Category: News

Sydney reverse Round 1 result to become Kings in Cairns

SYDNEY Kings have balanced the ledger in the 2021 National Basketball League (NBL) season, bouncing back from a heartbreaking one-point loss to Cairns Taipans on the road, by points an eight-point win over Cairns Taipans on the road. In another tight game between the teams, Sydney looked to have the game under control after a strong second term, before Cairns hit back in the third. Luckily for the visitors, they were able to steady and get the win, 99-91.

It was neck-and-neck from the start with the Kings marginally ahead at quarter time courtesy of a 23-22 first term. They built on that lead in the second term, piling on 23-15 to head out to a nine-point advantage by half-time. The Taipans had to find something special in the second half, and they did that in the third term. Showing off what they were capable of, Cairns scored a whopping 34 points to 26 in a massive high-scoring term, just three points less than their entire first half.

By the final break, the deficit was back to just one point in the Kings’ favour. The fourth term had a few ebbs and flows, but despite getting it to one-point difference again during the final term, the Taipans could not grab the lead back since midway through the first term, and whilst always been a chance, the Kings claimed the victory by eight points.

Sydney dominated the rebounds with a plus-12 in that category (49-37), as well winning the steals (7-4) and being impeccable from the line (92 per cent free-throw accuracy). By comparison, while Cairns had a higher field goal percentage (60 per cent to 50 per cent), the Taipans could not get enough looks, having 13 less than their opponents, and also two less free-throws, though the home team only managed five of 11 anyway. Cairns did have more assists (20-18) and points from turnovers (14-6), but could only manage three points from fast break opportunities.

Import Jarrell Martin had a massive impact in the win compared to game one, with the Sydney Kings’ forward winning Most Valuable Player (MVP) on the night. Martin collected a double-double thanks to 22 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and one steal, dominating on the inside. Casper Ware still did his usual thing, sharing the points in an equal team-high 22m as well as two rebounds and three steals, crucially hitting four of seven three-point attempts.

Brad Newley came of the bench for a vital 17 points and five rebounds, while Dejan Vasiljevic is enjoying the starting minutes with 13 points, two rebounds, and one each of an assist, steal and block. Craig Moller (four points, five rebounds and four assists) and Shaun Bruce (seven points, two rebounds and four assists) both played their role in the starting team, while Jordan Hunter (eight points, six rebounds) came off the bench to back up at the five spot.

Despite the loss, there was still no stopping Cameron Oliver who racked up yet another double-double. Shooting at 54.5 per cent from the field – 10 of 14 from two-point range – Oliver amassed 12 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks. Scott Machado marginally missed out on a double-double himself after 14 points and nine assists, while Kouat Noi (13 points, five rebounds), Mojave King (12 points, four rebounds) and Mirko Djeric (10 points, two rebounds) all knocked up double-figure points. Jarrod Kenny coming off the bench only had the two points, but used his playmaking skills to great effect, picking up five assists to go with his three rebounds, but also picked up five fouls.

Cairns Taipans will host a fourth straight game tomorrow when they welcome title favourites Melbourne United to town, while Sydney Kings will travel to Nissan Arena on Tuesday where they will be welcomed by Brisbane Bullets.

Picture credit: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

36ers survive second overtime thriller to outlast Breakers

ADELAIDE 36ers are proving to be the masters of overtime games, winning their second National Basketball League (NBL) match in a week that went longer than the prescribed 40 minutes. In a topsy-turvy game, Adelaide outlasted New Zealand Breakers to win 94-91, including a 12-9 overtime period to secure the win. Boom recruit Lamar Patterson had a chance to level the scores with a buzzer-beating attempt, but missed and the home team took home the points in the entertaining encounter.

In a battle between a team playing its fourth game in just over a week and a team fresh off the longest off-season in NBL history, it showed with the 36ers immediately taking control in the first term. Piling on 29 points to 19, the crowd was up and about as the 36ers were making the most of their match fitness leading into the game.

A team with New Zealand’s quality was always going to hit back, and hit back they did, scoring 23-15 in the second quarter and cut the deficit to just two points at the main break, trailing 42-44. That momentum for the visiting side rolled into the second half, as the Breakers romped to a 28-18 quarter in a complete reversal of the first term and led by eight points with a quarter to play.

The match was still to have a few twists and turns however, as the 36ers managed to seize control, and with 10 seconds remaining in the fourth term, American import Donald Sloan made the triple to tie the scores. Both Patterson and Tai Webster missed chances at the death to win the match for the Breakers, and the game was sent into overtime.

That was as tight as one would expect, with the 36ers getting out to an 88-85 lead, only or Webster to drill the triple and cut the deficit again. Then through Daniel Johnson and Sloan, the 36ers went back out to a four-point advantage with just 26 seconds on the clock. A two-possession game was always going to be difficult to win back on their terms, but a vital triple from Patterson with 16 seconds on the clock made it just one point the difference.

A deliberate foul on Tony Crocker sent the import to the line with 11 seconds remaining in the game, and he made no mistake, putting the home team up by three again. Chewing up the clock, the Breakers had to make a move, and the ball landed in Patterson’s hands for the final shot of the day, but unfortunately for the visiting side, it would miss, and the three-point difference would stand and the 36ers get up in a thrilling contest.

The teams were fairly evenly matched in terms of their shooting percentages, though Adelaide was a lot more clinical from outside the arc (nine of 22) compared to the Breakers who had plenty of attempts for a lower percentage (13 of 39). The 36ers also made more of their trips to the charity stripe than in their loss to the South East Melbourne Phoenix, scoring 25 of 30 at 83 per cent efficiency, compared to the Breakers’ 10 of 16.

Adelaide had seven more rebounds, two more steals and three more blocks, whilst capitalising off the offensive boards with 17 second chance points to nine. The 36ers output off the bench was much better with 29 points to 10, largely thanks to Sloan who was an influence having started there due to the return of Josh Giddey.

Sloan finished with 20 points and three assists, but it was Isaac Humphries who continued his red-hot form with 24 points – at 73 per cent efficiency from the field – 11 rebounds, five blocks and two steals in a dominant night out. Johnson picked up 16 points – shooting just two of 11 from the field, also recording eight rebounds and three assists. Sunday Dech (10 points, nine rebounds and three steals) and Crocker (11 points, three rebounds) both hit double-figure points.

Giddey had a quieter return from injury with just four points, five rebounds and two assists in 20 minutes of action, as Tai Webster well and truly won the battle of the back court. The star guard was talked up by his brother Corey in the lead-up to the match believing Tai could “eat him up”. Webster did just that, racking up a match-high 34 points, as well as seven rebounds and six assists in a Most Valuable Player (MVP) award despite the loss.

The starters shared the points around for the breakers with Patterson (16 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals) having some big moments, but also picking up seven turnovers, while Finn Delany had 16 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. Tom Abercrombie managed 11 points and four rebounds in the loss, while Rob Loe started and played 32 minutes but was overshadowed by Humphries, finishing with four points, three rebounds and two steals. Danish-Australian talent Rasmus Bach had six points and two rebounds on debut coming off the bench.

Both teams will take plenty out of the contest and will not have to wait long for a rematch, as Adelaide and New Zealand go head-to-head on Wednesday back at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

Picture credit: Getty Images

2021 VJBL Grading Phase One: Under 16 Boys & Girls Pool 1 groups

AFTER a postponed then cancelled 2020 season, the Victorian Junior Basketball League (VJBL) will tip-off on Friday night with the first phase of the 2021 grading. In this article we explain how the grading works, with the teams sorted into pools and over the next couple of months will earn places in either the Championship division or lower leagues.

How does the grading work?

Over the next three weeks, each of the teams will face off in a round robin style to determine the next stage of the grading. The winner of each group – the one who finishes on top of the group at the end of the three rounds – will automatically qualify for the VJBL Championship group. For everyone else, they must go through more grading to determine if they can join the top ranked sides in there.

Each of the teams that finish second and third in the groups will face off against teams from other groups. For example, the team that finishes second in Pool A will take on the team that finishes third in Pool B, whilst the team that finished third in Pool A will take on the team that finishes second in Pool F. There will be six matches, with the winner of these matches then qualifying for the VJBL Championship group.

By the end of those four weeks, the VJBL will have 12 of the 20 teams qualified and needing a further eight. The teams that finish bottom of their Pools in this Phase One, will head to crossover games for those teams in Pool 2 that win their pools. From there, the winner of those crossover games go into Grading Phase Two, to face the losers of the second and third placed crossover games. Of the 16 teams making it into those Pools, the four winners of the pools qualifier for the VJBL Championship, and then the second and third placed teams face off, with the winners to then go to the VJBL Championship and the losers to head to the League 1.

It might sound complicated, but for the next three weeks, these teams are battling it out for the first six spots in the VJBL Championship League.

Picture credit: Basketball Victoria

U16 Boys:

Pool 1A

Bulleen Boomers
Coburg Giants
Frankston Blues
Hawthorn Magic

Pool 1B

Altona Gators
Hawthorn Magic
Kilsyth Cobras
Sandringham Sabres

Pool 1C

Craigieburn Eagles
Dandenong Rangers
Diamond Valley Eagles
Latrobe Energy

Pool 1D

Ballarat Miners
Casey Cavaliers
Eltham Wildcats
Nunawading Spectres

Pool 1E

Geelong United
Keilor Thunder
Knox Raiders 2
Melbourne Tigers

Pool 1F

Kilsyth Cobras 2
Knox Raiders
McKinnon Raiders
Pakenham Warriors

U16 Girls:

Pool 1A

Broadmeadows Broncos
Hawthorn Magic
Hawthorn Magic 2
Knox Raiders

Pool 1B

Diamond Valley Eagles
Melbourne Tigers
Nunawading Spectres 2
Sandringham Sabres

Pool 1C

Bulleen Boomers
Casey Cavaliers
Eltham Wildcats
Eltham Wildcats 2

Pool 1D

Dandenong Rangers
Kilsyth Cobras
Latrobe Energy
McKinnon Cougars

Pool 1E

Bellarine Storm
Geelong United
Keilor Thunder
Wyndham Basketball

Pool 1F

Ballarat Rush
Collingwood All Stars
Frankston Blues
Nunawading Spectres

The Hawks keep soaring, knock over Bullets 90-82

DESPITE an even first half that saw both the Brisbane Bullets and The Hawks tied at the midway point of last night’s contest, the Illawarra-based unit won out the remaining two quarters to collect their third straight win to start the 2021 season, outlasting Brisbane for a second time, 90-82.

Brisbane knew they had to bestow a strike to the Hawks’ spirit early on with a good opening period, and thanks to import Vic Law as well as the Bullets’ skipper Nathan Sobey, the hosts had themselves a strong 10-point lead after one, leading 23-13.

Furthermore, the Bullets’ ability to convert at the line played a huge part in creating what was a sizeable lead after 10 minutes, knocking down seven attempts from the charity strike during this time.

In what seems to be a reborn Hawks outfit, Brian Goorjian’s side would undo all of Brisbane’s hard work from the opening term tying things up 38-38 heading into the main break thanks to a running floater down the lane by Tyler Harvey, who grabbed his twentieth point of the contest at this stage.

It was the Hawks backcourt that moved the ball and worked hard on the glass in the second quarter, overtaking Brisbane in categories such as rebounding, assists and bench points – ultimately winning the period 25 to 15 and evening things up in the process.

Harvey continued his dominance to kick off the second half, nailing a triple and giving his side the lead. Next to occur, would be a series of baskets from both sides signifying a much more back and forth third term.

Andrew Ogilvy and Justin Simon continued to apply the pressure onto their opponents, extending their lead against Brisbane whenever the deficit became close. The Hawks would maintain a five-point lead for most of the third, as additional actors such as Deng Deng and Sam Froling started to make their mark.

Up 65-62 against Brisbane with 10 minutes to play, the visiting squad knew they needed to focus a little longer and convert on their chances if they were going to start their year with three wins in their opening three outings.

Having been the case for most of the matchup, the Bullets and the Hawks split the opening 14 points evenly amongst themselves, promising those at Nissan Arena a good finish to what had been a terrific game so far.

Willing his team back into the contest having trailed by as much as seven points, Sobey found his points in numerous scenarios as his side could not make up the margin that the Hawks had forced upon them.

Trailing by a single bucket with two minutes remaining, a layup and free throws by Emmett Naar and another floater from Harvey quickly extended the Hawks lead to a game-high eight points and all but polished off the Bullets in front of their home crowd once again.

Taking home yet another victory in what has been a dream start to NBL21 for coach Goorjian’s roster, it is safe to say last year’s wooden spooners are in exemplary form. In excellent form, particularly, was Harvey who concluded his performance with a game-high 31 points along with a pair of steals. Other valuable contributors to the Hawks’ efforts provided an abundance of support, especially Ogilvy (14 points, nine rebounds and four assists), Justinian Jessup (10 points, six rebounds and six assists) and Simon (nine points and nine rebounds).

For a disappointed Bullets side who actually shot a respectable 42 per cent last night, their captain could not bring the team to victory as Sobey finished with 24 points off of 40 per cent from the field. Law added another impressive stat line to his debut season in the NBL, stringing together a 16-point, 12-rebound and six-assist double-double. Meanwhile, Orlando Johnson was effective off the bench with 11 points.

Brisbane returns in Round 3 to try and earn its first win of the season against last year’s runners-ups, the Sydney Kings, who also sit in the same boat looking for their first victory of the 2021 campaign. The Hawks look to extend their unbeaten start to four games with another away contest, this time in Cairns against the Taipans on Thursday night.

2021 VJBL Grading Phase One: Under 18 Boys & Girls Pool 1 groups

AFTER a postponed, then cancelled 2020 season, the Victorian Junior Basketball League (VJBL) will tip-off on Friday night with the first phase of the 2021 grading. In this article we explain how the grading works, with the teams sorted into pools and over the next couple of months will earn places in either the Championship division or lower leagues.

How does the grading work?

The next three weeks, each of the teams will face off in a round robin style to determine the next stage of the grading. The winner of each group – the one who finishes on top of the group at the end of the three rounds – will automatically qualify for the VJBL Championship group. For everyone else, they must go through more grading to determine if they can join the top ranked sides in there.

Each of the teams that finish second and third in the groups will face off against teams from other groups. For example, the team that finishes second in Pool A will take on the team that finishes third in Pool B, whilst the team that finished second in Pool A will take on the team that finishes second in Pool F. There will be six matches, with the winner of these matches then qualifying for the VJBL Championship group.

By the end of those four weeks, the VJBL will have 12 of the 20 teams qualified and needing a further eight. The teams that finish bottom of their Pools in this Phase One, will head to crossover games for those teams in Pool 2 that win their pools. From there, the winner of those crossover games go into Grading Phase Two, to face the losers of the second and third placed crossover games. Of the 16 teams making it into those Pools, the four winners of the pools qualifier for the VJBL Championship, and then the second and third placed teams face off, with the winners to then go to the VJBL Championship and the losers to head to the League 1.

Picture credit: Basketball Victoria

It might sound complicated, but for the next three weeks, these teams are battling it out for the first six spots in the VJBL Championship League.

U18 Boys:

Pool 1A

Melbourne Tigers
Waverley Falcons
Whittlesea Pacers
Wyndham Basketball

Pool 1B

Dandenong Rangers 2
Eltham Wildcats
Hawthorn Magic
Nunawading Spectres

Pool 1C

Bulleen Boomers
Casey Cavaliers
Craigieburn Eagles
Diamond Valley Eagles

Pool 1D

Dandenong Rangers
Frankston Blues
Kilsyth Cobras
Pakenham Warriors

Pool 1E

Bendigo Braves
Eltham Wildcats 2
McKinnon Cougars
Southern Peninsula Sharks

Pool 1F

Geelong United
Keilor Thunder
Knox Raiders
Sunbury Jets

U18 Girls:

Pool 1A

Dandenong Rangers
Dandenong Rangers 2
Frankston Blues
Waverley Falcons

Pool 1B

Keilor Thunder
Kilsyth Cobras
McKinnon Cougars
Sunbury Jets

Pool 1C

Bellarine Storm
Bulleen Boomers
Knox Raiders
Melbourne Tigers 2

Pool 1D

Casey Cavaliers
Diamond Valley Eagles
Eltham Wildcats
Hawthorn Magic

Pool 1E

Altona Gators
Bendigo Braves
Melourne Tigers
Sandringham Sabres

Pool 1F

Ballarat Rush
Nunawading Spectres
Ringwood Hawks
Southern Peninsula Sharks

Phoenix turn tables on 36ers to claim first win

SOUTH East Melbourne Phoenix are on the board in the 2021 National Basketball League (NBL) season, downing Adelaide 36ers by six points to reverse the result of their Round 1 clash. In that encounter, it took double-overtime for the 36ers to pull through with a win, but this time it was the Phoenix that managed to stay a step ahead of the home side – that was missing young gun Josh Giddey – to post a memorable 89-83 victory at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

For the most part, the Phoenix had control of the match, though the first term had its fair share of momentum swings, with the visitors leading by five at one stage, before the 36ers hit the front late in the term, only for the Phoenix to steal the lead back. Holding a narrow two-point lead, the Phoenix extended that out to four by the main break courtesy of a high-scoring 26-24 second quarter that opened up the game offensively.

Adelaide made its move in the third term to actually hit the front midway through the quarter, but it would be the last time the 36ers led. The Phoenix took control from there, racing out to a double-digit lead, making it 10 points the difference at the final break. To the 36ers’ credit they kept coming, but could not get within five points as the Phoenix were able to hold firm and celebrate their first win in season 2021.

Statistically the teams were fairly even across the board, though the Phoenix’s long-range shooting – 50 per cent from 22 attempts – was elite, as were their free-throws, as they nailed 18 of 21. The 36ers were still impressive, dominating the points in the paint (44-32) and the mid-range game stood up once again, but they had three extra turnovers and three more fouls. The Phoenix also marginally led the overall rebounds (43-39) in the win.

Keifer Sykes backed up his impressive debut with another strong performance, as the American import knocked down 24 points – including four of seven from long-range – as well as seven assists and two steals. Kyle Adnam continued to show his talent coming off the bench, as he teamed up well with Sykes in the back court for 17 points, two rebounds and two steals, as did Adam Gibson (11 points). Mitch Creek had a solid outing without being up to his usual volume, picking up 15 points, five rebounds and two steals, while Ben Moore had 10 points and 12 rebounds off the bench in an impressive double-double effort. After a huge opening night, Yannick Wetzell managed just the four points, but still had eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks, sharing the ball around.

Daniel Johnson and Isaac Humphries backed up their first round efforts with big impacts in the four and five spots for the 36ers. Johnson nailed 19 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in a double-double for the home team, while Humphries scored a team high 20 points to accompany eight rebounds, three assists and four blocks. Tony Crocker (12 points, two steals) and Donald Sloan (10 points, two assists and two rebounds) also hit double-figure points in the loss.

South East Melbourne Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell said despite the win, it was very similar to the Saturday night contest between the sides, but his team’s ability to take their chances at the free-throw line and contain Johnson were the two key changes to the weekend’s loss.

“It wasn’t a whole lot of difference tonight, we were still missing shots,” he said. “I guess we were making free throws and I guess that was the difference. Adelaide struggled at the line and we made ours. “It was a more physical contest tonight I thought. It felt like a little bit of a different contest, but we still trying to find a way out of that hole at the offensive end.

“I thought defensively we were pretty solid, we still had a couple of mental breakdowns which cost us, and giving up those O-boards, things like that we have to tighten up on that end, but on the whole our schemes were pretty solid and … we were able to curb a little bit of the influence of Daniel Johnson tonight, and I thought not letting ‘DJ’ off the hook was a bit of the difference maker for us.

Adelaide 36ers coach Conner Henry said his team had to find a way to get easier baskets because it was making life difficult on the defensive transition.

“We’re having to grind everything out and that’s tough to do, and then ask the boys to back it up on the defensive end,” he said. “Offence is a work on progress for all of us, and we’re going to have to figure that out. “There were some encouraging signs, I thought Ice (Humphries) played really well tonight, that’s two games in a row, he’s really getting his feet under him. “I like he and ‘DJ’s ability to share the basketball in deep.

“We got some good looks there, but it gets back, we’re not getting an transition points, any open looks so we need to increase our pace. “We missed the young guy tonight (Giddey), he really pushes it all the time, and it will be good to have him back on Friday, see if he helps.”

Henry said he expected Giddey to return in the 36ers’ match against New Zealand Breakers, but stopped short of guaranteeing it. The fourth straight match at Adelaide Entertainment Centre for the 36ers will finish off the round for them, while South East Melbourne Phoenix head to Perth on Sunday to take on the Wildcats at RAC Arena.

Picture credit: Mark Brake/Getty Images

CBL South West: Even competition to start new season

IN the most even Country Basketball League (CBL) region to-date, the South West Men have seen five of the six teams already collect a victory in the opening two rounds.

South West Men:

Only Bellarine Storm is yet to taste victory in the CBL, picking up a couple of narrow defeats at the hands of Warrnambool Seahawks and Terang Tornadoes. Both those sides have also suffered defeats, with Portland Coasters the first side to reach two wins with victories over the Seahawks and Tornadoes, while Colac Kookas and Ararat Redbacks have won their sole game thus far in season 2021.

Portland Coasters sit at 2-1 from the season thus far, though their season did not start off as hoped, going down to Ararat Redbacks. Nathan Hardingham notched up 20 points in the defeat, while David Denboer and Jackson Dunlop shared in 15 points. Zac Dunmore starred for the Redbacks, piling on 29 points, while Ethan Fiergert hit up 19 in the victory for Ararat.

Gritting their teeth and finding a way through, the Coasters got the job done against Warrnambool Seahawks, 73-65. Dunlop scored 16 points, while Pat Burgoyne (15) and Hardingham (10) both hit double-digits. For the Seahawks, Liam Killey (19 points), Matt Rea (13) and Adam Lawson (11) recorded double-figure points during the narrow defeat.

Another narrow victory, this time against Terang Tornadoes, saw Portland claim a 85-81 triumph at home. Hardingham was again busy for the winners with 17 points, while Burgoyne (14), Dunlop (13), Denboer (11) and Jack Walsh (11) all shared the buckets around. Griffen McLeod managed 16 points for the Tornadoes, while Scott Judd (14) and Jake Bartlett (13) were among six players to notch up double-digit points.

Terang split its other two games, starting with a 15-point defeat at the hands of Colac Kookas in Round 1. Logan McLeod (21 points) was the standout shooter in the loss, while Judd (14) and Bartlett (14) both shared the load. Jordan Lingard (25 points) was the deadliest shooter for the Kookas, while Steven Packer (13) also contributed during the 78-63 triumph.

The Tornadoes had much better luck against Bellarine Storm, winning 101-74 at home last Saturday. Six players hit double-figure points once again, led by Bailey Kemp (18 points), Bartlett (16) and Judd (14). Rohan Jarvie scored a match-high 21 points in defeat for the Storm, while Nathan Gronbeck added 12 points to his team’s cause.

Bellarine Storm’s first loss came against Warrnambool Seahawks, going down by a narrow six points. Kody Wilson was the number one shooter for the Storm in the 82-76 defeat, putting up 15 points, while Jarvie and Gronbeck hit 13 apiece. Riley Nicolson scored 20 points in the win, while Lawson secured 15, and then three players – Benson Steere, James Mitchell and Killey – all managed 13.

ROUND 1&2 RESULTS:

Ararat Redbacks 84 defeated Portland Coasters 72
Colac Kookas 78 defeated Terang Tornadoes 63
Warrnambool Seahawks 82 defeated Bellarine Storm 76
Portland Coasters 73 defeated Warrnambool Seahawks 65
Terang Tornadoes 101 defeated Bellarine Storm 74
Portland Coasters 85 defeated Terang Tornadoes 81

Picture credit: Basketball Victoria

NBL21 Round 2 preview: Rematches galore, while Breakers and Wildcats enter the fray

ROUND 2 of the National Basketball League (NBL) tips off tonight, with several games rematches of Round 1 contests throughout the week. With one game on every night, basketball fans will be treated to some high-class matches, and it all begins back in Adelaide with the 36ers and Phoenix locking horns.

Adelaide 36ers vs. South East Melbourne Phoenix
Wednesday, January 20 @ 7.30pm
Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Tipping off Round 2 of action is a sense of déjà vu with Adelaide 36ers and South East Melbourne Phoenix going head-to-head at Adelaide Entertainment Centre tonight. Just four days earlier, the 36ers took care of business in the game of Round 1, managing to overcome the Phoenix 116-108 in double overtime. Daniel Johnson won Player of the Match honours thanks to 33 points at a deadly 78 per cent from the field, but it was Next Star young gun Josh Giddey who caught all the attention on his way to a double-double of 16 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in just his second game of NBL.

Luckily for the Phoenix, Giddey is unavailable for their rematch, and coach Simon Mitchell described his team’s performance as a “rough one” because the Phoenix “looked a little rusty, particularly at the offensive end”. He will no doubt be searching for a response from his side, though one could hardly fault captain Mitch Creek who put up 30 points, eight rebounds and six assists, whilst the import duo of Yannick Wetzell (24 points, 11 rebounds and three steals) and Keifer Sykes (18 points, 11 assists and six rebounds) both made sensational debuts.

The sense post-game was that Adelaide’s mid-range shooting was sublime, with 64 per cent from two-point range, compared to the Phoenix’s 48 per cent. Protecting the perimeter well, the Phoenix only conceded three triples, whilst nailing eight themselves, though Cameron Gliddon‘s three of 13 showed the former Brisbane Bullet guard could find his range better in this match. The depth of the 36ers was also much better on the night, with Isaac Humphries (14 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocks) having an underrated role off the bench.

Many would argue without Giddey in the first game, the Phoenix would have won, and therefore are the tip in this game. In saying that, Adelaide improved well from game one to game two, and now coming into game three – with no travel involved in between – it will be fascinating to see what Conner Henry‘s side can produce tonight.

Brisbane Bullets vs. The Hawks
Thursday, January 21 @ 7.30pm
Nissan Arena

By the time you scroll to the second game of the round, you could be forgiven thinking that you had accidentally clicked on the Round 1 fixture. Not only do the 36ers and Phoenix battle for the second time in less than a week at the same venue, but Brisbane Bullets and The Hawks do as well. These two sides took to the court last Saturday, with Brian Goorjian making his return to the league, and managing to gel a team that was vastly unfamiliar with each other, and getting early points on the board. Never mind it was on the road, the 90-84 win was a statement to the rest of the competition.

In that match, it was a real team effort, as import Justin Simon came off the bench for 13 points, eight rebounds and five steals in a starring role on debut. He was one of four Hawks to hit double-figure points, with Sam Froling (19 points, four rebounds) – getting one up on his brother Harry (10 points, 12 rebounds and four assists) in the match – Emmett Naar (17 points, five rebounds and four assists) and Tyler Harvey (16 points, three rebounds) all sharing the points around.

The rebound and assist counts were identical, showing just how even these teams were during the six-point victory, but it was just some crucial moments for The Hawks that got them the win. The Bullets can take plenty out of the performance, having lost a number of key talents over the off-season, thought still had a number of double-digit shooters. Nathan Sobey predictably led the way with 19 points, while Victor Law (17 points, nine rebounds) and Jason Cadee (12 points, five rebounds) both came in and had a say on proceedings.

In the end there had to be a winner, and The Hawks emerged victorious. It will be interesting to see what the teams took from that game to bring into this match, with free throw shooting not a highlight for the Bullets – just 57 per cent – whilst The Hawks will want to continue their heavy rotations, as they recorded 39 points off the bench compared to 24. The Hawks will be favourites in this game, but Brisbane will be hungry to turn the tables on them.

Adelaide 36ers vs. New Zealand Breakers
Friday, January 22 @ 7.30pm
Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Adelaide 36ers have had quite a busy start to the 2021 NBL season, and are piling on a heap of early games thanks to South Australia’s controlled COVID-19 pandemic situation. The 36ers will enter Friday night’s game playing their fourth match of the season. Their opponents New Zealand Breakers? They will be entering the court for the first time. It has been a long way for the Breakers who will have a point to prove after missing out on finals last season, but have gained of the league’s best players – and lost another – in what will no doubt provide some tactical changes for the coaching staff.

Having not played a game, the Breakers will have had plenty of time to study up on the 36ers and have enough data to take into the match ready to limit their opposition’s offensive rhythm. Daniel Johnson is a key player for the 36ers, though with ex-Bullet Lamar Patterson making his way to the Breakers, New Zealand has the answer and would not be afraid to go head-to-head in that potential heavy-scoring battle. The other key player to watch for the Breakers is import Colton Iverson who arrives as a starting five, and provide depth to the position alongside Rob Loe.

Isaac Humphries has been a key player for the 36ers coming off the bench, and teaming up Keanu Pinder, they will have their hands full. Without Giddey at the three spot, experienced Tom Abercrombie will look to run the floor and guide the team, working with the younger Finn Delany. Whilst only development players, one can only hope the likes of Taine Murray and Isaac Davidson can get some minutes as up-and-coming young stars with long-range shooting and highlight-reel worthy potential.

At the start of the season, New Zealand would have been declared heavy favourites for this game, though with what we have seen from Adelaide, it appears the game will be a lot closer, particularly in South Australia. The Breakers should still win and bank their first points, but how much will the extended break impact on the side compared to the match-fit (but perhaps tiring) 36ers outfit?

Cairns Taipans vs. Sydney Kings
Saturday, January 23 @ 8pm
Cairns Pop Up Arena

If you have not had a sense of déjà vu yet, then this might tip you over the edge, with a rematch of the one-point Round 1 thriller between Cairns Taipans and Sydney Kings taking place at Cairns Pop Up Arena on Saturday night. In their opening round encounter, the Taipans won 87-86, with some late long-range misses from the Kings seeing them fall short in heartbreaking style. Last year’s grand finalists showed enough to suggest they will be better for the run, but the Taipans were switched on, and after a slow opening term, hit their straps.

Cameron OIiver showed he had not missed a beat over the off-season, collecting a double-double in his first game back, putting up 12 points and 11 rebounds, as well as denying the opposition time and time again with six blocks. He and his partner-in-crime, Scott Machado (17 points, seven rebounds) caused all sorts of headaches for a Sydney Kings outfit that relied a lot on Casper Ware (18 points, three assists). Mojave King made his much-anticipated debut, and while it was not quite what many had expected the young gun to produce, he still had 14 minutes and put up seven points and grabbed three rebounds in that time.

His limited minutes were mostly due to the fact the Taipans had no passengers in the starting five. Aside from the two superstars of the competition, Mirko Djeric (15 points, four rebounds and two assists), Kouat Noi (12 points, four rebounds and two assists) and Majok Deng (13 points, six rebounds) all played their part. Compare that to Sydney, who outside of Ware’s 18 points, had an additional 23 points from their starters. The positive was the likes of Dejan Vasiljevic (15 points, four rebounds) who had a real impact off the bench, as did Brad Newley (14 points, six rebounds and two assists) and Jarell Martin (11 points, eight rebounds).

If the Kings are going to turn the tables on the Taipans, their starters will need to produce more, with the talented Didi Louzada registering just seven points, and then Craig Moller (four) and Shaun Bruce (three) in about 20 minutes of action each. Cairns was nowhere near the standard in the second game against The Hawks, and they will also be seething from the defeat, so expect the Taipans to come out hard. Both teams will be seeking their own redemption in a way, which makes for an entertaining contest.

Perth Wildcats vs. South East Melbourne Phoenix
Sunday, January 24, 5pm
RAC Arena

There would be few things hungrier than a reigning premier many have written off, having the longest break to prepare and prove the critics wrong. Back-to-back premiers and the greatest team of the past decade, Perth Wildcats prepare to mount their assault on NBL21 with a different looking side to the one that brought the team so much success in recent times. The Wildcats have lost a couple of crucial cogs such as Terrico White, Nick Kay, Damian Martin and Miles Plumlee who made up four of the starting five.

Luckily Most Valuable Player (MVP) Bryce Cotton remains, but effectively he will be running with a different looking starting five. Todd Blanchfield has come into the side, with John Mooney coming in as the second import alongside Cotton to replace Plumlee at the five spot. Blanchfield departed Illawarra to slot into the three role left by White, while Mitch Norton is expected to fill the shoes of Martin, who he would have shadowed not only on the court but in practice learning all the tricks of the trade. In short, we do not know what to expect from the Wildcats this season, but with Trevor Gleeson at the helm, anything is possible.

Their opponents in the Sunday evening encounter are South East Melbourne Phoenix, who will finally get to leave Adelaide after back-to-back games against the 36ers. Having lost their Round 1 encounter, the Phoenix will be hoping to head into this game with momentum and confidence after reversing the result from their Wednesday night rematch. It is no surprise that without his experienced teammates, Cotton would be the name not only bolded on the Phoenix’s whiteboard, but underlined and circled to drive home the point.

He must be stopped at all costs, and while Mitch Creek can match him in scoring prowess, it will likely be Cameron Gliddon given the job to match him at the two spot. Given Gliddon struggled with his range in game one, he could easily focus defensively to nullify Cotton, whilst Creek and the likes to Yannick Wetzell and Kyle Adnam took care of the scoring. It is a tough match to pick a winner with so many unknowns about the Wildcats, but at home they are always tough to knock over, and the Phoenix will be wanting to have a better week this week to come away with two wins.

Cairns Taipans vs. Melbourne United
Monday, January 25, 7.30pm
Cairns Pop Up Arena

The final game of the round is the fourth at Cairns Pop Up Arena, as the Taipans take on Melbourne United. This will be the Taipans’ biggest challenge thus far, having split their Round 1 games with a one-point thrilling win over the Kings before a disappointing 16-point loss to The Hawks. The Taipans will have a second crack at the Kings a couple of days earlier, so could be 3-1 by the end of Monday night’s game. However in saying that, United seem the team to beat, and quite literally destroyed Adelaide 36ers in a 24-point beatdown on the NBL’s opening night.

Forget the fact it was on the road and after a tentative first half, United clicked into gear. Coach Dean Vickerman said they had to sort out their defensive mindset after the first term, and they did that to then take control and run out the game in dominant fashion. Scoring double the opposition (52-26), they completely took the 36ers out of the game. What impressed the most was the fact that star recruit Scotty Hopson only picked up four points and four assists and largely had limited impact on the contest.

Instead, it was Chris Goulding (16 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals) and Jo Lual-Acuil (16 ponts, 12 rebounds and two steals) who did the bulk of the damage, while recruits Jock Landale (10 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two blocks) and Yudai Baba (10 points, three rebounds) slotted in seamlessly. Shea Ili earned Player of the Match honours with his deadly shooting display of 13 points, three rebounds and two steals, shooting at 71 per cent from inside the arc and nailing all three free-throws.

Landale will have a big task up against Cameron Oliver in the battle of the two best fives in the competition, while Mitch McCarron will have his hands full trying to limit Scott Machado’s influence. If United play like they did on night one, they will win, but it will be a question of whether or not the second half United comes out, or the first half United. The Taipans have had similar inconsistencies from game to game, but the depth of both sides – and the ability to share the ball around to hit jumpers – makes it a fascinating contest and what some believe to be a potential grand final preview.

Picture credit: Getty Images

CBL North West: Blazers and Braves have perfect start to the season

MARYBOROUGH Blazers and Bendigo Spirit have made the perfect start in both the men’s and women’s Country Basketball League (CBL) competition in 2021.

NORTH WEST MEN:

Bendigo Braves and Maryborough Blazers have made a ripping start to the 2021 North West Men’s CBL competition, winning all of their games thus far to sit on top of the able. Their combined five wins sees them sit on top of the ladder, one win clear of Echuca Pirates whom fell to the Braves on the weekend. In the mid-table logjam are Mildura Heat, Swan Hill Flyers and Kyneton Tigers, while Castlemaine Cannons and Bacchus Marsh Lions round out the competition as the two winless sides.

Bendigo’s three wins have come against Echuca, Castlemaine and Bacchus Marsh thus dar, winning by five, 16 and 45 respectively. In the huge win over the Lions, Jake Lloyd piled on 38 points in a match-winning performance, while Trent Leech and Lachlan O’Brien both scored 13 apiece. For Bacchus Marsh, Anthony Bowyer top scored with 14, followed by Daniel Jackson (11) and Jordan Kirk (10).

Lloyd’s hot scoring streak continued against Castlemaine, putting up 23 points ahead of Leech (11) and Jack White (10) while Rhys Brown (15) and Lachlan McDonald (14) were the key scorers for the Cannons. In the tight win against Echuca, Isaac Murphy top scored for the Braves, putting up 15 points. Lloyd (14), Leech (12) and O’Brien (10) were not far behind. For the Pirates, Liam Tenace (17) was the match-high scorer, while Staci Richardson (12) and Tyler Phillips (10) both hit double-figure points.

Echuca had recorded wins previously over the two bottom sides, getting up over Castlemaine by nine points in a thriller. Phillips was the dominant player on the court with 29 points, with Tenace providing a secondary shooting option with 25. Richardson (16) and Dylan Payne (11) also had impressive outings. Aidan Brohm was the key shooter for the Cannons, piling on 29 points, while Dylan Slender (16) and Taylor Bell (15) were strong on the offensive end as well.

A similarly close eight-point win over Bacchus Marsh saw Richardson top score this time, putting up 29 points for the Pirates, ahead of Phillips (14), Riley Clarke (13) and Tenace (12). For Bacchus Marsh, Jackson nailed 15 points, just ahead of Kirk (11), trying hard to turn the tables on the opposition.

Maryborough Blazers remain undefeated after wins against Kyneton Tigers and Swan Hill Flyers to open the season. In the 43-point demolition job over Kyneton, it was Harry Butler (26 points), Lachlan Drummond (17) and Tom Hurse (13) who led the way, while Brady Neill and Zac Mortlock both finished the match with 11. For Kyneton, Thomas Scott (13 points) and Iggy Spiller (10) hit double-figures.

Against Swan Hill, Drummond scored a match-high 28 points, causing all sorts of headaches for the Flyers alongside Niell (26). They outscored the entire opposition team in the 89-53 victory, as Steven Bowden (12 points), Ruan Drotsky (11) and Henry Thompson (11) were the key scorers.

In the most recent match between the Tigers and Flyers, the latter got on the board with a nail-biting four-point victory. Kyneton’s Thomas Scott was hard to stop with 32 points to lead the way in the 68-64 triumph, whilst Matthew Quinn hit 12. Bowden (24) was the standalone key shooter for the Flyers.

Bowden also led the way with 14 points alongside Matthew Gardner (12) in Swan Hill’s triumph over Mildura Heat. Noah Valentich and Tarryn Shaddock both scored 10 points in the narrow 58-49 loss. The Heat were much better against Kyneton with a 29-point win at home. In that match, Shaddock scored 17 points, three more than Valentich, while Mark Colverd (17) was the top scorer on the losing side.

ROUND 1&2 RESULTS:

Bendigo Braves 110 defeated Bacchus Marsh Lions 65
Maryborough Blazers 95 defeated Kyneton Tigers 52
Echuca Pirates 96 defeated Castlemaine Cannons 87
Swan Hill Flyers 58 defeated Mildura Heat 49
Bendigo Braves 76 defeated Castlemaine Cannons 60
Maryborough Blazers 89 defeated Swan Hill Flyers 53
Echuca Pirates 67 defeated Bacchus Marsh Lions 59
Mildura Heat 78 defeated Kyneton Tigers 49
Bendigo Braves 78 defeated Echuca Pirates 73
Kyneton Tigers 68 defeated Swan Hill Flyers 64

 

NORTH WEST WOMEN:

Much like the men’s competition, Maryborough Blazers and Bendigo Braves are the two undefeated sides, with the former winning both their games thus far, and the latter winning its sole match on the weekend. Kyneton Tigers have performed better in the women’s league, picking up two wins from three games, with Mildura Heat next thanks to a 1-1 record. Swan Hill Flyers and Echuca Pirates are yet to win a game having played three and one games respectively.

Maryborough Blazers tipped off their season with a seven-point win over Kyneton at home. Maddison Egan scored a match-high 20 points, while Claire Constable (13) and Claire Blower (11) were also productive. For the Tigers, Alexandra Strawhorn (15 points) and Michelle Fletcher (13) were busy. In their second game, the Blazers won by 16 points over Swan Hill, as Blower (19 points) took the lead, and Millie Cracknell (16) was busy. For the Flyers, Arlee Bennett (14 points) and Laura Anderson (12) both hit double-figures.

Bendigo Braves enjoyed their return to the competition on Sunday, posting a huge 80-46 win over Echuca Pirates. Madeline Sexton scored a match-high 22 points, but she was far from alone with Hayley Harrington (18) and Sharna Appleby (18) both having big days out. For the Pirates, Meg Eishold (14 points) points and Greta Pearson (10) both hit double-figure points.

Kyneton Tigers posted two wins over Swan Hill Flyers and Mildura Heat in the Tigers’ other two games. Strawhorn scored 16 points for the Tigers, while Fletcher put up 13, as did Brooke Mangan. Madeleine Jeans was the sole double-digit scorer for the Flyers with 10 points. Against the Heat, Kyneton got up 82-59, and the combination of Strawhorn (26) and Fletcher (13) was again prolific, while Adrienne Cameron (12) was also impressive. Demi Wall (24 points) was the star for the Heat in the loss, as Indi Spratt (12) and Georgia Mayne (10) also tried hard.

In the Round 1 battle between the Heat and Flyers, it was the former that took home the chocolates in a 26-point win, 69-43. Wall led the scoring once again with 20 points, while Ava Zadow (11) and Mayne (10) notched up double-figure points. The Flyers did not have a double-digit scorer, though Amy Jobling scored a team-high seven points in the defeat.

ROUND 1&2 RESULTS:

Maryborough Blazers 63 defeated Kyneton Tigers 56
Mildura Heat 69 defeated Swan Hill Flyers 43
Maryborough Blazers 63 defeated Swan Hill Flyers 47
Kyneton Tigers 82 defeated Mildura Heat 59
Bendigo Braves 80 defeated Echuca Pirates 46
Kyneton Tigers 70 defeated Swan Hill Flyers 32

Picture credit: Basketball Victoria

CBL Gippsland: Maffra men and Korumburra women tip-off season in style

TWO rounds down and the Country Basketball League (CBL) teams are starting to get a feel for the 2021 action. After a challenging 2020 year, the multiple leagues across Victoria have started, and each week we will focus on a different competition. This week, we take a look at how Gippsland is fairing following the first two rounds of competition in both the men’s and women’s leagues.

Gippsland Men:

Just three teams remain undefeated in the Gippsland Men’s competition, following Round 2 of action on the weekend. Maffra Eagles sit pretty with two wins from as many games, whilst Warragul Warriors and Moe Meteors – who have had a bye each – both won their first game to start proceedings. In the middle of the table, Lakes Entrance Pelicans and Korumburra Wildcats both have a win to their name, while Churchill Blue Devils and Sale Sonics are yet to taste victory from two attempts.

It was the young guns of Keith Robertson (40 points) and Brodie Mabilia (23) who stood out for the Wildcats in Round 2, steering their side to an 11-point win over Churchill. They picked up 63 of the team’s 90 points, while Jordan Canovan (27) and Zac Bezzina (21) provided a damaging duo for the Blue Devils. Bezzina was particularly damaging from long-range with five triples in the loss.

The Robinson-Mabilia duo got off the chain compared to the Round 1 defeat at the hands of Moe Meteors, as Robinson (17 points) was the top scorer. Mabilia only managed the seven in that game, as Nick McKenzie put up 10 points in the loss. Christian D’Angelo starred for the winners with 27, while Rhys Anderson (13) also contributed throughout Moe’s 86-57 victory to ensure it tipped off season 2021 in style.

Joining them with a percentage of 150 is Warragul, a side that posted an impressive 28-point victory over Sale Sonics in Round 2. Luke McKenzie (20 points) and Jarryd Moss (18) were the key players in the win, whilst the Sonics shared the points around. Jonty McGuiness both scored 12 points, while Josh Backway (11) and Benjamin Dessent (10) hit double-figures.

Rewind to the previous round, and the Sonics also suffered defeat, this time to Maffa Eagles by 15 points. Jake Hutchins hit 14 points and Luke Williams finished with 11 as the team amassed 54 points, one less than the next week. Samuel Whelan and Byron Sandeman both managed the 14 points for Maffra, while Frazar Brouns (12) and Jack Hrehoresen (10) managed the double-figure points.

The win kick-started Maffra’s season, as the Eagles went on to knock off Lakes Entrance Pelicans by 18 points in Round 2. It was a shared effort from the top side, as Elliot Hunt hit the most points this time with 24, while Floyd Fulton (20), Coby Burgiel (17) and Marcus Cope (13) were all impressive in the win. Jordi Williams (19) and James Russell (11) were the standouts for Lakes Entrance.

The Pelicans had a more memorable result in Round 1, toppling Churchill Blue Devils by three points in a thriller. In that match, Williams’ efforts were enough, guiding the team with 25 points, while Andrew Savige (16), Russell (15) and Jesse Pearce (10) all chipped in. Canovan starred for the losing side once again, knocking down 28 points, while Jeremy Sheers (13) and Bezzina (11) reached double-figure points.

ROUND 1&2 RESULTS:

Maffra Eagles 69 defeated Sale Sonics 54
Lakes Entrance Pelicans 86 defeated Churchill Blue Devils 83
Moe Meteors 86 defeated Korumburra Wildcats 57
Warragul Warriors 83 defeated Sale Sonics 55
Maffra Eagles 91 defeated Lakes Entrance Pelicans
Korumburra Wildcats 90 defeated Churchill Blue Devils 79

 

GIPPSLAND WOMEN:

Gippsland Women’s competition features just the five sides, with only four of them having taken the court in the opening two rounds. Korumburra Wildcats lead the way with two wins from as many games, defeating Maffra Eagles and Moe Meteors. The Eagles did pick up a win though, producing a comprehensive win over Lakes Entrance Pelicans. Warragul Warriors are yet to play a game in the 2021 competition.

In the standalone Round 1 match, the Wildcats enjoyed a narrow 13-point win over the Meteors on the road. Sharing the points around, Grace Matser top scored with 16 points, while Darci Holmes, Chloe Hogg and Alahna Arnason all put up 12. For the Meteors, Samantha Labros hit 17 points, and Caitlin Demczuk scored 15 in the loss.

On the weekend, the Wildcats backed up their Round 1 victory with an 18-point triumph over the Maffra Eagles. Matser (24 points) stood out once again, while Hogg (18) and Arnason (12) are a problem for opposition guards. Maffra’s top shooters were Alex Gallatly (17 points) and Emerson Connolly (11) who both hit double-figures in the match.

The loss followed a massive Maffra victory, with the Eagles far too good for Lakes Entrance Pelicans, winning 90-26 on the road. Lillie Schacht (16 points) was one of three players to reach double-figure points, while Gallatly (13) and Paige Biddle (12) both made life difficult for the opposition. Chloe Watson (nine points) and Amber Harrison (six) were the two highest scorers for the Pelicans.

ROUND 1&2 RESULTS

Korumburra Wildcats 71 defeated Moe Meteors 58
Lakes Entrance 26 defeated by Maffra Eagles 90
Maffra Eagles 45 defeated Korumburra Wildcats 63

Picture credit: Basketball Victoria