Tag: adelaide 36ers

Breakers’ win margin equals franchise record, demolishes 36ers by 44

AFTER a monumental first quarter effort, the New Zealand Breakers attained their second win of the season with a 106-62 triumph over the Adelaide 36ers, who have now fallen under .500 and have slidden right out of the top four.

The Breakers could not have asked for a better start, leading 14-0 during the fourth minute of play before Daniel Johnson got Adelaide on the board at John Cain Arena on Saturday. New Zealand’s lead would balloon out to a 26-5 lead, and it looked as if Conner Henry’s team had no answers with Isaac Humphries off the floor with a suspected foot injury sustained in the first quarter.

Leading into the first change, the Breakers were led by Corey Webster and his 13 points after 10 minutes, leading the 36ers 32-6, which would turn out to be New Zealand’s biggest quarter-time margin of the 10-minute-quarter era in the NBL’s history. Meanwhile, New Zealand’s 80 per cent shooting was the main headline, as Tai Webster had allotted seven assists as well.

Back-to-back triples in the final minute of the second term by the Webster brothers with both accounting for 38 of the team’s total points during the initial two stanzas, compounded Adelaide’s troubles further when both sides went into half time. The Breakers’ 60 to 30 lead at the midway point was dominant to say the least, with the side shooting at 68 per cent to this stage, knocking down 11 threes and forcing nine turnovers from Adelaide in the process. The question of whether New Zealand could follow through with a good second half, however, was still on the table.

While the third continued to roll along, more of Dan Shamir’s side made some contributions of their own with Colton Iverson, Thomas Abercrombie and Finn Delany earning their work for the night, helping the lead at the final break to 82-51, all but cementing the win for the cross-Tasman side.

New Zealand eventually cracked a 40-point lead in the early stages of the fourth and would then score their hundredth point in the seventh minute, capping off what was a fitting way to end yesterday’s thrashing. The margin of victory would then settle at a franchise-tying record 44 points and Adelaide walked off the court with their heads hanging low as a result.

Adelaide emerged on top in three statistical categories after 40 minutes. These were free-throw percentage (81 per cent), second chance points (12) and bench points (31). All categories seemed relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of things, as New Zealand finished with a field goal percentage of 59 per cent, converted on 14 triples and would only turn the ball over six times.

Tai Webster took top honours despite sharing the same amount of points with his brother at 29, but Tai would also hunker down and contribute 11 assists to the cause. For Corey Webster, he would tag five rebounds and three assists to his 29 points, while Delany finished the next highest scorer with nine points and four rebounds.

A couple of highlight performances followed Johnson and Jack McVeigh, as they were the only two to tally more than 10 points. McVeigh led the team in points scoring 20 and five rebounds, whereas Johnson secured 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

The Breakers open up Round 8 on Wednesday against the Brisbane Bullets, looking to continue their momentum. For the 36ers, the road forward does not get easier as they will need to bounce back and snag a win away from the Illawarra Hawks and start their fight back into the top four.

Melbourne United keep 36ers at bay to secure the win

A DOMINANT opening term all but gifted Melbourne United the “W” in their clash against Adelaide 36ers to keep their hot start to the season going, winning 82-73. Weathering the storm in the middle part of the game, United did enough to keep up with Adelaide who flicked into overdrive as the game went on but in the end could not outrun.

Melbourne wasted no time making their intentions very clear with Jock Landale imposing himself in the first minute of the game sinking back-to-back triples. United played with a sense of urgency and intensity, nullifying the 36ers in every which way and mounting the scoreboard pressure nailing a whopping 31 points to eight. Establishing a commanding lead at quarter time the pressure somewhat fell off from United’s perspective as the 36ers ate into the deficit. Hitting the scoreboard more frequently, Adelaide showcased their determination and hard working mindset to knock back 26 points and shut down Melbourne, keeping them to 16 points.

Outclassed in the second quarter, United struggled to recapture that same form they emulated in the opening term while Adelaide maintained its momentum to keep pressing. Desperate to stay in touch, the 36ers put in the hard yards to work the ball forward and cut the deficit to 12 points at the final change thanks to an 18-17 term. Adelaide won the final term of play producing 21 points but it was not enough to ruffle the feathers of United who had done enough to secure a nine-point win, largely due to the blistering first quarter of play.

United showcased their accuracy from the field sinking 28 shots from 67 attempts at 41 per cent while the 36ers converted 25 of their 66 attempts at 37 per cent. Melbourne were also stronger from inside the arc going at 47 per cent compared to Adelaide’s 39 per cent while the roles were reversed when looking at accuracy from deep with the 36ers hitting three triples at 36 per cent compared to United’s eight at 32 per cent.

Melbourne also flexed their muscles on the rebounding front, using their bigmen to cause havoc and reel in 47 rebounds to 37 while they also beat Adelaide at their own game producing 13 assists to 10. When it came to turnovers, the 36ers proved to be cleaner with ball in hand only registering 12 as opposed to Melbourne’s 14 while they also recorded more steals (10-8).

Daniel Johnson imposed his physical presence on the game knocking back a team-high 14 points at 40 per cent from the field. He outmuscled his opponents off the boards securing eight rebounds, two assists and two steals. Josh Giddey also continued to impress registering 13 points as Tony Crocker also nailed 13 to keep his side alive. Giddey was down on his usual output when it comes to assists, only managing the one for the game, however he did record eight rebounds. Isaac Humphries plied his trade, posting nine points while also walking away with eight rebounds.

Missing Chris Goulding once again, it was Mitch McCarron that stepped up to the plate downing 18 points in his 34 minutes on court. McCarron did not stop there, dragging down 10 rebounds to walk away with a double-double while also managing three steals and a block. Landale quietened down after his fast start to the match amassing 12 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. Scotty Hopson was a key contributor in the win collecting 14 points, six rebounds and four assists while Jo Lual-Acuil recorded a double-double thanks to  his 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Do Cairns have the instruments to turn their season around, again?

AFTER starting the 2019/20 season with an abhorrent record of two wins and six losses, the Cairns Taipans went on to win 14 of their next 20 games to secure the third seed in the standings and earn a finals appearance – a season after finishing with the wooden spoon honours of the NBL.

Today, the Taipans sit with a lowly record of three wins and seven losses and are slotted in eighth position as a result. But the question that needs to be asked is, “does Cairns have the ability to repeat the feat they did last season?”.

To best gauge how the rest of the 2020/21 campaign will pan out and how Cairns will fare, we will firstly look at the results the Taipans have obtained to this point and then secondly, look at the upcoming fixtures leading up to Round 10 which has not yet been released by the NBL.

Given the strictness of COVID-19 regulations at the time of mid-January, Cairns were lucky enough to enjoy their first five games of the season at their temporary home, the Cairns Pop-Up Arena, and their first nine games in Queensland. After their one-point win over the Sydney Kings, Mike Kelly and his side had cause for excitement.

The excitement, however, would end abruptly two days later after a 16-point loss to the new-look Illawarra Hawks and it marked the start of a six-game losing skid. Losses would come at the hands of more than half of the other NBL sides, including the Hawks, the Kings who they edged out in their first contest, Melbourne United, Brisbane Bullets and the New Zealand Breakers.

But with these numerous losses, there has been a number of indicators that perhaps fans have not seen the better side of the Taipans yet. The common factors that are easily visible with each of Cairns’ three victories always tend to be their ball movement. For example, in their Round 4 win against the Breakers, Cairns out-assisted New Zealand 18 to 12 in their 84-71 triumph. Against the Hawks in Round 6, the same trend could be seen again here with the Taipans winning out in the assists category 19 to 17.

Another prominent factor in the three wins for Cairns is their accuracy and quantity of success from behind the three-point line on these nights. In their first and third wins against the Kings and the Hawks, the Taipans went 13 of 32 (40 per cent) and 18 of 35 (51 per cent) from behind the arc. Meanwhile, the north Queensland side only found the triple on 31 per cent of their attempts but won the quantity of threes category with 10 triples to four over the Breakers.

While these two factors are nice to dissect, it is well known that if the Taipans are to find late season success, they will need to emerge dominant in more facets of the game in a competitive league like the NBL. But now we look at the contributions of individuals who have provided positive numbers, and a few who have perhaps a little more to give in the next 14 rounds.

It is no shock that Scott Machado, last season’s league-MVP runner-up, is leading the team on the frontlines. The 30-year-old who is now playing in his second season, also leads the squad in points per game (18.1) as well as the competition in assists (9.5). But despite being the NBL’s best distributor of the rock, Cairns has shown itself to be one of the league’s most shallow teams in terms of depth, with only one bench player averaging over four points per game (Jordan Ngatai – 4.4 ppg).

Similarly to NBL20, Machado’s partner in crime remains 203cm-tall forward Cameron Oliver. Averaging a titanic 17.1 points and 10.1 rebounds, Oliver is well on his way to a double-double season for two consecutive years, while also ranking third in the NBL for blocks with 1.8 per outing and will be by Machado’s side for the rest of the season producing at a high level. A good supporting cast amongst the starting five has been somewhat instrumental for coach Kelly, but without DJ Newbill as a consistently reliable force on the floor like he was last season, the job of filling his void has been a difficult one to say the least.

Continuing his impressive rise in the three/four spot over his time in the NBL, Kouat Noi is once again impressing the Australian basketball community averaging 13 points, 4.9 rebounds and half a block, including a dominant 27-point and five-rebound performance on Monday night against Melbourne. Furthermore, the play of Majok Deng (11 points and 4.8 rebounds) and Mirko Djeric (11.3 points and three rebounds) has been nothing to sneer at with the two making considerable contributions leading up to today. Unfortunately, though, there has been no news as of yet if Deng will be making his return on Friday against the Perth Wildcats, after exiting Monday’s game in the first quarter with an apparent knee-injury. A huge loss to the side if the injury is substantial.

To summarise, either the Taipans core needs to produce even more or the likes of Ngatai, Fabijan Krslovic, Jarrod Kenny and especially Mojave King (Next Star) need to step up. These are the two routes that Kelly faces and can encourage to his roster. At the end of the day, making that a reality will fall on the players collectively, as not only will the rest of the season remain just as difficult, but most of the remaining matchups will occur in an away environment.

The possible road to redemption will begin within the next three rounds of action in the NBL Cup, firstly in Round 7. Cairns will hope to entertain the defending champions on Friday before taking on cross-state rivals, the Brisbane Bullets, Sunday afternoon. Round 8 will see Cairns meet the Kings in their first game of March, preceding their next grudge match with the Adelaide 36ers. Their remaining games in Melbourne will conclude in Round 9 against the Breakers who they have beaten previously and the South East Melbourne Phoenix on March 12. Any game past here are yet to be announced.

It was the convincing rout of the second-seeded Hawks and an almost perfect performance against the frontrunning United, which resulted in a fourth-quarter defeat in Round 6, that has perhaps suggested a pivotal point in the Cairns season to date. If the Taipans can topple the Wildcats this week at John Cain Arena, many north-Queenslanders should not write off this team’s season quite yet.

If it can happen once, why can it not happen again?

Adelaide 36ers hold on in thriller against Phoenix

ADELAIDE 36ers prevailed in a National Basketball League (NBL) classic, pipping South East Melbourne Phoenix at the post by five points (99-94). The contest had its fair share of twists and turns resulting in multiple lead changes as they wrestled for momentum and continuity to establish dominance. But it all came to a head in the dying seconds of the game with the Phoenix gifted a chance to clinch victory but unable to capitalise on their chances, handing the 36ers a much needed win.

The 36ers wasted no time hitting the scoreboard with Josh Giddey opening the account within the first minute announcing his intentions. He was quickly answered by Cam Gliddon as the two sides went blow for blow in the first quarter sitting at 19 points apiece. The overall scoring increased for both sides in the next term with Adelaide and South East Melbourne settling into a rhythm in attack. Giddey continued his merry way as Isaac Humphries also got busy in the term to create some separation with the lead pushing out to as many as seven points with two minutes to spare in the half. But the Phoenix buckled down eating into the margin and attacking each opportunity that came their way to get back within one point at the break.

After losing their seven-point lead, and the Phoenix stealing the lead in the first minutes of the second half Adelaide kicked into gear as the quarter went on. They came out to prove a point smothering their opponents every move to re-establish their hold on the game and put the Phoenix on the backfoot. They went on somewhat of a scoring spree, dictating the flow of the game and using their bigs to influence the contest and produce a 13 point lead. Staring down the barrel of their fifth loss, Phoenix rallied with Mitch Creek taking centre stage and controlling proceedings for the side as they went on a 16 point to two spree. Gliddon made things interesting with 12 seconds to play landing a layup to get it back within three points but that is where it stopped with Adelaide doing just enough to hang-on.

The victors were stronger in the field shooting at 52 per cent after converting 38 out of 73 attempts while Phoenix only managed 41 per cent. However the script was flipped when it came to three pointers with South East Melbourne sinking 12 at 41 per cent compared to Adelaide’s seven at 35 per cent. On the rebounding front the 36ers flexed their muscles with 44-36 while they also collected more blocks (4-2). The Phoenix shared the ball around amassing 27 assists to 20 while also registering six steals to the 36ers’ four.

Daniel Johnson was the topscorer for Adelaide leaving no stone unturned with his 27 points at 62 per cent proving to be a real thorn in the Phoenix’s side. Johnson also reeled in 11 points to collect another double-double while Humphries also effectively chimed in posting 24 points. Humphries further added to his stats sheet with 11 rebounds, nine of which were defensive, two blocks and an assist. Giddey was a major influence on the outcome nailing 15 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists highlighting his skill with ball in hand. Tony Crocker was the only other player for Adelaide to reach double-digits thanks to his 10 points as Sunday Dech plied his trade off the boards with five rebounds.

“I was pleased with how we came together as a group. Everybody played a part, everybody bought into what we are trying to get across what we are trying to do the past two days and we needed a really good, solid, hard fought victory,” coach Conner Henry said post-match.

For the Phoenix, it was Creek that lead the charge boasting a tally of 23 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists in an all-round strong performance. Gliddon also featured highly for the Phoenix thanks to his 18 points, three rebounds and four assists as Ben Moore made his presence felt nailing 13 points, and six rebounds five of them offensive. Teammate Yannick Wetzell finished with 12 points but could have had more given his accuracy was only at 44 per cent from the field while also securing seven rebounds.

Dejan and Ware pair up to conquer 36ers, combine for 55

EACH quarter had a different leader up until the final buzzer on Sunday afternoon, as both the Sydney Kings and the Adelaide 36ers traded scoring runs for 30 minutes straight. But, it was the Kings that outlasted their opponents in the last period of play, securing a well-earned 94-77 outcome against the Purple and Gold.

With 52 points between the two sides scored in the opening term, the contest started at a really high pace to begin with. Unexpectedly, it was the combination of Thomas Vodanovich and Casper Ware that got the Kings off the ground, as the New Zealand international got his season up and going with eight first quarter points.

As Sydney led 30-22 at the end of one, Adelaide needed to produce positive outcomes on the floor and fast, before the game would get out of hand early on. Import Tony Crocker was the man for the job in the second quarter with an impressive bounce back effort after a sluggish start.

Crocker led the way with 13 points, two rebounds and two assists, as the 36ers won the second quarter 29-18 and took a three-point lead at half-time adding to Sydney’s stresses. But the work of Dejan Vasiljevic and Ware was more than enough of a precedent to give the Kings the confidence to overtake Adelaide with a good second half coupled with their 54 per cent shooting in the first two quarters.

In what proved to be a seesawing affair, the Kings quickly turned the odds in their favour by scoring 17 of the first 21 points in the first six minutes of the third period, returning the lead back to last season’s runners ups.

Continuing their good form from the first half, Ware and Vasiljevic maintained their steady flow of points as each held 21 points apiece with 10 minutes remaining, while the Kings completely shut down Adelaide’s offence, conceding just eight points in the third.

The lead would fail to change hands in the final stanza and end in rather one-sided fashion, with the Kings toppling the 36ers in the fourth quarter alone, 21-13, leading into Sydney’s solid 17-point win without Jarell Martin in their line-up.

Capitalising on Adelaide’s 16 turnovers, Sydney compiled 22 points by way of takeaways and 32 points from their effective bench unit. In addition, the Kings would make more shots than they would miss, shooting 51 per cent on the afternoon compared to the 36ers’ 42 per cent.

A quiet final period for Vasiljevic and Ware saw the duo finish with similar numbers to when they concluded the third period. Vasiljevic performed at a consistently high rate with 22 points, while Ware’s 23-point game saw him return to an elite level that has only reared its head a few times in NBL21. Yesterday also saw veteran player Daniel Kickert put up solid numbers in his first game of the season with 11 points and three triples.

Four Adelaide players scored 10 points or more with Crocker leading the team with 15 points and three rebounds. Meanwhile, Isaac Humphries (14 points and six rebounds), Sunday Dech (13 points, five assists and three rebounds) and Josh Giddey (10 points, seven assists and seven rebounds) were all major footnotes in their team’s defeat.

Adelaide will look to regain lost footing in the top four when they face the South East Melbourne Phoenix on Tuesday night, and prior to that the Kings aim to tackle down a Perth Wildcats side that is eager to get their season back on track.

NBL21 mid-season summaries: Bottom 5

YESTERDAY Draft Central summarised the seasons of each of the top four teams to this point in the fixture. Today we look at the summaries of the five teams that are aiming to displace them for a postseason finals spot in just over a month’s time.

5th – Sydney Kings
Record: 3 wins, 4 losses, % – 0.429

Sitting less than a game out of the top four, Sydney’s desire to rise up in the rankings will only intensify as Adam Forde’s talented roster will need not dwell on past failures given they share the same record as the Brisbane Bullets.

It was a sombre conclusion for the Kings after their first game ended, going down to Cairns by a single point. Remembering their sorrow from a week prior, Sydney answered back in the return fixture against the Taipans with a 99-91 win to even up their season record.

Two straight losses against the Bullets and the 36ers preceded two consecutive wins against Adelaide again and New Zealand, making up the bulk of their first seven games, before Illawarra edged out an 85-82 win in the battle of the two NSW clubs.

Prepping themselves for an important Round 6 where they will host both the Sixers and the defending champion Perth Wildcats for what will be a rematch of last year’s Grand Final.

Someone who will be an integral part of getting Sydney more positive results going forward will be Casper Ware, as the 31-year-old is averaging 20 points and three rebounds in his second season at the Kings. Import forward Jarell Martin is also proving that he is very valuable to his team averaging 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds, all while maintaining a 53 per cent conversion rate from the field. Last but not least, many punters have 23-year-old Dejan Vasiljevic as the top performing rookie of the year so far due to his 17 points and 3.3 rebounds per game averages – these numbers indicating a promising future for the former NCAA athlete.

 

6th – Brisbane Bullets
Record: 3 wins, 4 losses, % – 0.429

While the Brisbane Bullets only missed out on the finals due to percentage last season, the sense of urgency to chase down a top-four spot has yet to quite kick in, as they sit a win behind a .500 record and half a game behind the Phoenix who sit in fourth.

After being the unexpected first victim of the new and improved Illawarra Hawks side throughout rounds One and Two, the Bullets found themselves shocked and with no wins after two games (both losses were at home). But narrow victories against the Kings (90-87) and the Taipans (105-103) quickly allowed Brisbane to earn themselves a blank check after four games.

Brisbane would then fall to a red-hot Melbourne United in Round 4, which was further compounded at the start of Round Five falling to the Adelaide 36ers. Luckily for the Bullets, they would save face in the reverse fixture at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre toppling Adelaide by a solid 19-point margin, bringing us to today.

In terms of scoring output, it has been a two-man band between captain Nathan Sobey and newly signed import Vic Law, with the pair accounting for a combined 45 points per game as Sobey sports a league-leading average in scoring with 24.3 points, 3.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game with Law boasting 20.7 points and a team-high 9.4 rebounds per game. If the additional efforts of Jason Cadee, Tyrell Harrison and Orlando Johnson can become substantial for the remainder of the campaign, then Andrej Lemanis’s squad will pose a serious problem for the rest of the NBL.

 

7th – Perth Wildcats
Record: 2 wins, 3 losses, % – 0.400

Despite being one of two teams to have only played five game to this point in the fixture, many have been left to wonder how Trevor Gleeson’s side have taken as many defeats as they have so far this early on.

Things looked promising following a win in their first encounter with the South East Melbourne Phoenix (88-76), but after being snubbed the double in the Round Three rematch by one point it slowed the roll of the champions. Round Four was also a week to forget after losing out to the league frontrunners United by four points, but were able to salvage another win over the Phoenix a week after. The Wildcats and the Phoenix most recently faced each other for a fourth time, where South East Melbourne demolished Perth by a mammoth 25 points, deflating the reigning premiers morale prior to their contest this coming week.

It is hardly a surprise that the current league MVP Bryce Cotton is leading the side in putting the ball in the net with 22.6 points per game, while also averaging seven assists and over two steals. Second import John Mooney is also a primary producer with his 16.8-point, 11.4-rebound stat line, whereas former Hawks forward Todd Blanchfield is fitting in well at his new side with 13 points, 3.8 rebounds and two assists per game next to his name.

 

8th – Cairns Taipans
Record: 2 wins, 6 losses, % – 0.250

Perhaps one of the biggest disappointments this season, the Cairns Taipans have been struggling since mid-January ever since they were trounced by Illawarra at the tail end of Round One. Prior to that game, they were in relatively good spirits after a one-point victory over the Kings to begin the season.

Ever since then, the Taipans have run out of form with one of the worst success rates throughout the league after also losing to Sydney, Melbourne, Illawarra for a second time, Brisbane and New Zealand, enduring a streak of losses that would span five games. More importantly, four out of the five losses occurred in front of their home fans.

As of most recently, however, Cairns has since ended their five-game skid after defeating the Breakers in the second of the two teams’ matches, 84-71, and are now looking to continue some good form when they face off with both the Hawks and United in Round Six.

With DJ Newbill no longer a part of the side, both Scott Machado and Cameron Oliver have had to increase their production. Machado is operating at an impressive level averaging 17 points, 9.9 assists (again leading the league in this category) and four rebounds, whereas Oliver continues to do what he does best rebounding at an exorbitant rate, ranking second in the NBL with 10.6 per game and 17.5 points to tag onto that number.

While Mike Kelly has a solid core unit, individuals such as Kouat Noi (12.4 points per game), Majok Deng (11.6 points per game) and Mirko Djeric (11.5 points per game) need the extra support of their bench if they are to pull through with more victories to their name, especially as the number of games remaining continues to dwindle down.

 

9th – New Zealand Breakers
Record: 1 win, 4 losses, % – 0.200

The second of two teams to have only played five games, the New Zealand Breakers have performed the worst out of any team at this point in NBL21. But that could still change if Dan Shamir’s side can find some cohesion in the second half of the season.

Two losses to the 36ers in Rounds 2 and 3 were the first hiccups of the season for the Breakers, but some hope was reignited in the side when they defeated the Taipans away in Queensland to commence Round Four (85-79).

Unfortunately, that would be the extent of the side’s success, as not only would Cairns get the drop on New Zealand in the rematch two days later, but the Sydney Kings also handed the Breakers their fourth loss of the season in Round Five.

The positives have been few and far between to this point for New Zealand, although players like Tai Webster and Finn Delany have been having respectable seasons so far. Leading the team in points, rebounds and assists per game, Webster is having himself a campaign to remember averaging 20 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists.

While Delany is contributing 14.2 points and 6.4 rebounds on a consistent basis, others like Corey Webster (13.3 points) and former Bullet Lamar Patterson (10.4 points and 4.2 rebounds) are also doing their best to make the defence’s job more difficult each encounter. Nevertheless, there needs to major shift in tactics if the New Zealand side is going to climb off the bottom of the standings.

 

Catch the start of the NBL Cup tomorrow night when all nine teams will be competing for $150,000 and more wins to their name, as we kick off coverage for the second half of the NBL21 season.

NBL21 mid-season summaries: Top 4

AS we approach the sixth round of this year’s National Basketball League (NBL) campaign, the nine teams vying for the four postseason seeds now have a clearer picture of where they currently sit and what objectives need to be tackled, in order to put themselves in the best position possible to secure a semi-final berth.

Draft Central delves into a summary of how each team has performed up to this point and who their key contributors have been following Round 5. Here are the summaries of the teams currently sitting in the top four.

1st – Melbourne United
Record: 6 wins, 0 losses, % – 1.000

Back in late-December, single-year signee Jock Landale stated that United has the “potential to go undefeated,” and given how Dean Vickerman’s side has performed up to this point, that estimate seems to be becoming more and more realistic.

Opening up their season with a dominant 24-point win against fellow top-four competitor the Adelaide 36ers, Melbourne began their season with their best foot first.

Following their first result, United backed up their start 10 days later edging out the Taipans at the Cairns Pop-Up Arena 87 to 85 and could look forward to going back home with two wins under their belt. Four more victories against cross-town rivals South East Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Illawarra rounded out United’s picture-perfect start to the season and are now hosting the defending champions this coming Saturday, looking to knock off the Wildcats one more time.

Chris Goulding is continuing his NBL legacy in fine form leading his side on the scoreboard once again, averaging a decent 16.8 points per game as well as a few rebounds each time out (3.2). Providing top-notch service on the glass, Landale is doing exactly what he was brought on board to do, collecting over 15 points and seven rebounds per game.

Further adding to the team’s success are two more new signings with former Duke Blue Devil Jack White and former New Zealand Breaker Scotty Hopson providing large amounts of scoring, rebounds and assists between the pair. White ranks third on the team in scoring (10.3) and second in rebounding (6.8), whereas Hopson seeds fourth in scoring (9.8) and second in assists (3.8) adding multiple weapons for Melbourne to utilise going forward.

 

2nd – Illawarra Hawks
Record: 5 wins, 2 losses, % – 0.714

Taking into account that the Illawarra Hawks have gone through a roster makeover, appointed a new head coach, undergone two franchise name changes and have averaged 88 points per game, the Wollongong-based team have had an event-filled past six months.

Illawarra’s good fortunes for the season began with two back-to-back victories in the space of three days, firstly knocking over the Bullets and then the Taipans in what was a rout of the two Queensland sides. New coach Brian Goorjian kept his cool following a wonderful 2-0 start to the season and stuck to his “defence-first” basketball mentality, which in turn yielded similar results as the Hawks managed wins once again against Brisbane and Cairns.

Identical results would not follow the team down south to Victoria, as Illawarra faced their first and second tastes of disappointment, losing out to the Phoenix and then United. But, an 85-82 victory over the Sydney Kings has reasserted them as powerful contender for NBL21 before their Round 6 double-header against the Taipans and the Breakers this week.

Taking the league by storm, Tyler Harvey has dismantled every team that he has crossed to date, which has led to an average of 21.8 points per contest (third highest in the NBL). The frontcourt duo of Cameron Bairstow and Sam Froling have dominated the rebounding battles each week with the two grabbing 11 points per game each and at least 7.8 and 7.7 rebounds respectively, while Justinian Jessup is impressing many with his sharpshooting this season, averaging 14.7 points.

 

3rd – Adelaide 36ers
Record: 5 wins, 4 losses, % – 0.556

Having already played nine games to date, the Adelaide 36ers have played the most games out of any other team this season – meaning that each game between now and the end of the season mean a little more. After frustratingly missing out on the postseason in the 2019/20 season, Adelaide looks poised to rectify last season’s missed opportunities and certain rookies are proving to be invaluable when the side is in good form.

Splitting the difference between the two Melbourne-based sides to open their season, then suffering a second loss to the Phoenix, the Sixers found themselves with just one win from three games. Making some schematic alterations to his playbook, Conner Henry helped his team to a winning streak of three following triumphs over New Zealand twice and then the Kings to conclude Round 3, before Sydney returned the favour in Round 4. Adelaide then split results with the Brisbane Bullets in Round 5 leading to the current record of five wins and four losses.

Before their matchup with Sydney on Sunday, it was clear that Adelaide’s successes came primarily from their bigs, more specifically Daniel Johnson and Isaac Humphries. Johnson’s reign down low has been essentially unmatched averaging 21.3 points and six rebounds, as Humphries has been almost as potent averaging 17 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.8 blocks (highest in NBL). Import Tony Crocker’s 10 points per game are the 36ers third highest amount from an individual, while young gun Josh Giddey is making a name for himself in his rookie season, leading the team in assists with 5.8 per game and contributing 9.2 points a contest in the process.

 

4th – South East Melbourne Phoenix
Record: 4 wins, 4 losses, % – 0.500

The best way to describe South East Melbourne’s start to their season would be the team absorbing one punch and then doling one out themselves, as in their back-to-back encounters with Adelaide and then Perth, the Phoenix would lose out in the first game then win the second. Testament to this pattern, the Phoenix started the season with a record of two wins and two losses looking to pick up their performances upon their return to Victoria.

Annoyingly for the league’s newest club they lost their derby meeting and local bragging rights against Melbourne United, 90-96, in their second game of Round 3. However, a motivating win over the Illawarra Hawks (98-82) put some wind in Simon Mitchell’s sails, before once again splitting the results against the Wildcats in Round 5, which was enough to secure them the fourth seed in the standings at this point of the season by half a game in front of the Kings (three wins and four losses).

As expected, Mitch Creek is setting the benchmark in scoring for the Phoenix, totalling 18.5 points, seven rebounds and three assists per game this season. Closely following him is Keifer Sykes who maintains averages of 18 points, seven assists and 4.5 rebounds. The only other double-digit scoring contributors for South East Melbourne are Kyle Adnam and rookie Yannick Wetzell, providing 13.8 and 10.4 points apiece.

Mid-Season team summaries for the remaining five clubs will be released tomorrow on Draft Central.

2021 NBL Top Performers to Round 5: Adelaide/Brisbane/Cairns

IN the first of our three-part series looking at the National Basketball League’s (NBL) top performers to Round 5 before the NBL Cup tips off, we focus on Adelaide 36ers, Brisbane Bullets and Cairns Taipans.

ADELAIDE 36ERS:

Wins: 5
Losses: 4
Position: 3rd

Isaac Humphries has been the dominant center in the competition this year, particularly with his ability to work both ends of the court. Averaging a remarkable 17.1 points, as well as 8.8 rebounds, Humphries is best known for his huge blocks. At almost four per game, the 211cm, 116kg man mountain makes life incredibly difficult for any opposition offence to put scores on the board in the paint.

The inclusion of Humphries has allowed star shooter and big man Daniel Johnson to almost play a secondary role, but more so focus on his offence. He is at a team-high 21.1 points per game, whilst averaging 6.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists, ranked third and second at the club respectively. The pair are two 200cm-plus talents who can run both ways and do just about anything, which has helped the 36ers remain well up in contention for the NBL title.

Young gun Josh Giddey (9.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists) burst onto the scene in only his second match to lead the 36ers to a win over South East Melbourne Phoenix. Still a teenager, Giddey remains a threat for his overall game, and is able to dish off dimes and collect rebounds, whilst holding up his end and putting up points. One who seems destined for the NBA in the future.

In terms of others, Sunday Dech (9.1 points, 5.7 rebounds) has been solid across the board, whilst import Tony Crocker has averaged 10 points per game starting every match, though fellow import Donald Sloan already called it quits, heading off to pursue other opportunities after six matches – three off the bench for just nine points and three assists.

BRISBANE BULLETS:

Wins: 3
Losses: 4
Position: 6th

In a season that has been inconsistent thus far, import Victor Law has been a welcome addition in response to the loss of Lamar Patterson over the off-season. The latter has hardly set the world on fire at New Zealand Breakers, meanwhile Law is averaging almost a double-double with the American putting up 20.7 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.0 blocks per game. He has provided teammate Nathan Sobey with great support on the scoring front.

Sobey is putting up great numbers with 24.3 points per game his bread and butter as a back court shooter. Throw in 3.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.0 steals per game, and the former Adelaide 36ers talent has backed up his first season in the Sunshine State with another impressive year, particularly with plenty of highlight-reel plays in 2021.

The issue with the Bullets is finding that third source of consistent scoring, with the next highest scorer being Jason Cadee (8.6 points, 2.9 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals). Law and Sobey have been the only two permanent starters, with Andrej Lemanis rotating Tyrell Harrison (6.3 points, 6.4 rebounds) and Harry Froling (5.0 points, 5.9 rebounds) through the five spot. Orlando Johnson (7.4 points, 4.9 rebounds), Anthony Drmic (6.8 points, 2.8 rebounds) and Tanner Krebs (6.8 points) have all had shots, but the Bullets are still finding the best combination to see them challenge for finals this year.

CAIRNS TAIPANS:

Wins: 2
Losses: 6
Position: 8th

Cairns Taipans’ season has not gone to plan despite looking good on paper from a statistical perspective. The Snakes have five players averaging double-figure points, with dominant big man Cameron Oliver putting up 17.3 points and 10.8 rebounds to lead the way, but they are not getting the results on the board. Oliver has been a source of points and physicality off the boards, and is also averaging almost two blocks per game to do whatever it takes to drag his side across the line.

Similarly, Scott Machado is putting up big numbers with almost a double-double of 17 and 10 from points and assists. He contributes with four boards a game, but even with those numbers, his field goal percentage is right down at just 39.2 per cent. From long-range he is at 37 per cent, but it is his dimes that make him such a valuable player with elite passing and vision across the court.

The other player who has started every match is forward Kouat Noi, who has averaged the 12.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists per match from eight games. Majok Deng (11.9 points. 4.9 rebounds and 1.0 blocks) and Mirko Djeric (11.5 points. 3.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists) are the other two who have reached double-figure points this season in what should see the Taipans battling for a top spot.

Unfortunately Cairns are languishing down in eighth so far with just two wins from six games, and sadly the majority have been at home. Victories over Sydney Kings (one point) and New Zealand Breakers (17) are the sole successes, though the latter came in their most recent game. It is hoped the Taipans can use it as a building block going forward, having suffered a few tight losses as well.

Picture credit: Getty Images

Law guides Bullets to 19-point win over Adelaide

THE final game of Round 5 in the National Basketball League (NBL) ended in the Brisbane Bullets’ favour with the away side posting their fourth win of the season, a 19-point victory over Adelaide 36ers (93-74). The Bullets caused an upset win over their higher ranked opponents as Adelaide failed to get their signature play up and running, left shellshocked by Victor Law who left no stone unturned in the opening half of play to produce 19 points.

Adelaide claimed ascendancy in the first minutes of the quarter pushing out to as much as a five points ahead but were unable to maintain that level of intensity throughout the remainder of the term. The lapse allowed for Brisbane to find their groove and turn the tables to create a handy buffer themselves. Up by three points at the first change the Bullets appeared to have a firm grip on the game at hand and looked to push the buffer out at every turn sneaking out to 10 points at half time thanks to a dominant second term. Brisbane were relentless in attack throughout the second piling on 30 points while suffocating the scoring flow of their opponents to limit them to 23 points.

Their dominance continued into the second half of action as the Bullets could not be denied as some experienced heads stepped up to the plate and delivered. On the other hand the 36ers struggled to combat the offensive pressure the Bullets were applying and could not generate a high enough input to worry their opponents. Although the final term of play was closer with Adelaide managing 19 points and the Bullets adding 20 to their tally, the damage was already done as Brisbane had dominated from go to woe.

Given the scoreline it is no surprise that Brisbane had the upper hand in most shooting statistics boasting a better field goal percentage of 45 compared to 36 per cent. The Bullets also led the charge for three-point accuracy downing 11 of their 28 attempts at 39 per cent as opposed to Adelaide’s eight from 27 at 29 per cent. Accuracy from two-point range also favoured the victors shooting at a 48 per cent clip while the 36ers managed 40 per cent accuracy with their conversion of 18 from 45 attempts.

The Bullets secured more rebounds than their opponents (49-38) displaying their overall strength off the boards while also leading the steals department with five to four. Adelaide impressed with ball in hand to narrowly record more assists, 21-20, while their bigmen played an integral role laying five blocks to two in the clash. When it came to turnovers neither side could be separated, registering eight apiece and highlighting the overall cleanliness of the game.

There were two main contributors for Adelaide throughout the match as Daniel Johnson topped the table for points thanks to his 20 across his 33 minutes on court. He also managed to reel in eight rebounds and four assists. Teammate Isaac Humphries proved to be a handy option posting 15 points along with eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks as youngster Josh Giddey continued his merry way with nine points, eight assists and four rebounds. Although Sunday Dech did not have an influence on the scoreboard the guard collected seven rebounds with five of them defensive.

An inspired performance from Law was what got the Bullets over the line with the star import once again proving his dominance knocking back 27 points and falling just short of a double-double credit to his nine rebounds. Law was a real playmaker for the Bullets impacting the play in every which way but was ably assisted by the likes of Nathan Sobey who sunk 19 points of his own. Sobey did not shy away from the contest amassing five rebounds and six assists as Orlando Johnson also imposed himself on the match with his 15 points and nine-rebound effort. Matthew Hodgson also played a key support role as shown through his eight points, nine rebounds and three assists.

36ers limit Brisbane to 70 points, quash Bullets by 15

A SOMEWHAT poor performing team in front of their home crowd, the Brisbane Bullets’ average home record has now dropped to two wins and four losses after suffering a 70-85 loss to the Adelaide 36ers. On the other hand, the 36ers have emerged successful in their first away encounter of NBL21, signifying that the team is more than capable of holding their own outside South Australia.

The feeling inside Nissan Arena seemed to have one of excitement, yet also anxiousness given that if the Bullets were going to fall last night, it would mean a detrimental start to the early stages of the season and some further lost footing in the standings.

For this reason, it was not a shock that Brisbane started off on the right foot going up 19-16 at the conclusion of the first quarter with Nathan Sobey beginning the start of his spectacular night with nine points in the opening 10 minutes.

Unfortunately for Andrej Lemanis’s side, the efficient work on the offensive end would not flow over into the second quarter, being held to just 13 points in the term by Adelaide – who themselves scored 23 points in the same amount of time.

Due to the dominant second stanza, the 36ers swung the scoreboard in their favour to lead 39 to 32 at half time. The twin tower combination of Isaac Humphries and Daniel Johnson caused all sorts of headaches for Brisbane on the defensive end, as they hammered their opponents in the paint and around the rim.

As baskets did come few and far between for both rosters, this trend continued for a third straight period with a combined 28 points leading up to the fourth. But down by only five points with 10 minutes left on the clock, the hometown fans had plenty of confidence that their team could make up the difference.

A few key plays from Sunday Dech and Josh Giddey quickly dented the hopes of Brisbane’s comeback mission, as again Humphries and Johnson continued to grind down Tyrell Harrison and Harry Froling in particular. With Tony Crocker finding his stride late and Brendan Teys getting in on the action, Adelaide had built themselves a monstrous 21-point lead in the middle stages of the last term and left Brisbane in their wake.

All Conner Henry had to do was stick to his guns, as the 36ers cruised through the remainder of the contest confirming a 15-point victory and pressuring Illawarra’s second placed position in the standings.

The Bullets made their shots count from free throws, shooting 80 per cent at the line and outscoring Adelaide 18 to 12 in points off the bench. But Adelaide emerged superior in all other statistical categories, most prominently their 50 per cent conversion rate from the field, completing 34 of their 68 attempts last night. Being triumphant in areas such as rebounds, assists and second chance points, the Sixers finished the contest in dominant style to say the least.

Another example of dominance was the performance that Humphries put on yesterday, where he finished his night with 24 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks. Fellow frontcourt member Johnson ended with 21 points, four rebounds and three assists, as Crocker was the third of three Adelaide individuals to crack double digits with 11 points and six rebounds. Lastly, finishing with a quiet nine points and seven assists was young gun Giddey in over 33 minutes of play for the rookie.

It was a one-man band for the Bullets, which highlighted a lack of contribution as a group for the hosts. Scoring only 70 team points, Sobey would account for 25 of them. Along with his 25 points, he would also add three rebounds and a pair of assists. For Vic Law, he would finish with nine points and 10 rebounds in a lower scoring effort than previous showings.

Round five’s two-game series between the 36ers and the Bullets will continue on Monday night in Adelaide, as the latter are in desperate need of a positive result before they fall into an even deeper hole on the ladder after falling to two wins and four losses. Adelaide looks to improve to six wins and three losses if they are to come out victorious tomorrow night.