Category: NBL1 Men’s

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 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 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 men’s team summary: Forestville Eagles

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 Forestville Eagles side that went all the way from second on the table to win the 2019 South Australian Premier League title.

SEASON SUMMARY:

Finished: 2nd (Premiers)
Won: 16
Lost: 4

TOP PLAYERS

Majok Deng

Statistics: 27.7 points, 11.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.3 blocks
Shooting: 58.0% (2pt), 39.5% (3pt), 78.3% (FT)

It was an absolutely remarkable season by Deng who lived up to all expectations with his performance. Averaging a double-double, Deng averaged 33.2 minutes from 19 games on court, and was accurate from in close with a 58 per cent accuracy. Also able to convert from the free-throw line, Deng was a menace anywhere near the basket. Remarkably though, he could drop three-pointers on the opposition as well, with almost 40 per cent of his attempts going in.

Greg Mays

Statistics: 21.7 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.5 blocks
Shooting: 62.4% (2pt), 27.3% (3pt), 57.8% (FT)

The second Eagles player to average a double-double in the 2019 season, Mays finished with a very impressive 21.7 points and 10.6 rebounds. He also denied the opposition with blocks 1.5 times a game and pickpocketed them almost once a match. While not a three-point shooter, Mays more than made up for it from in close, with a 62.4 per cent efficiency inside the arc.

Brendan Teys

Statistics: 19.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.6 steals
Shooting: 59.5% (2pt), 28.8% (3pt), 74.1% (FT)

The other NBL talent was the key playmaker in the team with a nice balance of point-scoring, rebounding and assisting teammates. He was able to hurt the opposition offensively with his 19.7 points and 4.7 assists, whilst being able to work hard defensively thanks to 4.6 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. His long-range game could improve, but his two-point accuracy was impressive at almost 60 per cent, whilst he was solid from the charity stripe with 74.1 per cent efficiency.

Highlight of the season: Winning the title

There is not too much to say other than tasting premiership glory is the ultimate dream for any sportsperson and the Forestville Eagles did just that. They were not the favourites heading into the finals, and had lost to the Pioneers three times prior, but what happens on the day is all that counts, and winning the title was as memorable as it gets. Now with a long wait until the next competitive match, the Eagles have had plenty of time to bask in that glory.

Best Win: Defeated Mt Gambier Pioneers by 17 points

When you win a title, there is nothing sweeter than the game that solidified your victory. The Eagles, coming up against the favourites in Mt Gambier Pioneers, were able to turn the tables on the minor premiers and won by 17 points, 107-90 in thrilling style. They finished with a plus nine in rebounds, plus four in assists and had 14 less personal fouls in a clean performance across the board. Michael Harris finished with 30 points and eight rebounds, as Mays (27 points, 13 rebounds) and Deng (20 points, 18 rebounds) dominated off the boards. Teys’ 17 points, six rebounds and three steals added extra strength to the starting line-up in what was a memorable match.

SUMMARY

There is not much more that needs to be said on how successful the Forestville Eagles season was. Along with the women’s side, the Eagles team did the double and took out both South Australian Premier League titles. Led by the damaging trio along with Harris as well putting plenty of points on the board, the Eagles starting five was stronger than any other team, and still had contributions off the bench. One team that must be close consideration for back-to-back titles when competition resumes in 2021 under the NBL1 Central banner.

NBL1 Central men’s team summary: Central District Lions

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 Central District Lions, the side that finished one place outside the finals, but still six wins adrift of that fifth spot.

SEASON SUMMARY

Finished: 6th
Won: 8
Lost: 12

TOP PLAYERS

Lual Diing

Statistics: [20] 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.3 steals
Shooting: 51.9% (2pt) | 40.0% (3pt) | 63.6% (FT)

One of only two players to play every game, Diing was a danger from both inside and outside the arc, averaging 15.8 points per game in 29.7 minutes. He shot at 40 per cent from long range, and was also able to win the ball back with more than one steal per game. His free-throw shooting could improve at 63.6 per cent, but he was certainly one of the standouts in the 2019 season for the Lions.

Jordan Riewer

Statistics: [20] 15.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 3.0 steals
Shooting: 51.4% (2pt) | 49.6% (3pt) | 87.2% (FT)

The best all-round player on the side, Riewer averaged 15 points, five rebounds and five assists per game, while also pick-pocketing the opposition three times per match. He averaged a team-high 33.5 minutes on court last season and with deadly accuracy from long-range – a whopping 49.6 per cent – he was one you could not afford to lead open on the trey attempt. When he was fouled, Riewer got the job done at the line with an elite 87.2 per cent – nailing 34 of his 39 attempts.

De’Vaughn Jones

Statistics: [10] 17.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.3 steals
Shooting: 61.2% (2pt) | 50% (3pt) | 50.0% (FT)

Jones only played the 10 games, but he made them count. Averaging 31.8 minutes on court, Jones sank a team-high 17.4 points and 8.7 rebounds, as well as a handy 1.3 steals. He rarely ventured outside the arc with his shooting, but nailed two of four attempts when he did, and achieved most of his points from the jump shot – also travelling to the line for just 28 attempts. It could have been a different season for the Lions if he had managed a full year, but he provided great support for the side when on court.

Highlight of the season: Being in finals contention at the start of June

Prior to a five-game losing streak and a disappointing end to the season, the Lions had produced a promising start in the South Australian Premier League. To the start of June. They held a positive win-loss record with seven victories to-date and were right up there in contention for reaching the post-season series. It was not to be as back-to-back beltings at the hands of Mt Gambier too that away, but they still had plenty of highlights to look back on.

Best win: defeated Norwood by 8 points

At the time of the match, Norwood was a couple of games clear with 10 wins from 11 matches, while Central District sat at an even 5-5 mid-table in sixth. The Flames were in red-hot form and looking the goods as a title contender, but that soon changed as the Lions caused a huge upset in Round 11. With an extra nine rebounds and two assists, the Lions proved to be the more consistent outfit on the night despite slightly more turnovers and personal fouls. The dynamic duo of Riewer (29 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Jones (20 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two steals) did the bulk of the damage, while Diing sank 16 points and had nine rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Summary

The season was a definition of so close, yet so far for the Lions who technically finished one spot out of the finals, but still six wins behind. They knew in the last few rounds they were out of the finals race, but still had a number of contributors along the way. With renewed optimism heading into the 2021 NBL1 Central season, Central District could have the pieces to make that next step.

NBL1 South men’s team summary: Mt Gambier Pioneers

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 Mt Gambier Pioneers men’s team that earned the title of minor premiers before ultimately falling short in the grand final.

SEASON SUMMARY

Finished: 1st (lost in grand final)
Won: 17
Lost: 3

TOP PLAYERS

KentrEll Barkley

Statistics: [22] 24.8 points, 15.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.6 steals, 1.1 blocks
Shooting: 57.9% (2pt) | 36.8% (3pt) | 67.3% (FT)

Without a doubt, Barkley was one of the top performers in the South Australian Premier League, putting up a ridiculous double-double across the season. He averaged almost 25 points per game to go with his 15 rebounds, as well as 3.8 assists, 2.6 steals and 1.1 blocks. Simply, Barkley did it all and off 31.8 minutes too, which is less than a lot of players with those kind of numbers. His two-point shooting was strong, his three-point solid, though not overly used, while his free-throw shooting could still improve. As a whole he was a dominant player and hard to move close to the basket.

Tom Daly

Statistics: [21] 22.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 2.1 steals
Shooting: 52.8% (2pt) | 36.8% (3pt) | 83.2% (FT)

Playing the most minutes of anyone on the Pioneers’ team, Daly provided some great playmaking ability to set up his teammates, while taking his chances when they came around. He was not afraid to drop daggers from long-range, nor was he afraid to hand out dimes to others. In 32.1 minutes on court, Daly averaged 22.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.1 steals in a really clean season.

Dayjar Dickson

Statistics: [22] 12.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.2 blocks
Shooting: 61.9% (2pt) | 0.0% (3pt) | 50.8% (FT)

Acting as a great back-up to Barkley off the boards, Dickson almost averaged a double-double himself. While he did not attempt a three-pointer at any stage during the season, Dickson was able to get plenty of looks in close to the basket, averaging almost 62 per cent for 12.9 points inside the paint. His free-throw shooting was an area that could be improved, but with 8.9 rebounds and 1.2 blocks, he made life difficult for opposition shooters.

Highlight of the season: Earn the minor premiership

It was a whirlwind of a season for the Pioneers, winning 17 of a possible 20 home and away games and sitting atop the table coming into the finals series. With a win in the final round against Forestville Eagles, and then again in the semi-finals, the stage looked set for the border side to take home a title. It was not to be, with the Eagles winning on their fourth attempt against the Pioneers, and by a comfortable 17 points at that in the decider – the Pioneers’ biggest loss of the year.

Best win: defeated Sturt by 35 points

Hitting the road for an early Round 2 game after a Round 1 loss, Mt Gambier left the Sabres’ home court with a massive 101-66 victory. The Pioneers never looked like losing with 46 of their 101 points coming off the bench and dominating rebounds (plus 17) and steals (plus nine), and had eight less turnovers. Barkley came off the bench and in 19 minutes sank 21 points, had 13 rebounds and three steals. He was ably assisted by Brad Rathjen (15 points, four rebounds and two steals) and Erik Burdon (14 points, six rebounds and three assists).

Summary

It was a heart-breaking way to finish the season and the Pioneers will have to stew on it for 18 months before being able to get back on the court. However with a new league and new aspirations, the Pioneers will of course be joining the NBL1 South competition next year. With an ever-strong line-up, expect the Pioneers to be very competitive in the new league and a team to watch as they enter the larger team competition.

NBL1 Central men’s 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 mens team that finished fifth on the ladder, but made it all the way to a preliminary final before falling short to eventual premiers, Forestville Eagles.

SEASON SUMMARY

Finished: 5th (lost in preliminary final)
Won: 14
Lost: 6

TOP PLAYERS

James Legan

Statistics: [23] 20.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.5 steals
Shooting: 53.2% (2pt) | 32.9% (3pt) | 80.2% (FT)

Leading the way for the Flames in terms of scoring was Legan, who put up more than 20 points a game at a high accuracy. He shot at 53.2 per cent from two-point range, and when he got to the free-throw line, drilled 80.2 per cent of his chances. He could seemingly make them from anywhere, and his long-range bombs were particularly effective, with a dominant 69 dropping from 210 attempts. He made more three-pointers than two-pointers and with his efficiency from the charity strike, he was hard to stop. Defensively, Legan averaged the most steals on his side showing he could dig deep when required too.

Brandon Brine

Statistics: [23] 18.4 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.8 blocks
Shooting: 50.6% (2pt) | 36.4% (3pt) | 71.6% (FT)

A real all-rounder across the board, Brine also played in every game for the season and came close to averaging a double-double for his troubles. He averaged an impressive 50.6 per cent from two-point range and 36.4 per cent from three-point range, and while he did not have as many attempts as Legan, was still a threat from outside the arc. The bulk of his points came from inside the paint and he averaged 9.5 rebounds, while having an assist a game. Defensively he denied the opposition with big blocks almost twice per game, while pick-pocketing them at least once per game.

Matthew Lycett

Statistics: [22] 15.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 0.8 steals
Shooting: 58.5% (2pt) | 25.5% (3pt) | 45.4% (FT)

An important contributor to the starting side, Lycett was able to cover a lot of bases across the court with a high amount of points, rebounds and assists. Overall he finished second in rebounds, third in points and had a team-high 4.1 assists as well as almost a steal per game. Playing 31.9 minutes per match in his 23 matches, Lycett went about his businesses primarily being a threat from inside the arc with a deadly 58.5 per cent accuracy. His three-point and free-throw shooting could improve, but his playmaking ability brought others into the game.

Highlight of the season: 10 from 11 to start the season

In a highly competitive top-end, Norwood was able to gain some separation on its opponents early in the season by winning 10 from 11 games to start the season. They dropped a surprising game to non-finalists Woodville, but would otherwise have a perfect record. They stumbled a bid in June, but would make up for that by July and August.

Best win: defeated North Adelaide by 3 points

It booked them a spot in the preliminary final, so a three-point win over North Adelaide in the semis was exactly what the Flames needed. There was no turning back for the loser and Norwood managed to extend their season by a week thanks to the win, with some terrific play in an even contest. They had 11 less rebounds and trailed in assists, but had three more steals and eight less personal fouls. Lycett finished with a team-high 23 point, nine rebounds, six assists and four steals, while Brine helped out wiht 20 points, nine rebounds and two steals as both players came close to double doubles. A total of five players reached double-figure points in the game for a real team effort to progress through to the preliminary final.

Summary

Norwood Flames are a side that could well compete for the 2021 NBL1 title after a promising 2019 season that showed they were not too far off the pace. They led all-comers at the start and almost knocked off the would-be premiers a week out from the grand final. Having recruited Woollacott Medallist – league best and fairest – CJ Turnage for the 2020 season, they could well have started favourites this year.

NBL1 Central men’s 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 that finished ninth overall with four wins from 20 appearances.

SEASON SUMMARY

Finished: 9th
Won: 4
Lost: 16

TOP PLAYERS

Nikolas Desantis

Statistics: [20] 12.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.0 steals
Shooting: 55.1% (2pt) | 51.4% (3pt) | 73.1% (FT)

The talented shooter finished the season playing in every game and being a dead-eye from the limited opportunities he had. Instead of being a high-volume shooter like some, Desantis took his chances to make the most of his open looks and finish with a greater-than-50 per cent chance from the field. With 36 of his 70 three-point attempts dropping, and him more than capable from both inside the line and the charity stripe, Desantis was the sides’ most consistent player across every game.

CJ Rivers

Statistics: [17] 10.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.8 steals
Shooting: 58.7% (2pt) | 32.6% (3pt) | 45.7% (FT)

Leading the team in assists and rebounds, Rivers was a player who was able to seal the deal himself, or find teammates in a better position. He averaged almost 60 per cent off his own hand from inside the arc, and close to a third from outside the arc, though his free-throw shooting is an area of improvement. As a whole, he was able to pick-pocket opposition players a whopping 1.8 times per game on average, a third team-high for season 2019.

Dylan Rawson

Statistics: [10] 14.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.5 steals
Shooting: 41.1% (2pt) | 37.5% (3pt) | 58.1% (FT)

He only played in 10 games, but Rawson certainly made an impact in that time, contributing a team-high 14.6 points and a second team-high in rebounds with 5.3 per game. His two-point shooting was a little low at 41.1 per cent, but his three-point attempts were made at a strong 37.5 per cent. He was able to evenly pick up rebounds up either end, with the second highest offensive rebound count of 1.3 and provided great quality in half a season.

Highlight of the season: Season finish

Winning three of the last five games to avoid the wooden spoon was something of a positive for the Sabres who to the point of June had only won the one game – which came two and a half months into the season. Beating four different teams – South Adelaide, Eastern Mavericks, Woodville and Central District – also meant something special because it showed when they were on, the Sabres were capable of taking down some quality opposition.

Best win: defeated Central District by 11 points

While the season might not have gone to plan for the Sabres, finishing it off with back-to-back wins in front of home fans was pleasing. Sturt defeated Woodville Warriors by six points a week earlier and then backed it up with a victory over the Lions. Central District was the highest ranked scalp the Sabres had for the season, and turned around a disastrous 19-point loss to Central District back in April. In the game, Desantis shot a team-high 30 points, with 10-14 from the field and all five three-throws, while Rivers had 12 points, nine rebounds and three steals in a strong effort.

Summary

Sturt Sabres might have had a disappointing season with just four wins from 20 games, but their finish would have given them optimism if they can keep the team together. With more games into some of their talented players who could not play to full seasons such as Alex Mudronja, this side could be one to watch in the 2021 NBL1 Central season.

NBL1 Central men’s team summary: West Adelaide Bearcats

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 in West Adelaide Bearcats mens team that finished seventh overall on the table, a win behind sixth but seven wins behind a finals spot.

SEASON SUMMARY

Finished: 7th
Won: 7
Lost: 13

TOP PLAYERS

Brian Jefferson

Statistics: [20] 22.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists
Shooting: 60.8% (2pt) | 25.0% (3pt) | 68.0% (FT)

The Bearcats’ top scorer on the side put up some big numbers of 22.1 points and almost nine rebounds per game each week. The average came despite a couple of quite games where Jefferson recorded single-digit points, but then he had a three-game streak in May. Across the three matches, Jefferson averaged 34 points and nine rebounds in a remarkable run of form. His season ended with his second highest score in the final round, picking up a double-double of 36 points and 10 rebounds, the last of seven double doubles for the year.

Patrick Thomas

Statistics: [20] 17.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.6 steals
Shooting: 53.2% (2pt) | 23.1% (3pt) | 47.2% (FT)

As the dominant playmaker in the team, Thomas was more than capable of dishing off dimes or going it alone, filling up the stats across the board. Finishing second to Jefferson in both points and rebounds, while topping the assists column showed just how vital he was to the Bearcats’ offensive transition, and he could have been even more effective with his three-point and free-throw shooting percentages considerably low. In 2019, Thomas averaged 35.9 minutes on court, the most of any Bearcats player and his best game came against Eastern where he almost had a triple-double thanks to 20 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.

Tom Kubank

Statistics: [17] 16.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.3 steals
Shooting: 47.8% (2pt) | 29.6% (3pt) | 73.4% (FT)

While Kubank missed three games during the season, he still had an effective time and was able to have an impact in those 17 matches he played. Being an accurate shooter from inside the arc, Kubank dropped 47.8 per cent of his two-point attempts and then 73.4 per cent from the line on his way to 16.5 points per game. Along with 6.3 rebounds, Kubank was a clear third standout in the matches, and he picked up double doubles twice, including in his best game where he had 25 points, 11 rebounds and four assists.

Highlight of the season: Opening season with three wins

The start of the 2019 season provided plenty of hope for the Bearcats, going undefeated for three rounds before running into Norwood Flames. In that time, West Adelaide knocked off Southern Tigers, South Adelaide Panthers and Sturt Sabres.

Best win: defeated Central District by 11 points

In the only win against a team that finished above them on the table, West Adelaide triumphed 86-75 over Central District in late June. In that 11-point win, the Bearcats dominated off the offensive glass with 17-6 offensive rebounds on their way to a 50-29 total rebounds count. Jefferson drilled 27 points, 11 rebounds and two assists, while Thomas had 10 points, 11 assists, five rebounds and three steals in the win. Kubank (15 points, eight rebounds and two assists) and Lucas Valk (14 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals) were also handy.

2020 recruit to watch – Nate Sheppard

It would be a great result if Sheppard can get out on the court for the Bearcats in 2020 having put up some huge numbers coming out of college at Malone. In the NCAA, Sheppard averaged 19.2 points and 5.2 rebounds, something that would definitely show up in the NBL1 as a player to guide an offence around.

Summary

West Adelaide Bearcats would have been missing a number of key players from their 2019 campaign, but brought in a number of talents including Sheppard. If they could attack the season differently and not fall into a slump mid-season, then it would have been interesting to see what they could do. There is much unknown about 2021, but hopefully the Bearcats can retain their list for next season.