Category: News

Kings stave off Taipans in career night for Ware

THERE was no stopping Casper Ware last night with the Sydney Kings’ point guard becoming the first King in almost 18 years to score 40 points in a game, as last night’s hosts defeated an inspired Cairns Taipans squad 89-84 last night at Qudos Bank Arena.

Nailing five of their first six attempts from deep, the Kings opened the game right open from the get-go with a 19-3 start on their home floor getting the crowd involved early. Nathan Jawai looked to get his side going with the Taipans second basket of the night more than five minutes into the game showing just how slow Cairns started off last night’s second contest.

Cairns were able stem the bleeding in the later stages of the first period, halting Sydney’s momentum and reducing their disadvantage back down to 13 points with Ware exploding for 15 points in the first 10-minute stretch, therefore providing a 27-12 lead on the side of the Kings.

With a more even spread of points being scored between the two teams coming out of quarter time, Cairns could start feeding the ball to their main weapons in Scott Machado and Cameron Oliver who were unnaturally silent in the previous term.

As for Sydney, Didi Louzada and Shaun Bruce shouldered some of the scoring load before half-time with the Kings trying their best to keep their lead above 10 points to put themselves in a good position before the last two quarters would even begin. As planned, the Kings were in the driver’s seat leading the Taipans at half-time 49-38 with both teams shooting at a modest 43 per cent.

In what was one of the best five-minute stretches all season for Mike Kelly’s men, the Taipans dissolved Sydney’s lead to zero on a 10-point scoring run and would then flip the script to take the lead, as Jordan Ngatai’s sharpshooting helped propel Cairns forwards in the pivotal third quarter.

The Kings made the Taipans’ lead a short-lived one, quickly retaking the advantage after a spray from Adam Forde helped spur on some much-needed energy from the hosts. Some more efficient shooting from Ngatai and others saw both sides enter the final break locked up at 65 points apiece, as Cairns entered the fourth with a mass of momentum behind them in front of a nervous Sydney crowd.

Some key plays made in the early/middle stages of the fourth by Taipans such as Tad Dufelmeier, Mirko Djeric and Oliver were promising signs for the Queensland-side. But Ware like he had done all night long, was trying to single-handedly drag his team over the line scoring his 30th point of the night halfway through the last term.

Sydney’s shooters made their last charge with a 9-2 run, to take the lead with just over a minute to play to take the lead in front of a loud Kings fanbase. A final nail in the coffin by Ware was hammered down with 30 seconds left scoring his 40th and final point of last night’s historic effort by the import.

Two last free throws by Daniel Kickert cemented a hard-fought win for the Sydney Kings, as the hosts concluded the night five-point victors to tie up fourth position on the NBL ladder next to the Illawarra Hawks.

The Kings may not have shot the ball as well as the Taipans (43 per cent compared to Cairns’ 46 per cent), but certainly made up for it in free throws and from shots behind the arc with Sydney shooting 11 threes at a 35 per cent success rate and making 16 of their 18 free throw attempts. Meanwhile, the Taipans earned successes in assists (18-11), points in the paint (36-32) and points off the bench (21-18) despite the loss.

Being the first Kings player since 2004 to score 40 points in a game and accumulating a career-high, Ware maintained a good efficiency of 57 per cent from the field (15-26) and piled it on from deep with seven triples. He also added three assists and a pair rebounds to his efforts. Jordan Hunter helped the team in rebounds with four points and seven boards, while Louzada showed some excellent form with 11 points and eight rebounds of his own. Vodanovich was big off the bench with nine points and five rebounds too, keeping his impressive season going.

Mammoth stat lines continued to follow Cairns’ Oliver with the forward racking up 27 points and 19 rebounds. Furthermore, Machado produced 14 points and five assists as he could not provide any answers for Ware on the defensive end, whereas Ngatai had one of his better performances of the campaign with the New Zealander impressing his coach with 14 points.

Sydney is looking to consolidate their spot in the top four when they suit up against the South East Melbourne Phoenix this Thursday and it will be a battle of the bottom two NBL teams the following day, when the New Zealand Breakers take on a visiting Taipans outfit Friday night to get Round 15 action underway.

DJ and McVeigh power through Phoenix, hold off late charge for tenth win

A FLURRY of three-pointers was not enough to bring the South East Melbourne Phoenix back to life last night at John Cain Arena, going down 81-90 to the Adelaide 36ers as the visitors achieved their tenth win of NBL21 remaining within earshot of the top four.

Early on, the 36ers could hardly buy a bucket making just two shots from their opening 13 attempts from the field. Despite the glacial pace that Adelaide conducted themselves on the offensive end in the first, South East Melbourne failed to capitalise on their end to try and pull away early.

Finding 43 per cent of their shots in the initial term compared to Adelaide’s 18 per cent, the Phoenix would only manage to gain a one-point lead at quarter time, 16-15, led by Ben Moore and Cam Gliddon who each had six and five points respectively meaning that Simon Mitchell’s squad needed to up their intensity on the offensive end throughout the remaining three periods.

A strong start to the second by way of the Phoenix saw them stretch out their lead to seven points, but Adelaide would produce a substantial scoring streak to take the lead at the five-minute mark of the term and set the tone leading into the second half as a result. Winning the first two quarters 40-35 where they raised their shooting percentage all the way up to 41 per cent, Daniel Johnson started to impose his will on the opposing side with 12 points and four rebounds.

Conner Henry’s message to his roster was simple over the half time break, pummel the Phoenix down low and push the ball in transition. With this mindset, Adelaide extended their advantage out to double digits and took a firm grasp of the contest at the eve of the fourth quarter.

The uphill climb went from hard to daunting in the remaining 30 seconds of the third as Adelaide’s Daniel Dillon’s two made free throws and Sunday Dech’s layup at the buzzer slated the score line at 68-54, with South East Melbourne’s comeback window getting smaller and smaller as each minute started passing by.

After Dech’s second triple four minutes into the fourth, it capped off a superb 12-4 start for Adelaide putting the visitors up by 22 points with little to no time left on the game clock. The Phoenix were not willing to go down silently after producing a six-point run to cut the margin to 16, forcing Coach Henry to call for a cautious timeout.

Remarkably, back-to-back-to-back threes twice from Gliddon and once from Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa extended the Phoenix’s scoring run to 15 and cut the distance between the two sides to just seven points, and with 90 seconds left another layup from Le’afa whittled the margin down to five.

The comeback would end there following a Jack McVeigh knock-down three and a layup by Johnson as Adelaide eventually conquered the Phoenix by nine and reignited the 36ers’ late-season charge for the top four.

Starting below a grim 20 per cent in the opening stanza of last night’s opener, Adelaide did tremendously well to improve their efficiency on the floor up to 46 per cent (two per cent higher than the Phoenix’s 44 per cent). While South East Melbourne might have found their points from a wider variety of methods such as points off the bench and from turnovers, the Sixers earned a 41-36 win in rebounding and a 19-16 win in assists statistically. Adding to that, Adelaide’s poise at the free-throw line was also a primary factor in their win going 23 from 26 attempts at the line.

Who else but Johnson to lead the 36ers in points and rebounds as the potential NBL First-Team nominee settled for 22 points and eight boards. McVeigh also had a ball off the bench with 18 points in 26 minutes of play as well as Brandon Paul amassing 13 points, four rebounds and four dimes, while Dech punched his way to 16 points and seven rebounds. Josh Giddey put his footnote on various facets of the game as per usual, with the youngster contributing nine points, nine assists and five rebounds.

Once again, Mitchell Creek came off the bench to score a team-high 17 points and 14 rebounds, while Gliddon’s four triples saw him good for 14 points and six rebounds. Le’afa finished with 14 points too, whereas Yannick Wetzell’s 13 and Moore’s 11 rounded out the Phoenix’s double-digit producers.

Both squads have tough matchups next week when South East Melbourne host the Sydney Kings in a battle of top tier teams with finals positions up in the air to open Round 15. On the flip side, Adelaide will need to dig deep when they look to accomplish the Melbourne double, facing United next Saturday.

Wildcats regain top spot with win over Hawks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

United back to peak form, will they carry it into the NBL21 finals?

FOR the better part of their NBL21 campaign, Melbourne United has been widely regarded as the team to beat by the other eight sides. But since the turn of mid-season that moniker is being pulled in two different directions with the Victorian side and last year’s champions Perth Wildcats sharing the top of the ladder.

But with the last leg of games still to be played, United have all but locked up another postseason appearance, sitting more than five wins ahead of the Illawarra Hawks who currently sit in fourth position on the rankings. Nevertheless, these upcoming matches for Dean Vickerman’s squad will remain tremendously important, as there is little more valuable to a side than going into the finals with good form on their side.

Going all the way back to mid-January, Melbourne’s 24-point thrashing of the Adelaide 36ers was the perfect precursor for how United’s season was going to go, setting up what would be a lengthy unbeaten run to kick off the fixture. The 2020 semi-finalists then earned wins over the Cairns Taipans, South East Melbourne Phoenix, Brisbane Bullets, Illawarra Hawks and Perth Wildcats, capping off a six-game streak from the opening round – the best start to the season from any side across the competition.

Melbourne’s first blemish on their win-loss record came surprisingly on opening night of the inaugural NBL Cup against the Wildcats, who they had defeated just a couple of weeks prior. This loss reminded United not to rest on their laurels given their exemplary start and also how potent the two-time defending premiers still were. United quickly returned to their expected form with four straight victories following their first loss.

If Melbourne had continued their stellar results leading up to today, no one would even question any other team being on their level. But after attaining a ridiculous 10 wins for one loss start to the season, Melbourne conceded their second loss of the campaign to the Bullets to end Round 8. Afterwards, they would then suffer their third loss to the Phoenix, then a fourth to the Hawks, and a fifth to the Sydney Kings. Melbourne’s four-game losing streak quickly produced more doubters as the Wildcats started to close the gap on the ladder leaders.

United’s four losses during the NBL Cup saw them lock up fourth position in the tournament standings below Perth, South East Melbourne and Brisbane – a serious dark patch in what is looking to be a very successful NBL21 for Chris Goulding and his teammates.

Light has certainly been found at the end of United’s mid-season tunnel, having strung together a winning streak of seven games leading up to today since Round 10. Melbourne also sits half a game above Perth with the final lot of games to play, and with home-court advantage on the line come finals, the two sides will be putting their best foot forward to secure that minor premiership.

United has shown this season that there are three main weapons to their team structure. First up is Goulding’s ability to score anywhere on the floor efficiently and quickly which has served the team captain well for numerous years now. Goulding may not be the roster’s top scorer currently, but the 32-year-old has had some awesome scoring nights this season and his 16.2 points per game is evidence this.

A consistent and reliable participant on the floor as well as the second weapon of Melbourne’s three-pronged attack, Mitch McCarron has played all 22 of the team’s games this season (one of three Melbourne players not to miss a game). With this, McCarron has also produced solid numbers averaging 11.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists and almost one and a half steals per outing.

Another player to have appeared in all 22 of United’s contests is Jock Landale and he has well and truly taken the league by storm. Averaging a team-high 16.5 points, 8.2 rebounds on 52 per cent shot success from the field, Landale is arguably Coach Vickerman’s biggest and most potent weapon. The big man is also dishing at almost two and a half assists per game and has accumulated eight double-doubles since the beginning of the season.

After losing Jack White (9.1 points and 6.0 rebounds) to a season-ending Achilles injury, the title contenders suffered a big blow to their squad rotation. However, with Scotty Hopson (12 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists) possibly returning and Sam McDaniel (4.8 points and 2.6 rebounds) back on the hardwood, Melbourne can use their depth to their fullest extent in running their opponents off the court. Additional weapons like import Yudai Baba (8.1 points and 2.1 rebounds) and big-man Jo Lual-Acuil (7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds) will also need to be clicking from here on in, as the end of the campaign approaches and especially once the postseason arrives.

Melbourne will have the chance to further consolidate their top-four dominance when they face the Hawks on Sunday, looking for their ninth home win in 11 matches. United then host the struggling 36ers in Round 15, who are running out of time to make their way into the top four and will need to defeat the Victorian side to start that uphill climb.

The NBL has also released the remaining fixtures for all nine teams. For information regarding the 14 games that Melbourne United are yet to play – CLICK HERE.

2021 NBL1 Central: Round 2 preview

NBL1 Central opened its 2021 season last weekend, with plenty of entertaining clashes across both the men’s and women’s leagues. Expect plenty more of that this weekend with Round 2 delivering some exciting matchups.

Norwood Flames v Forestville Eagles

Men’s:

These two teams started their seasons in very different fashion last weekend. The Flames couldn’t get past the Warriors, eventually defeated by 15 points after a disappointing second half fadeout. The Eagles had a much better performance, blowing out the Mavericks by 27 points, with the result never in doubt. This result is no certainty, with high-volume scorers on both teams keeping the result up in the air. Eagle Michael Harris had 37 points to go with nine rebounds and seven assists. The Flames will have to keep a close check on him to make sure he doesn’t catch fire from behind the arc again. He was one of three scorers for the Eagles with 19 or more points, showcasing their scoring depth. There are plenty of guys on this team who can have a 30-point night, and the Flames will have to prepare their best defensive plans to limit this. The Flames also have scoring options, albeit not as many. CJ Turnage had 36 points against the Warriors last week along with six steals. If the Eagles can curb his influence, it will go a long way towards winning the match.

Women’s:

Both of these sides came away with a Round 1 victory but had slightly different margins. Much like the results in the men’s league, the Eagles would be much more satisfied with their performance, producing a 24 point win to start the season in ideal fashion. The Flames also started their season 1-0, but it came in the form of just a four-point win thanks to a fourth quarter comeback. It will be interesting to see where each team is at and how much they have taken out of last week’s results. Can Genna Anderson continue her strong start to the season after last round’s 26-point, 11-rebound performance? She will be well aided by teammates Paige Kennihan and Georgie Garrard. The Eagles will be looking to replicate their strong shooting performance as a team that treated them so well last week, with Samantha Simons one to watch after her 18 points and 13 rebounds to start the season.

 

Eastern Mavericks v South Adelaide Panthers

Men’s:

The South Adelaide Panthers put on a strong showing against North Adelaide, cruising their way to a 21-point win to begin their 2021 campaign. The Eastern Mavericks were disappointed in their first outing for the season, convincingly beaten by the Eagles and will be desperate for a response this week. Looking at last week’s game, it’s easy to see that the Panthers were not carried by an individual scorer, instead they had five double-digit scorers. The Mavericks will be keen to keep Alex Starling quiet after his dominant display, posting 20 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists and eight steals. This may prove to be a difficult task as Starling has shown he can influence the game in a variety of ways. The Mavericks will also be looking to get Nathaniel Koko involved in the offence again after his 23 points in last weekend’s loss.

Women’s:

The Mavericks can only improve after last week’s disappointing display, finding themselves on the end of a 24-point blowout at the hands of the Eagles. They failed to register a double digit score in two separate quarters and just couldn’t get their offence flowing against a spirited Eagles team. Mollie McKendrick tried all day to lift her side’s scoring output, so expect her to do something similar this week. Kedeisha Kartinyeri will be eager to improve after a quiet game last week, and she certainly is capable. The Panthers announced themselves as a threat to the league with a solid 21-point win over the Rockets. Ashley Spencer and Olivia Thompson combined for 64 points, nearly outscoring the opposition team themselves. Expect to see the ball in their hands again this week.

 

Southern Tigers v West Adelaide Bearcats

Men’s:

Both teams started the season in very similar fashion, losing by quite small margins. The Tigers couldn’t capitalise on a strong opening quarter, giving up their lead over the next three quarters, and losing to the Sabres by eight points. The Bearcats couldn’t quite complete the final quarter comeback and ended up being defeated by the Lions by seven points. It’s obvious the Tigers will need to tighten up on dangerous Bearcats duo Bryan Michaels (28 points) and Earnest Ross (21 points) if they are any chance to stop their offence. The Bearcats should consider doing the same with Tiger Cameron Coleman after his team-high 24 points last week.

Women’s:

The Bearcats couldn’t have started the season any better, embarrassing the Lions by a mammoth 64 points in what was nearly a flawless game. They shot 44 per cent from the field and simply could not be stopped. The Tigers held on against the Sabres to run out eight-point winners in what was a mature performance. In the final stages of the game, they never let their opponents get the open looks they wanted. They will have to be better if they want to take down this Bearcats side. A promising sign for the Tigers heading into this clash is that they had three scorers finish with over 15 points. Their offence can come from plenty of places, but their defence will have to be nearly impenetrable. Sky Langenbrinck and Jennie Rintala were deadly for the Bearcats on the offensive end, and will be aiming for similar outputs this week.

 

Central Districts Lions v Sturt Sabres

Men’s:

The Lions started the season with not the most convincing of wins, but a win nonetheless. They withstood a final quarter charge from the Bearcats to hold on as seven point wins. Expect Lual Diing to prove a threat to opposition defenders again this week, coming off a 27-point, 15-rebound performance. The Lions had plenty to take out of last week’s match and prepare for the coaches to make some adjustments for a more comfortable win. They face off against the Sabres, who had a close win of their own, beating the Tigers by eight points in a tight clash. Shooting 45 per cent from the field, the Sabres had four players in double digits. If they can spread the scoring again, they will prove hard to beat.

Women’s:

The Lions had a nightmare first round, conceding the biggest margin across the league (64 points) and only contributing 32 points themselves. They will be desperate to improve, and hopefully move themselves to the winners list. Shooting practice would have been on the agenda at training this week, as they shot only 25 per cent from the field. They also only had one scorer reach 10 points in April Rummery Lumb and only had three assists as a team. In their path this week are the Sabres, who suffered an awfully close loss to the Tigers, eventually defeated by eight points. They didn’t play bad by any means, but their shooting let them down. Only 36 per cent accuracy as a team is a fair indicator that a win is not on the horizon. They still put up 72 points, which is more than enough to put away the Lions team that showed up last week. For the Sabres, it simply a question of if that team will show up again, or if they will put up a fight.

 

North Adelaide Rockets v Woodville Warriors

Men’s:

The Rockets stumbled in their season opener, allowing the Panthers to run away with a 21-point win, and with plenty to review. They won two of the four quarters, but the two they lost were simply too much, conceding 64 points in those two periods. If they can maintain some consistency in their performance, they could compete with the best. Verle Williams will likely attract the eye of the defence, finishing with 33 points in the season opener. If he is shut down, expect Tobias Dowdell to be an offensive focus. The Warriors simply got the job done against the Flames in Round 1, with four scorers ending the game with 13 points or more, and the result was never in doubt as they showcased an impressive display of ball movement that is sure to make an appearance against the Rockets. They finished with 26 assists overall, and if they can move the ball as well as they did against the Flames, the Rockets defence will struggle to keep up. Keep an eye out for Joe Jackson on the boards, after pulling down 20 against the Flames.

Women’s:

Eerily similar to their men’s side, the Rockets were dismantled by the Panthers, with the margin ending as a 22-point loss. If they don’t want a repeat of this, they will need to improve their ability to hold on to the ball. 23 turnovers as a team did a lot of the damage, as they constantly found themselves on the back foot. They have offensive weapons in Taylor Ortlepp and Sam Defrancesco who will be crucial in the result of the game. They take on a Warriors side who will still be hurting from a four-point loss at the hands of the Flames. There would have been a lot of focus on their ability to hold onto a lead, after a final quarter fadeout cost them the game. There is no doubt this will inspire the likes of Emily Winter and Chloe Purvis, who performed well, but will be hungry to get back on the winners list. Expect a tense battle.

Kings get one back against Phoenix with seven point victory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taipans stun 36ers with come-from-behind win

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2021 Big V Men’s: Round 5 preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Other games:

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

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

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

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

2021 Big V Women’s wrap: Round 4

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

Southern Peninsula (40) defeated by McKinnon (77)

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

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

Casey (87) defeated Keilor (68)

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

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

Bulleen (82) defeated Wyndham (71)

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

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

Hume (90) defeated Whittlesea (45)

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

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