Category: NBL1

Basketball Draft Central – Happy holidays and what to expect in 2021

IN what has been a challenging year for everyone, Draft Central would like to thank everyone for the support throughout 2020 in what was a remarkable year for the organisation. Despite the challenges of a global pandemic, Draft Central was able to expand its coverage and increase its reach across the country far greater than any previous year. Thanks to the support of you, the readers, listeners and watchers, Draft Central was able to stand up in a tough time.

We wish everyone a happy holidays, and while we will be having some content go up over the break reviewing some of the most memorable moments of the year, we look forward to a massive 2021 where we will aim to go bigger and better.

In 2021, Basketball Draft Central will not only cover the National Basketball League (NBL) and Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL), but continue its expansion into the NBL1 having covered the initial competition in 2019. Next year, Basketball Draft Central will cover all the NBL1 competitions, as well as the Big V and of course the Victorian Junior Basketball League (VJBL) in the Under 18s and Under 16s Championship Divisions.

Our coverage of the top basketball leagues in New Zealand will also continue, taking a look at the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) which sees its men’s competition tip-off in April. Then when the women’s season rolls around again, we will look to cover it in indepth once again.

We will also look to bring more features, and begin a basketball podcast to follow in the footsteps of our other branded podcasts, Final Siren (Australian rules football) and Centre Pass (netball) podcasts. There will be no time wasted once the New Year hits, with the NBL season starting early on January 10, and we will recap all the action from Round 1.

Join us in 2021 as we look forward to bringing you expansive basketball coverage throughout the entire year.

Moses Nuangki determined to find his way into the NBA

COMBO-guard Moses Nuangki has signed on in the NBL1 Central conference for the Norwood Flames after two years of high school and one year of junior college in the United States. Returning home to Adelaide due to COVID-19, the 20-year-old is now looking at the NBL as an alternative route to his end goal: the NBA.

Standing at six foot two, he has shown an ability to slot into either the one or two guard position with his speed and athleticism enabling him to be a threat on the offensive end, but also capable on taller guards defensively. While he can create shots for himself and his teammates, Nuangki has put a lot of work into his catch and shoot game to become more versatile as he progressed into higher levels of basketball.

“When I got there, it was kind of like I was playing against guys that were as athletic as me and they were all much older than me,” Nuangki said. “I kind of had to add something to my game so I started working on my jump shot.”

Nuangki models his game off Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo with his offensive potency from inside and out, his athleticism, and ability to be versatile on defence.

Leaving Australia after one semester of Year 11, Nuangki made his way to Carlisle High School in Virginia – Thon Maker’s alma mater. Having moved to Australia from Egypt with his family at four years old, he made that move alone and admitted it was “tough, but it was always something (he) wanted to do before (he) actually did it”.

“I thought about it when I was in Year 8 coming into Year 9, and when I was in Year 10 I was like ok, I’m definitely going to do it,” he said. “It was tough leaving family and friends behind and when I got there, a few months in I was super homesick, and I was ready to come home.”

Walking to the gym and practicing was Nuangki’s remedy for his homesickness which allowed him to focus more on his game and develop his craft.

Despite receiving attention from NCAA division one programs, ineligibility forced him to take the Junior College route. He wound up at Cowley College in Kansas to try and force his way into a Division 1 program after two years, but unfortunately for the promising talent the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to that.

Since returning to Adelaide, he was welcomed the opportunity to train with Adelaide 36ers in the NBL, where he was able to learn to be “more of a professional”.

“Coming in, I didn’t know much of how to be a professional, but when I got there I saw the little things that separate college athletes and professional athletes,” he said.

With the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Nuangki is now looking to take the NBL pathway to realise his dream of playing NBA. For now, his focus is very much on the NBL1 season as he looks to make a name for himself with the Flames.

“I want to win the whole thing,” he said. “And I want to win the Frank Angove award, which is for the best player under 21, those are my goals.”

NBL1 West joins expanding second tier competition

WESTERN Australia is the latest state to join the National Basketball League (NBL)1 competition with the announcement that NBL1 West will tip-off in 2021. Following the success of the 2019 NBL1 (featuring predominantly Victorian teams with a couple of Tasmanian outfits), two more state leagues joined the second tier with the introduction of NBL1 North and NBL1 Central. While they ultimately did not get to play out under that umbrella, the leagues are set to go in 2021 alongside NBL1 West.

The current second tier basketball competition in Western Australia is known as the State Basketball League (SBL) and under the new arrangement that will now become NBL1 West. Fourteen teams will compete in the NBL1 West competition in 2021, with the successful sides:

  • Cockburn Cougars
  • East Perth Eagles
  • Geraldton Buccaneers
  • Goldfield Giants
  • Joondalup Wolves
  • Kalamunda Eastern Suns
  • Lakeside Lightning
  • Mandurah Magic
  • Perry Lakes Hawks
  • Perth Redbacks
  • Rockingham Flames
  • South West Slammers
  • Warwick Senators
  • Willetton Tigers

Each NBL1 league logo has adopted a different primary colour, with the NBL1 West choosing yellow, commonly associated with the state of Western Australia. NBL1 Chief Operating Officer Andy Crook said it was a huge announcement for basketball in Western Australia.

“This is an exciting day for Australian basketball and for basketball in Western Australia with the announcement of NBL1 West. NBL1 is Australia’s premier winter basketball league and we are delighted to welcome Western Australia into the family,” Crook said. “NBL1 will open up stronger pathways for Western Australian players to progress to the NBL, WNBL, US college and overseas leagues. “It will bring bigger audiences to basketball in Western Australia and take NBL1 to a new level.”

“Western Australia becomes the fourth major state league to join NBL1 in the space of just two years. “The support of Basketball Western Australia and the competing clubs is a major endorsement of the league and its direction. “After an interrupted 2020 we can’t wait to get back on the court in 2021.”

Basketball Western Australia CEO Rob Clement said the state governing body had canvassed the 14 clubs about the potential move with the decision to join the growing NBL1 competition ultimately chosen to help build on the work set by the SNBL over the past four decades.

“Basketball Western Australia has worked closely with our 14 clubs to make the decision to join the NBL1,” Clement said. “We are very excited to be part of the NBL1 competition in 2021 and showcasing the strength of basketball in Western Australia. “The SBL has a proud history of 40 years of providing a product that unites our basketball community and we believe that the NBL1 can help us grow this. “We look forward to working closely with the other states to raise the profile of our game in Australia.”

The structure for the 2021 NBL1 season will be announced in the near future, with the separate state leagues to have their own seasons, following by an NBL1 National Championship weekend featuring the best of the best from across the country.

NBL1 Central team summary – Norwood Flames

THE National Basketball League (NBL)1 competition was cancelled for the 2020 season, so instead we take a look back at some of the teams that would have been tipping off in the NBL1 Central competition. Today’s side is Norwood Flames who shared the scoring around in season 2019 but missed out on making a finals appearance.

SEASON SUMMARY:

Finish: 7
Win: 11
Loss: 9

TOP PLAYERS:

CARA ANNETTS

Statistics: 14.1 points, 1.3 assists, 7.1 rebounds, 1.3 steals
Shooting: 43.7% (2pt), 29.4% (3pt), 84.1% (FT)

The leading points scorer for her team, Annetts showcased his consistent ability to ram it home and add to the scoreboard for the Flames throughout 2019. Her average of 14.1 points a game was impressive while her accuracy from the free-throw line also shone true converting 84.1 per cent of his shorts. She also averaged 1.3 steals proving she was no slouch in defence while when it came to rebounding, she managed 7.1 a game. Annetts featured in 18 games such was her durability and most importantly played an average of 31.6 minutes a clear testament to her endurance, reliability and on-court skill.

TESS BRUFFEY

Statistics: 13.3 points, 2.2 assists, 10.1 rebounds, 0.8 steals
Shooting: 38.1% (2pt), 26.2% (3pt), 67.7% (FT)

Bruffey was a key performer for the Flames last year averaging an impressive double-double credit to her efforts both in points scoring and rebounding. She managed to sink an average of 13.3 points a game while also collecting 10.1 rebounds showcasing her strength around the rim and clever positioning to outbox her opponents. While she would have liked, a higher accuracy sitting well below 50 per cent for both three-pointers and shots inside the arc, Bruffey proved that hard work and determination will still get the job done. The Flames star took the court 18 times throughout the season and averaged the second highest minutes of anyone on the team with 32.6.

LYNQUOIA NORTH

Statistics: 9.3 points, 2.9 assists, 8.7 rebounds, 1.0 steal
Shooting: 37.7% (2pt), 12% (3pt), 48.2% (FT)

Featuring in 18 games for the season and racking up an average of 29.1 minutes North played a crucial support role to the likes of Bruffey and Annetts. She was able to ply her trade on court while also facilitating some type of attacking play credit to her 9.3 points a game. She fell just shy of a double-double with 8.7 rebounds but should be commended for her efforts, able to reel down the ball consistently. Much like Bruffey, accuracy was not her strong point especially when it came to long distance shooting, sitting at a mere 12 per cent after only converting three of her 25 attempts but was still a commanding presence on court.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE SEASON: FIRST WIN OF THE SEASON

Although it only took two games for the Flames to get on the winners list it was the convincing fashion in which they did it that stimulated plenty of excitement. Dropping 82 points thanks to a combined effort of players proved too much for the Eastern Mavericks who simply could not generate their normal game play. It was a key win for the Flames, helping them to set up the rest of the season and give them that belief that they can match it with the best seeing the Mavericks finished third on the ladder. Strong performances from Bruffey (14 points), Shannon Webber (17 points) and Kelsey Mckay (12 points) helped guide the side to their opening win.

BEST WIN: NARROW ROUND 9 VICTORY

While it was a relatively up and down season for the Flames the narrow six-point win against the Southern Tigers went down a treat. Coming off a win in the previous round the Flames had plenty of pep in their step taking it to their higher ranked opponent and making them work for every inch of it. The win was nothing short of hard fought with the likes of Bruffey leading the way with a whopping 25 points. She really helped to set the attacking tone of the game for Norwood while contributions from Webber (19 points), Annetts (14 points) and Jordyn Freer (12 points) also went a long way in getting the Flames over the line.

SUMMARY:

Norwood have some talented players that can hit the scoreboard but at times lack that second tier of players to help out when things get tricky and take the heat off the key play makers. With a strong core of players the addition of a more defensive minded player could allow the likes of Annetts and Bruffey to focus on their offensive play.

NBL1 Central men’s team summary: Eastern Mavericks

THE National Basketball League (NBL)1 competition was cancelled for the 2020 season, so instead we take a look back at some of the teams that would have been tipping off in the NBL1 Central competition. Today’s side is Eastern Mavericks who failed to get off the bottom of the ladder in 2019, only winning three games.

SEASON SUMMARY:

Finished: 11th
Wins: 3
Losses: 17

TOP PLAYERS:

 BRANDON MORRIS

Statistics: 25.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 10.1 rebounds, 0.9 steals
Shooting: 57.9% (2pt), 34.2% (3pt), 62.1% (FT)

Averaging a double-double Morris was a clear play maker for the Mavericks in 2019 lighting up the court with his points scoring ability. He averaged a whopping 25.8 points a game while also collecting 10.1 rebounds each time he stepped out on court showcasing his explosiveness. Shooting at 57.9 per cent from inside the arc, Morris made the most out his chances while also converting at the charity line. Morris took the court 20 times throughout the 2019 campaign and averaged an impressive 34.6 minutes proving his endurance and reliability.

NOVIAN CHERRY

Statistics: 12.9 points, 3.4 assists, 10.2 rebounds, 0.9 steals
Shooting: 47.8% (2pt), 28.8% (3pt), 53.5% (FT)

Another key component in the Mavericks’ game plan, Cherry stood up under the pressure and delivered more times than not with his flashy style of play and skill. His ability to sink up with the likes of Morris was impressive with the two able to find the scoreboard and have an impact. He, like Morris averaged a double-double with 12.9 points and 10.2 rebounds a game showcasing his strength. While his accuracy was slightly lower than he would have liked he still proved to be a commanding presence on the court and was handy with ball in hand dishing off 3.4 assists a game.

DEVON MCGEE

Statistics: 13.5 points, 1.7 assists, 7.4 rebounds, 1.3 steals
Shooting: 51.9% (2pt), 61% (FT)

McGee played a good support role with Morris last season, averaging double figure points for his efforts across his 20 games. McGee sunk an average of 13.5 points and fell short of a double-double with 7.4 rebounds a game. He was able to impose himself on the contest and dish off dimes credit to his vision and attacking drive with 1.7 assists to his name. Averaging 28.8 minutes a game McGee was a consistent threat on court.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE SEASON: ENDING A 13 GAME LOSING STREAK

In what was a trying season for the Eastern Mavericks Round 19, proved to be a game to remember for the home side who ended their 13 game long losing streak. The six-point victory over the West Adelaide Bearcats was nothing short of impressive with the team showing plenty of grit and determination to get over the line. Morris was a lone hand, simply unstoppable, blowing his opponents away with a staggering 41 points. Sebastian Bald also hit the scoreboard contributing 12 points to the overall tally.

BEST WIN:

The Round 3 win against the Woodville Warriors was a memorable one for the Mavericks who proved they have what it takes to assert their dominance on the competition and take home a win. While they only won two more games for the year, the Mavericks 17-point win was an impressive feat over their higher ranked opponent. The Mavericks were more accurate from two-point range than their competitors giving them that competitive edge in Round 3 while also making the most of their opportunities from the free-throw line.

SUMMARY:

The Mavericks have a clear couple of play makers across the court but need further support both in offence and defence if they are to progress up the ladder next season. With Morris, a standout, another player who can provide extra scoring power could aid the Eastern Mavericks to more wins in 2021 and help them build on the foundations they have already established.

NBL1 Central Team summary: Sturt Sabres

THE National Basketball League (NBL)1 competition was cancelled for the 2020 season, so instead we take a look back at some of the teams that would have been tipping off in the NBL1 Central competition. Today’s side is Sturt Sabres who after finishing top of the table fell painstakingly short in the grand final, losing by three points.

SEASON SUMMARY

Finish: 1
Win: 15
Loss: 5

TOP PLAYERS:

ELISSA BRETT

Statistics: 11 points, 1.3 assists, 7 rebounds, 1.3 steals
Shooting: 39.7% (2pt), 26% (3pt), 63.8% (FT)

Playing in 22 of the Sabres’ games throughout the season, Brett was as consistent as they come when on court. Falling short of a double-double with an average of seven rebounds and 11 points Brett ensured she was a constant threat from the free-throw line thanks her 63.8 per cent accuracy. Brett played an average of 23.6 minutes each game showcasing her endurance and reliability when on court to lead the team to success.

KYLEE SMITH

Statistics: 18.2 points, 2.9 assists, 10.6 rebounds, 1.1 steals
Shooting: 44.4% (2pt), 35% (3pt), 73.2% (FT)

Smith was a real livewire for the Sabres, able to come onto the court and have a commanding influence with her strength to go to basket racking up an impressive average of 18.2 points. While she played only 16 games, Smith consistently threw her weight around when on court also collecting an average of 10.6 rebounds a game to claim a double-double for her efforts. When on song, Smith was hard to control running amuck across the court and although her accuracy was not overly high her ability to find the ball was second to none giving her plenty of opportunities to hit the scoreboard.

DANNI ANGLEY

Statistics: 11.7 points, 4.9 assists, 5.4 rebounds, 1.5 steals
Shooting: 54.3% (2pt), 26.8% (3pt), 59.6% (FT)

Another key player for Sturt throughout last season was Angley who in her 17 games proved her worth both on the scoreboard and with her play making abilities. Constantly setting up teammates with her cleverly crafted passes, Angley averaged 4.9 assists a game while also managing to knock back an average of 11.7 points thanks to her solid accuracy from inside the arc. Her rebounding ability was also strong bringing down 5.4 a game and proved her stamina with an average of 27.3 minutes on the court.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE SEASON: SEMI FINAL WIN AGAINST EAGLES

It is fair to say that the win against the Forestville Eagles sparked plenty of joy for the Sabres who got the job done by an impressive 15 points. They left nothing to chance in the second semi-final asserting themselves of their opponents and making the most of their opportunities. Not only was it a strong victory but is also helped them to progress into the next stage of finals, the grand final and while they fell short there the semi-final was nothing short of sweet.

BEST WIN: THUMPING 59-POINT WIN OVER LIONS

Round 9 was a momentous occasion for the Sabres who proved they were the team to beat well and truly asserting themselves on the struggling Central District Lions. It was a complete performance from the Sabres who did not take their foot off the pedal throughout the game, constantly placing pressure on their opponents and finding easy avenue to the basket. Scoring was no problem piling on a whopping 119 points while keeping the Lions to a mere 60 points, a testament to their defensive pressure and attacking intent.

SUMMARY:

2019 was overall a successful year however the grand final heartbreak will not be forgotten any time soon. The main thing the Sturt Sabres will be hoping to do in 2021 is maintain their incredibly talented list in order to give the shot at the title another crack. They have a wealth of highly skilled players that can all pull their weight and stand up under pressure and they will be hoping to re-create that once again next season and take home the silverware.

NBL1 Central men’s team summary: Woodville Warriors

THE National Basketball League (NBL)1 competition was cancelled for the 2020 season, so instead we take a look back at some of the teams that would have been tipping off in the NBL1 Central competition. Today’s side is Woodville Warriors men’s team, a side that finished eighth overall with seven wins from 20 games.

SEASON SUMMARY:

Finished: 8th
Won: 7
Lost: 13

TOP PLAYERS

Luke Stanbridge

Statistics: 19.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.9 steals
Shooting: 62.1% (2pt), 0.0% (3pt), 78.8% (FT)

The standout player for the team despite only playing just over half a season, Stanbridge was able to trouble opposition defences from in close. He averaged 19.3 points and 9.1 rebounds, including 2.6 off the offensive boards. He was on court a team-high 30.2 minutes per match, and he shot at an accurate 62.1 per cent from inside the arc, then drilled 78.8 per cent of his charity strike attempts.

James Boonstoppel

Statistics: 13.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.4 steals
Shooting: 44.2% (2pt), 38.5% (3pt), 66.7% (FT)

A player who played the majority of the season, Boonstoppel was just consistent across the board with an ability to aide his side when on court. He played an averaged of 23.6 minutes, which was only the sixth overall on his side, but he capitalised with ball-in-hand thanks to 13.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.4 steals. His pick-pocketing abilities ranked him first on the side helping his team defensively.

Joshua Clippinger

Statistics: 13.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.9 steals
Shooting: 49.1% (2pt), 25.0% (3pt), 75.0% (FT)

Clippinger came off the bench at times, averaging the 21 minutes per match, though he was effective, particularly with second chance opportunities. He averaged 2.3 offensive rebounds from a total average of six per game, as well as a respectable 13 points per match. He was a shooter exclusively inside the arc with a 49.1 per cent clip, while producing a 75 per cent accuracy from the free-throw line.

Highlight of the season: Winning three consecutive games

It is hard to look past the start of April as a memorable time for the Warriors as they finished the Anzac Day clash with a level 4-4 win-loss record to their name. They had started the season with three consecutive losses, but had won four of the past five, including three consecutive wins. Unfortunately for Woodville, they would win just another three in the last 12 as they faded away to eighth on the overall table.

Best Win: Defeated Norwood Flames by 9 points

The first win of that three-game streak began at home with a 106-97 victory over the top of the table Norwood Flames. At that stage, the Flames were unbeaten and the Warriors had just the one win in five outings which made the victory all the more sweet. While he did not play a full season, Jonathan Perry put up a team-high 24 points, two rebounds and three assists, while Alex Maiorana lit it up with a double-double of 23 points, 15 rebounds and two assists. Riley Meldrum (20 points, six rebounds and six assists) was also busy, while Stanbridge (14 points, seven rebounds) and Boonstoppel (12 points, seven rebounds) were strong off the boards.

SUMMARY

The Warriors will be disappointed with how the season ended up panning out, winning just three in the last 12 after a promising 4-4 start to the season. They needed a couple more of their top-end talents to get on the court in more games to be a serious threat, though their depth was quite impressive with seven players averaging eight points or more, and they were a very capable rebounding team. With an addition or two to the side for 2021, the Warriors could be an improver for the NBL1 Central competition.

NBL1 Central Team summary: West Adelaide

THE National Basketball League (NBL)1 competition was cancelled for the 2020 season, so instead we take a look back at some of the teams that would have been tipping off in the NBL1 Central competition. Today’s side is West Adelaide who proved they have plenty of talent amongst the ranks but just need to find some consistency to go that step further.

SEASON SUMMARY

Finish: 5
Win: 12
Loss: 8

TOP PLAYERS

 JASMIN FEJO

Statistics: 16.2 points, 2.5 assists, 5.1 rebounds, 2.4 steals
Shooting: 53.4% (2pt), 28.4% (3pt), 72.6% (FT)

Across the 18 games she played, Fejo was a key cog in the Bearcats unit with her ability to hit the scoreboard and get involved defensively averaging an impressive 2.4 steals a game. Fejo was never far from the action sinking 16.2 points a game and most importantly was accurate from inside the arc sitting at over 50 per cent. Her skill from the charity line was also unquestionable nailing 72.6 per cent of her chances and while she will be hoping to build on her accuracy from three-point range proved she was reliable in other areas.

ASHLEIGH SPENCER

Statistics: 12.2 points, 2.2 assists, 6.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals
Shooting: 40.5% (2pt), 34.2% (3pt), 66% (FT)

Spencer was one of the most reliable players to take the court for the Bearcats throughout their 2019 campaign playing every game. She averaged 24.8 minutes per game and was a main source of scoring power for her side dropping an average of 12.2 points each time she stepped out on court. Although she was not as accurate at Fejo from inside the arc her ability to hit a three was stronger sinking 25 from 73 attempts at 34.2 per cent. With her scoring prowess on show, Spencer also showed that she was strong on the rebound brining down an average of 6.1 per game.

SKY LANGENBRINCK

Statistics: 10.9 points, 2.1 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.3 steals
Shooting: 41.6% (2pt), 15.1% (3pt), 61% (FT)

After featuring in every game of the season Langenbrinck averaged 24.3 minutes on the court and was an influential player able to light up the court with her scoring ability. She averaged 10.9 points a game and while she struggle when it came to converting from beyond the perimeter her nous to sink them from the charity line was evident. Her rebounding ability was strong bringing down 3.8 a game while her cleanliness to get a hand in and steal the ball was a key component of her game play. 

HIGHLIGHT OF THE SEASON: ELIMINATION FINAL

Although they did not get the outcome they were hoping for, the sheer fact the Bearcats made it to the elimination finals is a feat in itself. Going down by a heartbreaking two points, West Adelaide showcased their never say die attitude, grit and determination to put up a real fight and take it to Mt Gambier. Langenbrinck led from the front as per usual, knocking back an impressive 22 points while Spencer (15 points), Fejo (10 points) and Alexis Eckles (10 points) left nothing to chance in what was unfortunately their last outing for the season. while it was a devastating loss, the Bearcats will take plenty of confidence and belief out of their performance.

BEST WIN: NARROW ROUND 19 VICTORY OVER THE MAVERICKS

Up against the higher placed Eastern Mavericks the Bearcats well and truly took it to them in Round 19 showcasing their desperation to make it to finals and execution to prevail in a tight contest. Standing up under the pressure the Bearcats collected a five-point win with the likes of Jasmin Fejo (17 points) leading the way for her side. Valuable contributions from teammates Kristina Arsenic who sunk 15 points, Spencer 12 and Tahlia Fejo 10 points also helped to get them over the line in the dying stages of the game.

SUMMARY:

Making it to finals albeit bundled out in the elimination finals, West Adelaide clearly have a good core group of players that can dictate the way the team plays and their dominance. But the inclusion of another scoring prospect or a strong defensive minded player will help give the Bearcats that added strength to hopefully progress further in finals next season.

NBL1 Central team summary: South Adelaide Panthers

THE National Basketball League (NBL)1 competition was cancelled for the 2020 season, so instead we take a look back at some of the teams that would have been tipping off in the NBL1 Central competition. Today’s side is South Adelaide who struggled throughout 2019 only mustering up five wins for the year.

SEASON SUMMARY:

Finish: 10
Win: 5
Loss: 15

TOP PLAYERS:

BRIANTI SAUNDERS:

Statistics: 18.7 points, 2.4 assists, 6.0 rebounds, 1.7 steals
Shooting: 55.2% (2pt), 26.2% (3pt), 86.2% (FT)

Saunders was a key contributor for the Panthers throughout their 2019 campaign featuring in 20 of their games. Her ability to find the basket was second to none with a team-high average of 18.7 points showcasing just how explosive she was. Saunders was strong from inside the arc with a 55.2 per cent conversion rate and was even more efficient when it came to the charity line shooting at 86.2 per cent. Her strength on the rebound was also another notable element of her game with an average of six while her durability also shone through taking the court for an average of 31.9 minutes.

MOLLIE MCKENDRICK

Statistics: 16.7 points, 3.4 assists, 8.7 rebounds, 1.2 steals
Shooting: 37.8% (2pt), 74.1% (FT)

Although McKendrick only attempted one shot from three-point range throughout her 18 appearances she found other avenues to hit the scoreboard and be an offensive force for South Adelaide. Playing roughly 34.4 minutes a game McKendrick was a solid option on the court with her attacking play while also showcasing her defensive attributes with 1.2 steals a game. Her rebounding strength also stood tall picking up 8.7 a game credit to her clever positioning and basketball nous.

ERINA MARAFIOTI

Statistics: 5.5 points, 3.7 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 1.6 steals
Shooting: 44.4% (2pt), 18.5% (3pt), 33.3% (FT)

Although Marafioti did not have mind boggling stats it was consistency that proved to be crucial to the Panthers line-up. Her ability to perform time and time again set her apart from her teammates playing in 19 matches and averaging 25.9 minutes such was her reliability to come on court and play her role. Marafioti starred with her defensive skillset to pick off 1.6 steals a game and while she was not the most accurate shooter her ability to dish off a dime allowed her to set up teammates and create attacking forays.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE SEASON: WINS OVER NORWOOD FLAMES

While it was a trying season for the Panthers there is no denying that having a clean sweep over the higher ranked Norwood Flames was a clear highlight for the team. Despite struggling to generate a win against other teams the Panthers seemed to have the wood over the Flames in both occasions running out victorious in Round 1 and Round 17. A 15-point win (67-52) to kick start the season was exactly what the doctor asked for and despite losing their way in the mid-part of the season the Panthers backed up their Round 1 performance taking home an 11-point victory in their next encounter against the Flames.

BEST WIN: VICTORY OVER THE ROCKETS

The Panthers ran riot in Round 5 proving that they have the fire power to do a wealth of damage to the scoreboard when on song. Led by the likes of Saunders with an impressive 20 points and McKendrick who top scored with 21 and notched up a double-double thanks to her 10 assists, the Panthers had all the answers and simply proved too strong for the North Adelaide Rockets. Valuable points contribution from Jordan Smith also went a long way in getting her side over the line putting up 16 points for her efforts while Hannah Stewart also made her presence felt with nine points of her own and 100 per cent from the charity line.

SUMMARY:

Looking ahead to 2021 the Panthers will be hoping to diversify their scoring options and apply more defensive pressure. While they have the basis of a strong team they will be wanting to add that consistency to their game play and potentially pick up another player that can average double-digits when it comes to scoring to ensure a more even spread.

NBL1 Central summary: Southern Tigers

THE National Basketball League (NBL)1 competition was cancelled for the 2020 season, so instead we take a look back at some of the teams that would have been tipping off in the NBL1 Central competition. Today’s side is Southern Tigers who showed plenty of class throughout season 2019 but lacked the finishing against the higher teams at times.

SEASON SUMMARY:

Finished: 6
Won: 12
Lost: 8

TOP PLAYERS:

JEMMA THACKER:

Statistics: 11.3 points, 2.3 assists, 5.1 rebounds, 1.3 steals
Shooting: 29.9% (2pt), 33.3% (3pt), 78.4% (FT)

Thacker was one of the more reliable and consistent performers for the Tigers throughout their 2019 campaign taking the court 18 times and averaging 26.8 minutes per game. Although she did not rack up a huge amount of rebounds with 5.1 each game she clearly showcased her intent when it came to scoring with 11.3 points a game credit to her ability to drive hard to the basket. Thacker will be wanting to improve on her accuracy from the field but proved her dominance at the free-throw line sinking them at an average of 78.4 per cent.

TA’REA CUNNIGAN

Statistics: 18.9 points, 2.2 assists, 6.6 rebounds, 2.1 steals
Shooting: 41.3% (2pt), 34% (3pt), 59.8% (FT)

It is fair to say that Cunnigan was a real play maker when she took the court with her scoring prowess constantly on display. Although she only featured in 14 games, Cunnigan impressed with an average of 18.9 points and could have racked up an even higher average if she was more accurate from beyond the arc throughout the season. She was a real livewire both in offence and defence able to get back and put a hand in to steal the ball and run off with it averaging 2.1 steals per game for her efforts. The American was a key cog for the Tigers and helped to keep the scoreboard ticking credit to her competitive spirit.

DENELLE FAWCETT

Statistics: 14.4 points, 3.3 assists, 7.3 rebounds, 1.8 steals
Shooting: 42.3% (2pt), 16.1% (3pt), 77.6% (FT)

Fawcett played a pivotal role for the Southern Tigers throughout 2019 taking the court 16 times and contributing both to the scoreboard and defensively. While she was not overly accurate from three-point range only sinking five from 31 attempts her strength lay in her skill from the charity line sitting at 77.6 per cent. But accuracy did not stop her from posting high numbers nailing an average of 14.4 points a game, while her ability to collect the rebound also did not go unnoticed with 7.3 a game. her cleanliness was also on show each game pick pocketing opponents with an average of 1.8 steals.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE SEASON: NARROW VICTORY OVER THE BEARCATS

Round 7 was a good round for the Southern Tigers who flexed their muscles against their higher ranked opponents and got another win on the board. A mere four points separated the two teams at the end of the game with the Bearcats going down 63-67 in what was a game filled with plenty of excitement. Fawcett impressed with her 12 points, while Bianca McCalop (10 points), Tara Dodman (10 points) and Thacker (eight points) all contributed to the win. It was a complete team performance from the Tigers who relied on all their players to step up to the plate and deliver, which they did.

BEST WIN: LAST ROUND VICTORY AGAINST SECOND PLACED EAGLES

With finals out of reach, the Tigers rallied in the last round of the season to really stamp their authority and prove they have what it takes to be a threat to be reckoned with downing the second placed Forestville Eagles, 74-66. It was a strong performance by the Southern Tigers who clearly had a point to prove and did just that. It seemed that they caught Forestville off guard and made the most of their opportunities on the court to run home. After dropping their previous encounter back in Round 16 it was a sweet victory for the Tigers who would take plenty of confidence out of the win.

SUMMARY:

Looking ahead to 2021, the Tigers have the basis of a quality team but just need to find that consistency and extra points scorer to lighten the load on the likes of Thacker who was out on her feet for the majority of the season. Finding a player that can also help defensively will also go a long way in pushing the Tigers that extra step and give them a shot at finals next season