Category: News

2021 NBL1 South Men’s: Round 15

IT was a long time between drinks with the National Basketball League (NBL)1 South put on hold due to Victoria’s snap lockdown. But the competition all picked up where it left off, with teams coming out with a point to prove in Round 15 as the competition starts to heat up.

There was one battle that went right down to the wire in Round 15 as Nunawading Spectres and Geelong fought it out until the dying stages of the game. Only two points separated them at the final siren as the Spectres claimed an almighty comeback win, 85-83. It was a tale of two halves as the Supercats had the momentum in the opening half and then lost their rhythm in the second.

Geelong were firing on all cylinders in the opening term as Isaac Turner made his intentions clear opening his account with a triple. However it did not take long for the Spectres to answer the call and quickly level proceedings as it turned into somewhat of a shootout. Both sides were trading points as the lead swung back and forth before Geelong kicked things up a gear. A couple of handy substitutions gave them some fresh legs out on court as they powered home in the final five minutes of the term to blow the lead out to seven at quarter time.

The Spectres were not about to back down from the challenge as they wasted no time hitting the scoreboard in the second to eat into the deficit. A seven point differential quickly turned into a two point deficit with Jack Gandolfo proving to be the man for the job. But every time Nunawading got within striking distance the Supercats found a way to pull ahead and create some scoreboard separation heading into half time up by a handy five points.

The third quarter is where the script was completely flipped as the Spectres levelled the scores within the first minute of the term. From there on out, the Spectres monopolised the play with their increase in defence and offence enabling them to establish dominance. Everything started to fall their way as the Supercats were forced onto the back foot and struggled to find an answer for their opponents’ new found confidence. Holding a four-point lead heading into the final stanza, the Spectres were eager to ride out the game in style but Geelong had other plans getting back within two points in the early stages of the quarter. Nunawading were able to counter everything that was thrown at them, weathering the storm nicely to secure a hard-fought two-point win.

Tom Wright was a key cog for the Spectres draining 22 points at 73 per cent from the field while his accuracy from down town was also impressive as he registered three triples from four attempts. He also finished with four rebounds, six assists and one steal. Teammate Andrew Steel was also in hot form posting 16 points in his 31 minutes on court while also racking up three rebounds in the win. Simon Conn fell just short of a double-double with his 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists as Dain Swetalla quietened down after the first half but still managed 10 points and eight rebounds.

Turner was the main man for the Supercats as he topscored with 22 points at 57 per cent from the field. He also collected one rebound, four assists and a steal in the narrow loss. Owen Odigie was the next best with his 14 points at 80 per cent from the field while also reeling in six rebounds as teammate Jack Macdonald got busy with his 11 points, two rebounds and two assists. Shea Ili managed a handy 10 points in his 34 minutes on court while also finishing with three rebounds, four assists and two steals. George Blagojevic found his rhythm sinking 10 points and nine rebounds in a solid performance.

The second placed Frankston Blues asserted themselves against Sandringham Sabres in a convincing performance while Knox Raiders blew the Melbourne Tigers out of the water with a romping 49-point win. The Miners got over the top of the Wildcats while in the battle of the birds it was the Diamond Valley Eagles that reigned supreme against the Ringwood Hawks, as Kilsyth Cobras toppled the Rangers while Bendigo Braves handed Ballarat their second loss for the season.

Round 15 results:

Geelong Supercats (90) defeated Bendigo Braves (80)
Knox Raiders (124) defeated Melbourne Tigers (75)
Ballarat Miners (86) defeated Eltham Wildcats (76)
Ringwood Hawks (88) defeated by Diamond Valley Eagles (97)
Kilsyth Cobras (83) defeated Dandenong Rangers (71)
Bendigo Braves (84) defeated Ballarat Miners (71)
Waverley Falcons (89) defeated Ringwood Hawks (82)
Sandringham Sabres (73) defeated Frankston Blues (91)
Nunawading Spectres (85) defeated Geelong Supercats (83)

Photo credit: Ian Knight Photography

Olympics review: Day 10 – Couple of Olympic veterans bid farewell

THINGS continued to heat up on Day 10 of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as Slovenia secured a comfortable win against Germany while Australia stunned in their performance against Argentina to claim a staggering 38-point win in the quarter finals.

Slovenia (94) defeated Germany (70)

The good times keep on rolling for Slovenia notching up a dominant 24 point win over Germany in what was a one-sided affair. Slovenia burst out of the gates with a whopping 25 point to 14 point term to claim the early ascendancy and did not look like relenting with their pressure. Although Germany hit back in the second quarter to reduce the margin they failed to maintain that level of desperation and court play in the second half as Slovenia kicked things up a gear. They starred in the final term with 28 points while keeping Germany to 16 to really romp home the win.

Zoran Dragic led the troops for Slovenia posting an impressive 27 points at 85 per cent from the field. In fact, he was deadeye from two point range nailing six straight with his only fault coming from down town finishing with five from seven. He also registered six rebounds, four assists and three steals in the win. Luka Doncic continued his merry way notching up another double-double after draining 20 points and 11 assists and just fell short of a triple-double with eight rebounds, all of which were defensive. Mike Tobey also hit the scoreboard in the win sinking 13 points in his 33 minutes while also reeling in 11 rebounds. Jaka Blazic chimed in with nine points and three rebounds as Vlatko Cancar finished with eight points and three rebounds. Scoring proved a bit more difficult for Germany as Maodo Lo topscored with 11 points at 50 per cent from the field. Niels Giffey was hot on his heels with 10 points to his name but was fouled out of the game. Moritz Wagner worked tirelessly in his 10 minutes of court time to finish with nine points, one rebound as Danilo Barthel slotted seven points and collected six rebounds in the loss.

Spain (81) defeated by USA (95)

Team USA got the job done against Spain clinching a 14-point win. It was a tight tussle to begin with as Spain held the lead albeit by two points at quarter time. The lead ballooned out midway through the second term however the USA kicked things up a gear to get themselves back within striking distance and level things at half time. They upped the ante even further in the third quarter piling on 26 points to 20 while they left the best till last showcasing their endurance and class with a 26-18 term. Statistically speaking it was hard to split the two sides as they shot at 45 and 48 per cent from the field with the US just pipping Spain at the post.

It is not the way Marc Gasol would have liked his farewell performance to have gone as he only managed the four rebounds and one assist. But Ricky Rubio dominated with a whopping 38 points while shooting at 65 per cent from the field. He also collected four rebounds and two assists in his 27 minutes of play. Sergio Rodriguez did not muck around raining 16 points as Willy Hernangomez recorded a handy double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Team USA shared around the points with five players hitting double-digits, but it is no surprise that Kevin Durant topped the table credit to his 29 points, two rebounds and four assists. Jrue Holiday was the next closest with his 12 points in 23 minutes while he also accumulated two rebounds and five assists Jayson Tatum found his stroke from deep hitting three from five as he finished with 13 points to his name. Damian Lillard and Zach Lavine were the other two to have an impact on the scoreboard slotting 11 and 10 points respectively in the win.

Italy (75) defeated by France (84)

Only nine points divided the winner in this match with France just sneaking over the line against Italy. It was a seesawing affair as the two sides traded blows. Italy had the upper hand in the first quarter piling on 25 points while keeping France to 20. But France hit back in the second quarter to flip the script and even the ledger at half time. The table started to turn in the third quarter as France found their rhythm in both offence and defence. Heading into the final quarter with a handy lead France kicked into cruise control and while Italy worked in overdrive they simply could not do enough to get back within striking distance. The main difference was shooting percentage as France managed 48 per cent as opposed to Italy’s 32 per cent from the field.

There were two main scorers for Italy as Simone Fontecchio and Danilo Gallinari headlined the nation. Fontecchio starred with his 23 points and two rebounds as Gallinari managed 21 points and 10 rebounds in what was a strong outing. Achille Polonara also found his rhythm slotting 15 points at 63 per cent from the field while also reeling in seven rebounds. There was no shortage of options for France as Rudy Gobert had his eye in finishing with 22 points and a 77 per cent clip from the field. He fell just short of a double-double with his nine rebounds. Teammate Evan Fournier also plied his trade sinking 21 points, three rebounds and four assists as Nicolas Batum dazzled with his double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds in the win. Thomas Heurtel also chimed in with a handy 10 points and five assists to get France over the line.

Australia (97) defeated Argentina (59)

The final game of the day went the way of Australia in what was a comprehensive performance after quarter time. The Boomers ran out 38-point winners credit to a demolition final term where they poured on a staggering 37 points to 11. It was a less than desirable start to the match for the Aussies as Argentina held the lead at quarter time credit to their ability to get in the paint and score. After opting for triples throughout much of the opening stanza Australia shifted their game plan in the second to wrestle back control of the game and steal the lead heading into half time. The Boomers were not content with only being up by six points, putting the foot down in the third but it was their blistering final quarter that set tongues wagging as they completely obliterated the Argentinian team. Australia finished with 44 rebounds in comparison to Argentina’s 36 and were more accurate from the field sitting at 49 per cent compared to 34.

It was Patty Mills that once again led from the front drilling home 18 points, two rebounds and four assists in the win. He was not alone though as both Jock Landale and Matisse Thybulle imposed themselves on the contest finishing with 12 points each as Landale reeled in seven rebounds. Joe Ingles had a hot hand slotting 11 points for the game while he also proved busy in attack racking up seven assists and four rebounds. Nick Kay provided a big body for the Aussies as he collected a double-double credit to his 10 points and 10 rebounds. In fact, every player on the Australian roster managed to hit the scoreboard highlighting the number of options at Brian Goorjian’s disposal. It was a different story for Argentina as they bade farewell to five time Olympian Luis Scola who managed seven points and four rebounds in the loss. Nicolas Laprovittola topscored with his 16 points at 46 per cent from the field while Gabriel Deck had plenty of the ball reeling in 10 rebounds but was unable to find his rhythm shooting at 36 per cent for his 12 points.

Photo credit: Getty images

Olympics review: Day 9 – Opals dominate second half to narrowly secure final eight spot

AUSTRALIA left it late but managed to grab a quarter finals spot in the Tokyo Olympics thanks to a huge second half, whilst Japan, United States and China all won their respective clashes yesterday.

Nigeria (83) defeated by Japan (102)

Japan moved into second place in its group with a 19-point triumph over Nigeria in a high-scoring performance. The home nation piled on 30 points to 22 in the opening term, then extended the lead to 13 points by the main break. Another high scoring term of 33 points to Nigeria’s 19, the margin blew out to 27 with a quarter to play, before the loser hit back to cut the deficit back to under 20, but Japan still saluted, 102-83. Nigeria scored at 54 per cent from the field to Japan’s 49 per cent, and led the rebounds (37-33), but the Japanese nailed a remarkable 19 long-range jumpers, and dominated the assists (34-26), as well as capitalised on points from turnovers (33-12).

Five Japanese players reached double-figure points, led by Saki Hayashi (23 points – seven of 11 from long-range – two rebounds and two assists). Yuki Miyazawa (19 points – five of eight from beyond the arc – and two rebounds) also found plenty of points, while Maki Takada (15 points, five rebounds and three assists) and Himawari Akaho (12 points, seven rebounds and five assists contributed in multiple ways. Victoria Macaulay (18 points) was the top scorer for Nigeria, with Oderah Chidom (13 points, seven rebounds and three assists) and Ezinne Kalu (11 points, six assists and three rebounds) the other two key scorers in the loss.

France (82) defeated by United States (93)

The other Group B match which enabled Japan to grab second spot was the Gold Medal favourites United States holding off a determined France by 11 points. The French needed to keep the deficit to under 15 points to guarantee themselves a place in the next round, and they did just that with a hard-fought effort. Actually leading by three points at quarter time, the French fell behind by six at the main break, cut the deficit back to four at the final change, before falling away in the last as the world number ones piled on 22 points to 15 to win, 93-82. The United States shot at a higher efficiency from the field (56 to 45 per cent) and despite having less rebounds (30-34), had more assists (30-22) and more points in the paint (46-30).

A’ja Wilson topscored for the United States with 22 points, seven rebounds and three assists, teaming up well with Breanna Stewart (17 points, seven rebounds and seven assists). Tina Charles (15 points, five assists and two rebounds) and Brittney Griner (11 points, three rebounds) were the other two double-figure scorers. Endene Miyem (15 points, four rebounds) was one of six double-figure scorers for France, as Sandrine Gruda (12 points, six rebounds), Marine Johannes (11 points, seven assists and two rebounds) and Gabby Williams (10 points, five rebounds and three assists) contributed across the court.

China (74) defeated Belgium (62)

In a battle of the undefeated Group C teams, China grabbed top spot in the group with a 12-point win over Belgium. Whilst Belgium’s huge points differential – thanks to the massive win over Puerto Rico – ensured it would advance through to the next stage and avoid the three group winners, the second placed side still showed plenty of fight. Leading by four points at quarter time, Belgium found themselves down by a point at half-time, and then China crept away in the second half, outscoring Belgium 36 points to 25 to win by 12, 74-62. China scored at 52 per cent accuracy from the field compared to Belgium’s 41 per cent, including seven of 16 to just two of 18. They also led the rebounds (37-29) in the win.

In an even team performance, Li Yueru was the top scorer with 14 points, as well as eight assists and four rebounds. Li Meng had 11 points and seven rebounds, with Pan Zhenqi (10 points, three rebounds) and Yang Liwei (10 points, four assists) also busy. For Belgium, Emma Meesseman had a match-high 24 points in a huge effort, to accompany her seven rebounds and two assists. Julie Allemand (12 points, three rebounds and four assists) and Kim Mestdagh (12 points, five assists and two rebounds) were the other key scorers for the losing side.

Australia (96) defeated Puerto Rico (69)

Australia came back from a disappointing first half against lowly Puerto Rico to storm to a 27-point win and grab a quarter finals spot by the skin of their teeth. Despite needing to win by at least 25 points, the Opals trailed by two points at quarter time and only led by a point at half-time. The world number twos finally clicked into gear with a dominant 23-8 third term, before skating home with momentum in a 28-17 final stanza to just get over the line, 96-69. It was not without a cheeky last second three-point attempt from Puerto Rico, which, if it had gone in, would have eliminated the Opals. Australia scored at a higher clip from the field (46 to 38 per cent), had more rebounds (47-34) and assists (32-15), and less turnovers (12-17) which enabled the Opals to score more points from turnovers (20-8).

Marianna Tolo was enormous with a double-double of 26 points and 17 rebounds – seven offensive – as well as four assists. Cayla George (19 points, seven rebounds and five assists) and Jenna O’Hea (15 points, five rebounds and four assists) combined for seven of the Opals’ 12 three-point makes. Leilani Mitchell (12 points, six assists) and Ezi Magbegor (10 points, four rebounds and two assists) were the others to hit double-figure points. Jazmon Gwathmey (26 points, six rebounds and two assists) was the top scorer for Puerto Rico, while Pamela Rosado (13 points, three rebounds and three assists), Jennifer O’Neill (12 points, four rebounds and two assists) and Ali Gibson (10 points, six rebounds) were the others to impress in the loss.

 

The quarter finals are now decided, with the top two in the world going head-to-head in the United States and Australia, while Spain and France, China and Serbia and Japan and Belgium lock horns in the other quarter finals.

 

Picture credit: AP

2021 NBL1 South Women’s: Round 15

ROUND 15 of the National Basketball League (NBL1) South Women’s played host to a couple of close calls as nine games played out across the weekend. There were a couple of surprise results as second and third dropped games against their lower placed opponents.

The contest between Knox Basketball and Melbourne Tigers went down to the wire in what was a see-sawing affair. But in the end it was the Tigers that managed to swindle the win by a mere six points and cause a huge upset (78-72).

The Raiders raced out of the blocks in the first quarter as the Tigers simply could not but a basket missing their first three attempts of the game. On the other hand, every time Knox got within shooting range they hit the scoreboard as they immediately established a lead. Melbourne started to kick into gear midway through the term, as their shots started to sink but that was short lived. Within the blink of an eye the Raiders pushed out to an eight point lead and did not look done with yet as they continued to put their foot down. As the clock ticked down to the three minute mark Knox were up by 13 points and looked to have the ascendancy.

It was a complete switch up in the second term as the Tigers came out with a point to prove. Struggling to find her groove in the opening stanza Zitina Aokuso came to life, landing the first points of the quarter for Melbourne to get the cogs ticking over. Momentum began to shift in favour of the Tigers towards the latter half of the quarter as they ate into the margin reducing it from 19 points to 10 within a matter of minutes. Not only was Aokuso upping the ante but so too was Monique Conti as the pair combined seamlessly to chip into the deficit. By half time only six points separated the two teams.

That momentum and trajectory continued deep into the third as Melbourne managed 17 points while keeping the Raiders to 10 points. The Tigers drew level with just over three minutes left in the quarter before stealing the lead thanks to a Tylah Hooper triple at the two minute mark. Sensing a win Melbourne pulled out all the stops in the final term as their big name players imposed themselves to keep the Tigers’ noses in front and grind out the win despite Knox working in overdrive to flip the script.

Leah Santomaggio had a hot hand for the Raiders as she drained an impressive 26 points at 63 per cent from the field. She starred from beyond the arc nailing six of her 10 attempts while she also reeled in four rebounds in the loss. Klara Wischer was in fine form slotting 19 points and fell just short of a double-double with her nine rebounds, one assist and one steal. Lucy Dawson managed to chime in with 10 points, five rebounds and a steal for Knox.

For the Tigers, Aokuso led the charge with her 22 points in 36 minutes of play. it did not stop there though as she secured a whopping 14 rebounds – 13 defensive – along with four rebounds and two steals. Conti managed 15 points at a lowly 29 per cent from the field, plus four rebounds, two assists and a steal while Kirsty Wallace also drained 15 points. Isabella Brancatisano finished with eight points and three rebounds to her name in the win.

In other results, the top of the table Frankston Blues continued their winning ways with victory against Sandringham Sabres as the second placed Bendigo Braves fell to Ballarat Rush. Eltham got the chocolates against the Rush while Ringwood reigned supreme against Diamond Valley Eagles. It was a good weekend to be a Ringwood Hawks fan as they also notched up a win against Waverley Falcons as the Cobras managed to claim victory in their sole outing against Dandenong Rangers.

Round 15 results:

Geelong Supercats (90) defeated by Bendigo Braves (98)
Knox Basketball (72) defeated by Melbourne Tigers (78)
Ballarat Rush (63) defeated by Eltham Wildcats (82)
Ringwood Hawks (84) defeated Diamond Valley Eagles (74)
Kilsyth Cobras (83) defeated Dandenong Rangers (70)
Bendigo Braves (70) defeated by Ballarat Rush (78)
Waverley Falcons (65) defeated by Ringwood Hawks (74)
Sandringham Sabres (62) defeated by Frankston Blues (75)
Nunawading Spectres (78) defeated by Geelong Supercats (83)

Photo credit: Melbourne Tigers

Olympics review: Day 8 – Slovenian men and Spanish women secure pole positions in respective groups

SPAIN and Serbia secured their spots in the next round of the women’s basketball competition with wins to round out the preliminary stage of competition at the Tokyo Olympics, while the last men’s matches were run and done with Slovenia grabbing top spot in Group C, and Spain securing second.

MEN’S:

Argentina (97) defeated Japan (77)

Argentina finished up its group stage with a comfortable 20-point win over home nation Japan to secure a spot in the quarter finals. The South Americans took control early and opened up a 10-point lead at quarter time. Despite Japan hitting back in the second to reduce the deficit back to eight at half-time, Argentina took control in the second half and piled on 51 points to 39 to run out easy 97-77 victors. Leading the efficiency from the field (46 to 42 per cent) it was the South American’s ability to hit the three-pointers with 14 to six from beyond the arc. They also won the rebounds (48-39) and assists (27-16) in comprehensive fashion.

Luis Scola racked up a double-double with some eye-catching long-range shooting, making up five of eight from beyond the arc, to finish with 23 points and 10 rebounds in the win. Facundo Campazzo (17 points – five of nine from three-point range – 11 assists and seven rebounds) almost helped himself to a triple-double, while Gabriel Deck (16 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Marcos Delia (14 points, seven rebounds) were also consistent. Yudai Baba was one of five Japanese players to reach double-figure points despite the loss, with the Melbourne United talent recording 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Yuta Watanabe (17 points, nine rebounds) and Rui Hatchimura (13 points, 11 rebounds and two assists) were also dominant players off the boards.

Spain (87) defeated by Slovenia (95)

In a battle of the two undefeated sides, Slovenia grabbed top spot and avoided playing USA, France or Australia in the next stage of the Olympics, defeating Spain by eight points in a thrilling contest. The Spanish started the stronger of the teams, leading by four points at quarter time, before the Slovenians started to whittle the deficit back. It was down to three at half-time and two at the final break, before finishing the stronger of the sides with a 27-17 last quarter to win 95-87. Slovenia shot at a higher clip from he field (42 to 38 per cent), with more rebounds (51-41) and points in the paint (34-22), whilst Spain hit 16-12 three-pointers in defeat.

Luca Doncic came close to a triple-double in another outstanding effort, making 12 points and despite being inaccurate from the field – just two of seven – he had 14 rebounds and nine assists for his troubles. Vlatko Cancar (22 points, two rebounds) had the most points in the game, while Mike Tobey (16 points, 14 rebounds and three assists) picked up a double-double and Klemen Prepelic (15 points, three assists and two rebounds) was also lively. Ricky Rubio managed 18 points, nine assists and three rebounds for Spain, while Alberto Abalde (14 points, four rebounds) and Rudy Fernandez (12 points, five rebounds) were both solid.

The quarter finals draw was also decided with the eight teams qualified. Each of the three group winners – France, Australia and Slovenia – along with the highest ranked second side United States – were drawn against the other two group runners-up in Italy and Spain, whilst third placed Germany and Argentina also finished in the top eight. France will take on Italy, Slovenia will face Germany, Australia will meet Argentina, and in the biggest clash, United States will lock horns with Spain.

WOMEN’S:

Canada (66) defeated by Spain (76)

Spain concluded its group stage undefeated with a 10-point victory over Canada, officially knocking the North Americans out of the next stage of competition. The Spanish were on top from the first whistle, taking a 10-point lead into quarter time credit to their 23-13 quarter. That was the key difference in the game, though Canada cut the deficit back to six by the main break. Spain again got on top to win the third term 20-13 and blow it out to a 13-point advantage with a quarter to play, before Canada again hit back in the last quarter to win it 19-16 and put up a fight, but not enough as Spain won 76-66. The Spanish shot at a far higher 59 to 34 per cent from the field, and had the same amount of rebounds (34) despite being dominated off the offensive boards (12-1) by the Canadians. Spain easily won the assist count (29-14), and capitalised on points from turnovers (26-14) despite having three more turnovers (21-18).

Astou Ndour was the key scorer for Spain, putting up 20 points and 11 rebounds in a double-double effort. Cristina Ouvina (15 points, seven assists and two rebounds) and Alba Torrens (12 points, four rebounds and four assists) were the other two key Spaniards, with Queralt Casas (eight points, five assists and three rebounds) and Laura Gil (eight points, seven rebounds and five assists). Kia Nurse led the way for Canada with 14 points – four of seven from beyond the arc – two rebounds and two assists. Natalie Achonwa (11 points, six rebounds and two assists) and Laeticia Amihere (10 points, six rebounds) also reached double-figures.

Korea (61) defeated by Serbia (65)

It was a closer game than many predicted but Serbia did what Serbia needed to do, and picked up the victory against Korea. Firing on all cylinders early, Serbia led 17-10 at the first break and then extended the lead to eight by half-time. The underdogs hit back in the second half to reduce it back to six by the final break, and kept charging in the last to actually lead by three points with four minutes remaining, but could not score in the last four minutes, as Serbia scored the last seven points of the match to win, 65-61. Serbia shot at a higher clip from the field (40 to 32 per cent) and despite only nailing two of 13 from long-range, still did enough to produce the win.

Aleksandra Crvendakic led the way for scoring with 15 points, as well as picking up seven rebounds and four assists. Tina Krajsinik (14 points, six rebounds), Yvonne Anderson (12 points, five rebounds and three assists) and Jelena Brooks (11 points, three rebounds) were the other double-figure scorers for Serbia. It was a two-player show for Korea with Jihyun Park and Danbi Kim combining for 32 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists. Park finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists and Kim had 15 points, six rebounds and three assists, as Ji Su Park came close to a double-double courtesy of her 15 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.

Picture credit: AP

Olympics review: Day 7 – Boomers and France make it three from three

IT was another day of action packed basketball at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, as Australia continued their merry winning ways despite missing the services of Aron Baynes while the United States also collected a convincing win against Czech Republic.

Iran (62) defeated by France (79)

Iran put up a good fight against France but in the end France was simply too strong both in offence and defence walking away with the wind. Holding a five-point lead at quarter time France went on to inflict more pain in the second with a 24-10 term to really assert their dominance on the contest. Although Iran hit back in the third it was too little, too late as France came home strong and sealed the win. Shooting accuracy was the main differential between the two sides as France converted at 49 per cent from the field while Iran only managed 34 per cent. Rebounds were relatively close with only ten separating the two (42-32) while looking at assists France also led the way with 24 to 17.

Hamed Haddadi made his presence well and truly felt for Iran registering 18 points while he also racked up the rebounds with 12 to record a handy double-double. It did not stop there though as he chimed in with five rebounds, two steals and three blocks. Both Arsalan Kazemi and Benham Yakhchalidehkordi slotted 11 points apiece with Kazemi reeling in eight rebounds and three steals in the loss. Thomas Heurtel was the main port of call for France as he drained 16 points in just under 15 minutes while he also managed three rebounds. The points were shared around for France as Timothe Luwawu Cabarrot added 12 points along with five rebounds and three assists while Nando De Colo and Vincent Poirier contributed a solid 10 points each.

Italy (80) defeated Nigeria (71)

Italy stood up against Nigeria to run out with a nine-point win, coming out with a real fire in the belly in the opening quarter draining 29 points to 17 to establish a handy 12point lead at quarter time. But Nigeria struck back in the second piling on 22 points while keeping Italy to just the 11. Nigeria maintained that momentum heading into the third quarter to really assert their dominance and create a hefty lead at the final change. But Italy was not done with yet as they came out with a point to prove in the fourth term draining 24 points while keeping Nigeria to a mere eight.

Five players for Italy made it into double digits as Nicolo Melli made his mark with 15 points at 50 per cent from the field. Melli also recorded five rebounds and a steal while Achille Polonara drained 13 points, five rebounds and two assists. Nico Mannion did not skip a beat with 14 points while Simone Fontecchio also slotted 12 points and four assists in the win. Chimezie Metu was in fine form for Nigeria recording 22 points and 10 rebounds in what was an all-round solid performance. He managed an impressive six triples from seven attempts at 86 per cent. Joran Nwora was the next best with 20 points in his 34 minutes of court time while Jahill Okafor finished with 14 points and eight rebounds to his name.

Australia (89) defeated Germany (76)

The Boomers claimed another win, this time over Germany by 13 points. Germany raced out of the blocks early in the first quarter but Australia hit back in the second to not only level the scores but so to take the lead. That momentum continued into the third and they really romped at home in the 4th with a 23 to 17 point term. Australia had the upper hand when it came to field goal percentage shooting at 50 per cent however Germany were hot on their tails with 41 per cent. Germany reigned supreme on the rebound front with 45 to 28 with their form off the boards keeping them within striking distance.

Patty Mills was once again in dominant form for Australia posting 24 points, six assists and one rebound in the wind. He was ably assisted by Jock Landale who produced 18 points at 70 per cent from the field in just 25 minutes of court time. He also managed three rebounds and three assists in the win while Nick Kay also found his groove with 16 points, four rebounds and four assists. Dante Exum was the other player that managed to hit he strides with eight points, four rebounds and three assists. For Germany Andreas Obst led the charge sinking 17 points albeit at a lowly 38 per cent while teammates Johannes Thiemann and Niels Giffey registered 11 points each. Thiemann just fell short of a double-double with his nine rebounds, while speaking of rebounds Johannes Voigtmann was in blistering form off the boards with 13 to his name.

USA (119) defeated Czech Republic (84)

The United States came away with a romping 34-point win against Czech Republic. The US were surprised in the first term as Czech Republic opened up a seven point lead at quarter time before Team USA put the jets on in the second to flip the script and get the game back on their terms. They really put the foot down in the third with a 35-17 term while they upped the ante even further in last with 37 points to 24 in what turned into a dominant performance.

Jayson Tatum topscored for Team USA with an impressive 27 points in 24 minutes of play. He managed a 50 per cent conversion rate from down town draining five shots from 10 attempts while also picking up two rebounds. Kevin Durant upped the ante in this performance finishing with 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists to his name. Zach Lavine was solid with his 13 points while Jrue Holiday also found the net with his 11 points shooting at 71 per cent from the field. For the Czech Republic Blake Schlib was the man to watch producing 17 points and five rebounds while Jan Vesely was also a solid contributor with his 13 points in just under 30 minutes of play. Ondrej Balvin made his presence felt collecting 15 points, four rebounds and one assist as Tomas Satoransky also got into his groove with a stats stuffing performance consisting of 12 points, six rebounds and eight assists.

Photo credit: Getty images

Olympics review: Day 6 – China hands Australia devastating loss

AUSTRALIA Opals were handed a huge upset by China to keep them winless so far in the Olympics while the US continued to roll on this time notching up victory against Japan.

Belgium (87) defeated Puerto Rico (52)

It was a one-sided affair as Belgium reigned supreme over Puerto Rico claiming a 35-point win. Belgium won every quarter with their best performance coming in the second as the kept Puerto Rico to a mere eight points while piling on 20 of their own. They were in complete control and did not relent on their pressure and constant attack to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Belgium imposed themselves in all aspects of the game especially when it came to field goal percentage shooting at 52 per cent compared to a lowly 24. They also had more rebounds (54-33) and assists (28-11) but coughed up the ball more than Puerto Rico (20-13).

It was another stellar performance by Emma Meesseman who impressed all over the court racking up a double-double with her 26 points and 15 rebounds. She was the lynchpin for Belgium while Hanne Mestdagh also got busy with her 18 points at 60 per cent from the field. Kim Mestdagh was also in fine form for Belgium producing 15 points in her 25 minutes of court time along with six rebounds, two assists and a steal. Julie Allemand was the other one that bobbed up with a handy 10 points, six rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Jazmon Gwathmey led the charge for Puerto Rico with her 20 points albeit at 37 per cent from the field while also reeling in five rebounds. Jennifer O’Neill was solid with her nine points, two rebounds and one assist while India Pagan made her presence felt with her six points in just nine minutes.

USA (86) defeated by Japan (69)

After somewhat of a slow start, the USA managed to ride home and claim victory over Japan in convincing fashion. Down by two points at quarter time USA flipped the script in the second term to notch up 21 points while keeping Japan to just the 10. They managed to keep the foot on the pedal throughout the third while they really ramped it home in the final quarter 21 to 16. Field goal percentage proved to be the difference once again with the US converting at 54 per cent while Japan only managed 35 per cent. The United States also had more rebounds 48 to 33 and racked up a whopping six blocks to zero in the win.

A’Ja Wilson continued her merry way with 20 point and 10 rebounds highlighting just explosive she is with ball in hand while Breanna Stewart proved she was not here to muck around slotting 15 points at 60 per cent from the field while also reeling in a whopping 13 rebounds, 12 of which were defensive. Brittney Griner left her mark with her 15 points and five rebounds as Jewell Loyd chimed in with 12 points. Maki Takada was the topscorer for Japan producing 15 points and three rebounds in her 32 minutes while teammate Saki Hayashi managed 12 points. Monica Okoye was the only other player to make it out of single digits with her 11 points in 15 minutes of action.

France (87) defeated Nigeria (62)

France got the chocolates over Nigeria with a commanding 25 point win. France raced out to the lead in the opening quarter creating a six point buffer and continued to fire in the second term with 26 points 215. Nigeria continued to ply their trade but were a step off the pace as France increased that heart margin at three quarter time. Statistically it was a lot closer than the scoreboard would suggest as France had the higher field goal percentage at 50 per cent compared to 35 and more rebounds 45 to 32 but had more turnovers 15 to 13 proving Nigeria were careful with ball in hand.

The number 13 proved to be the magic number for France as four players such as Alix Duchet, Marine Johannes, Endene Miyem and Gabby Williams managed 13 points. Williams also notched up nine rebounds and four assists in the win. Sandrine Gruda did one better draining 14 points and fell just short of a double-double with her nine rebounds. For Nigeria it was Promise Amukamara that did the heavy lifting with her 11 points and three rebounds as Ezinne Kalu got busy with 10 points in 32 minutes.

China (76) defeated Australia (74)

China secured the two-point win in controversial fashion with Yueru Li handed two free throws after the buzzer to steal the win. It had been a topsy turvy game from the get-go with Australia unable to really assert their dominance on China as they skipped out to an eight point lead at quarter time. Although the Opals fought their way back into the contest they never looked in control with China once again pulling away in the third term with a 17 points to nine quarter. In fact the lead got out to as many as 11 points midway through the fourth before back-to-back triples from Jenna O’Hea levelled the scores with less than two seconds on the clock. But it was not to be as China triumphed in an emphatic win.

China was in the driver’s seat for much of the match as Siyu Wang piled on 20 points at 67 per cent accuracy from the field while her conversion from the charity stripe was even better slotting seven from nine at 78 per cent. She also managed three rebounds and five assists. Yueru Li not only clunked the sealer but managed 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the win while teammate Meng Li also got busy with her 11 points and seven assists. Liewei Yang was the only other player to reach double-digits with her 10 points, two rebounds and two assists. For Australia it was inaccuracy that cost them as Ezi Magbegor led the charge with her 15 points, four rebounds and one assists. O’Hea was the next best with her 11 points at 57 per cent from the field, while Cayla George managed 10 points, five rebounds and three assists before being fouled out of the game in the final second. Both Katie Ebzery and Leilani Mitchell worked tirelessly for their nine points but managed a mere 18 and 33 per cent respectively from the field.

Photo credit: Eric Gay

2021 NZNBL team review: Wellington Saints

IN the wake of the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) coming to a close over the weekend, Draft Central will run through each of the 10 competing sides to look at the key stats and players of the 2021 season. The series concludes with Wellington Saints.

SEASON SUMMARY:

Position: 1st
Wins: 18
Losses: 2

KEY STATS:

Points: 96.2 (1st)
Rebounds: 36 (5th)
Assists: 17.8 (3rd)
Steals: 8.7 (1st)
Blocks: 3.7 (eq. 1st)
Field Goal %: 51.3 (1st)

KEY PLAYERS:

Dion Prewster

The captain led from the front all season and put up team-highs in points (18.2) and assists (5.0) to be crowned the NZNBL’s Most Valuable Player (MVP). His overall consistent effort – which also included 5.6 rebounds (third from the Saints) and 1.4 steals (second), showed he was able to accumulate stats across the board. He shot at 34.2 per cent from outside the arc, and 55.4 per cent from in it, doing most of his damage there and forcing his way to the foul line. He finished off at 82.9 per cent when shooting free throws to worry the opposition. Prewster only had single-digit points twice in the season, and both came with less than 20 minutes on court. In the overtime thriller against Hawkes Bay Hawks, Prewster put up 34 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, whilst earning himself a triple-double in the first semi-final. There, he managed 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a remarkable effort that capped off a year where he had four games of 30-plus points.

Taane Samuel

The other All-Star 5 member for the 2021 season was Samuel, who was able to impress out of the front court, averaging 16.5 points and 3.8 rebounds. He shot at 43.8 per cent from outside the arc in a deadly accurate display, and 54.8 per cent from the field, showcasing his overall shooting characteristics. He earned a spot on the All-Star side for his accuracy, but also averaged 1.5 steals per game. After a quiet couple of games to start the season, Samuel only had two more games in single-digits, with eight games recording 20-plus points, including the grand final (26). His season-high came against Hawkes Bay Hawks mid-season when he put up 33 points and four rebounds, showing he was the Hawks’ Achilles heal.

Kerwin Roach Jr

Seemingly underrated all season, Roach Jr was the only Saints player to score double-figure points in every single match. He had 20-plus points in six matches, of which four of those came in the last month of the season. He averaged the second most points (17.7), rebounds (5.9) and assists (4.3) in his side, as well as the most steals (1.7) to be a terrific asset for the premiers. He only shot at 33 per cent from long-range which hurt a little, but he had such a high-volume of shots, he was always able to put up big numbers. Roach Jr further put an exclamation mark on his season, with a 16-point, seven-rebound and three-assist game in the grand final to earn the match’s MVP honour.

Tohi Smith-Milner

Coming out of the five spot, Smith-Milner was a menace for opposition sides, leading the Saints for rebounds (6.8) but still putting up plenty of points (14.5) to be fourth overall on his side. He was the fourth player (with the three above) to play – and start – in all 20 games, which made him very difficult to contain. Shooting at 34,4 per cent from outside the arc, Smith-Milner was able to hit his free throws when he went to the line (75.4 per cent) and was at greater than half of his field goal attempts (52.9 per cent). He only dipped into single digits five times, including in the first two games, but unfortunately two of them were in the last three games, including a nine-point grand final. He stepped up in a big way against his former team Auckland Huskies in the first final however, putting up 30 points and nine rebounds in a season-high for him. His best game came against Taranaki Mountainairs on July 2, recording a massive 25 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and two steals in that win over the bottom side.

OTHERS:

Two other big men who had the next most points traditionally coming off the bench were Leon Henry (9.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.5 steals) and Romaro Gill (8.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks), while Troy McLean took the court in every game starting on the bench, for 4.3 points and 1.4 rebounds from limited minutes.

SUMMARY:

There is not much to say for the Wellington Saints given their success of winning the 2021 NZNBL premiership tells the story. The minor premiers became the overall premiers, dropping just two games in total on their way to glory with four players starting every game, and consistency that was crucial throughout the year.

Picture credit: PhotosportNZ via NZNBL

Giddey storms into the NBA after being drafted by Thunder

AUSTRALIAN teen sensation Josh Giddey is the latest young gun from Down Under set to light up the National Basketball Association (NBA) stage after being selected at Pick 6 in today’s NBA Draft. The Oklahoma City Thunder selected Giddey, who in turn became the highest Australian ever drafted directly out of the National Basketball League (NBL).

Plying his trade with Adelaide 36ers after a stellar junior career that included representing the green and gold on the international stage, Giddey averaged 10.9 points, 7.5 assists and 7.4 rebounds per game in the 2020/21 NBL season. He recorded back-to-back triple doubles, the only Australian in NBL history to achieve the feat, catapulting him into draft lottery contention.

Following on from the success of his NBL Rookie of the Year predecessor in LaMelo Ball (who won the subsequent NBA Rookie of the Year), Giddey said it was an unbelievable feeling to hear his name called out so early in the draft.

“It’s a dream come true so to be taken by the Thunder and to have them want me on their team it makes me feel really special and I couldn’t be happier,” Giddey said. “The Australian basketball community is really tight. So, to have those guys by my side and supporting me through this whole process has been really good for me.”

Giddey said the success of Ball and fellow NBL Next Star, R.J. Hampton allowed the Australian league to be broadcast on the international stage and show the worthiness of the competition in comparison to the NBA.

“Watching LaMelo and R.J. Hampton go through that same process and see how well their game translated from the NBL to the NBA gave me confidence going in that hopefully I can do something a little bit similar,” Giddey said.

“Lucky enough I did, I landed in a good spot and having LaMelo and R.J. with the attention they brought from America to Australia was big, and I was just lucky enough that the limelight was still on me at the time.

“They had so much attention on the league and it allowed me to go in there with lots of eyes on it so it was a good time for me to enter the league.”

NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said the league was thrilled that Giddey would take his basketball to the next level by living out his dream and entering the NBA.

“The entire NBL family congratulates Josh Giddey on being drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder with the sixth selection,” Loeliger said. “This is the culmination of years of hard work from Josh and it is a day he and his family will never forget. Josh is a fantastic ambassador for Australian basketball and we have no doubt he will do us proud on the NBA stage.

“It is also a landmark day for Australian basketball and the NBL, as we further validate ourselves as a league that provides strong and legitimate pathways to the NBA. ”

Picture credit: Mark Brake/Getty Images

Olympics review: Day 5 – Spain complete double as Slovenia and Canada grab wins

SLOVENIA and Spain both booked their spots in the next stage of the men’s basketball at the Tokyo Olympics ahead of their final round clash, whilst Canada kept its hopes alive of remaining in the hunt in the women’s basketball, as Spain moved to 2-0 in the group.

MEN’S BASKETBALL:

Slovenia (116) defeated Japan (81)

Slovenia has completely dismantled home nation Japan in a 35-point win to set up an undefeated clash with Spain for top spot in Group C. Having earned the right to progress through to the next stage, it was a convincing win from the Slovenians, who won every quarter by at least four points. They lead by 12 at half-time and extended the lead to 16 at the final break, before showing no mercy in the final term with a last stanza belting of 36-17 to run away 116-81 winners. The largest margin of the game got to 38, with as many as 16 consecutive points at one stage. Slovenia was more efficient from the field (54 to 32 per cent) and destroyed the home nation in the rebounds (37-24) and assists (27-15), with most of their dominance coming in the paint (54-28) and off second chance points (18-12).

Luka Doncic had another big game with 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in 26 minutes, teaming up well with Zoran Dragic who posted 24 points, four rebounds and two assists. Klemen Prepelic (12 points, four rebounds and five assists), Vlatko Cancar (16 points, three rebounds) and Jaka Blazic (10 points, four rebounds and three assists) all hit double-figure points, with every player on the team putting up some points in a well-rounded team effort. For the Japanese, it was no surprise to see Rui Hachimura leading the way with a huge 34 points, seven rebounds and three assists, but Yuta Watanabe was the only other major scorer with 17 points, seven rebounds and two assists, while Makoto Hiejima finished with 10 points and three rebounds.

Spain (81) defeated Argentina (71)

In the late game last night, Spain remained undefeated to book its spot in the next stage with a 10-point win over Argentina. Trailing by five points at quarter time, the Spanish got back on top in the second term to score 20 points to nine and hit the front by six at half-time. From there, they held off their South American opponents, winning both of the remaining quarters by two, and posting the 81-71 win. Spain shot at a higher clip from the field (53 to 43 per cent) and had more assists (17-13) and less turnovers (20-24), though Argentina had more rebounds (35-30) and matched them in most other areas across the board.

Ricky Rubio was a one-man scoring machine for Spain, winning the game off his own hand with a massive five of six from beyond the arc to total 26 points, as well as five rebounds and four assists. Sergio Llull finished with the 10 points, while Pau Gasol (nine points, eight rebounds and two assists) and Victor Claver (nine points, two rebounds) were the next highest scorers in an otherwise even team spread. For Argentina, Nicholas Laprovittola caught fire from outside the arc, nailing five of nine from long-range and finishing with 27 points, four assists and two rebounds. Luis Scola (13 points, two rebounds) and Facundo Campazzo (10 points, four rebounds and three assists) were the other double-figure scorers.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL:

Canada (74) defeated Republic of Korea (53)

In the battle of the Round 1 losers, Canada kept its hopes of progressing through to the next stage alive following a 21-point victory over Korea. In a strong defensive performance, the Canadians kept their opponents to 15 points and under in each quarter, whilst scoring 16 or more points in every quarter. Leading by eight points at the final break, Canada poured on 25 points to 14 in the last, to win 74-53. Neither team shot particularly well (39 to 34 per cent), but the Canadians dominated the rebounds (54 to 32), as well as making the most of points in the paint (40-30) and second chance points (15-6).

Bridget Carleton put up 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists in the win, as Natalie Achonwa (14 points, 10 rebounds and five assists) managed a double-double. Kayla Alexander (10 points, four assists and two rebounds), Shay Colley (nine points, seven rebounds) and Kia Nurse (nine points, four rebounds) were also lively. Ji Su Park (15 points, 11 rebounds and two assists) was the dominant player for the losers recording a double-double, whilst Danbi Kim (11 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Leeseul Kang (11 points, four rebounds) also hit double-figure points.

Spain (85) defeated Serbia (70)

In the other Group A match, Spain put itself in best position for the next stage with a 15-point victory over Serbia. Following their less-than-convincing narrow win over Korea in the opening game, Spain was much ore consistent in the second half, coming from a point down at quarter time and three at the half to post the victory. Spain took the lead by one heading into the final break, then stormed away with a 26-12 final term to run out an 85-70 winner. Serbia had more rebounds (40-34), but the Spanish were more accurate from the field (48 to 43 per cent), and also had more assists (22-20) and less turnovers (10-12). The final 15-point difference was the largest of the game.

Alba Torrens was a standout with her shooting, putting up three of eight from beyond the arc to finish with a game-high 25 points, as well as three assists. Astou Ndour came close to a double-double of 20 points and nine rebounds, while Maite Cazorla (17 points, two assists) and Christina Ouvina (10 points, eight rebounds, eight assists) were also strong, the latter agonisingly close to a rare triple-double. Jelena Brooks managed 16 points and four rebounds for Serbia, with Yvonne Anderson (15 points, eight rebounds and four assists), Sonja Vasic (11 points, six rebounds and three assists) and Tina Krajisnik (11 points, four rebounds) the other double-figure scorers.

 

Picture credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images