Tag: aaron brooks

2019/20 NBL preview: Round 13/14 – The look ahead

IN a special National Basketball League (NBL) preview, we take a look at each NBL side and their upcoming games in Round 13 and Round 14 to determine where they might be situated heading into the final month of basketball action.

1 SYDNEY KINGS

Position: 1st
Wins: 13
Losses: 4
Points: 26
Difference: +105

vs. Perth Wildcats | Saturday, December 28, 5:30pm | Qudos Bank Arena
vs. Illawarra Hawks | Tuesday, December 31, 5:30pm | WIN Entertainment Centre
vs. Adelaide 36ers | Saturday, January 4, 8:00pm | Qudos Bank Arena

Best Possible Position post-R14: 1st
Worst Possible position post-R14: 3rd

The Sydney Kings come into the top of the table clash against Perth Wildcats in somewhat shaky form, but remain a win clear with the Wildcats ahead of the big game at Qudos Bank Arena. The Kings will still start favourites, but the Wildcats had been on a nice run before dropping a game to Melbourne United last round which saw them miss the opportunity to steal top spot temporarily. The Kings then take on Illawarra Hawks on the road and will celebrate the New Year in Cairns this year, before a four-day break ahead of the big game against fifth placed Adelaide 36ers who will be in the top four by that stage. There is a reason the Kings are on top of the table, with enviable depth, but mostly because of the top-end talent. Some sides have players that are great that fill the same roles, while the Kings seem to have found a player to fill each role to perfection. NBA center, Andrew Bogut continues to be a force to be reckoned with despite some inconsistent form of late, while Casper Ware is a points-scoring machine this season. Jae’Sean Tate is one player touted to earn an NBA spot at some stage if not next season, while draft hopeful Didi Louzada has been flying under the radar this season. Throw in Australian bigs, Brad Newley and Craig Moller, and the Kings have a really strong starting five and one. Still the team to beat given the depth of the side, plus the three A graders and a couple of B graders in their starting line-up.

2 PERTH WILDCATS

Position: 2nd
Wins: 12
Losses: 6
Points: 24
Difference: +45

vs. Sydney Kings | Saturday, December 28, 5:30pm | Qudos Bank Arena
vs. Adelaide 36ers | Wednesday, January 1, 5:30pm | Adelaide Entertainment Centre
vs. Brisbane Bullets  | Sunday, January 5, 5:00pm | Queensland State Netball Centre

Best Possible Position post-R14: 1st
Worst Possible position post-R14: 3rd

Reigning champions Perth Wildcats might have shown some inconsistencies at the start of the season, but hit their straps midyear to sit second heading into the last game prior to 2020. They would love nothing more than to take the scalp of the top-ranked Kings and eye off top spot, but still have to get the job done with two games in the New Year over the next couple of weeks. They will rack up the frequent flyer miles with three consecutive games on the road, starting in Sydney on December 28, before flying to Adelaide for the New Year’s Day clash against the 36ers, before the trek up to Queensland for the battle against the Bullets on January 5. They are pretty secured inside the top three, but the first two games in particular are ones they will want to win to assert their dominance and put themselves in the best position for the extra home final and a chance at back-to-back flags. Bryce Cotton has continued his remarkable 2018/19 season form, averaging around 22 points per game, well aided by Terrico White who has the 16.3 points per game average. Nick Kay has been a third scorer for the Wildcats with 14 points and 7.7 rebounds, but the knock will be the depth after that. Dario Hunt has proven handy, and is the next highest with 8.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, but no player averages more than four assists or rebounds, or seven points per game – aside from Clint Steindl (8.2) – so they will need others to stand up if the likes of Cotton and White are held like they were against United. Still plenty of youth cycling through to force competitiveness amongst the roster.

3 MELBOURNE UNITED

Position: 3rd
Wins: 10
Losses: 7
Points: 20
Difference: +63

vs Cairns Taipans | Thursday, December 26, 5:30pm | Melbourne Arena
vs. Brisbane Bullets | Sunday, December 29, 5:00pm | Melbourne Arena
vs. Illawarra Hawks | Saturday, January 4, 5:30pm |  WIN Entertainment Centre

Best Possible Position post-R14: 1st
Worst Possible position post-R14: 5th

They took a while to gel, but once they got going, United became a damaging force within the NBL. They have won seven of their past 10 games, including two on the trot which given the evenness of the competition, is the equal most of any side with New Zealand Breakers the other. In the three games they have over the next two rounds, Melbourne take on the two Queensland sides back-to-back at Melbourne Arena with a handy three-day preparation in between, before a six-day break before travelling to Cairns on January 4 in what is set to be a blockbuster game against the new-and-improved Taipans. Melo Trimble gets to face his old side once again, and the 191cm guard has been in all sorts of terrific form, averaging 22 points per game, and more than four rebounds and four assists as well. Shawn Long crossed the ditch from the Breakers over the off-season and has been absolutely phenomenal this year, earning the nickname “Mr Double Double” and he has rarely missed out on the opportunity to stuff the stats sheet. In 17 games this season, Long has averaged 19.8 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game to be the premier center and set to be named in that role for the Team of the Year, and potentially take the MVP off fellow center, Bogut. Chris Goulding is the other exclusive scorer who has put up more than 17 points per game, while Mitch McCarron and David Barlow are always contributing strongly. Similar to the Kings, United has a variety of damaging players who fill different roles, rather than all of the same kind. Long and Trimble are good enough to lead this team to a title, with the next three durable and consistent as they come. United cannot afford to lose all three games though and potentially drop out of the top four.

4 CAIRNS TAIPANS

Position: 4th
Wins: 8
Losses: 9
Points: 16
Difference: +22

vs. Melbourne United | Thursday, December 26, 5:30pm | Melbourne Arena
vs. South East Melbourne Phoenix | Tuesday, December 31, 8:00pm | Cairns Convention Centre
vs. Brisbane Bullets | Friday, January 3, 7.30pm | Cairns Convention Centre

Best Possible Position post-R14: 3rd
Worst Possible position post-R14: 7th

Cairns handed its fans an early Christmas present with a win last round to grab fourth spot back from Adelaide 36ers. The 36ers dropped a home game to bottom of the ladder Illawarra Hawks, while the Taipans – who lost back-to-back games in Round 11 – took back the spot they had worked so hard to earn after a slow start. Dubbed the most exciting team in the NBL by plenty on social media, the Taipans might not have the same star factor as other sides, but they have proved that they can impact a game outside the stats. A tough few games are coming up with a Boxing Day clash against United in Melbourne the biggest of the lot, before back-to-back games in Cairns either side of New Year, with matches against South East Melbourne Phoenix and Brisbane Bullets. The Taipans will need to win at least two games to retain fourth spot, but a third win would likely guarantee it given the 36ers have games against the top two teams as well as the bottom two ones coming up. While the Taipans might lack the star power other sides have, it would be remiss not to consider American import, Cameron Oliver in that star power bracket, with the 203cm forward shooting 16.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. While he averages less than an assist per game, he has his role off the boards to give it to the likes of Scott Machado (14.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game) who does all the playmaking for the side, whilst pickpocketing the opposition with 1.5 steals per game. While those two have been the standouts all season, Majok Deng (13.2 points and 3.9 rebounds) and Kouat Noi (11.4 and 6.5) have also been strong off the boards. Cairns’ rebounding is a strength in the game, and the Taipans can move it end-to-end really well. Wins are just crucial now given the mid-table log-jam.

5 ADELAIDE 36ERS

Position: 5th
Wins: 8
Losses: 9
Points: 16
Difference: -37

vs. New Zealand Breakers | Sunday, December 29, 3:00pm | Adelaide Entertainment Centre
vs. Perth Wildcats | Wednesday, January 1, 5:30pm | Adelaide Entertainment Centre
vs. Sydney Kings | Saturday, January 4, 8:00pm | Qudos Bank Arena
vs. Illawarra Hawks | Monday, January 6, 7:30pm | Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Best Possible Position post-R14: 2nd
Worst Possible position post-R14: 9th

Finalists last year, the 36ers would be ruing their missed opportunity when they went down to Illawarra at home last Friday night. They have a chance to atone in the New Year at the same venue, and have been treated to a relatively good fixture for a team having to play four games over the next couple of weeks. First they host New Zealand Breakers on Sunday, then welcome Perth in a New Years Day classic, before travelling to Sydney three days later for a date with the Kings. They round up their four-game schedule over Rounds 13 and 14 with a home match against the Hawks on Monday, January 6. Over the off-season, Adelaide lost a star in Nathan Sobey, but recruited one of the best talents in the NBL in Jerome Randle. The pure scorer has put up 20.2 points per game this season to go with 4.5 assists per game, while Daniel Johnson is averaging another couple of rebounds a game to go with his 16.8 points. Eric Griffin has had an impact off the bench and got better as the season has worn on, teaming well with Johnson in the forward-center role, as has Harry Froling who is another 211cm giant. Jack McVeigh has been an influence over the last couple of weeks and would not be far away from earning a start, while Ramone Moore has played both starting and bench roles this season. This next couple of weeks could determine Adelaide’s season, with the 36ers playing the top two sides and the bottom two sides, but remarkably could end up anywhere from second to last based on other team’s results. Expect them to maintain a spot in the mid-table, but it is fascinating just to see how much of a knives-edge their season is on.

6 SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX

Position: 6th
Wins: 7
Losses: 9
Points: 16
Difference: -6

vs. Illawarra Hawks | Saturday, December 28, 8:00pm | Melbourne Arena
vs. Cairns Taipans | Tuesday, December 31, 8:00pm | Cairns Convention Centre
vs. New Zealand Breakers | Sunday, January 5, 3:00pm | Melbourne Arena

Best Possible Position post-R14: 3rd
Worst Possible position post-R14: 9th

The Phoenix started like a house on fire in season 2019/20, but have just been smouldering since, losing eight of the past 11 and just doing enough to stay in touch with the top four. They desperately need to start racking up the ‘Ws’ if they are not to fall behind, and have a kind enough draw over the next couple of weeks to do so. They have home games either side of the New Year against bottom two teams, Illawarra Hawks and New Zealand Breakers which if they are to be a real contender this season, should bank them without too much problem – especially given the Hawks and Breakers have a combined 3-12 record on the road – two of which came last round. Round 13 and 14 is make or break for the Phoenix, and realistically, with the exception of Mitch Creek every week, they have not had the consistency the teams above them have had. Creek has been phenomenal as expected and would be a challenger for the MVP this season, posting numbers of around 23 points, seven rebounds, four assists and one steal per game. John Roberson has shown his clutch ability, such as against the 36ers a couple of rounds ago when he sank 21 points in six minutes to win the game in overtime. Ben Madgen has been solid without being outstanding, while Dane Pineau and Adam Gibson have shown glimpses at times. They just need to find more consistency in their game, with more regular support for Creek from players that have potential, but just cannot fire together at times. The Phoenix could lift themselves up into the top four with wins here, or drop into the bottom couple if they lose them all. Three losses would spell danger for their finals hopes and no doubt there would be some reaching for the panic button if three losses eventuated.

7 BRISBANE BULLETS

Position: 7th
Wins: 7
Losses: 9
Points: 14
Difference: -41

vs New Zealand Breakers | Friday, December 27, 7:30pm | Queensland State Netball Centre
vs. Melbourne United | Sunday, December 29, 5:00pm | Melbourne Arena
vs. Cairns Taipans | Friday, January 3, 7.30pm | Cairns Convention Centre
vs. Perth Wildcats | Sunday, January 5, 5:00pm | Queensland State Netball Centre

Best Possible Position post-R14: 3rd
Worst Possible position post-R14: 9th

Brisbane has shown this season that it is that genuine mid-table team that on its best day can challenge the top sides – such as knocking off the Kings last week – but does not quite have the firepower of the top three sides. They have a huge couple of weeks coming up with limited rest between games. Luckily for the Bullets, they have three of the four games in Queensland, starting with a must-win home clash against New Zealand Breakers on Friday night. They then make a trip down to Melbourne two days later for a tough assignment against United, before returning to the Sunshine State in the New Year for a head-to-head against the Taipans, and then at home two days later against reigning premiers, Perth. Like Adelaide and South East Melbourne, Brisbane’s season is on a knives-edge. Win all four and all of a sudden the Bullets have fired into the top four. Lose them, and they will be staring down the barrel of a bottom two finish. The Breakers should be a non-negotiable win given New Zealand’s track record on the road, while Brisbane genuinely play well at home (5-2) compared to their away trips (2-7) which means the Bullets will likely finish Round 14 with an additional two wins to their name, but potentially a third if they can grab the win against Cairns. Lamar Patterson (19.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.0 assists) deserves Team of the Year honours, working hard with recruit Nathan Sobey (15.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists). The area of concern for the Bullets is the inconsistencies of the rest of the team, with Will Magnay starring in his first start last week and will likely remain there from here-on, while Matt Hodgson and Jason Cadee have been solid this season. Brisbane does not have the A-grade talent outside of Patterson and Sobey, but with more internal improvement such as Magnay’s double-double performance last week, they could trouble a few sides on the run home.

8 NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS

Position: 8th
Wins: 6
Losses: 10
Points: 12
Difference: -33

vs. Brisbane Bullets | Friday, December 27, 7:30pm | Queensland State Netball Centre
vs. Adelaide 36ers | Sunday, December 29, 3:00pm | Adelaide Entertainment Centre
vs. South East Melbourne Phoenix | Sunday, January 5, 3:00pm | Melbourne Arena

Best Possible Position post-R14: 4th
Worst Possible position post-R14: 9th

A week ago this side was dead and buried, the fans were frustrated given the bad luck they had endured between injuries and suspensions, and their star player in Corey Webster was loaned to China in order to bank $150,000 with the season seemingly gone. A week later, New Zealand banked back-to-back wins, trumping the Phoenix at home, then finally breaking its road win drought with an important late win over the Illawarra Hawks. While the money for Webster will be crucial for the club, fans might begin to wonder what could be if the Breakers can build on the form from last round. They actually have a few friendly games coming up over the next couple of weeks with three sides outside the top four in Brisbane, Adelaide and South East Melbourne all on the schedule. The problem? They are all on the road, and with six consecutive losses when travelling until New Zealand finally broke the drought, the Breakers are not a side that travels well. They have to head to Queensland on Friday, before jumping on a plane to Adelaide for a second game two days later. They have a week’s break before crossing the ditch again, this time to try and repeat their efforts against the Phoenix, albeit on Australian soil. The bad luck that has plagued the Breakers this season has included injuries to NBA top five draft pick hopeful, RJ Hampton and Scotty Hopson, with Hopson’s replacement Glen Rice Jr coming into the side, having a massive impact in three games before having his contract torn up for ill-discipline off the court. Webster has since been loaned so with only Hopson in the side of late, it has been a real time of change for the Breakers. Others have had to stand up, which they have in recent weeks, with Sek Henry, Thomas Abercrombie and Brandon Ashley all playing important roles, as Robert Loe is beginning to become the starting center they had hoped. Realistically, unless the cards all fall their way and they can continue on the form they have shown – and more importantly learn to be a threat on the road consistently – finals are not something many would expect for the Breakers this season. They have some good young players coming up and could be a team to watch in 2020/21, but for now, it is about playing as well as they can and proving some doubters wrong for the rest of the season.

9 ILLAWARRA HAWKS

Position: 9th
Wins: 4
Losses: 12
Points: 8
Difference: -118

vs South-East Melbourne Phoenix | Saturday, December 28, 8:00pm | Melbourne Arena
vs. Sydney Kings | Tuesday, December 31, 5:30pm | WIN Entertainment Centre
vs. Melbourne United | Saturday, January 4, 5:30pm |  WIN Entertainment Centre
vs. Adelaide 36ers | Monday, January 6, 7:30pm | Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Best Possible Position post-R14: 5th
Worst Possible position post-R14: 9th

It is not often the bottom side on the ladder is the most watched and attended team in any competition, but it goes to show just how much of a drawcard potential number one pick in the 2020 NBA Draft LaMelo Ball is to basketball fans. Destined to be a terrific talent in the future, Ball puts bums on seats and helped the Hawks smash plenty of attendance and viewing records. It has been equally disappointing for the Hawks that Ball has been missing the last few weeks due to injury, with an expected return date early in the New Year. Aaron Brooks was set to form a really dominant one-two partnership with Ball in the NBL this season, but he managed just seven games before going down with injury and ruled out for the remainder of the 2019/20 NBL season. Without the pair in the side, the Hawks effectively lose 35 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists per game which is the combined average of the pair. They now have an incredibly tough draw over the next four games with a trip to Melbourne on Saturday against the Phoenix a challenging encounter, before a couple of games at home either side of the New Year, though both come against title contenders, Sydney and Melbourne. They wrap up the four-game schedule with a visit to Adelaide to face the 36ers in the last game of Round 14. Todd Blanchfield is the only Hawks player to have started every game this season, averaging 11.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per match, while AJ Ogilvy has been a consistent player off the boards with 10.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. Theoretically, the Hawks could move as high as fifth, but would need so many results to fall their way. Though if they can win three of the four games somehow, then they put themselves in contention for finals. Realistically though, they are still three and a half games outside the top four, and it would take a miracle to get back from here.

2019/20 NBL weekend preview: Round 12 – Mid-table logjam to split after the round’s games

IT has been a fairly even ladder between the top two and bottom two sides in the National Basketball League (NBL), with the positions third to seventh all separated by just a couple of wins heading into Christmas. With still plenty to play out, teams are trying to jostle to get ahead of one another as the home run begins in the new year.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS vs. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Friday, December 20, 5:30pm
Spark Arena

In the opening game of the round, South East Melbourne Phoenix cross the ditch to take on the New Zealand Breakers at Spark Arena. The Phoenix claimed the win in these sides only other clash, getting up 103-78 at Melbourne Arena. New Zealand has claimed all of its four wins at home this season, but still only run at a 50 per cent win-loss ratio. The Phoenix have picked up two wins from five encounters on the road, but have been shaky over the past month since a terrific start to the NBL season. New Zealand cannot move from its eighth placed spot even with a loss, though it could if it also goes down to Illawarra on Sunday. The Phoenix could leapfrog Cairns once again, and have two games in hand on the Taipans, whilst also putting pressure on Adelaide 36ers, with a better points differential. Unfortunately for the home side, this season has had a number of challenges that the Breakers have had to overcome, both on and off the court. An injury to American import Scotty Hopson saw him miss seven games this season, while Glen Rice Jnr lasted three games before having his contract torn up for off-field concerns. In fact, only one player – Thomas Abercrombie has started every game this year, while Sek Henry and Brandon Ashley have also taken to the court in each match for season 2019/20. On the other hand, the Phoenix have had a relatively stable line-up, with four players starting in every game and a further two featuring in every match. Mitch Creek (22.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.1 steals) has shown why he earned a spot in the NBA, while John Roberson (20.4 points, 2.0 rebounds and 5.4 assists) showed why he is a match-winner last round with his 21 points in six minutes to haul the Phoenix over the line against Cairns. The Phoenix should win this, but have not been as solid as they were to start the season.

 

ADELAIDE 36ERS vs. ILLAWARRA HAWKS*
Friday, December 20, 8:00pm
Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Challenging Melbourne for that third spot on the NBL table, Adelaide 36ers have been building nicely of late, moving clear of the other finals hopefuls below them. The 36ers know that can change, but they should not have a problem against the LaMelo Ball-less Illawarra Hawks. While the Hawks have shown some exciting form this season, for all their hard work, they sit at just three wins from 11 games, and just one from six on the road. They are also coming off three consecutive losses, while the 36ers have won two on the trot, and are 4-2 when in South Australia. In their only other matchup this season, Adelaide got home by six points up at Illawarra. With this game closing out the Hawks’ round ahead of Christmas, they get an extended break until the next round. With Ball still out injured and joining fellow American, and NBA player Aaron Brooks on the sidelines, the Hawks have to dig deep to get a result in this game. Todd Blanchfield (10.8 points, 4.0 rebounds) is the next highest scorer, with AJ Ogilvy (9.3 points, 6.9 rebounds) also impressive. To the Hawks’ credit, they share the points around on offence, with 13 of their 14 players averaging at least two points this season. Jerome Randle will be quite a handful for the Hawks, with the Ukrainian guard posting up 19.9 points and 4.3 assists per season. He is among the most in-form players of late after some massive numbers on the weekend. He and teammate Daniel Johnson – who has a massive 27cm on Randle – has also been huge throughout the season, posting up 16.7 points and 8.5 rebounds and becoming incredibly difficult to guard. Assisting Johnson in that big man role is Eric Griffin who has come off the bench on a number of occasions and earned starting spots for six matches, averaging 14.2 points and 5.8 rebounds. Adelaide should continue the form and get the points in this game.

 

BRISBANE BULLETS vs. SYDNEY KINGS
Saturday, December 21, 5:30pm
Queensland State Netball Centre

In their only game of Round 12, Brisbane Bullets host the top of the table Sydney Kings. The Kings have seemingly looked human of late, but still remain at the top for a reason, winning 12 of a possible 15 games thus far in 2019/20. The Bullets are still alive in the season, but they would want to get a move on, sitting two games outside the top four with a 6-9 record. At home they have had a much better time of it, saluting in four of their six games, while the Kings have not surprisingly been strong on the road with a 6-2 record themselves. Given the Kings have a huge clash two days later against the Phoenix, they would not want to drop this game. In the teams last encounter, it was Sydney that got up with a 10-point win in Brisbane, which followed on from a 15-point victory at home a couple of weeks prior. Brisbane has talent on its list, but needs it to fire more consistently, with former Adelaide guard, Nathan Sobey coming up against his old side. In season 2019/20, Sobey has averaged 15.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists – a slight drop in terms of rebounding and assisting – which his former teammates might be quick to remind him of if he does not produce in the match. Along with Sobey, Lamar Patterson has been a rock of consistency across the court, putting up numbers of 19.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game. He would be a good shout for a Team of the Year candidate if the side was determined today. The Kings just have more depth and have been performing more consistently from week to week this season. Casper Ware is one of the recruits of the year, crossing from arch rivals Melbourne United, and averaging 21.2 points. 3.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. Fellow American, Jae’Sean Tate has also enjoyed a strong season thus far, averaging 15.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. With Andrew Bogut (8.5 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists) still working the floor, the veteran center will always be one that the opposition attempts to contain. Sydney to get up in this one unless Brisbane really bring the heat for an upset.

 

PERTH WILDCATS vs. MELBOURNE UNITED
Saturday, December 21, 8:00pm
RAC Arena

Both these powerfully-supported sides go head-to-head prime time on Saturday night, with plenty on the line for the teams. Last year’s grand finalists have already played twice this season with the reigning premier Wildcats getting up by a combined three points in those outings. In the opening round of the season, Perth won 94-93 at home, before getting the job done in Melbourne just two weeks later in a 95-93 thriller. Two months on, and United is a different beast with a hot run of form over the past month and a half to go from the bottom of the table to third overall. Coming into this game after a win over Illawarra last round, United will have to be at their best to end the four-game winning streak of Perth. What makes these teams so strong is the fact they have elite talent, coupled with great depth meaning this contest will likely join its predecessors as going down to the wire. With a home court advantage, Perth is 6-2 for the season, while Melbourne is 2-4 when on the road and will need to break those troubles if it is to get up in this game. Bryce Cotton continues to stamp his authority on the competition week to week, putting up 22.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game. He and fellow American guard, Terrico White (16.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists) have thrown plenty of one-two punches this season, with Nick Kay providing good support in the forward role, thanks to 14.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.1 steals per game. United’s Melo Trimble has been the big points scorer this season, averaging 22 points and five assists per game since crossing from Cairns over the off-season. Shawn Long was possibly the recruit of the off-season, and becoming a legitimate chance for the Most Valuable Player (MVP) this year. The win would move Melbourne to within two games of Perth in second spot, while for the Wildcats, a victory would almost lock up a top two spot barring a second half of the season collapse.

 

ILLAWARRA HAWKS vs. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Sunday, December 22, 3:00pm
WIN Entertainment Centre

Two teams that are realistically out of the finals race unless they spark a run over the second half of the season, New Zealand Breakers travel to Illawarra to face the Hawks in the teams second games for the round. The Hawks are comfortably on the bottom of the table, a win and points difference behind the Breakers – again barring the results from earlier this round. In an afternoon game, the Hawks will be hoping to break the four-game head-to-head losing streak against New Zealand. The last time Illawarra triumphed in the matchup, was January 18 this year, having gone down to the Breakers a further two times last season, and two times this season. Last time the teams faced off was in New Zealand – as have been the past three encounters – with the Breakers winning, 91-79. With no Ball for this clash, Blanchfield and Ogilvy will be crucial to the Hawks’ chances, with Tim Coenraad (8.8 points and 2.9 rebounds) and David Anderson (7.6 points and 2.8 rebounds) the next in line who the Hawks will look to in this must-win game. While the Breakers have also struggled to keep a consistent team together due to injury and suspension, youngsters, Finn Delany (10.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists) and RJ Hampton (9.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals) have given the Breakers fans plenty of exciting moments. The talent is there, it is just getting it to work cohesively and get the wins on the board. The Breakers must win this if there is to be any hope of a finals revival, while for the Hawks, they will want to get off the bottom of the ladder in time and this is one of those games they have to get up in if they are to do it.

 

CAIRNS TAIPANS vs. ADELAIDE 36ERS
Sunday, December 22, 5:00pm
Cairns Convention Centre

The next game that features two teams with one coming off an earlier fixtures in the round and another playing its first of the weekend. Cairns Taipans will be keen to make the most of a home court advantage with a clash against Adelaide 36ers in this game, coming in fresh while the 36ers will have to overcome Illawarra at home on Friday night before crossing the country to face the Taipans. The Taipans have a 5-3 record at home, while the 36ers sit at 4-5 from their road trips. In the teams most recent clash back in Round 3, Adelaide got up over Cairns in a four-point victory. Cameron Oliver has been huge in both stature and impact this season, with the 203cm, 102kg forward averaging 16.1 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. Scott Machado (15.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 8.4 assists and 1.4 steals) and Kouat Noi (11.4 points, 6.5 rebounds) have provided strong support, while Nathan Jawai has also run out in every game for 7.6 points and 3.6 rebounds. Johnson and Griffin provide the height and Randle provides the firepower for the 36ers, while Harry Froling‘s work off the bench, along with Obiri Kyei has handed the starters some relief this season. The 36ers need to win here in order to keep touch with the top four, whilst a win to Cairns could see the Taipans jump back into fourth spot and steal the position back.

 

SYDNEY KINGS vs. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Monday, December 23, 7:30pm
Qudos Bank Arena

In the final game of the round, played on the day before Christmas Eve, Sydney Kings fans are expected to pack out Qudos Bank Arena in the hope of receiving an early Christmas gift with a ‘W’ here. The Phoenix have been treading water after such a strong start to the season, but are capable of anything on their day. They did go down to Sydney in the teams most recent clash, losing 86-90 at Melbourne Arena. After dropping a rare game two matches back, the Kings bounced back with an important win over Melbourne United on the weekend, and will be keen to add another victory to its total. Sitting a game clear on top ahead of Perth due to playing two less games coming into Round 12, the Kings will be keen to extend their advantage on the reigning premiers. For the Phoenix, they perilously sit just outside the top four, and with two chances of victory in the Round, the league’s newest side cannot afford to start slipping much further behind for the good of its finals chances. A couple of underrated prospects for the Kings are young gun, Didi Louzada, with the Brazilian big man averaging 10.9 points and 4.3 rebounds, and Brad Newley who has posted 11.7 points and 4.6 rebounds. The Phoenix also do not have to rely on the likes of Creek and Roberson, with Ben Madgen averaging 11.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists, and Dane Pineau being the fourth player to start every game, managing 7.9 points and 7.4 rebounds, as well as an assist, block and steal throughout the season thus far.

2019/20 NBL weekend preview: Round 11 – Rivals set to do battle

ARCH rivals, Melbourne United and Sydney Kings will create plenty of interest in the National Basketball League (NBL) Round 11, while Cairns Taipans hope to keep the streak going in a double-up effort against Perth Wildcats and South East Melbourne Phoenix.

CAIRNS TAIPANS v PERTH WILDCATS
Thursday December 12, 7:30
Cairns Convention Centre

Round 11 again opens in Cairns with a mouth-watering matchup between the two in-form teams in the league, the Taipans and the Wildcats. The Taipans look to make it four in a row after two big Round 10 wins against the Breakers and the first-placed Kings. Taipans stars DJ Newbill and Scott Machado were huge in both victories and will be looking to continue their form as the season passes the halfway point. Majok Deng also put up big numbers, dropping 20 off the bench against the Breakers. The Taipans have shot over 50 per cent in both games and will need to continue their efficiency again to topple a red-hot Wildcats. Perth are also coming off two Round 10 wins with one coming against the Kings. The usual suspects Bryce Cotton and Boomers star Nick Kay were key to both victories with two 20-plus point games and two double-doubles respectively. Both the Taipans and the Wildcats have been hot from the bench and will need to continue to score deep into their rosters. The key matchup will be between the two guards in Cotton and Machado. Cotton was able to hold Kings star Casper Ware to 20 per cent from the field in their victory and will be looking to do the same tonight to force Machado to pass the ball, as he averages just under three turnovers a game. This matchup beckons to be a tight contest, starting off Round 11 in an exciting fashion.

ADELAIDE 36ERS v SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Friday December 13, 7:30
Adelaide Entertainment Centre

NBL action returns to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre as the 36ers look to drop the South East Melbourne Phoenix in this Friday night matchup, with both teams looking to break into the top four. The 36ers lost their Round 10 match against a rampant Melbourne United side after suffering a 16-point quarter-time deficit they could not come back from. Eric Griffin came off the bench again but played starting minutes to combat Shawn Long. They each dropped 34 points in a classic battle in the paint which left nothing to be desired. With only three other players getting into double digits in points, the 36ers will look for improvement from star forward Daniel Johnson who did not make an impact against Melbourne in his 21 minutes of game time. The rebound deficit given up by the 36ers will have to tighten up again on Friday as Melbourne scored a whopping 29 fast-break points from their extra 11 defensive rebounds. The Phoenix suffered a loss at home to the Wildcats despite 31 points from marquee player Mitch Creek and a double-double from league veteran Ben Madgen. Luckily for the 36ers, the Phoenix also gave up a huge rebound deficit as small-ball with Creek at the four-slot did not pay off on the glass. Having won just one game out of their last five, you can expect the Phoenix’s big names to step up, including John Roberson who will have his hands full against 36ers leading scorer Jerome Randle in a salivating matchup between two of the league’s most dynamic point guards.

MELBOURNE UNITED v SYDNEY KINGS
Saturday December 14, 5:30
Melbourne Arena

The Sydney Kings travel to Melbourne for their third blockbuster matchup of the year with league rivals Melbourne United. The Kings look to extend their lead on top of the ladder, as Melbourne attempt to claw back wins after a poor start to the season. Melbourne enjoyed a blowout victory against the 36ers on the back of a monster 34 point and 15 rebound masterclass from Long. With typically even contributions from the rest of the roster, Melo Trimble enjoyed a solid night shooting the ball and Casey Prather produced a season-high for points in his injury-interrupted season. Trimble continued to push the pace on offence as United recorded 29 fast break points in a victory they will be looking to back up on Saturday evening. Inversely, the Kings are looking to bounce back from two poor Round 10 losses. The Kings shot just 39 per cent from the field against the Wildcats, an effort they improved in their second Round 10 match but also one they can not afford to do again against this experienced and rampant Melbourne side. Expect Ware to put on a show against his old side, although the matchup to watch will be in the paint between Long and decorated home-grown superstar Andrew Bogut. Both men will be looking to assert their position as the league’s most dominant big man. New signing Xavier Cooks is also a name to watch as he is expected to make his first appearance for the Kings this season.

PERTH WILDCATS v BRISBANE BULLETS
Saturday December 14, 8:00pm
RAC Arena

Perth make their second appearance in Round 11 as the Brisbane Bullets make arguably the toughest road trip the NBL has to offer. The Wildcats will be facing a fresh Bullets roster who are looking to start the second half of the season strong as they try to work their way up from seventh on the ladder. Cotton and Kay will be looking to continue their strong form in the season as they look for some more big performances from Terrico White. The Bullets will be disappointed with their season so far, however, a cross-country trip is a good opportunity to turn their season around. They will be riding on the coattails of forward Lamar Patterson who is coming off a monster 36-point effort off the bench in their loss to the Breakers. Coach Andrej Lemanis will be looking to guards Nathan Sobey and Jason Cadee to lift and control their offence after some quiet Round 10 performances from their standards. The matchup to watch tonight will be between Cadee and Cotton, with Cotton so often being the barometer for this Wildcat’s side, Cadee and his stringent perimeter defence will have his work cut out for him.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS v ADELAIDE 36ERS
Sunday December 15, 3:00pm
Spark Arena

The 36ers travel across the Strait to face the Breakers in New Zealand in what beckons to be a chance for 36ers to begin their finals assertion. The Breakers won one out of their two Round 10 match-ups but will be without Glen Rice Jr after he was released by the club due to a breach in bail conditions. A strong contributor in their loss to the Taipans, the Breakers will look elsewhere for some big numbers. Corey Webster and Tom Abercrombie were the leading scorers in their win against the Bullets but will need consistency in the back end of the year from starters like RJ Hampton and Scotty Hopson in order to string some wins together. The 36ers will play their second game of the round and will be hoping for some increased output from Johnson, so they can continue to eye in on the top four. The matchup to watch will be the battle of the big men again as the physicality of both Rob Loe and Johnson will be something to admire.

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX v CAIRNS TAIPANS
Sunday, December 15, 5:00pm
Melbourne Arena

In both these sides’ second game of the weekend, South East Melbourne Phoenix host the much-improved Cairns Taipans at Melbourne Arena on Sunday evening. The two sides are yet to play this season, and have had somewhat differing formlines, with the Phoenix only winning one of their past five matches compared to Cairns’ three-game winning streak. Creek emerges as the player for the Taipans to try and nullify, averaging 22.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game this season. Along Robertson and Madgen, Dane Pineau has been a starter every week, putting up 7.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Youngster, Kyle Adnam has also been gaining valuable minutes coming off the bench in all of the 12 games thus far this season. While Machado has been a playmaker in the forward half with 15.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 8.4 assists per game, Cameron Oliver has been the crucial big man off the boards with 7.9 rebounds to accompany his 15.2 points per game.

ILLAWARRA HAWKS v MELBOURNE UNITED
Monday, December 16, 7.30pm
WIN Entertainment Centre

Illawarra Hawks enter the weekend’s game with the longest break, having to wait until Monday night for a fixture against the reborn Melbourne United.  The Hawks are without LaMelo Ball until the New Year, and with Aaron Brooks also missing for the entire season after an early season injury, it is hard to see Illawarra mounting a comeback for finals. They are home here, with a 2-4 record thus far in 2019/20, while Melbourne has only won two of its four games on the road. If Illawarra can steal the points then it will put the Hawks within striking district of New Zealand in eighth. For Melbourne, this is simply a must-win with the top two creeping away and the mid-table log-jam battling for the best possible spot on the table. These teams are yet to play in season 2019/20, with United’s 113-89 win over the Hawks in January the last time they went head-to-head. In the absence of Ball, the Hawks will need Todd Blanchfield and AJ Ogilvy to stand up, being the next two biggest performances. For United, Trimble has been getting better by the week for his new side, averaging 22.1 points per game, Long’s impact across the season (19.6 points, 9.6 rebounds) cannot be understated. After his 300th game last weekend, Chris Goulding is another clever veteran the Hawks must find a way to contain.

2019/20 NBL weekend preview: Round 9 – First and third do battle in headline clash

SYDNEY and MELBOURNE’s clash on Sunday afternoon headlines numerous enticing matchups for Round 9. We take a look at the five games across this weekend.

CAIRNS TAIPANS vs. MELBOURNE UNITED
Friday November 29, 7.30pm
Cairns Convention Centre

The round opens with Cairns hosting United in a rematch of their epic Round 4 encounter. At the time, United had just broken through for its first win of the season earlier in the round, but they would find themselves in the lower reaches of the NBL ladder when they fell to a resurgent Taipans outfit by five points, with the win being only the Taipans’ second of the season at the time. Now, United sit third on the table with seven wins and are undoubtedly the in-form team of the competition. Melo Trimble has well and truly found his feet in the United rotation and will be out to exact revenge against his old side. For the Taipans, they have been terribly unlucky to only have the four wins next to their name, but they only sit one win outside the top four. D.J. Newbill put in 27 points against the Hawks last round and his side will be hoping for a repeat effort if they stand a chance to end United’s winning run.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS vs. ILLAWARRA HAWKS
Saturday, November 30, 5.30pm
Spark Arena

The Breakers and the Hawks will go toe to toe on Saturday night in Auckland. Both sides currently sit in the bottom two on the NBL ladder, but both have shown far greater potential than their ladder placings suggest. New Zealand thrashed Illawarra in the sides’ Round 2 encounter, with the Breakers prevailing by a whopping 31-points on their home floor. But with that win being only one of two so far for the season, they’ll be desperately hoping to repeat that performance. RJ Hampton is having a strong season so far while Sek Henry is starting to find his own in the Breakers’ lineup. For the Hawks, LaMelo Ball is not only the talk of the NBL fraternity, but also of the basketball world. His triple double performance on Monday night against the Taipans in overtime was one of the performances of the season so far, and truly shows how much he has taken the Hawks under his wing since the loss of Aaron Brooks to a season-ending Achilles injury. If Ball can continue his recent strong form, then the Hawks may be able to atone for their poor Round 2 performance against their rivals this weekend.

BRISBANE BULLETS vs. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Saturday, November 30, 8pm
Queensland State Netball Centre

In what shapes up as one of the matches of the round, South East Melbourne escape their home state for only the second time this season as they travel up to Brisbane to face a determined Bullets outfit. The Phoenix have played a staggering seven of their first ten games as a new club at home this season, with their only game away from Victoria resulting in an embarrassing 31 point humiliation in Perth. They are currently on a three-game losing streak, which was compounded by a four-point defeat to the top-of-the-table Kings last weekend. Mitch Creek, who has surged into MVP contention, and John Roberson will need to have strong performances if the Phoenix stand any chance of ending their losing run. For the Bullets, a last-gasp put back from Lamar Patterson gave them a 2-point win over the 36ers last Saturday night. The win sees them still sit behind the Phoenix and 36ers on the ladder, but a win over the Phoenix could propel them into the final spot in the top four. In order to make that happen, Nathan Sobey and EJ Singler will need to aid Patterson if they stand to add more misery to the Phoenix’s recent run of matches.

SYDNEY KINGS vs. MELBOURNE UNITED
Sunday, November 30, 3pm
Qudos Bank Arena

The Kings host United in what is undoubtedly the most anticipated match of the round. In their only previous clash this season, United prevailed by three points back in Round 5, ending the Kings’ unbeaten start to the season and is still the only loss the Kings have suffered this season. And with both sides on four and six game winning streaks, respectively, this game shapes up as a mouth-watering matchup that should go the distance. The Kings are coming off a tense four point win over United’s cross-town rivals South East Melbourne, with Jae’Sean Tate and Casper Ware leading the way. For United, this match is their second away game of the weekend after they travel to Cairns on Friday night. From whichever angle you look at this game, it looms as being an epic, with the state rivals’ second match potentially eclipsing their first one.

PERTH WILDCATS vs. ADELAIDE 36ers
Sunday, November 30, 5pm
RAC Arena

Perth will be out to keep their current second spot on the NBL ladder when they host the 36ers on Sunday afternoon. The Wildcats suffered their fourth loss of the season and a second at the hands of the Taipans last Saturday night. Despite leading by 10 points heading into the final quarter, they faltered in the final term to fall by seven points. Clint Steindl and Nick Kay led the scores, while Bryce Cotton was kept relatively quiet. Cotton will be looking to bounce back strongly against the 36ers. Adelaide let go of a win against the Bullets on Friday night, before bouncing back on Sunday to prevail strongly against the Breakers. Jerome Randle and Anthony Drmic led the way on both nights, while Michael Harris had a breakout performance on Sunday to help them bounce back. All will need to be at their best if they stand a chance at taking out the Wildcats on their home floor.

2019/20 NBL weekend preview: Round 8 – Red hot United look to extend streak

MELBOURNE United will be looking to extend their current winning streak to six games as they go in as the in-form team in round eight. We take a look at the six games across this weekend.

BRISBANE BULLETS vs. ADELAIDE 36ers
Friday November 22, 7.30pm
Queensland State Netball Centre

The round opens with Brisbane hosting the 36ers as both sides look to force their way into the top four. This game marks the first of two games this round for both sides, with the Bullets also travelling to take on Melbourne United in Melbourne on Sunday, but in both games they’ll be hoping for wins after suffering a tough loss to their state rivals Cairns last round. Lamar Patterson was held to a quiet 17 points, while Nathan Sobey led the way with 20 points. Both will be looking to have stronger showings tonight, particularly Patterson who has been having a season to remember so far. The 36ers on the other hand are coming off a huge road win over South East Melbourne. Jerome Randle and Anthony Drmic dominated in the win, with Randle looking more and more comfortable with Adelaide every week.

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX vs. SYDNEY KINGS
Saturday, November 23, 5.30pm
Melbourne Arena

The Phoenix will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak when they host the table-topping Kings on Saturday afternoon. South East Melbourne fell to Melbourne United last Saturday, before hosting the 36ers on Monday night which saw them lose consecutive games for the first time in their history. John Robertson bounced back from a quiet outing against United to post 21 points on Monday night, whilst Mitch Creek led the way on both nights as he is beginning to regain his feet in the NBL. Sydney on the other hand is sitting pretty atop the NBL ladder and continued their winning ways with a hard-fought five-point win over Illawarra last round. Casper Ware and Jae-Sean Tate continue to have strong performances for the Kings, and will look to continue their strong starts to the season.

CAIRNS TAIPANS vs. PERTH WILDCATS
Saturday, November 23, 7.30pm
Cairns Convention Centre

Cairns host the Wildcats on Saturday night where they’ll be hoping to make it two wins in a row against Perth. The Taipans have just the three wins to their name so far in NBL 19/20, which they added to in round 7 with a 9-point win over the Bullets. Their starting five all reached double figures in scoring, with even Majok Deng coming off the bench chiming in with 13 points. Cameron Oliver was quieter than usual, so he will be looking to have stronger outing on Saturday night. For the Wildcats, they are sitting pretty in second place on the ladder, with their eighth win of the season coming against the Breakers last weekend. Bryce Cotton will be looking to back up a dominant 34-point outing this weekend as he continues his stellar season.

MELBOURNE UNITED vs. BRISBANE BULLETS
Sunday, November 24, 3pm
Melbourne Arena

United will be looking to add to their five-game winning streak when they host the Bullets on Sunday afternoon. After a disappointing start to the season, Melbourne is now third on the NBL ladder and is the in-form team of the competition. Last weekend they held on to a one-point win over cross-town rivals South East Melbourne, with Melo Trimble and Chris Goulding again having strong outings. Shea Ili was also a force off the bench, and will be hoping to continue his recent patch of good form. For the Bullets, this game is their second for the weekend, and if they stand any chance against the in-form United, Patterson and Sobey will need to lead the way.

ADELAIDE 36ers vs. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Sunday, November 24, 5pm
Adelaide Entertainment Centre

The 36ers play their second match of the weekend when they host the New Zealand Breakers at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre late Sunday afternoon. They will need to back up a Friday night trip to Brisbane when they host New Zealand, but they sit just one game outside fourth spot which is occupied by the Phoenix, the side they beat last weekend. Randle continues to have a strong start to the season, and the 36ers will be hoping for nothing less on Sunday against the Breakers. New Zealand haven’t had the greatest of seasons to date, and after seven rounds, they have just the two wins to their name. The Breakers suffered a 11-point loss to the Wildcats last weekend, but Corey Webster and Brandon Ashley were the shining lights. Meanwhile, RJ Hampton will be hoping to bounce back this weekend after a quiet four-point outing last round.

ILLAWARRA HAWKS vs. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Monday, November 25, 7:30pm
WIN Entertainment Centre

Illawarra hosts Cairns in the final match of round eight on Monday night and will be desperately looking to lift themselves off the bottom of the NBL ladder. Illawarra have had a lot of tough luck to start their NBL 19/20 campaign, headlined by a season-ending Achilles injury to star import Aaron Brooks who was topscoring for the Hawks. But since his departure, LaMelo Ball has taken his game to new heights, and as such his NBA draft stocks continue to rise. Ball had 16 points against the Kings last weekend, as Todd Blanchfield led the way with 22 points in what was a tough five-point loss to Sydney. For Cairns, this game will be their second for the round after they face off against the Wildcats at home on Saturday. They’ll be hoping for the opportunity to make it two wins in a row, but either way they will fancy themselves against the bottom-placed Hawks.

2019/20 NBL weekend preview: Round 7 – Throwdown III to light up Melbourne

WITH one game down and still plenty of action to come over the weekend, we preview Round 7 of the National Basketball League (NBL), with a wrap-up of these games and preview of the final game of the round on Monday.

MELBOURNE UNITED v. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Saturday, November 16, 5.30pm
Melbourne Arena

In just seven rounds, the third Throwdown will take place with the winner to emerge as the overall series leader given the teams are tied at 1-1 from the first two encounters. In Round 1, the Phoenix got up over their established rivals, before Melbourne United managed to level the head-to-heads with a great win earlier this month. There is plenty on the line for both sides, with Melbourne sitting third and South East Melbourne in fourth, but have two games in hand. United look a completely different side to the one that was 1-4 to open the season, having strung together four consecutive victories to move out of the bottom two and into the top four. They are the most in-form side in the competition, and a win here would give them a much needed breather on their cross-state rivals. The Phoenix on the other hand need a win in order to force their way back into the top three, and will be keen to seek revenge after suffering their first loss to United.

Looking at the statistics so far, Shawn Long has had an absolutely stunning season for his new side since crossing from the Breakers. Long has posted 21.9 points and 10.4 rebounds to be the dominant center of the competition alongside Andrew Bogut. Fellow recruit, Melo Trimble has also been building in recent weeks averaging 21.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. The steadying influence of Chris Goulding (21.0 points) and Mitch McCarron (11.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals) cannot be underestimated either. For the Phoenix, it is no surprise to see Mitch Creek up near the top when it comes to dominant points scorers. The former NBA player has averaged the 21.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.1 steals per game. John Roberson (20.1 points, 5.7 assists) and Ben Madgen (12.1 points, 5.9 rebounds) are a couple of others averaging double-figure points, while Dane Pineau has had an underrated season with 7.3 rebounds to accompany his 8.1 points and 1.6 blocks per game.

Melbourne United’s form is hard to look past, but the Phoenix are a quality side, so this will go down to the wire.

CAIRNS TAIPANS vs. BRISBANE BULLETS
Saturday, November 16, 8pm
Cairns Convention Centre

The Saturday night game might not have the expectations of its Saturday evening counterpart, but there is still plenty on the line for the Queensland sides as they battle it out in a ladder-defining clash. Brisbane is on the verge of a top four berth and is a 22-point differential behind fourth placed South East Melbourne Phoenix. If United get up and the Bullets can win this game, then they could well sneak into the top four. A big win (or big loss to United) could also see them overtake Melbourne instead, if they can manage it. For Cairns, they have struggled to start the season, sitting at 2-6 from eight games with the positive being that the ladder is still very even outside the consistent Kings, and a win would put them right back into contention. Both sides are coming off losses – the Taipans having lost the past two – so they will be keen to bounce back. Cairns is 1-2 at home, while the Bullets are 2-3 on the road, so heading up to Cairns might have some worries for them. These sides have already played once this season, with Brisbane getting the job done back in Round 2.

A man mountain who has been throwing his weight around this season is Cairns Taipans’ forward Cameron Oliver. The 203cm and 102kg forward has put up 17.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game to be the clear standout in a so far underwhelming season for the Far North Queensland side. He, along with Scott Machado (14.0 points, 7.5 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals), Majok Deng (13.5 points. 5.0 rebounds) and Kouat Noi (10.3 points, 6.4 rebounds) have held their own throughout the season thus far. The clash between Oliver and Brisbane star Lamar Patterson will be a fascinating one, with Patterson one of the standout performers this season across the court. He can match Oliver with his 196cm and 102kg frame, sinking 18.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.0 steals from his eight games. Speaking of man mountains, there is not many bigger than 211cm, 115kg center Matt Hodgson who will no doubt cause some problems for the opposition coaching box. He averages 11.3 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, while former 36ers guard, Nathan Sobey has had a solid introduction in the Sunshine State with 15.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists.

Cairns has shown promising signs at times this season, and at home will give it a real shake, but Brisbane’s big two in Patterson and Sobey might have the ultimate say on this contest.

SYDNEY KINGS v. ILLAWARRA HAWKS
Sunday, November 17, 3pm
Qudos Bank Arena

The two sides at opposite ends of the ladder are facing off in the first of two Sunday games. The Sydney Kings are on a hot streak this season, with only a narrow loss to Melbourne United ruining an otherwise perfect start to the season. The Kings are cruising atop the NBL ladder, winning eight of a possible nine games, including an unbeaten streak of four at home and won their past two after six in a row to open the season. They are a massive plus-88 in points differential clear of Perth Wildcats in second, so there is not much chance at slipping down the ladder. The Kings have been well drilled this season and should eye this game as a simple must-win. The Hawks have only just got over the line a couple of times, winning two of a possible nine games, both of which have come against second last placed Cairns. They are just one win from four on the road, which does not bode well against a massive opponent that has struggled to lose even when on the ropes. They have not played so far this season, with Illawarra upsetting the Kings way back in January – not once, but twice – including in Sydney.

There have been no shortage of performers for the Kings this season, with Casper Ware standing up in his new colours, averaging 20.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, working well with fellow American, Jae’Sean Tate who has used his height to advantage on his way to 14.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. NBA Next Generation Academy star, Didi Louzada has been building nicely of late and the Brazilian born big man has complemented the team nicely. Throw in the work of Bogut – who has averaged 8.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game, and it is easy to see why this team is on top of the ladder. They often run the court rather than look for too many assists, but are strong off the boards to deliver second chance points, and deny their opposition up the other end. All the talk this season was about teaming up American NBA and future NBA players Aaron Brooks and LaMelo Ball respectively. While Brooks’ season unfortunately ended early due to injury, he has still had an impact, averaging 17.9 points and 4.1 assists prior to that. It will now place more expectations on the shoulders of the incredibly talented, but lightly built Ball, who at 198cm and 82kg and the grace and agility of a small man, has been sensational at his best, with 14.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.0 steals. Unfortunately for Illawarra, there has not been enough consistency across the board in terms of individual efforts, with Todd Blanchfield and Andrew Ogilvy averaging the next most points with 9.7 and 8.8 respectively.

Sydney should win this one fairly comfortably, and it would take a massive Ball effort for Illawarra to cause an upset.

PERTH WILDCATS v. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Sunday, November 17, 5pm
RAC Arena

Perth will revel being back at home after Friday night’s game, hosting New Zealand Breakers in this contest. The Wildcats will head in as favourites given New Zealand’s inability to win on the road. The Breakers are yet to salute from three attempts, while Perth has won three of its four home games – a loss to Cairns at RAC Arena the only blemish. You do not have to go too far back to see these sides facing off, with Perth heading across to New Zealand in Round 5 and returning home with a five-point win in the bag. A victory would keep the sides chasing the Wildcats at bay, though a win for New Zealand is incredibly important in order to stay in touch with the top six.

The Wildcats will know what to expect from their ‘Big Two’ in Bryce Cotton (22.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.8 steals) and Terrico White (16.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists). Though it could be argued that Nick Kay is providing ample support as a forward, posting 13.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, teaming up well with Dario Hunt (9.6 points, 6.1 rebounds) with both big men standing at a hard to beat 206cm and 104kg. While the Wildcats have their fair share of American talent, the Breakers just keep finding them. With Scotty Hopson‘s injury threatening to derail their season the New Zealand side picked up Glen Rice Jr who in his two games has already had a big say, posting 22.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 steals, which while the Breakers lost both games, showed what he can offer on the court. Corey Webster has been sensational all season, averaging 19.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists for the Breakers, while RJ Hampton is another Next Gen Academy member with some big wraps, averaging 9.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, but more importantly 1.5 steals per match. British forward Brandon Ashley stands at 206cm and has played an underrated role, averaging 13. points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

Perth should get up in this one without too many worries, but it is never a sure thing in this competition.

NBL 2019/20 Weekend Preview: Round 6

MELBOURNE United will be looking to continue their recent good form when they start Round 6 off with a road trip to New Zealand. We take a look at the six games across the weekend.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS vs MELBOURNE UNITED
Thursday, November 7, 5.30pm
Spark Arena

The round opens with the Breakers and United locking horns for the second time this season on Thursday in Auckland. The last time these two clashed was in Round 4 at Melbourne Arena, a game which produced Melbourne’s first win of their 2019/20 season. Since then, United has gone on to win two of their past three games, with those two wins both coming last round against South East Melbourne and the previously unbeaten Sydney Kings respectively. United now sit just one win outside the top four, and it is fair to say with the outstanding performances from Shawn Long and Chris Goulding, they are well and truly back into title contention. The Breakers on the other hand have just the two wins next to their name so far, but they have shown a lot of fight despite not having the wins to show for it. RJ Hampton continues to impress as his draft stocks rise, while Glen Rice Jr makes his debut tonight and if what is coming out of the New Zealand camp is anything to go by, he could be the biggest talent to ever come to the NBL.

BRISBANE BULLETS vs. SYDNEY KINGS
Friday, November 8, 7.30pm
Queensland State Netball Centre

The Bullets will be out to make it their second win in a row against a top two side when they host the Kings on Friday night. Brisbane shocked Perth last Friday night which helped lift themselves into third place come the end of the weekend where they easily accounted for Illawarra on Sunday. Lamar Patterson continues to lead Brisbane in scoring while the contributions from Nathan Sobey and Jason Cadee is helping the Bullets turn into a genuine finals contender. For the Kings, their unbeaten start to the season came to an end on Monday night in Melbourne where they lost by three-points to United in a nail-biting affair. But they will not be buoyed by the tough result, as they did it with Didi Louzada out for the second half as Casper Ware took charge and had a dominant 34-point haul to prove he is well and truly fit in to the Kings rotation.

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX vs. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Saturday, November 9, 5.30pm
Melbourne Arena

After starting their inaugural season with three straight wins, South East Melbourne have faltered in two of their last three outings. Coming off a poor Throwdown II showing which saw them lose by 12-points, the task does not get much easier as they host the Breakers who play their second match of the round. The Phoenix could not find a match for United’s Shawn Long, but Mitch Creek and John Roberson continued their sensational starts to the season, while Ben Madgen also chimed in with a handy 16-points in what was his best game of the season so far. If all three are firing, then it is hard to say why they cannot bounce back and get back on the winners’ list against a Breakers side who will face a stern task this round facing the two Melbourne sides who are both in the top five.

CAIRNS TAIPANS vs. ILLAWARRA HAWKS
Saturday, November 9, 8pm
Cairns Convention Centre

Cairns and Illawarra will go head-to-head for the second time this season with both sides desperate for a win to keep their slim finals chances alive. The Taipans have been playing far better than their two-win record suggests, pushing the Breakers last round but falling short once again. Cameron Oliver has been the Taipans most prolific scorer this season and he continued that against the Breakers, while Majok Deng had a strong performance and will be hoping to make it consistent when playing the Hawks. Illawara suffered their seventh loss of the season when they fell to Brisbane last Sunday, as Lamelo Ball had to do the bulk of the scoring given Aaron Brooks is out for the season with that achilles injury. They will be desperately looking to replace him if they are to keep any hopes of a finals appearance alive. However, they cannot worry about that this weekend as it presents itself as one of their better opportunities to record their second win of the season.

MELBOURNE UNITED vs. ADELAIDE 36ers
Sunday, November 10, 3pm
Melbourne Arena

United plays its second match of the round when they host the 36ers on Sunday afternoon. For Melbourne, they will be hoping this clash brings about an opportunity to make it two wins from their two matches this round, but regardless of their Thursday night result, they will be looking to defend home court against a strong 36ers outfit who sit just behind them in sixth place. The 36ers suffered a heart-wrenching two-point overtime loss to the top-of-the-table Sydney Kings in Adelaide on Saturday night, as Jerome Randle was unable to will his troops over the line against his old side. Randle will be looking to atone for the heartbreaking loss, as will the likes of Ramone Moore and Daniel Johnson who both have been strong so far this season. They will all need to be at their best if they stand any chance at coming away from Melbourne against an in-form United with a win.

SYDNEY KINGS vs. PERTH WILDCATS
Sunday, November 10, 5pm
Qudos Bank Arena
The Kings host the Wildcats in a top-of-the-table showdown on Saturday afternoon in what will be their second match of the round. After suffering a nail-biting loss to United on Monday night, the Kings will back up on Friday night when they travel to Brisbane, before hosting the Wildcats in what shapes as being one of the matches of the season. Louzada will be hoping he is able to return after he missed the second half against United with a back injury, while Ware and Andrew Bogut will be looking to continue their strong seasons so far. The Wildcats tasted their second loss of the season at the hands of the Bullets last Friday night, but they bounced back strongly by defeating the Breakers in New Zealand on Sunday. Terrico White has been having a season to remember, while Nick Kay and Dario Hunt have been exceptional and will be looking to continue that this weekend.

NBL 2019/20 Weekend preview: Round 5

THE second Throwdown headlines Round 4 of the NBL season as the top four begin to separate themselves from the chasing pack. We take a look at the six games across this weekend.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS vs. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Friday, October 31, 5.30pm
Spark Arena

The Breakers host the Taipans in what shapes up as a mouth-watering matchup. The Breakers had a mixed round last week, breaking through for their first in NBL 2019/20 against the Taipans on Thursday night, before faltering against United on Saturday night in Melbourne. Corey Webster, Sek Henry and Brandon Ashley all starred in both encounters, and will need to put in similar outings against a Taipans side who seem to be finally heading on the up. The Taipans had a slow start to their season and it appeared that they were going to taste a similar lack of success as they had last season. But despite a tight four-point loss to Adelaide on Friday night last week, they bounced back in the final match of the round on Monday night to defeat Melbourne by five-points. But they now have to travel and face off against the Breakers in New Zealand, one of the toughest tasks in the league and will need all of Cameron Oliver, Nathan Jawai and D.J. Newbill to continue their strong patches of form in their sole game for the round.

BRISBANE BULLETS vs. PERTH WILDCATS
Friday, November 1, 7.30pm
Queensland State Netball Centre

The Bullets will be looking to bounce back when they host Perth on Friday night. Brisbane suffered their fourth loss of the season when they travelled to Sydney and were defeated comprehensively by the unbeaten Kings. They have been up and down so far this season, but cannot afford a slump against the Wildcats who have lost just the one match so far this season. Lamar Patterson has been having a season to remember so far for the Bullets and will need to continue that if they are to get a win tomorrow night, whilst Nathan Sobey has worked back into form and could very well continue his recent purple patch. For the Wildcats, they will be hoping to making it a sixth win for the season and keep in touch with the unbeaten Kings. Perth played on last Friday against South East Melbourne and handed the new franchise their first loss, smashing them by a whopping 31-points. They will be bringing that momentum into this weekend, and with Terrico White and Bryce Cotton continuing to dominate week-in week-out, the Wildcats will be going in with confidence.

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX vs. MELBOURNE UNITED
Saturday, November 2, 5.30pm
Melbourne Arena

After suffering their first loss as a franchise against the Wildcats last weekend, the Phoenix will be looking to make it 2-0 against their Throwdown rivals who handed them their first win in their inaugural match. After suffering a crushing defeat to the Wildcats, the Phoenix had to back up and host the 36ers on Sunday – which they did to record their fourth win of the season. John Roberson got himself into foul trouble early against United the last time they played, and if he stays out of it, it looks like he will continue his blistering start to the season. United on the other hand, have just the one win to their name which came against the Breakers on Saturday night, before they fell to the in-form Taipans on Monday night. Shawn Long, Chris Goulding and Melo Trimble have been the main stars for United thus far, and they will all be looking to have strong performances against their cross-town rivals as United will be desperate to avoid going down 0-2 to the new team.

ADELAIDE 36ers vs. SYDNEY KINGS
Saturday, November 2, 7:30pm
Adelaide Entertainment Centre

The 36ers will be out to end Sydney’s unbeaten start to NBL 2019/20 as they host the Kings on Saturday night. Adelaide currently sit inside the top four and will be looking to keep it that way after they had a mixed Round 4, beating the Taipans on Friday night before falling to the Phoenix on Sunday. Both were close matches, but the positives from both were that Jerome Randle is certainly feeling right back at home with the 36ers, whilst Daniel Johnson is still leading the way on the scoring end. For the Kings, this will be their first of two matches this round, and they will undoubtedly be looking to maintain their perfect start to the season. They played the 36ers in Round 2 and won by a convincing 22-points which will bring them a lot of confidence, with the emergence of Didi Louzada and the addition of Casper Ware taking the Kings to new heights and early favouritism for the championship.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS vs. PERTH WILDCATS
Sunday, November 3, 3:00pm
ILT Stadium Southland

The two most dominant NBL franchises for the past decade will lock horns for the first time this season in Auckland on Sunday. Both sides sit on either end of the ladder, but that will not stop this matchup likely going down to the wire. The Breakers host the Taipans on Thursday night while the Wildcats will be travelling from Brisbane who they face on Friday night, but the rest in between will do the sides no harm as they look to re-engage in their decade-long rivalry. For the Breakers this weekend poses a brilliant opportunity to get back in touch with the top four as they have only won the one game so far this season, whilst for Perth, they have the chance to close the gap or potentially overtake the table topping Sydney Kings should they come away from this round with two wins.

ILLAWARRA HAWKS vs. BRISBANE BULLETS
Sunday, November 3, 5:00pm
WIN Entertainment Centre

The Hawks have only registered one win for the season and have been handed one of the the cruellest blows learning earlier this week that star import Aaron Brooks will miss the remainder of the season due to an Achilles injury. It is a crushing blow to the young Hawks, as Brooks has been their top scorer in almost all of their matches thus far this season. They will need to rely more on LaMelo Ball who will now be the Hawks’ number one scoring option from a guard’s perspective, while Tim Coenraad put in 18 points against the Wildcats last weekend which is something Illawara will definitely need. For the Bullets, it will be their second matchup of the round after they host the Wildcats on Friday night. It looms as a crucial weekend for the Bullets as they currently sit just one game outside the top four.

MELBOURNE UNITED vs. SYDNEY KINGS
Monday, November 4, 7:30pm
Melbourne Arena

A blockbuster state rivalry concludes an enthralling Round 5 of NBL action, with the underwhelming Melbourne United hosting the championship favourite Sydney Kings. This match will be both sides’ second of the weekend as they each play on Saturday against South East Melbourne and Adelaide respectively. United were one of the favourites heading into the season, but should they lose against their crosstown rivals on Saturday, then the importance of this match goes through the roof. They have won just the one match this season, so if they cannot come away from this tough double header this weekend with at least one win, then the writing may very well be on the wall already. For Sydney, they will head in as favourites in both matches, and deservedly so after they have had a dominant start to the season to lead atop the ladder with five straight wins.

NBL 2019/20 Weekend preview: Round 4 – Huge round of action with plenty of double-ups

ROUND 4 of the NBL brings plenty of action with eight games set to be played from Thursday to Monday. Melbourne United are yet to register a win this season while the Kings and Phoenix will be searching to keep their unbeaten streak alive.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS v. ILLAWARRA HAWKS
Thursday, October 24
5:30pm

It has been a very inconsistent start to the 2019/2020 campaign for the Hawks who have only registered one win from their five games thus far but despite that they have shown some promise with the likes of LaMelo Ball taking the competition by storm. On the other hand, the Breakers have had less opportunities so far only playing two games but losing both making for an intriguing battle. The Breakers have multiple players that can stand up under pressure with the likes of Scotty Hopson and Corey Webster able to score freely if given time and space while highly touted NBA prospect RJ Hampton will be hoping to have more of an impact on the court against another potential NBA draftee, Ball. After a disappointing start to the season the Hawks will be aiming to restore some continuity in their gameplay and get their campaign rolling with the likes of Tim Coenraad and Aaron Brooks crucial on the scoreboard.

ADELAIDE 36ers v. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Friday, October 25
7:30pm

Both sides are coming off wins and will be riding high heading into their Friday clash. The Taipans only notched up their first victory of the season last week while the 36ers will be hoping to progress up their ladder by securing their third win of the year. Cairns simply outclassed their Perth opponents, last week making the most of their opportunities and should draw off that belief in this clash with Majok Deng leading from the front with 22 points last round. Cameron Oliver, DJ Newbill and Scott Machado will have to bring out the big guns and perform if they are to get over the top of the higher placed 36ers. Eric Griffin and Daniel Johnson are key for the 36ers given their ability to score and skill above the rim to gather rebounds.

PERTH WILDCATS v. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Friday, October 25,
9:30pm

South East Melbourne Phoenix are set to travel to Perth to take on the Wildcats and keep their unbeaten streak rolling. Perth currently have third spot sewn up while the Phoenix sit in second making for a high intensity and exhilarating battle between the two sides. The Wildcats suffered a shock loss last week but then struck back against United highlighting their composure and never say die attitude. Bryce Cotton, Terrico White and Nick Kay are instrumental for the Wildcats and if are not contained can prove to be detrimental to the opposition with their explosiveness, scoring range and rebounding ability. The newly established Phoenix have not skipped a beat with the likes of Mitch Creek leading from the front time and time again while John Roberson exploded last week and will be hoping to replicate his form against quality opposition this week. Dane Pineau is crucial for South East with his strength on the rebound.

MELBOURNE UNITED v. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Saturday, October 26
5:30pm

Melbourne United and New Zealand Breakers are both searching for their first win of the season. After competing in the NBAxNBL preseason programme both sides have failed to register a win in the NBL and will be hoping to rectify that issue. United have had their chances falling narrowly to reigning premiers Perth last round along with the Phoenix in the opening round highlighting their ability to match it with the best but fading away when it counts. Chris Goulding has been a rock for United so far this season while the inclusion of Melo Trimble and Shawn Long has been seamless hitting the scoreboard and posing a threat. If they can get some separation early it could go a long way in helping to set up their first win for the season. The Breakers will have their work cut out for them if they are to notch up their first win against United.

SYDNEY KINGS v. BRISBANE BULLETS
Saturday, October 26
8:00pm

The Sydney Kings have an unblemished record and will be hoping to extend that record against the Bullets at home. Sydney seem to be getting better and better every game with their connections across the court near on impossible to stop when on song given the class and skill of Andrew Bogut, Casper Ware and Brad Newley. All three have showcased their shooting range and defensive pressure making them a tough task to stop for the inconsistent Brisbane. The Bullets got off to a flyer this season winning two games on the trot before falling victim to the 36ers and Phoenix with their main aim this round to wrestle back some momentum. Jason Cadee, Nathan Sobey and Lamar Patterson are the key playmakers for the Bullets and must have an influence if they are to get their side the win.

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX v. ADELAIDE 36ers
Sunday, October 27
3:00pm

It will be both sides second game of the round meaning there could be tired bodies out on the court, but if all things go to plan it could be a riveting match-up. With Phoenix securing second spot and Adelaide fourth expect both sides to fight tooth-and-nail to surge ahead. South East Melbourne is yet to drop a game this season while the 36ers have lost just the one meaning there is a lot on the line for both clubs. Ben Madgen has showcased his worth throughout the season hitting the scoreboard when needed while teammate Kendall Stephens can be an impact player. For the 36ers Jerome Randle and Ramone Moore will be wanting to up the ante even more.

ILLAWARRA HAWKS v. PERTH WILDCATS
Sunday, October 27
5:00pm

Fatigue could be a real issue for both sides given it is their second game of the round and have been forced to travel once each. The Wildcats are no easy beats, with their plethora of stars across the court able to have an impact while the Hawks inconsistency could shoot them in the foot. Ball has plenty of X-factor for Illawarra, but up against White, Cotton and Kay may find it hard to shine. But Perth have fallen victim to lower placed teams going down to the winless Taipans last round showing that it is possible for the Hawks if they play their cards right. Perth has already won against the Hawks at RAC Areana and now head to Illawarra to see if they can go two-up on their opponents.

CAIRNS TAIPANS v. MELBOURNE UNITED
Monday, October 28
7:30pm

Not many would have expected Cairns to have more wins than United by this stage of the season but that is the reality with Melbourne searching for their first win of the season. Both sides have struggled to close out matches and perform for the full four quarters making for a hot contest. Although it will be their second game for the round expect United to throw everything at the Taipans in order to notch up the all important victory while the Taipans will not go down without a fight. Mitch McCarron, David Barlow and Alex Pledger could all have a big influence on the game for United while Kouat Noi and Nathan Jawai are known to be impact players when called upon for Cairns.

2019/20 NBL Team of the Week: Round 3

F0R the first time this year, eight National Basketball League (NBL) sides had a representative in our Draft Central NBL Team of the Week for Round 3 in the most even spread to-date. South East Melbourne Phoenix and Cairns Taipans both had two players each in the 10-player team after impressive wins, while all bar Brisbane Bullets – aka the remaining six sides – had a representative in the team. Now three rounds in, just two players remain having made the Team of the Week in every round thus far in Phoenix’s Mitch Creek and Perth Wildcats’ Bryce Cotton. With New Zealand only playing its first games over the weekend, Scotty Hopson has a chance to begin his own streak.

In the starting five, Creek had another outstanding game with 23 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals, joined in the starting side by teammate, John Robertson (26 points, four rebounds and 10 assists). Cameron Oliver earned the other starting forward role thanks to 22 points, nine rebounds and two blocks, shooting at an elite 81.8 per cent from the field, joined in the side by teammate, Scott Machado. Illawarra Hawks might have suffered back-to-back defeats, but guard Aaron Brooks was sensational, averaging 27 points, three rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.5 steals. Also in the starting team was Sydney Kings’ center Andrew Bogut who was monstrous across two wins for the Kings, racking up an average of 15.5 rebounds, three assists and three blocks to go with his 12 points from 64.3 per cent efficiency.

Looking to the bench, Cotton slots into the guard position having been the standout player for the Wildcats this weekend across two games, while Hopson also averaged 20 points, seven rebounds, two steals and 3.5 assists on a big debut weekend. Shawn Long slotted into the center bench position, which he could well have earned starting honours with a massive 19-point, 12-rebound, three-assist and two-block game, had it not been for Bogut’s antics over the weekend. Rounding out the bench is Adelaide 36ers’ Daniel Johnson who was named as a center last week, but due to the two star center players, would push into a forward spot and fill out the team after 18.5 points, nine rebounds and three assists.

Others who came into consideration and were unlucky not to squeeze into the side were Sydney Kings’ Casper Ware and Jae’Sean Tate, New Zealand’s Corey Webster, Melbourne’s Melo Trimble, Illawarra’s LaMelo Ball, Cairns’ Majok Deng, Perth’s Nick Kay and Brisbane’s Lamar Patterson. Both Patterson and Tate were in the first two Team of the Week’s and just missed out on making it three consecutive rounds.

STARTING FIVE:

G: Aaron Brooks (IH) – 27.0 points, 3.0 rebound, 4.5 assists, 1.5 steal, 0.0 blocks, 57.9 FG%
G: John Robertson (SEM) – 26 points, 4 rebounds, 10 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, 54.5 FG%
C: Andrew Bogut (SK) – 12.0 points, 15.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 3.0 blocks, 64.3 FG%
F: Mitch Creek (SEM) 23 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, 0 blocks, 47.1 FG%
F: Cameron Oliver (CT) – 22 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 81.8 FG%

BENCH:

G: Scott Machado (CT) – 18 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 70.0 FG%
G: Bryce Cotton (PW) – 20.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steal, 0.0 blocks, 44.8 FG%
C: Shawn Long (MU) – 19 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 steals, 2 blocks, 42.9 FG%
F: Scotty Hopson (NZ) – 20.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 38.1 FG%
F: Daniel Johnson (AD) 18.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 0.0 steals, 0.5 block, 45.8 FG%