for finals. With accuracy on their side the Hawks put up a strong performance, leading at half time albeit by only two points before Adelaide turned the screws on and really got to work to snatch the lead. Forward, Anthony Drmic led from the front making his work to post look easy with a team high 24 points accompanying his five rebounds and one steal. The usual suspects in Randle and Griffin were up to their old tricks with 19 and 15 points respectively while Brendan Teys left his mark with 13 points, five rebounds and five assists for the 36ers. On the other hand, Blanchfield went to work for the Hawks showcasing his scoring prowess with 35 points but was the lone hand in terms of scoring with Boone only delivering 14 points but amassing seven rebounds. Sunday Dech worked tirelessly to have an impact, recording 16 points and four assists but Adelaide refused to give up, running out strong in the second half.

DC Medal: 3 – Todd Blanchfield (IH), 2 – Anthony Drmic (AD), 1 – Jerome Randle (AD)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

29 – Bryce Cotton (PW)
28 – Lamar Patterson (BB)
27 – Shawn Long (MU)
26 –
25 –
24 – Mitch Creek (SEM),
23 –
22 –
21 – Casper Ware (SK), Melo Trimble (MU), Jae’Sean Tate (SK),
20 – LaMelo Ball (IH)
19 –
18 –
17 – Scott Machado (CT), Jerome Randle (AD), John Roberson (SEM), Cameron Oliver (CT),
16 –
15 –
14 – Daniel Johnson (AD),
13 – Nick Kay (PW), Andrew Bogut (SK),
12 –
11 –  Corey Webster (NZ),
10 – Eric Griffin (AD),
9 – Terrico White (PW), DJ. Newbill (CT),
8 –
7 – Chris Goulding (MU), Nathan Sobey (BB),
6 –  Kouat Noi (CT), Scotty Hopson (NZ),
5 – Aaron Brooks (IL), Brad Newley (SK), AJ Ogilvy (IL), Anthony Drmic (AD)
4 –  Dario Hunt (PW), Brandon Ashley (NZ), Ben Madgen (SEM), Todd Blanchfield (IH), Tom Abercrombie (NZ),
3 – Sek Henry (NZ), Dane Pineau (SEM), Didi Louzada (SK), Glen Rice Jr (NZ), Finn Delany (NZ)
2 – Matt Hodgson (BB), Jason Cadee (BB), Sunday Dech (IH), David Barlow (MU), Mitch McCarron (MU), Tim Coenraad (IH),
1 – Majok Deng (CT), Craig Moller (SK), Jesse Wagstaff (PW), Keith Benson (SEM), Tohi Smith-Milner (MU), RJ Hampton (NZ), Angus Glover (IH), Emmett Naar (IH), Josh Boone (IH), Ej Singler (BB)

WNBL Round 12 review: Adelaide Lightning make it four in a row

WITH Round 12 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) done and dusted, the Southside Flyers remain at the top of the table despite suffering a loss while the Melbourne Boomers remain a constant threat sitting in second. The Spirit mustered up their second consecutive win while Adelaide continued their purple patch.

Bendigo Spirit (94) defeated UC Capitals (90)

Bendigo kicked off the round in style with a surprise four-point victory over the higher ranked UC Capitals. The Spirit have struggled throughout the 2019/20 season but pulled out all the stops in their game against the Capitals to prove they have what it takes to match it with the best. Despite contributions across the board from the Capitals it was their inaccuracy that killed them with the Spirit sitting at 45.8 per cent from the field compared to 38.1 per cent with accuracy from the three point line also reflecting a similar situation. Marianna Tolo recorded a game high 26 points highlighting her explosiveness while also showing her strength off the boards with 17 rebounds to start 2020 with a double-double. The next closest was opponent Shyla Heal who led the way for Bendigo finding the net with ease and opening up space to drive to the basket with 24 points and eight rebounds. For the Capitals, Keely Froling threw her weight around especially when it came to scoreboard pressure, posting 22 points to go with her 11 rebounds, while teammate Kia Nurse also notched up 17 points. Despite big efforts from three of their top performers the Capitals could not get over the line with Heal and Carley Ernst (19 points) combining effortlessly across the court in what was only their fourth win.

DC Medal: 3 – Marianna Tolo (UC), 2 – Keely Froling (UC), 1 – Shyla Heal (BS)

Townsville Fire (61) defeated by Adelaide Lightning (87)

The Lightning came into the new year with a point to prove and made their plans pretty clear from the get go, bursting out of the blocks with a 33 to 16 point first term. Adelaide built from there, gaining momentum and not looking back and although they lost the last quarter, the damage was already done. Adelaide had no trouble hitting the scoreboard, able to shoot from range or under the post to steadily increase their margin while Townsville struggled to muster up any type of scoring rhythm. It was easy pickings for the Lightning sitting at an impressive 57.9 per cent from three point range compared to the Fire who only managed a mere 20 per cent. Another major difference between the two sides was the contributions off the bench with Adelaide recording 27 points while Townsville posted seven. But the efforts of Darcee Garbin did not go unnoticed for the Fire, leading the way with 21 points and seven rebounds, Abby Bishop also contributed to the Fire’s total with 15 points along with four assists. But it was not enough to stop the rampaging Lightning with all 10 of their players posting a score with import Brianna Turner nailing 17 points and seven rebounds. Stephanie Talbot showcased her class across all areas of the court with 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists while Lauren Nicholson sunk 13 points of her own.

DC Medal: 3 – Stephanie Talbot (AL), 2 – Brianna Turner (AL), 1 – Darcee Garbin (TF)

Perth Lynx (75) defeated by Southside Flyers (90)

The Southside Flyers continued their hot form disposing of the Perth Lynx by 15 points in a win away from home. It was relatively even across the board with both sides boasting similar game styles however it was the Flyers’ ability to race down the court and convert that was a major turning point in the game. Southside scored nine points from fast breaks while Perth managed four. A big last quarter from the Flyers all but handed them the win scoring 22 points and keeping their opponents to just 14. Rebecca Cole took the game by storm with a whopping 30 points for the Flyers. Teammate Mercedes Russell recorded a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds while Leilani Mitchell and Jenna O’Hea posted 18 and 13 points respectively in their win over the Lynx. Perth were not without their chances leading in offensive rebounds and bench points but faded out when the game was on the line. Kate Ebzery did her best to stay in touch, sinking 20 points and showing her durability having played the most game time. When it came to rebounds, Lynx was all over it with four of the top five all donning the red and black. Imani McGee-Stafford was quiet by her points scoring standards but managed nine rebounds with Marena Whittle the next in line with seven. For Lauren Mansfield, six proved to be the magical number – notching up six points, six rebounds and six assists.

DC Medal: 3 – Rebecca Cole (SF), 2 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), 1 – Mercedes Russell (SF)

Adelaide Lightning (104) defeated Southside Flyers (93)

In both sides’ second game of the round it was the Adelaide Lightning that came out victorious against a potentially fatigued Flyers who played two days before. It was a hot start to the contest with only one point separating them at quarter time before the Lightning put the foot down in the second term to pile on an impressive 35 points and force the Flyers into chase position. The Flyers simply could not recover despite big efforts from the likes of Russell who replicated her hot form with 28 points and 10 rebounds to notch up yet another double-double. Sara Blicavs also put in a solid performance for the Flyers mustering up 18 points and seven rebounds meanwhile Cole also made her presence felt on the court with 18 points, four assists and three rebounds in her sides defeat. The Lightning made it two from two in Round 12 once again led by Turner with 25 points and nine rebounds. But Turner was closely followed by Nicholson who contributed an impressive 24 points, four assists and five rebounds. Kathryn Westbeld was not to be forgotten about, converting 22 points while Nicole Seekamp put on some kind of performance with a whopping 20 assists to help guide her side to victory.

DC Medal: 3 – Nicole Seekamp (AL), 2 – Mercedes Russell (SF), 1 – Brianna Turner (AL)

Sydney Uni Flames (63) defeated by Melbourne Boomers (86)

In the final game of the round, the Melbourne Boomers showed why they sit second on the ladder with a strong performance against the struggling Sydney Uni Flames. The Boomers outscored their opponents in every quarter, quickly dashing any chances they had of getting back into the match. Melbourne’s defensive pressure was impressive racking up nine steals and limiting the Flames to just two while their rebounding ability was just as strong taking 15 more (53-38) highlighting their skill above the rim and off the backboard. Lauren Scherf was the go to girl for the Flames knocking back 20 points and nine rebounds while the efforts of teammate Alice Kunek was also key racking up 13 points and seven rebounds. But the Boomers were just too strong with a host of players able to stand up and deliver time and time again. Madeleine Garrick top-scored for the home side with 19 points, with Cayla George hot on her heels with 18 points and 10 rebounds to record her first double-double of the new year. Lindsay Allen also popped up with a handy 15 points to keep the scoreboard ticking over meanwhile Ezi Magbegor plied her trade off the boards with 10 rebounds highlighting the strong team effort displayed by the Boomers.

DC Medal: 3 – Cayla George (MB), 2 – Lauren Scherf (SU), 1 – Madeleine Garrick (MB)

The clash between the UC Capitals and Perth Lynx was set to take place at the AIS but was cancelled due to poor air quality as a result of the bushfires in surrounding areas. A decision will be made in the coming days announcing a possible rescheduled match between the two sides.

DC Medal Leaderboard:

28 – Mercedes Russell (SF), Cayla George (MB)
27 –
26 –
25 –
24 –
23 – Stephanie Talbot (AL)
22 –
21 – Kelsey Griffin (UC)
20 –
19 –
18 – Brianna Turner (AL)
17 –
16 – Lindsay Allen (MB)
15 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL)
14 – Alice Kunek (SU)
13 – Abby Bishop (TF)
12 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), Colleen Planeta (AD), Olivia Epoupa (UC), Keely Froling (UC)
11 – Kia Nurse (UC)
10 – Jenna O’Hea (SF), Darcee Garbin (TF), Madeleine Garrick (MB)
9 – Marianna Tolo (UC)
8 – Leilani Mitchell (SF), Carley Ernst (BS)
7 – Jessica Kuster (SU), Bridget Carleton (TF)
6 – Imani McGee-Stafford (PL), Sara Blicavs (SF), Rebecca Cole (SF)
5 – Tahlia Tupaea (SU), Ezi Magbegor (MB), Nicole Seekamp (AL)
4 – Kelly Wilson (BS), Tess Madgen (TF)
3 – Rebecca Tobin (BS), Lauren Nicholson (AL),  Tessa Lavey (BS)
2 – Crystal Langhorne (AD), Micaela Cocks (TF), Chelsea Brook (AD), Lauren Mansfield (PL), Lauren Scherf (SU)
1 – Sophie Cunningham (MB), Ariel Atkins (PL), Alex Wilson (SU), Anneli Maley (SF), Stella Beck (MB), Abigail Wehrung (BS), Kathryn Westbeld (AD), Shyla Heal (BS)

2019/20 WNBL weekend preview: Round 7 – Ladder leaders to do the double

BOTH the Sydney Uni Flames and Southside Flyers are set to play two games in Round 7 with the Flyers hoping to maintain prime position on top of the ladder.

BENDIGO SPIRIT v. SyYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Friday, November 29
7:05pm

Bendigo Spirit will be hoping to end their three-game losing streak and get back on the winners list against the Sydney Uni Flames who have also failed to rack up a win in their last two outings, making for an intriguing contest. In fact, the Spirit have not won a game since the start of November and will want stay in touch with the fifth placed Perth Lynx. On the other hand, it is the first of two games for the Flames this round and they will be wanting to get off to a hot start to hopefully leapfrog their opposition up the ladder. Both teams are relatively evenly matched with a mere five points separating their overall points scored tally highlighting just how competitive this game could be.

Alice Kunek has been a key contributor for the Flames averaging 16.9 points per game along with 4.1 rebounds showcasing her impact across the court. Paired with the likes of Colleen Planeta (15 points and 7.4 rebounds) Jessica Kuster (10.8 points, 6.3 rebounds) the Flames have a wealth of stars to choose from to help steer the ship against the higher place Spirit. But the Spirit have some players that can take the game by the scruff of the neck and lead them to victory with Keely Wilson a class act averaging 10.3 points per game and 6.8 assists. Abigail Wehrung also boasts a healthy percentage from three point range at 45.2 percent and can hit the scoreboard averaging 9.3 points. Tessa Lavey and Shyla Heal can also make a difference for the Spirit.

PERTH LYNX v. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Friday, November 29
6:35pm

The Perth Lynx play host to the Southside Flyers in a clash of fifth against first. The Lynx will be hoping to cause a big upset and knock the Southside Flyers off their perch to get them back on level pegging with Adelaide Lightning giving they do not win their match. In the past five games the Flyers have only dropped one match highlighting their skill and teamwork to play both a defensive and attacking game style. Meanwhile Lynx will be aiming to recapture their form from a couple of weeks ago to have a real impact.

There is no denying that Alison Schwagmeyer is a real barometer for the Perth side given her impressive talent under the rim and explosiveness. If she is let off the chains early it will go a long way in helping set her side up for victory with the guard averaging 18.9 points per game along with 7.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists. The Flyers have a plethora of options across the court with Sara Blicavs, Leilani Mitchell, Jenna O’Hea, Mercedes Russell and Rebecca Cole all combining to become a formidable force. Russell has taken the competition by storm with her attacking mentality and drive to the basket averaging a double-double thanks to her 15.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. With so many key players it will be hard to maintain all of them and stop them from having an impact.

UC CAPITALS v. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Saturday, November 30
5:05pm

It is a tale of two halves with the Capitals taking on the last placed Townsville Fire who have only managed the one win so far this season. The Fire have been competitive in games but have struggled to maintain any form of consistency or intensity for a full four quarters making it hard for them to win a game. The Capitals have won four games straight and will be keen to keep that streak running but when these two sides met back in Round 2 the Capitals only narrowly scraped through by two points proving that Townsville have what it takes to match it with the best of them, but a lot has changed since then.

Kia Nurse is instrumental for the University of Canberra (UC) credit to her points scoring ability really controlling the airways for her side with an average of 20 points. Partner in crime Kelsey Griffin is another key to the Capitals success with a double-double of 17.1 points and 11.8 rebounds per game while Keely Froling is not too far behind with 15.1 points and 6.8 rebounds. Marianna Tolo should not be underestimated and can turn the heat on at the drop of a hat. Although Townsville do not have the same firepower as their opponents Abby Bishop is no slouch with an impressive average of 20.2 points and 8.5 rebounds, Tess Madgen can also find the net.

MELBOURNE BOOMERS v. SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Saturday, November 30
7:35pm

The second placed Melbourne Boomers can turn on the afterburners when need be and will be hoping to inflict some scoreboard pain on the Sydney Uni Flames to cement their spot on the ladder. It will be the Flames second game for the round and their opposition does not get any easier coming up against a well-rested and raring to go Melbourne Boomers side who will be hoping to keep the scoreboard ticking over and notch up their third consecutive win.

The Boomers can score quickly and have a wealth of players to look to when the going gets tough thanks to their touch of class, experience and basketball nous across the court with the first in line Lindsay Allen. Allen is an excitement machine not afraid to back herself from range or in close shown with her average of 18.4 points per game. Cayla George can also set the court on fire with both her defensive and offensive pressure (14.9 points, 9.3 rebounds) while Ezi Magbegor offers another scoring option. For the Flames the usual suspects in Planeta and Kunek will have to take charge while Tahlia Tupaea can provide a point of difference.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING v. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Sunday, December 1
5:05pm

In their second game of the round the Flyers will be hoping to build on their momentum and keep their winning streak alive against the fourth placed Lightning. The Lightning have been relatively inconsistent throughout the 2019/20 season winning four games and losing three but will be hoping to consolidate on their top four position. Expect Lightning to be fresh and buzzing with energy while the Flyers could be sore and fatigued heading into the match-up.

There is no denying that the Flyers are pretty well stacked when it comes to talent meaning the Lightning will have their hands full but Adelaide are not without their own game-changers. American Crystal Langhorne can cause havoc as shown averaging 20 points and 13 rebounds and will have to get on the move if she is to spur her side onto victory. Brianna Turner, Stephanie Talbot and Nicole Seekamp are also filled with skill and scoring prowess making their performance against the Flyers integral. Cole and Mitchell are both able to hit the scoreboard and can be real playmakers with their creative assists.

2019/20 NBL Team of the Week: Round 8

ROUND 8 seemed to be dominated by forwards with a host of players standing up for their respective sides and putting their hand up for selection in Draft Central’s National Basketball League (NBL) Team of the Week. The Sydney Kings were once again well represented in the team credit to a strong performance seeing with the Illawarra Hawks equalling them. For the first time in weeks the Perth Wildcats missed out on selection thanks to an upset loss to the lowly Cairns Taipans.

It was hard to go past the performance of Tim Coenraad who rose to the occasion against a gallant Cairns side with the forward owning the court with his scoring ability racking up 27 points for the game along with two rebounds and two assists. Eric Griffin also impressed over the weekend with the forward taking control on the scoreboard for the Adelaide 36ers across both matches. He simply could not be stopped using his big frame to push past opponents and find his way to the rim with a combined 42 points thanks to 18 points against the Bullets and 24 against the Breakers while teammate Anthony Drmic also played a key role. Lamar Patterson burst out of the blocks in his first game of the round hitting 27 points and six rebounds but tailed off in the second game pushing him to the bench for this week’s Team of the Week.

In a history making performance LaMelo Ball was a sure starter in our Team of the Week becoming the youngest player to record a triple double with 32 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists. His performance was nothing short of impressive forcing the likes of Casper Ware who continued his hot form to the bench. Ware made no mistake near the ring sinking 25 points while Melbourne United’s Melo Trimble secured his spot in the Team of the Week once again with a dominant performance. Much like Ware, Trimble nailed 25 points along with seven assists and five rebounds giving him the other starting guard position Although South East Melbourne Phoenix dropped their third game in as many weeks, John Roberson was still influential across the court with his dynamic game style and drive to the basket scoring 25 points against the top of the table Kings.

For the second week in a row Jae’sean Tate made the cut thanks to his classy performance to help get the Kings over the line. He had no issue finding the basked sinking 24 points for the game while used his height to position under the rim. Jo Lual Acuil was narrowly edged out of the starting position instead finding himself on the bench after a strong outing for Melbourne United with a game high 15 rebounds.

Unlucky to not make the cut was South East Melbourne Phoenix gun Mitch Creek who was once again instrumental across the court with his 20 points and seven rebounds, while Kouat Noi also just missed out after a solid performance for Cairns.

STARTING FIVE:

Guard: LaMelo Ball (IH) 32 points, 11 rebounds, 13 assists, 1 steal, 37.57 FG %
Guard: Melo Trimble (MU) 25 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 0 steals, 44.57 FG%
Center: Jae’sean Tate (SK) 24 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 steals, 61.77 FG%
Forward: Tim Coenraad (IH) 27 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 steals, 48.57 FG%
Forward: Eric Griffin (AD) 21.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.0 steals, 46.67 FG%

BENCH:

Guard: John Roberson (SEM) 25 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists, 48.15 FG%
Guard: Casper Ware (SK) 25 points, 1 rebound, 4 assists, 0 steals, 38.92 FG%
Center: Jo Lual Acuil (MU) 11 points, 2 assists, 15 rebounds, 0 steals, 50.00 FG%
Forward: Lamar Patterson (BB) 20.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 41.67 FG%
Forward: Anthony Drmic (AD) 19.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 54.64 FG%

NBL Round 8 review: Top four starting to shape up

THE Sydney Kings continued their reign at the top of the table while Melbourne United extended their winning streak to firm up their spot in the top four after Round 8. Cairns Taipans did not leave any stone unturned downing the higher ranked Perth Wildcats but that high was shortly lived with LaMelo Ball bringing them back down to earth in a history making performance. Meanwhile the clash between the Bullets and 36ers came down to the wire.

Brisbane Bullets (106) defeated Adelaide 36ers (104)

A failed three-point jump shot from fan favourite Jerome Randle all but summarised the 36ers performance – so close but yet so far. The intensity was up from the first whistle but lifted a whole other level in the last 10 seconds with the ball flicking from one end to the other in a last ditch effort to either extend the lead or claim it. But in the end the Bullets stuck strong to notch up their fifth win for the season. Both sides could hardly be separated drawing even at the first break with the biggest margin at a break three points highlighting the closeness of the match. Lamar Patterson led the way for Brisbane with a game-high 27 points along with six rebounds while teammates Nathan Sobey and Ej Singler chipped on the scoreboard with 21 and 20 points respectively. For the 36ers, Randle was arguably one of the best on court despite missing that late shot racking up 25 points for his efforts. Anthony Drmic was also key, keeping his side in the hunt thanks to his 25 points, five rebounds and six assists meanwhile Eric Griffin just fell short of a double-double with 18 points and nine rebounds.

DC Medal: 3 Lamar Patterson (BB), 2 Jerome Randle (AD), 1 Nathan Sobey (BB)

South East Melbourne Phoenix (86) defeated by Sydney Kings (90)

After a stellar start to their inaugural season, the Phoenix have hit a mid-season slump dropping their third consecutive game. On the other hand, the Kings continued their merry way downing South East Melbourne albeit by four points after securing a commanding lead in the opening half. Sydney opened the game strong with 25 and 30 points in each of the first two terms respectively, before Phoenix fought back in the third restricting their opponents to a mere 12 points while piling on 28 themselves to get back into the game. Unfortunately, it was not enough with the likes of Casper Ware and Andrew Bogut doing a heap of damage offensively and defensively. Ware top-scored with 25 points and four assists while big man Bogut threw his weight around with 10 rebounds and nine points. Jae’sean Tate was crucial for the Kings helping the scoreboard tick over with 24 points and eight rebounds. Credit where credits due John Roberson played his part to keep the Phoenix in it popping up with 25 points and seven assists with Mitch Creek hot on his heels with 20 points, seven rebounds, one steal and one block proving why he is considered apart of the higher echelon of players.

DC Medal: 3 Casper Ware (SK), 2 Jae-Sean Tate (SK), 1 John Roberson (SEM)

Cairns Taipans (91) defeated Perth Wildcats (84)

The Taipans caused a big upset at home over the second placed Wildcats with a seven-point victory. It was an even start with both sides managing 21 points apiece before the Wildcats let loose with a 29 to 19 second term. But Cairns was not to be outdone upping the ante in the fourth quarter, digging deep to go on a scoring spree notching up 30 points to 14 to reverse the table and claim the lead. Despite their best efforts Perth seemed to have no answers for the Taipans with a host of players contributing equally across the game. Kouat Noi could not be denied amassing 19 points, six rebounds and two assists, while both Scott Machado and DJ Newbill featured on the points board with 17 apiece. Machado recorded a double-double adding 11 assists to his 17 points, while defensively Cameron Oliver put on a masterclass with four blocks. The Wildcats were not without their chances but with star player Bryce Cotton down on his usual output (10 points, four rebounds) along with Terrico White absent their scoreboard tally suffered. Mainstay Nick Kay covered the court well converting 16 points while Clint Steindl did the most damage with 17 points.

DC Medal: 3 Kouat Noi (CT), 2 Scott Machado (CT), 1 Nick Kay (PW)

Melbourne United (108) defeated Brisbane Bullets (94)

Melbourne United have well and truly shaken off their disappointing start to the season notching up their sixth consecutive win to get their season back on track to sit two games ahead of fourth and one away from second. Despite being challenged throughout the game Melbourne, looked in control and composed even having time for trick passes with Mitch McCarron showing a touch of class with an around the back assist to Chris Goulding who converted from outside the ark. Goulding finished with 14 points, while McCarron made his presence felt with recording a double-double thanks to his 12 rebounds, seven assists and 12 points. American Melo Trimble did not muck around securing a game-high 25 points with Tohi Smith-Milner chipping in with his 19 points despite only being on the court for 10 minutes. Center Jo Lual Acuil took the game by storm with 15 rebounds with Matthew Hodgson the closest for the Bullets with seven. Jason Cadee did the most scoreboard damage with 18 points while usual suspects Sobey (17) and Patterson (14) contributed but failed to match United’s scoring prowess.

DC Medal: 3 Melo Trimble (MU), 2 Mitch McCarron (MU), 1 Tohi Smith-Milner (MU)

Adelaide 36ers (117) defeated New Zealand Breakers (100)

The Adelaide 36ers came out with a bang dismantling the Breakers in a comprehensive performance granting them the highest score for the season. The Breakers have had less than a desirable past month of basketball dropping their past five games and despite putting up a good fight in the first and last quarter could simply not maintain that same heat and intensity allowing the 36ers to capitalise on their vulnerabilities. A 31 to 15 second quarter proved too hard to come back from for New Zealand. Griffin notched up 25 points for the game with four other teammates making it into double figures highlighting the even contribution. Daniel Johnson slotted 19 points and was also instrumental under the rim with 11 rebounds for Adelaide. Sek Henry led the way for New Zealand sinking 18 points with young gun RJ Hampton also plying his trade with 15 points, three rebounds and six assists. Brandon Ashley did the work across the court both defensively and offensively notching up 13 points and eight rebounds but it was not enough to stop the 36ers who were on a mission.

DC Medal: 3 Eric Griffin (AD), 2 Daniel Johnson (AD), RJ Hampton (NZ)

Illawarra Hawks (114) defeated Cairns Taipans (106)

It was a Ball masterclass with the potential NBA number one draft pick, single handedly guiding the Illawarra Hawks to victory over Cairns. Ball had ice in his veins sinking the tying three point shot in the dying seconds of the game to send it into overtime while also making history to become the youngest player in NBL history to record a triple double with 32 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists. The Hawks had an early lead and were close to squandering it thanks to the increased pressure coming from the Taipans in the second half of the game. But despite their best efforts Cairns simply could not maintain that intensity in overtime only managing seven points compared to the Hawks 15. Newbill stood up for the Taipans with the captain sinking 27 points, five assists and three rebounds while Machado played his part up and down the court securing a double double with 22 points and 13 assists. But that was simply not enough to stop the stream train that was Ball, with fellow teammate Tim Coenraad coming along for the ride with 27 points of his own. Sunday Dech also reached double figures for the Hawks with 15 points while Andrew Ogilvy hit the scoreboard with 11 points and made an impact in defence racking up four blocks.

DC Medal: 3 LaMelo Ball (IH), 2 Tim Coenraad (IH), 1 DJ Newbill (CT)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

17 – Shawn Long (MU), Bryce Cotton (PW), Mitch Creek (SEM), Lamar Patterson (BB), LaMelo Ball (IH),
16 –
15 – Jae’Sean Tate (SK), Melo Trimble (MU)
14 – Casper Ware (SK),
13 –
12 –
11 – Andrew Bogut (SK), Cameron Oliver (CT), Nick Kay (PW),
10 – John Roberson (SEM), Scott Machado (CT), Daniel Johnson (AD),
9 – Corey Webster (NZ)
8 – Eric Griffin (AD),
7 –
6 – Nathan Sobey (BB), Kouat Noi (CT),
5 – Aaron Brooks (IL), Scotty Hopson (NZ), Terrico White (PW), Brad Newley (SK), Jerome Randle (AD)
4 – Chris Goulding (MU), Dario Hunt (PW)
3 – AJ Ogilvy (IL), Sek Henry (NZ), Brandon Ashley (NZ), Dane Pineau (SEM), Didi Louzada (SK), Anthony Drmic (AD),
2 – Matt Hodgson (BB), Jason Cadee (BB), Sunday Dech (IH), David Barlow (MU), Mitch McCarron (MU), DJ. Newbill (IL), Tim Coenraad (IH)
1 – Majok Deng (CT), Craig Moller (SK), Jesse Wagstaff (PW), Todd Blanchfield (IH), Keith Benson (SEM), Tohi Smith-Milner (MU), RJ Hampton (NZ)