Tag: angus glover

2019/20 NBL season review: Illawarra Hawks

THE Illawarra Hawks came into the NBL season with high aspirations, following a disappointing yet somewhat successful 2018-19 season. Finishing seventh out of eight teams, it looked a little worse for wear. But, the fact remained that the Hawks were only two wins off a .500 record, with 12 wins from 28 matches. Nevertheless, with the acquisitions of a couple of major signings, meant the people of Illawarra had something to look forward to for NBL20.

Marquee Signings

LaMelo Ball

Since 2017, the NBL has implemented the ‘Next Stars’ program, where aspiring players could develop in the NBL until they are ready to enter into the NBA Draft, rather than go through the college system that many athletes have decided to go through. Prior to the season, it was announced that up and coming prospect, LaMelo Ball, would be the next recruit to make their way down under. Following his signing to the Illawarra Hawks, the young headliner immediately started to turn heads following his Round 1 performance against the Bullets, collecting 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists. This kind of stat line became a weekly occurrence for the 18-year-old, as throughout his 12 games, the Californian averaged 17 points, seven assists and seven and a half rebounds per game. Which for a guard his age and with his style, caused plenty of interest and most importantly was unseen in the NBL. The import was set to miss four weeks due to a bruised foot that occurred in early December during a practice session. Following six weeks out of the game, Ball took to social media to announce he would miss the remainder of the season to focus on recovery in preparation for next year’s NBA draft, finishing his season in partially anti-climactic fashion.

Aaron Brooks

With more than a decade of experience in the NBA, the Illawarra Hawks were set to base their entire offence around former Most Improved Player in the NBA, Aaron Brooks. Following the signing of Brooks, the 35-year-old averaged 17.9 points per game and over four assists in seven outings. Despite winning only one of their opening seven match-ups, the worst-case scenario came to fruition for Brooks, when the guard from Seattle tore his Achilles tendon attempting to block a Bryce Cotton three-pointer. Immediately following this, it was announced that Brooks would miss out on the remainder of the season, compounding the bad luck that the Hawks would go through in regard to their players’ health.

Josh Boone

One of Illawarra’s weaknesses the season prior, was their lack of inside presence, which the Hawks attempted to remedy through the signing of one of their two free agency acquisitions. Josh Boone, who had spent two and a half season with Melbourne, had reached the NBL finals series twice prior to NBL 20, winning the chip in 2017/18. Boone became one the Hawks most prominent contributors throughout the season, finishing with more than eight points and 5.8 rebounds a game in 18 minutes per contest.

Todd Blanchfield

Seasoned veteran and the second of Illawarra’s free-agency signings, Todd Blanchfield was acquired to score from all parts of the court for Illawarra and standing at 200cm tall with the ability to beat most big men off the dribble, Blanchfield provided the Hawks with numerous man of the match performances. Averaging over 13 points per game and close to four rebounds at a 42 per cent clip, Blanchfield proved to be one of Illawarra’s most utilised player playing more than 30 minutes a game throughout the season.

Journey to The Spoon

Illawarra’s objective to move upwards in the standings this season did not look likely following the first portion of the season as the Hawks only won a single game in their first eight contests, solidifying them in bottom position with a big chunk of the season still to play.

Following their rough start to the season, which saw the season ending injury of Brooks against the Wildcats, the Hawks went on to beat the Taipans for the second time, which was significant given the level of play the Taipans played at for the rest of the season. One of the perks that came with the signing of Ball was the amount of attention that the young star garnered wherever he played. Come November 17, the Hawks travelled to Qudos Bank Arena to face the top-seeded Kings in front of an NBL record-breaking crowd of 17,514 people. Going down by just five points in what was considered a very competitive contest for the Hawks, and a day that those who played in that game should remember for the rest of their lives.

While a major highlight for Hawks players would be playing in that record-breaking game for attendance, they would also manage to topple the minor-premier, Sydney Kings the next time out on their home floor in Wollongong, edging out the purple and gold 85-80 later in Round 13.

The rest of the season was rather challenging for Illawarra, as throughout the season, the Hawks’ record was consistently littered with lengthy losing streaks including an eight-game streak to finish their season, spanning January 1 to February 14, concluding their season with a record of five wins and 23 losses. The Hawks had four less wins than the next highest team, South-East Melbourne Phoenix, and unfortunately it was five less wins compared to last season.

Despite their rather unsuccessful season finishing at the bottom of the table, Illawarra Hawks owners Simon and Wendy Stratford said in a media release that they were proud of the club as a whole and were looking forward to a promising future.

“Although it was a tough season on the court, we have made huge strides building the club and the Illawarra Hawks brand, to be a strong force in the NBL,” they said.

The pair would go on to praise Illawarra’s young secondary unit at their disposal following the various injuries the Hawks would have to deal with. Players praised included Angus Glover, Sam Froling and Sunday Dech.

The up and comers

Angus Glover

One of Illawarra’s stand out rookies, Angus Glover proved his worth late in the season following the exit of fellow teammate Ball. Glover’s minutes at the start of the season increased significantly as a result of Ball’s exit from the league, going from below ten minutes a game to averaging over twenty in the second half of the season. Glover’s season stat line would provide him with 5.2 points per game, as well as 2.3 rebounds with 1.2 assists. He also maintained a 44 per cent field goal efficiency throughout the season, which would in turn earn the 21-year-old an Australian Boomers selection for the 2021 Asia Cup qualifiers alongside fellow Hawks teammates Daniel Grida, Sam Froling, Blanchfield and Dech.

Sam Froling

When 20-year-old Sam Froling came into the NBL at the start of this season, many did not expect his progression to happen so quickly, and as a result the youngster is gearing up for a potentially special second season in the NBL. Like Glover, minutes came in small amounts leading into the new season. However, more and more responsibility was placed on the rookie, culminating in a single game where Froling played 23 minutes against an in-form Taipans unit, scoring 13 points and grabbing five rebounds catching the eye of international recruiters in the process. Froling finished his season averaging six points and almost three and a half rebounds per game, whilst maintaining a 46 per cent clip from the field in a successful first year of professional basketball.

Sunday Dech

Illawarra rounded out their young core group of players when they signed 26-year-old Dech, who coupled up with fellow swingman Blanchfield to help facilitate the Hawks offence. Excluding Brooks and Ball, Dech became Illawarra’s second leading scorer on the roster averaging over nine points a game, while averaging 23 minutes of play per game developing into one of the league’s most improved players.

Coach Flinn’s remarks

“Whilst the record is not good, success is measured in different ways,” Flinn said post-game against the Kings in the final round of the NBL 20 season. “Obviously we’re not happy with where we’re at in terms of where we finished on the ladder, but we are quite happy with the forward progress we’re making and the trajectory of the club.”

It is safe to say that Illawarra was easily the worst performing team throughout this season, however it brings up many questions in relation to next season. It has been a number of years since so many players from the same club have been selected to the Australian Boomers squad, and with these selected Hawks’ players still currently being of a younger age, you might just need to pay attention to how Illawarra’s squad is going to shake up for 2021, and whether they might be touted as playoff contenders.

2019/20 NBL Team of the Week: Round 20

TWO teams fighting over fourth spot in the final round earned multiple Draft Central National Basketball League (NBL) Team of the Week player nominations for Round 20. Both Brisbane Bullets (three) and Melbourne United (two) had multiple players in our team for the final round of the season, while five other sides – those in the top seven – had one apiece, with just South East Melbourne Phoenix and Illawarra Hawks missing out on a player for the last round.

Brisbane’s trio of players included two starters in Nathan Sobey and EJ Singler. Sobey put up 30 points, six rebounds, six assists and two steals in the Bullets’ win over Cairns Taipans, while Singler sank 21 points, and had nine rebounds, six assists and three steals with the second best shooting percentage of the starters with 64.3. Also on the bench is Brisbane’s Cameron Gliddon, who made the side along with Melbourne United duo, Chris Goulding and Shawn Long; those two were named in the guard and center position on the bench respectively.

The other starting guard is New Zealand’s Scotty Hopson, with a double-double effort in the Breakers’ win over the Phoenix, recording 23 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and a steal, while up the other end of the court, Perth Wildcats’ Nick Kay cemented his spot in the starting line-up thanks to 23 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks, with a shooting percentage of 66.7. Rounding out the starting team is Adelaide 36ers’ Daniel Johnson who had a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds, as well as three assists.

Looking to the bench, Cairns Taipans’ Cameron Oliver was a lone hand in a disappointing weekend for the third placed North Queensland side, named in the 10-player team with Sydney Kings’ Jae’Sean Tate – who had the best shooting percentage of anyone in the team thanks to 77.8 per cent from the field. There were a number of unlucky omissions from the side for Round 20, including Melbourne duo, Melo Trimble and David Barlow, Illawarra guards Sunday Dech and Angus Glover, South East Melbourne’s John Roberson and Tai Wesley, Cairns’ Majok Deng, New Zealand’s Robert Loe and Perth’s Miles Plumlee.

STARTING FIVE:

G: Nathan Sobey (BB) – 30 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 47.6 FG%
G: Scotty Hopson (NZ) – 23 points, 5 rebounds, 10 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 44.4 FG%
C: Daniel Johnson (AD) – 18 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, 47.1 FG%
F: EJ Singler (BB) – 21 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 0 blocks, 64.3 FG%
F: Nick Kay (PW) – 23 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 66.7 FG%

BENCH:

G: Chris Goulding (MU) – 25.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.0 blocks, 56.7 FG%
G: Cameron Gliddon (BB) – 25 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, 0 blocks, 47.1 FG%
C: Shawn Long (MU) – 16.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.0 blocks, 42.9 FG%
F: Cameron Oliver (CT) – 16.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.0 steals, 1.0 blocks, 50.0 FG%
F: Jae’Sean Tate (SK) – 19 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, 77.8 FG%

NBL Round 16 review: Breakers back in the hunt, Bullets rise to equal fourth

A HUGE round of National Basketball League (NBL) action saw New Zealand Breakers bounce back from disappointment last round, while Brisbane Bullets emerged as a genuine title contender with the some one-sided contests across the weekend.

New Zealand Breakers (88) defeated Sydney Kings (81)

It was different setting for the Breakers in the opening game of Round 16, with Friday night’s matchup taking place at TSB Stadium in New Plymouth. But that didn’t stop the New Zealand side from gathering momentum, particularly from forward Scotty Hopson, who started off strong with 13 opening quarter points. Despite this, a big three-pointer from Xavier Cooks of the Kings had the game tied after ten minutes at 24 a piece. However, this would carry over the visitors ultimately leading by five at half-time and looking to steal an away win with four rounds remaining. For New Zealand, this was a must-win game if they were to have the best chance of making finals and they certainly looked like they wanted to,  following an 8-0 run late in the third-quarter which began the Breakers’ crusade to the final buzzer and back into the winner’s column. The win for the Breakers was largely credited to Hopson, who has maintained an elite level of play predominantly in the second half of the season, and his 30 points, six rebounds and five assists were a testament to that. Additionally, it was another efficient week for New Zealand’s center Robert Loe as he snagged up 18 points, four rebounds and five assists, including the three-pointer to ice the game with 24 seconds remaining. Finn Delaney was also a major presence on the boards, securing a double-double against the ladder-leaders with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Casper Ware’s night was nothing extraordinary compared to prior outings, going 7-22 from the field, managing 17 points and six assists. Meanwhile, Jae’Sean Tate would crack 22 points, going 7-8 from the charity strike. The win for the Breakers would springboard them into Sunday’s clash against Melbourne, as the Kings would need to recuperate for the round-closer against the Phoenix.

DC Medal: 3 – Scotty Hopson (NZ), 2 – Finn Delany (NZ), 1 – Robert Loe (NZ)

Perth Wildcats (97) defeated South-East Melbourne Phoenix (71)

Perth’s main objective heading into the clash against the Phoenix was to just stick to their game plan and win their only matchup of the weekend to further chase down the Sydney Kings. From the outset the game was rather one-sided thanks to fast-break buckets coming in bunches for the defending champions. Leading by nine, the Wildcats would continue to stretch the lead throughout the game, leading by 26 at the final break and then maintaining the deficit to the final buzzer. The result for the Wildcats has put them a game behind the Kings once again (15-8), with a massive game against New Zealand looming next Saturday. As for the Phoenix, the loss was a major setback given they were to face an angry Sydney side just two days later and had gotten off on the wrong foot to their Round 16. The major factors behind the Wildcats’ victory were the various ways they obtained points, as they outscored the Phoenix in categories such as points in the paint (40-34), second-chance points (7-0) and points from turnovers (15-6) which added up to a plus twenty-two on the scoreboard as a result. Bryce Cotton once again guided his team through the storm with a solid 25 points and seven assists, shooting 50 per cent around the basket. He was assisted by Mitchell Norton, who up until last week had been relatively quiet, tallying 18 points in 27 minutes of play. Only two of the Phoenix’s players managed to crack double digits, with John Roberson stringing together an indifferent 11 points and six assists and surprisingly Devondrick Walker, who led his side in the scoring totals with 16 points.

DC Medal: 3 – Bryce Cotton (PW), 2 – Nick Kay (PW), 1 – Mitch Norton (PW)

Brisbane Bullets (106) defeated Illawarra Hawks (77)

The final score of Saturday’s game between the Bullets and the Hawks does not reflect the fight that Illawarra had displayed in the first half as the game was tied mid-way through the contest. But mainly due to Brisbane’s stellar ball movement and momentum gained from their successful three-point shooting, it was a massacre in the second half at the Armory. A 36-point third quarter from the Bullets had almost instantaneously put the contest beyond doubt, as the home-side limited the Hawks to just 17 third-quarter points. To cement the win, the Bullets didn’t let up on the defensive end, again limiting Illawarra to a mere 13 points in the final period and as result, convincingly routing the ninth placed Hawks and reinstating their case for a finals spot. With the Bullets dominating across all the shooting categories, it was no surprise they would collect 13 shots from downtown, compared to Hawks’ five, with the main culprits being Cam Gliddon and Jason Cadee, as they each slotted four. Lamar Patterson was as good as you’d expect, with the import forward rounding up an even 20 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. All five of Brisbane’s starters garnered double digits in points and this just proved too much for Illawarra as only two of their whole squads managed that feat. An NBL rising star in Angus Glover came out with 18 points and five rebounds, while Todd Blanchfield settled for 17 points. For Brisbane, prospects are starting to become more positive as they sit even in the standings with Melbourne United with .500 records (11-11) and a finals spot that is only an arm’s reach away. For Illawarra, it marked their fifth consecutive defeat.

DC Medal: 3 – Lamar Patterson (BB), 2 – Will Magnay (BB), 1 – Nathan Sobey (BB)

Cairns Taipans (108) defeated Adelaide 36ers (91)

It took a little bit more than just a strong first quarter for Cairns to get over the line in their victory over the 36ers, in this much anticipated clash of two of the top candidates to suit up in the post-season. While Cairns did jump out to a 12-point advantage after 10 minutes of play, Adelaide refused to go away for the rest of the three periods. Due to Cairns’ shooting efficiency, the 36ers were just never able to make a substantial run away from home. Adelaide’s shooting was below par on the night, stumbling along with a 37 per cent success rate from the court, whereas Cairns’ flourished, making more shots than they missed (51%). The Taipans’ ‘big-three’ came up big under the spotlight, as Dj Newbill contributed a team-high 28 points against a struggling Adelaide backcourt. For big-man import Cameron Oliver, it was another double-double performance for the season with a whopping 24 points and 15 rebounds, whereas Scott Machado fell one assist shy of a double-double of his own, finishing with 21 points and nine assists. The two-man duo of Jerome Randle and Daniel Johnson did all they could and more, but it was not enough. Randle, who only managed seven field goals on the night, still accumulated 21 points and 10 assists, while Johnson was unable to miss, finishing with an astounding 38 points and eight boards. After Adelaide’s defeat it meant they were now at the tail-end of the mid-table logjam. Only sitting half a game from fourth, the pressure is now mounting for the 36ers to earn some late-season victories. Cairns’ triumph now means that they sit a game and a half ahead of fourth place, ever increasing their chances of making finals with few games to play.

DC Medal: 3 – Jerome Randle (AD), 2 – Cameron Oliver (CT), 1 – Daniel Johnson (AD)

New Zealand Breakers (90) defeated Melbourne United (68)

New Zealand made their return to Spark Arena with an abundance of momentum, coming away with a hard-fought victory over the Kings two days prior. They had to move on quickly however, as they now had to topple a desperate Melbourne United side that had lost three of their last four contests. Despite the level of desperation that United were showing, the Breakers weathered the storm to start the game with the utmost perfection, leading by ten points just seven minutes into the game. One of the main questions being asked was ‘is Sek Henry’s output as of lately a result of poor form?’. Henry showed up to the game to silence the critics in his limited minutes of play, with two massive three-pointers in the second quarter setting the tone for the rest of the game. New Zealand would win every quarter, finishing off the struggling Melbourne side by 22 points and really ramping up the finals race in the process. Two teams in the Breakers and the 36ers sit a half game behind Melbourne due to their loss, as well as the Bullets who sit equal fourth with four rounds to go. An all-around scoring performance by the Breakers is the easiest way to describe their offence on Sunday, as Scotty Hopson led the way with 22 points and nine rebounds and Finn Delaney notching up his second double-double of the weekend with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Melbourne’s struggles only continue to get worse as Melo Trimble continues his run of poor performances, with a quiet 12 points and five assists. Shawn Long and Chris Goulding made up the rest of the team’s points with 18 and 13 points respectively.

DC Medal: 3 – Scotty Hopson (NZ), 2 – Finn Delany (NZ), 1 – Robert Loe (NZ)

Sydney Kings (98) defeated South East Melbourne Phoenix (81)

Sink or swim was the scenario facing the South-East Melbourne squad walking into Qudos Bank Arena, which motivated them to come out firing in the first quarter. But it was a grind for the Phoenix through the first three-quarters, with every basket being fought for against a tenacious Kings defence. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that Simon Mitchell’s team’s knees gave way and the relentless onslaught of Sydney’s offence finally came through, outscoring the Phoenix 23-13 in a dominant final period, regaining the loss they had sustained in New Zealand and winning the contest by a modest 17 points. Despite coming out second best in almost every statistic, the Phoenix hung around with the Kings for 30 minutes, which points to lack of conversion, evident in their 44 per cent shooting from the field compared to Sydney’s 53 per cent. As five different players reached double digits for the Kings, there weren’t many major performances, however Didi Louzada’s 18 points in 17 minutes off the bench was a big talking point during the contest. Casper Ware and Jae’Sean Tate’s 14 points apiece were also essential in the victory coupled with Andrew Bogut’s 11 rebounds, making it a well-rounded win for the top team in the league. John Roberson’s 27 points and five three-pointers was a highlight for the Phoenix, while Dane Pineau put up more impressive rebounding numbers with 13 and Kyle Adnam put on one of his best performances of the season, with 17 points at a 72 per cent clip. The Kings hold on to their top spot for another week as they secured their sixteenth win of the 2019/20 season, with a red-hot Perth side just one win behind them. On the other hand, the Phoenix’s postseason hopes have been severely hindered, following two defeats over their double-header weekend placing them two wins behind the pack in the mid-table race.

DC Medal: 3 – Jae’Sean Tate (SK), 2 – John Roberson (SEM), 1 – Didi Louzada (SK)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

35 – Bryce Cotton (PW)
34 – Lamar Patterson (BB)
33 –
32 –
31 –
30 –
29 –
28 – Shawn Long (MU)
27 –
26 – Jae’Sean Tate (SK),
25 –
24 – Mitch Creek (SEM)
23 – Scott Machado (CT), Jerome Randle (AD)
22 –
21 – Casper Ware (SK), Melo Trimble (MU)
20 – LaMelo Ball (IH)
19 – Cameron Oliver (CT), John Roberson (SEM)
18 –
17 – Nick Kay (PW)
16 –
15 – Daniel Johnson (AD)
14 –
13 – Andrew Bogut (SK), Scotty Hopson (NZ)
12 – Eric Griffin (AD)
11 –  Corey Webster (NZ)
10 – DJ. Newbill (CT)
9 – Terrico White (PW)
8 – Nathan Sobey (BB),
7 – Chris Goulding (MU), Finn Delany (NZ)
6 –  Kouat Noi (CT), Dane Pineau (SEM)
5 – Aaron Brooks (IL), Brad Newley (SK), AJ Ogilvy (IL), Anthony Drmic (AD), Todd Blanchfield (IH)
4 –  Dario Hunt (PW), Brandon Ashley (NZ), Ben Madgen (SEM), Tom Abercrombie (NZ), Matt Hodgson (BB), Robert Loe (NZ), Didi Louzada (SK)
3 – Sek Henry (NZ), Glen Rice Jr (NZ)
2 – Jason Cadee (BB), Sunday Dech (IH), David Barlow (MU), Mitch McCarron (MU), Tim Coenraad (IH), Kendall Stephens (SEM), Will Magnay (BB)
1 – Majok Deng (CT), Craig Moller (SK), Jesse Wagstaff (PW), Keith Benson (SEM), Tohi Smith-Milner (MU), RJ Hampton (NZ), Angus Glover (IH), Emmett Naar (IH), Josh Boone (IH), Ej Singler (BB), Daniel Kickert (SK), Sam Froling (IH), Mitch Norton (PW)

NBL Round 11 review: 36ers and Phoenix gain edge in mid-table race over Cairns

IN a round that saw scoring in abundance it was the league leaders that continued good form as Perth notched up two wins in their double-header weekend, while Sydney returned to winning form in their contest over Melbourne United. In the mid-table race, Adelaide jumped back to fourth, as they took care of business against the Phoenix and the Breakers with credit to Jerome Randle’s clutch performances. Whereas, Cairns fell back to square one (sixth position) as they could not get the job done against the Wildcats or Phoenix, thanks to John Roberson’s 21 points in six minutes in Melbourne.

Cairns Taipans (84) defeated by Perth Wildcats (88)

The round opened in Cairns for the matchup between two of the league’s hottest competitors, the fourth placed Taipans and the second placed Wildcats. In what was an even balanced game for the majority of the game that saw both squads firing, it was the defending champions who pulled out the stops towards the end of the game to outscore Cairns 25-15 in the final period, earning their four-point victory. Big buckets from marquee point guard Bryce Cotton and a dagger three pointer from Terrico White in the final two minutes allowed Perth to upend the Taipans’ string of previous victories as their chase for top spot continued. Both Cotton and White collected team highs with 24 and 21 points respectively, but it was Nicholas Kay that shined behind the scenes with a stat-stuffing 19 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two blocks. For the Taipans, Cameron Oliver stepped up big with 21 points along with a massive effort on the boards gathering 16 rebounds, while leader Scott Machado also finished with a double-double, rounding out his performance with 13 points and 12 assists.

DC Medal: 3 – Bryce Cotton (PW), 2 – Terrico. White (PW), 1 – Scott Machado (CT)

Adelaide 36ers (113) defeated South East Melbourne Phoenix (111)

Following Cairns’ loss the night before, fourth spot was up for grabs in Adelaide as the 36ers and the Phoenix battled it out in a fight to the end, that would not be decided until the final shot of the game, when Mitch Creek missed his game-tying layup on the buzzer. The shot fell millimetres short as the ball rattled out, allowing the 36ers to hold on for the win. Both teams shot the lights out as 224 points was split between the two sides allowing eight out of the ten starters to reach double digits. Randle came to play, as he once again made shots at crucial points in the game, tallying 26 points, eight assists and four rebounds. However, it was not just Randle that created chaos for the Phoenix’s defence, as big men Eric Griffin and Harry Froling put numbers up in chunks. Griffin was to say the least, efficient, going 8-13 from the field and totalling 20 points and 10 rebounds, while six-foot-nine center Froling had his coming out party on the season with 19 points in just 15 minutes of court time. In Creek’s return to the city of churches, his opening quarter was slow managing just two points, but this was remedied in the end, as he finished with 27 points, 11 rebounds and four assists for the Phoenix. Roberson continued to amaze with his 22 points extending his good performances in what has been a stellar opening season in the NBL, whereas Tai Wesley’s return from injury heralded 11 points in 12 minutes of play.

DC Medal: 3 – Jerome Randle (AD), 2 – Mitch Creek (SEM), 1 – John Roberson (SEM)

Melbourne United (81) defeated by Sydney Kings (104)

United was in good spirits leading into Saturday’s clash against the Kings, after their 22-point demolition of the 36ers last week. But, the ladder-leaders had even more motivation following their back-to-back losses in Round 10 and they showed this from the outset. United failed to outscore the Kings in any of the four quarters as Sydney shot at a high efficiency from all parts of the floor. With Melbourne’s below-par 26-71 (36 per cent) effort from the field, the visitors killed the noise from the home crowd, going 32-64 (50 per cent) and burying Melbourne with points in the process, convincingly earning their twelfth win of the season. Kings’ guard Casper Ware continued the point guards’ dominance that had been seen throughout the round thus far as he flustered the United defence obtaining 28 points, including going 9-11 from the free-throw line as he was an imperative part of his side’s offensive attack. His performance was partnered with Jae’sean Tate’s double-double (13 points and 12 rebounds). United’s rebounding was abnormally absent in their loss to Sydney, going minus eight on the boards tally (36-44), in particular for Shawn Long who despite collecting 18 points, only managed three rebounds in total. Melo Trimble was Melbourne’s main scoring contributor with 19 points and five assists, but good performances were few, with the Kings routing the home side. Sydney’s triumph keeps them on top of the table with the in-form Wildcats nipping at their heels only a single game behind in the standings.

DC Medal: 3 – Casper Ware (SK), 2 – Jae’Sean Tate (SK), 1 – Melo Trimble (MU)

Perth Wildcats (86) defeated Brisbane Bullets (78)

Perth returned to RAC Arena looking to round out their double-header weekend with two crucial wins, but in their way stood a stubborn Brisbane Bullets side that would prove to be difficult to put away. On paper both sides looked even, matching each other in rebounds, assists and field goal percentage. The match report’s main difference was free-throws, as Perth took out the category going 23 out of 25 from the line besting the Bullets who went 13 of 20. The consistency from the line coupled with a few good individual performances from the Wildcats’ main culprits, allowed Perth to keep Brisbane at arm’s length grinding out the eight-point victory. Cotton, White and Kay were once again in the spotlight combining for 60 of their team’s 86 points (23, 19 and 18 points each), while Jesse Wagstaff put in a solid day’s work amounting his game to 10 points and five rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench. The Bullets who have been struggling to find their rhythm as of late, were gallant in their efforts against the reigning champs. Key performances by Nathan Sobey (15 points and three assists) and Lamar Patterson (14 points and eight rebounds) were the extent of Brisbane’s individual standouts as overall, the team showed encouraging signs. Perth extended its winning streak to four games and now tie the Kings on win with 12, while Brisbane sits a game and a half behind the Phoenix in seventh.

DC Medal: 3 – Bryce Cotton (PW), 2 – Terrico White (PW), 1 – Lamar Patterson (BB)

New Zealand Breakers (96) defeated by Adelaide 36ers (99)

As it turned to Sunday, the eighth placed New Zealand Breakers were in need of a victory at Spark Arena as the window for a late run to the finals was getting smaller, meanwhile a win for Adelaide would cement them in the top four. The 36ers came out firing owning the scoreboard all the way to the end of the first half, managing 35 opening quarter points and leading by as much as 20 late in the second quarter. Nevertheless, the New Zealand crowd willed its side back to lead by two mid-way through the fourth quarter. With both sides trading buckets in the last five minutes, Sek Henry blew by Anthony Drmic for the layup with 24.9 seconds on the clock to tie the game at 96-96. But in true Randle form, the guard pulled up from deep off of a Daniel Johnson screen to sink the three-pointer and send the Breaker army into despair as the 36ers stole the game 99-96. In terms of performances, all five of New Zealand’s starters received double digits led by Tom Abercrombie who finished with 22 points and nine rebounds, while Henry garnered 20 points. Scoring for Adelaide was a different story as big scoring outputs came from fewer players, namely Randle who accumulated 29 points and four assists. As for Johnson, who was quiet against the Phoenix in his previous game, set the record straight with an impressive 26 points and six rebounds. As a result of the win, Adelaide tie United for third with both teams sitting on eight wins and seven losses, whereas the Breakers fall further behind the back receiving their tenth loss of the season.

DC Medal: 3 – Jerome Randle (AD), 2 – Thomas Abercrombie (NZ), 1 – Daniel Johnson (AD)

South East Melbourne Phoenix (112) defeated Cairns Taipans (105)

With the weekend rounding out, fans who attended Sunday night’s game at Melbourne Arena were subject to a treat, as the Phoenix and the Taipans went the distance, in a game dictated by three-point shooting. Throughout the tit-for-tat exchange for the opening three quarters, neither team was able to gain the definitive edge over one another, but it looked like Cairns would ride the wave to an away victory early in the fourth leading the Phoenix by as much as 10. However, the Phoenix started to claw its way back, eventually only trailing by six with 24 seconds left. This was when Roberson found his stroke and knocked down two massive three-pointers in the space of 11 seconds to tie the game and send it to overtime. However, the carnage would not stop there for Roberson, it would continue all the way through extra time as well, as Roberson would score 15 of the Phoenix’s 17 overtime points, leading South-East Melbourne to their seven-point comeback win in front of an ecstatic Melbourne crowd. Roberson would take man-of-the-match honours with 32 points along with eight threes in his best game thus far this season. But it would be ignorant to not also mention Creek and Adam Gibson’s performances throughout regulation, as they both pieced together 25 points, as well as eight rebounds by Creek. For the Taipans, DJ Newbill played a big game, compiling 30 points in 42 minutes of play. Additionally, Oliver secured another double-double with 23 points and 13 rebounds, whereas Machado tallied 18 points and six assists. The loss by the Taipans rounded out an anti-climactic weekend as they slipped back down to sixth position. Conversely, the Phoenix moved up to fifth just half a game out of the top four and after a shooting performance like Sunday’s, which has not been seen since the opening rounds of the season, indicators look promising for the new boys.

DC Medal: 3 – John Roberson (SEM), 2 – DJ Newbill (CT), 1 – Mitch Creek (SEM)

Illawarra Hawks (73) defeated by Melbourne United (94)

Melbourne United have claimed an all-important Monday night blockbuster, downing Illawarra Hawks by 21 points in Wollongong. The Hawks blooded two new players for the game in Darington Hobson and Billy Preston who both saw minutes, including a start for Hobson, as the Hawks kept touch with last year’s grand finalists early. Melbourne led by a point at the first break, and then the home team was up and about heading into half-time, having scored 16-14 in the second quarter to lead by a point themselves at the main break. As if it flicked a switch for United, Melbourne metaphorically said ‘that’s enough’ and piled on 55 points to 33 in the second half to run out comfortably 94-73 winners. Long was at his absolute best once again, sinking 21 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks, denying the Hawks shooters time and time again. He was joined among the best by Trimble, who sank a game-high 22 points, seven rebounds, six assists and one steal on the night. Mitch McCarron (10 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals) was also impressive in the win. For the Hawks, AJ Ogilvy was busy with 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists, but it was Illawarra’s bench that contributed the most on the night. Angus Glover sank 15 points, three rebounds and had an assist, while Emmett Naar was the top player for the home said with 16 points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals. On debut, Hobson had the three points – at just 10 per cent from the field, but managed seven rebounds, four assists and two steals in the loss.

DC Medal: 3 – Shawn Long (MU), 2 – Melo Trimble (MU), 1 – Emmett Naar (IH)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

27 – Bryce Cotton (PW)
26 –
25 – Lamar Patterson (BB), Shawn Long (MU)
24 – Mitch Creek (SEM),
23 –
22 –
21 – Casper Ware (SK), Melo Trimble (MU)
20 – LaMelo Ball (IH)
19 –
18 –  Jae’Sean Tate (SK),
17 – Scott Machado (CT),
16 –
15 – Cameron Oliver (CT),
14 – Daniel Johnson (AD), John Roberson (SEM)
13 – Nick Kay (PW), Jerome Randle (AD)
12 –
11 – Andrew Bogut (SK), Corey Webster (NZ),
10 – Eric Griffin (AD),
9 – Terrico White (PW),
8 –
7 –
6 – Nathan Sobey (BB), Kouat Noi (CT), DJ. Newbill (CT),
5 – Aaron Brooks (IL), Scotty Hopson (NZ), Brad Newley (SK), AJ Ogilvy (IL),
4 – Chris Goulding (MU), Dario Hunt (PW), Brandon Ashley (NZ), Ben Madgen (SEM),
3 – Sek Henry (NZ), Dane Pineau (SEM), Didi Louzada (SK), Anthony Drmic (AD), Glen Rice Jr (NZ), Finn Delany (NZ)
2 – Matt Hodgson (BB), Jason Cadee (BB), Sunday Dech (IH), David Barlow (MU), Mitch McCarron (MU), Tim Coenraad (IH), Tom Abercrombie (NZ)
1 – Majok Deng (CT), Craig Moller (SK), Jesse Wagstaff (PW), Todd Blanchfield (IH), Keith Benson (SEM), Tohi Smith-Milner (MU), RJ Hampton (NZ), Angus Glover (IH), Emmett Naar (IH)

NBL Round 10 review: Cairns leapfrog into Top 4 after downing Kings

IN an exciting round that saw big-time match-ups, it did not disappoint as the in-form Taipans moved into the top four after key wins against New Zealand and Sydney. The Kings dropped both of their games over the weekend allowing the Perth Wildcats to only trail in the standings by a game and a half going into Round 11. Down in Melbourne, United came away with a big 22-point victory in Chris Goulding’s 300th career NBL game, whereas Brisbane avoided a three-game skid, defeating Illawarra at The Armoury.

Cairns Taipains (108) defeated New Zealand Breakers (90)

One of the League’s most in-form teams, the Cairns Taipans, looked to continue its good run of games back in North-Queensland on Friday night as they took on a struggling breakers outfit. The Taipans looked hot from the jump-ball, as they broke out a monster first quarter tallying 31 points after ten minutes. While the Breakers led the Taipans in rebounds with a plus-seven (44-37) on the boards, it was the home-side’s efficient scoring that created the difference in the final score line. New Zealand converted at a mediocre 39 per cent clip, whereas Cairns shot 60 per cent of their attempts. Taipans guard Scott Machado was instrumental in his side’s double-digit victory with his 22 points and seven assists, which was further aided by fellow guard Dj Newbill who put up 20 of his own. The Breakers only standout performance came from their import in Glen Rice Jr, who posted an impressive 30 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, just two dimes short of a triple double. The gap between the Breakers and the rest of the competition continues to grow as they fall three games behind the Brisbane Bullets. On the other hand, Cairns continued their impressive last month of games as they gained much needed momentum heading into their clash on Sunday against the Sydney Kings.

DC Medal: 3 – Glen Rice Jr (NZ), 2 – Scott Machado (CT), 1 – Cameron Oliver (CT)

Perth Wildcats (96) defeated Sydney Kings (77)

The battle of the top two teams in the NBL took place out in the hostile RAC Arena, a stadium that has proved difficult to win at for the Kings and with the Wildcats closing in on the top spot, a win would be crucial.  Both sides came out firing to start the game, with three-pointers being the main form of scoring, but it was what came after the first break that ultimately decided the contest. A 40-point second quarter for the Wildcats put the game beyond doubt at the halfway point, which is something yet to happen to the Kings, as the halftime score stood at 70-45. The Kings would outscore Perth in both the third and final quarters, but it was a mere formality as Sydney snapped its five-game winning streak. Bryce Cotton came up big for the Wildcats with his 27 points and eight rebounds, which included three from deep. Terrico White also added 20 points and five rebounds and Nicholas Kay grabbed a double-double (19 points and 13 rebounds). Kings guard Casper Ware failed to make his usual impact on the game, as he was unable to make a single two-point field-goal. His 13 points came from three three-pointers and four free-throws. Perth gained momentum from their win in preparation for their matchup against the Phoenix on Sunday, as the Kings looked to finish their weekend against the Taipans who were in red-hot form.

DC Medal: 3 – Bryce Cotton (PW), 2 – Nick Kay (PW), 1 – Terrico White (PW)

Melbourne United (112) defeated Adelaide 36ers (90)

For both clubs in this contest it was a matter of keeping up with the pace, as the battle for third and fourth positions was contested between five teams in total and wins were crucial at this stage of the season. But, only one club came to play on Saturday as United blew the 36ers out of the water in Goulding’s 300th career game with a 22-point drubbing of Adelaide. With big opening and closing quarters from the home side, and a plus-12 on the rebounds (42-30), it was a well-rounded performance from Melbourne that certainly staked their claim as an elite competitor for this season. For United, top performances were claimed by their imports in particular Shawn Long who finished with 34 points and 15 rebounds, whilst also making his shots in-close, going 15-21 (71.4 per cent) on the floor. For Melo Trimble, a humble 20 points and six rebounds capped off another solid night in the United jersey. On Adelaide’s side, forward Eric Griffin came up big off the bench, knocking down 34 of his own points alongside nine rebounds and for 300-gamer Goulding, it seemed his 14 points, four rebounds and four assists was enough to put a smile on his face as his team tallied its eighth with of the season going two games clear of .500. With Adelaide’s loss, they dropped to sixth as the chase for fourth spot starts to ramp up.

DC Medal: 3 – Shawn Long (MU), 2 – Eric Griffin (AD), 1 – Melo Trimble (MU)

Brisbane Bullets (101) defeated Illawarra Hawks (91)

After back-to-back losses for Brisbane, the win they got against the bottom-of-the-table Hawks was a necessity in being back in the winners column and keeping up with the rest of the pack. Not having star guard LaMelo Ball because ‘foot problems’, made the away visit to the Armoury more challenging for Illawarra as a lacklustre second quarter was responsible for their downfall. Despite the Hawks scoring 20 more points in the paint compared to Brisbane, big performances from Jason Cadee (18 points) and Lamar Patterson (19 points and six assists) were enough to get the Bullets over the line in what was a relatively even contest. In addition to this, Brisbane went 22-22 (100 per cent) from the free-throw line. Angus Glover had the standout performance for the Hawks, producing 17 points and six rebounds off the bench. Brisbane’s victory puts them only one win off fourth positioned Cairns in the chase for the top four and for Illawarra they have now dropped their tenth game of the season.

DC Medal: 3 – Lamar Patterson (BB), 2 – Andrew Ogilvy (IH), 1 – Angus Glover (IH)

South East Melbourne Phoenix (98) defeated by Perth Wildcats (108)

The boys in red made a statement on Friday with a solid home win against the Sydney Kings and they looked to make another one down in Melbourne, as they took on a Phoenix side that looked to gain an edge in the mid-table race. After an opening quarter that could only be decided by a single basket, it was the Phoenix who struck the first punch as they outscored the Wildcats 23-16 in the second period. Nevertheless, as a team that has the ability to turn the switch on almost instantly, Perth proved it once again, as guard, Cotton took the ball coast-to-coast for a buzzer-beater layup to give the Wildcats a three-point lead at the final break. The momentum carried over for Perth as they went on to win by ten and close the gap even more on the Sydney Kings. The same culprits for the Wildcats were again their deciding factors in their win as Cotton and White combined for 45 (26 and 19 points respectively), as well as Kay compiling another double-double (18 points and 12 rebounds) making it two for the weekend. Mitch Creek and Ben Madgen both had big outings combining for 51 points while John Roberson finished with 19 points. But the difference in bench output was also a difference-maker as the Wildcats took that category 29-21. The two victories for the Wildcats now puts them within striking distance of the top spot and the crucial home loss for the Phoenix slides them out of the top four to the in-form Taipans.

DC Medal: 3 – Bryce Cotton (PW), 2 – Mitch Creek (SEM), 1 – Ben Madgen (SEM)

Sydney Kings (98) defeated by Cairns Taipans (109)

After their convincing home win against New Zealand on Friday night, the Cairns Taipans were feeling themselves to say the least. This was proven by their impressive first quarter going up by 11 at the first break in the Qudos Bank Arena which has yet to happen this season against the Kings. The Kings had led by three points with two and a half minutes left in the opening quarter, but would not lead again for the remainder of the game, which eventuated to the Kings’ first home loss of the season against a Taipans side that is sure to sit near the top of the Power Rankings after Round 10. For Cairns, it was again Machado that led the charge with 21 points, seven rebounds and nine assists. Newbill again contributed big with 31 points and forward Kouat Noi put up a formidable 22 points next to Newbill. Four of the Kings’ starting five scored double digits as Ware collected 23 points and seven assists, with 21 points coming in the fourth quarter, setting a new NBL record for points in a quarter (per 10 minute quarters), which broke a six year record previously held by Townsville’s Peter Crawford (20). The 11-point win for Cairns capped off a round that saw a standings shift, as the Taipans leapfrogged both South-East Melbourne and Adelaide to claim fourth in the NBL ladder, whereas the two games lost by the Kings over the weekend closed the gap between them and the Perth Wildcats from three games to a game and a half, therefore tightening the margin for error at this stage of the season.

DC Medal: 3 – Scott Machado (CT), 2 – D.J. Newbill, 1 – Casper Ware (SK)

New Zealand Breakers (96) defeated Brisbane Bullets (85)

Despite a remarkable effort from Brisbane’s Patterson, New Zealand gained some additional breathing space on cellar dwellers, Illawarra at the bottom of the table and kept within two and a half games of fifth spot to give the Breakers a sniff of finals. The Breakers’ run of controversy continued over the past 24 hours with Rice Jnr’s contract terminated after breaching bail conditions from an arrest earlier in the season, but despite the distraction it did not deter the home side on the court. The first half could not see either the Breakers nor Bullets split with both side pouring on 47 points. New Zealand broke the stalemate in the second half, shooting 26 points to 21 in the third term, before adding another 23 to 17 in the last term to run out 96-85 winners at Spark Arena. Despite the loss, it was Patterson who was the star in what was a remarkable weekend for the versatile Bullet, sinking 36 points as well as four rebounds and six assists. Unfortunately with the exception of Matt Hodgson (10 points, nine rebounds) the work was left up to too few as the Breakers shared the load. Corey Webster helped himself to 23 points, three rebounds and three assists, Thomas Abercrombie finished with 19 points, three rebounds and two assists, while Scotty Hopson (14 points, six rebounds and two assists) and Finn Delany (14 points, eight rebounds) were also prolific in the winning side.

DC Medal: 3 – Lamar Patterson (BB), 2 – Corey Webster (NZ), 1 – Finn Delany (NZ)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

24 – Lamar Patterson (BB),
23 –
22 – Shawn Long (MU),
21 – Bryce Cotton (PW), Mitch Creek (SEM),
20 – LaMelo Ball (IH)
19 –
18 – Melo Trimble (MU), Casper Ware (SK),
17 –
16 – Jae’Sean Tate (SK), Scott Machado (CT),
15 – Cameron Oliver (CT),
14 –
13 – Daniel Johnson (AD), Nick Kay (PW),
12 –
11 – Andrew Bogut (SK), Corey Webster (NZ)
10 – John Roberson (SEM), Eric Griffin (AD)
9 –
8 –
7 – Jerome Randle (AD)
6 – Nathan Sobey (BB), Kouat Noi (CT), Terrico White (PW),
5 – Aaron Brooks (IL), Scotty Hopson (NZ), Brad Newley (SK), AJ Ogilvy (IL),
4 – Chris Goulding (MU), Dario Hunt (PW), Brandon Ashley (NZ), Ben Madgen (SEM), DJ. Newbill (IL),
3 – Sek Henry (NZ), Dane Pineau (SEM), Didi Louzada (SK), Anthony Drmic (AD), Glen Rice Jr (NZ), Finn Delany (NZ)
2 – Matt Hodgson (BB), Jason Cadee (BB), Sunday Dech (IH), David Barlow (MU), Mitch McCarron (MU), Tim Coenraad (IH),
1 – Majok Deng (CT), Craig Moller (SK), Jesse Wagstaff (PW), Todd Blanchfield (IH), Keith Benson (SEM), Tohi Smith-Milner (MU), RJ Hampton (NZ), Angus Glover (IH)

NBL 2019/20 Weekend preview: Round 1 – Inaugural Throwdown opens season

SEVEN of the National Basketball League (NBL) sides begin their campaign this weekend with Melbourne United having a double-up in Round 1, while Adelaide 36ers and New Zealand Breakers have an extra week of pre-season ahead of their start in Round 2. We take a look at the four games across the weekend with one game on each day to satisfy fans across the country.

MELBOURNE UNITED vs. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Thursday, October 3, 7.30pm
Melbourne Arena

The season opener is the inaugural ‘Throwdown’ between grand finalists, Melbourne United and new team on the block in South East Melbourne Phoenix. United is a proven talent that has lost some serious firepower, but also gained some at the same time which makes them very hard to tip against in the this contest. Melo Trimble made the massive move down south after a dominant season with Cairns, joining the likes of Chris Goulding, Mitch McCarron and the currently injured David Barlow. Shea Ili also crossed from the Breakers, with teammate Shawn Long also making the jump with the pair signing one-year deals. Sam McDaniel earned a full-time roster spot after a good season last year as a development player and continuing that form with the Southern Sabres in the NBL1.

South East Melbourne Phoenix have made it clear they are not in the competition to make up the numbers, with Sydney trio, Dane Pineau, Kyle Adnam and Deng Acuoth all joining the new franchise, with Brisbane’s Adam Gibson and arguably the top signing from the NBL contingent in New Zealand Breakers’ Tai Wesley. Seeing Wesley going head-to-head with Trimble will be great, but the most dangerous player is G-League and Boomers’ star Mitch Creek who tasted National Basketball Association (NBA) action last season and has come home to lead up the new franchise. As already mentioned, it is hard to tip against the established team in United, but with a few question marks over sore players, the Phoenix have more than enough talent to compensate and would love to open their NBL inaugural season with a win.

CAIRNS TAIPANS vs. SYDNEY KINGS
Friday, October 4, 7.30pm
Cairns Convention Centre

The Taipans finished last on the NBL table last season and will be keen to start the new season off on the right foot with an upset win over last year’s finalists, Sydney Kings. Playing in front of a home crowd, the Taipans will be without star Trimble who departed to join Melbourne, while Kuany Kuany will suit up for the opposition in this match. The Taipans managed to pinch Majok Deng from Adelaide, while mostly looking outside the country for new recruits with Los Angeles Lakers’ Scott Machado, G-League talent Cameron Oliver and Mirko Djeric from the European leagues coming into the side. They will need to be at their best and gel quickly if they are to make an impact early in the season, but will be able to rely on the likes of Jarrod Kenny, Nathan Jawai and DJ Newbill still running the court.

Sydney have made massive changes to its roster with just four players contracted that were on the list last season. NBL Most Valuable Player (MVP), Andrew Bogut will again be the centrepiece of the organisation, but this time he will have the talented Casper Ware who caused a stir crossing from rivals United to the Kings. Craig Moller joined him, while Shaun Bruce came from the 36ers with Kuany and Lucas Walker travelling south from Cairns. Brad Newley, Kevin Lisch and Daniel Kickert will look to create some stability in a side with the likes of young stars Brian Bowen (NBA) and Tom Wilson (AFL) both leaving the league completely. Despite the changes, Sydney head into this game as strong favourites, it will just be whether or not the Kings can gel with so many fresh faces in the door.

PERTH WILDCATS vs. MELBOURNE UNITED
Saturday, October 5, 5.30pm
RAC Arena

The match of the round is the Grand Final replay between reigning premiers Perth Wildcats, and unlucky runners-up United. The Wildcats are the most stable side of any team in the competition with eight players re-signed to the list, including crucial duo, Bryce Cotton and Terrico White. The pair will likely renew hostilities with Trimble and Ili who will rep the different colours in 2019/20. The ace in the pace is Dario Hunt who has joined the club from Italy, while Majok Majok transferred from New Zealand Breakers to the Wildcats over the off-season. With such an even team contribution leading to the premiership last season, the Wildcats should be no different in 2019/20 with so many ways to punish the opposition, led by the dominant Cotton.

United will head into this game with a match already in the books having taken on the Phoenix 46 hours prior. They will be keen to make the most of recovery, with the plane trip west likely to bring back some disappointing memories after going down to Perth in the deciding playoff series last year. They could start really strongly as the team that has had the first full game hitout in the round compared to the Wildcats who will undoubtedly celebrate last year’s success in front of the visiting side pre-game. But depending on how the Phoenix game goes, the Wildcats might have the fresher legs to finish the match which means it could be down to the wire. A win against their title nemesis would be crucial in the mental games for the season for Melbourne, while a win for the Wildcats will throw extra salt in the wounds for United. Trimble vs. Cotton is a much-watch battle to see which player can have the most impact for his club.

ILLAWARRA HAWKS vs. BRISBANE BULLETS
Sunday, October 6, 3pm
WIN Entertainment Centre

In the final game of the round, all eyes will be on LaMelo Ball as he makes his NBL debut against Brisbane Bullets at home in Illawarra. The potential 2020 NBA top draft pick will have plenty of exuberance in his first official game on Australian courts, teaming up with the likes of Josh Boone who was a massive recruit from United, while Aaron Brooks has returned after playing with Creek at the Timberwolves in the NBA. David Anderson, Todd Blanchfield, Tim Coenraad and Angus Glover all re-signed for the club that missed out on finals last season, while Sam Froling showed enough during the NBL1 to suggest he will be more than a handful for opposition clubs this season. Kevin White and Brian Conklin are among those who have departed the club, but largely as a whole, the Hawks have brought in far more talent than they have lost.

Brisbane announced a huge signing themselves over the off-season with Nathan Sobey signing on for three years from the 36ers. He will be the man to watch on the court, teaming up with Cam Gliddon and Jason Cadee as the key players within the Bullets’ arsenal. Like the Wildcats, they are a settled side with eight players re-signing from last season, as Adam Gibson and Jeremy Kendle were the key players to depart the club. This might be a tight contest given the relative unknown of the impact that the imports and recruits will have for the Hawks, with the Bullets having more of a known quantity. It got them to finals last season, and Sobey coming in will only strengthen the side. The Hawks should be marginally favourites due to the Triple B impact of Ball, Boone and Brooks, but the Bullets will not lie down in this contest.

NBL1 Men’s Round 14 review: Waverley upsets minor premiers to keep finals dream alive

JUST 10 teams remain in the hunt for National Basketball League (NBL)1 finals after a big round of action over the weekend. Seven of the nine games on Friday and Saturday were won by the visiting teams in what would have been a disappointing round for home crowds. Three of the top four is settled with Ballarat Miners, Nunawading Spectres and Frankston Blues all earning double chances this year, while Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence’s season is now complete, currently sitting thirteenth but could slip to sixteenth depending on results in the final round next weekend.

Waverley Falcons’ never-say-die attitude was the highlight on the round as they strung together back-to-back wins over Knox Raiders, and remarkably, minor premiers Ballarat Miners. The on the road win against the Miners was the Falcons best of the season, winning by 13 points on Saturday. The Falcons started and finished strongly which was enough to get them the win in the 90-77 game, as Deondre McWhorter (29 points, 10 rebounds and two assists) and Dylan Travis (21 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and two steals) went to work. Deng Acuoth (21 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks) picked up a double-double for the Miners, while Sam Short (15 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals) was also prominent for the losing side. The Falcons then backed it up with a 10-point victory over Knox at home, with McWhorter (20 points, 13 rebounds, three steals and two blocks) and Travis (18 points, seven rebounds and five assists) again amongst the best, whilst Bennie Lewis top scored with 26 points. For the Raiders, Cadarian Raines (18 points, 11 rebounds) and Damon Heuir (15 points, six rebounds and four assists) were the two players to reach double-figure points.

Knox Raiders disappointing weekend was compounded by an earlier loss to Bendigo Braves, going down by just two points at home. Heuir again did all he could with 21 points, while James Hunter (13 points, seven rebounds) was the top player for the home side in the 2defeat. For the Braves, they had Ray Turner (26 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks) who was dominant once again, while Mathiang Muo (19 points, six rebounds) and Deonte Burton (12 points, five rebounds) were also busy in the win. The Braves bounced back from a home win the night before when they went down to Albury Wodonga Bandits on Friday. Bendigo led at quarter time but were overpowered after that to lose, 93-82. Muo (22 points, seven rebounds) again had some great work off the boards, while Turner (14 points, four rebounds and two assists) and Matthew Andronicos (13 points, four rebounds and two blocks) were also solid. The Bandits had too many scoring options however as Torren Jones (22 points, nine rebounds and four steals), Deba George (21 points, four rebounds, five assists and five steals) and Ken-Jah Bosley (20 points, four rebounds, seven assists and three steals) all combined to form a dominant scoring trio.

Basketball Centre of Excellence’s (CoE) weekend came to a close with one win from three games, defeating Eltham Wildcats on Friday night by four points, before going down to Hobart Huskies (18 points) and Southern Sabres (four points) in games on Saturday and Sunday respectively. In the CoE’s win over Eltham, Angus Glover (29 points, four rebounds, two assists and three steals) was prominent, while Tamuri Wigness (18 points, three rebounds and six assists) and Hunter Clarke (12 points, seven rebounds and six assists) were also very good. For the Wildcats, Adam Doyle (24 points, three steals) top scored, while Dave Schaffert (21 points, two rebounds) also finished with a strong points tally. Geremy Mckay was the most dominant across the court with 12 points, 10 rebounds and three assists in the loss. In the CoE’s loss to Hobart, Clarke was the sole scorer over 20 points with 25, as well as four rebounds, whilst Josh Kunen came close to a double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds, as did Kian Dennis (12 points, nine rebounds) and Wil Tattersall (eight points, nine rebounds). For the Huskies, Matthew Young (28 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals), Jalen Adams (26 points, two rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Tad Dufelmeier (18 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals) were brilliant once again. After leading at three quarter time, the CoE went down to cellar dwellers Southern Sabres on Sunday. Glover (21 points, five rebounds) and Wigness (22 points, four rebounds and 12 assists) were busy, as were Kunen (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Tattersall (18 points, eight rebounds). Damaging Sabres’ duo David Barlow (26 points, five rebounds) and Sam McDaniel (20 points, 10 rebounds) helped get their team home with strong performances.

Frankston’s remarkable winning streak continued on the weekend, making it seven consecutive victories following their win over Kilsyth Cobras. In completing the massive 35-point win, the Blues guaranteed themselves a double chance, sitting third on the table with a round to go. They shared the points around, as Lachlan Barker (19 points, three rebounds), Daniel Trist (15 points, 12 rebounds and three assists) and Damon Bozeman (14 points, five rebounds and three assists) were among six players who reached double-figure points. Isaac Turner was a lone hand for Kilsyth with the Cobras missing star Peter Hooley, and Tohi Smith-Milner suffering an injury early in the game, as Turner finished with 28 points and five rebounds. Also giving themselves best chance of a finals spot was Dandenong Rangers who overcame Albury Wodonga Bandits in a 21-point victory on the road. Sam Froling was terrific with 29 points, three rebounds and two assists, while Lucas Barker (21 points, eight assists, five rebounds and three steals) was the Rangers’ best. Bosley was the most prominent scorer for the Bandits with 20 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Jones racked up a mammoth 19 rebounds to go with his 13 points. Kilsyth did get a win on the weekend when they triumphed over top two side Nunawading Spectres by five points on the road. Turner posted 26 points, whilst Smith-Milner showed his importance to the Cobras with 18 points and 18 rebounds – 16 defensive – to be a serious problem for the Spectres. Tom Wright had a match-high 28 points for the Spectres, as well as five rebounds and five assists, while Lucas Walker (15 points, nine rebounds) was also prominent despite the loss.

Outside the Huskies’ win over the CoE, it was not a great weekend for the Tasmanian sides, with the Huskies going down to Melbourne Tigers by a heartbreaking one-point margin, while North West Thunder suffered defeats at the hands of Ringwood Hawks and Diamond Valley Eagles. The Huskies were blown away by the Tigers in the opening term, but hit back to trail by seven at the main break, and whilst they managed to get back on even terms, fell a points short by the final buzzer. Adams (30 points, eight rebounds) and Dufelmeier (28 points, three rebounds, four assists and two steals) renewed their dominance on the court despite it not quite being enough. Melbourne had a quartet of big scorers, with Dane Pineau (31 points, 11 rebounds) and Nic Pozoglou (18 points, 12 rebounds) picking up double-doubles, as did Michael Luxford (12 points, 11 rebounds). North West Thunder capitulated after half-time, having raced out to a 17-point lead, only for Ringwood to pile on 59 points to 28 in a complete rout. Matthew Fennell (18 points, 10 rebounds) helped himself to a double-double for the Hawks, while Adrien Sturt (16 points, six rebounds and four blocks) and Jacob Gibson (16 points, three rebounds and three assists) were busy. For the Thunder, Nick Banyard (22 points, seven rebounds) top scored, whilst Jordan Bowling picked up a double-double with 15 points and 16 rebounds. In the 14-point loss to Diamond Valley Eagles, Banyard and Bowling combined for 43 points, 22 rebounds, six assists and four steals as the two dominant players in the loss. The Eagles shared it around with three key scorers, led by Logan Hovey (25 points, nine rebounds and three assists) and Anthony Odunsi (25 points, two rebounds and six assists), while Ben Allen (22 points, 14 rebounds, two assists and three steals) had a double-double.

Round 14 results:

Eltham Wildcats 87 defeated by Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence 91
Bendigo Braves 82 defeated by Albury Wodonga Bandits 93
Nunawading Spectres 82 defeated by Kilsyth Cobras 87
Albury Wodonga Bandits 83 defeated by Dandenong Rangers 104
Ballarat Miners 77 defeated by Waverley Falcons 90
Hobart Huskies 105 defeated Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence 87
Ringwood Hawks 90 defeated North West Thunder 76*
Knox Raiders 78 defeated by Bendigo Braves 80
Kilsyth Cobras 58 defeated by Frankston Blues 93
Southern Sabres 92 defeated Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence 88
Diamond Valley Eagles 104 defeated North West Thunder 90*
Waverley Falcons 83 defeated Knox Raiders 73
Melbourne Tigers 94 defeated Hobart Huskies 93*

NBL1 Men’s Round 11 review: Hooley’s triple double sinks Spectres

A TRIPLE-double to Kilsyth Cobras’ Peter Hooley was the highlight of the National Basketball League (NBL)1 Round 11 competition, with some surprising results. The Cobras downed Nunawding Spectres by 12 points in what was a forgettable weekend for the visitors, also going down to Waverley Falcons at home. Kilsyth became the first home side to post victory over the Spectres this season, testament to Nunawading’s superior ability to get the job done on the road. The Cobras made sure they had the ascendancy early, taking a nine-point lead into half-time, then extending that by as much as 21 by the final break. The Spectres hit back in the final term to cut the final margin to 12, but it was a case of too little, too late. Hooley was dominant all over the court with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, while Tohi Smith-Milner (26 points, 13 rebounds, three assists), Isaac Turner (13 points, four rebounds) and Michael Wearne (13 points, two rebounds) were also important on the scoring end. For the Spectres, Costa Hronopoulos (25 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Simon Conn (22 points, seven rebounds and two assists) were the two who caused the most headaches for the home side.

Nunawading also suffered a devastating overtime loss to finals-bound Waverley Falcons, going down 101-94. The teams could not be split at the full-time buzzer after the Spectres remarkably came back from 15 points down at the main break to claw their way back and draw level. It was the Falcons who found the momentum in extra time, scoring 15 points to eight in the seven-point victory. Deondre McWhorter (33 points, five rebounds and two assists) and Dylan Travis (26 points, 10 rebounds and four assists) were dominant, while Bennie Lewis (15 points, nine rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks) was everywhere. For the Spectres, Conn had another superb game with 24 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Hronopoulos (21 points, eight rebounds and six assists) and Ben Ayre (20 points, six rebounds, eight assists and three steals) all found plenty of buckets on the attacking end. The day before, Waverley went down to a determined Diamond Valley Eagles side, 99-94. Trailing by as much as 14 points at the main break, the Falcons hit back in the second half, but could not force their way in front, going down by five points. Joel Spear was the star for the Eagles with 32 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals), while Logan Hovey (26 points, eight rebounds and two assists) and Anthony Odunsi (18 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals) were also prominent from a scoring perspective. McWhorter was best on court in the loss, posting a mammoth 37 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and two blocks, while Lewis (24 points, three rebounds and four assists) was able to contribute on the scoring end as was Tim Liesting (six points, 12 rebounds, three assists and two blocks) off the defensive board.

A team that had a mixed weekend of results Ringwood Hawks, went down to Eltham Wildcats by 28 points, before securing a narrow seven-point win over Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence (CoE). The Wildcats proved a bit too strong at home against the Hawks, winning all four quarters on their way to a 107-89 triumph. Adam Doyle was excellent for the home side, registering 31 points, six rebounds, seven assists and three steals, while Geremy McKay helped himself to 21 points, eight rebounds and three assists in the win. Ben Waldren (17 points), Dave Schaffert (17 points, two rebounds and three assists) and Josh Sykes (11 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks) also reached double-figure points in the victory. Adrien Sturt was the top scorer for Ringwood with 15 points, as well as four rebounds and two assists, while Shaun Clarke had 10 points and nine rebounds in a strong effort. In an even better performance, the Hawks toppled the CoE by seven points, having built up a 13-point lead at the main break, before holding on to eventually get home, 101-94. Sturt posted a round-high 42 points, as well as six rebounds and six assists, shooting at an impressive 66.7 per cent from the field, and 85.7 per cent from three-point range. Joey Miller (20 points, four rebounds, eight assists and three steals) and Matthew Fennell (17 points, six rebounds and two steals) were the other two notable scorers. Josh Bannan led the way for the CoE, finishing with 26 points, five rebounds, eight assists and four steals, while Angus Glover helped himself to 21 points, and Hunter Clarke finished with 17. Meanwhile the day before, Melbourne Tigers knocked off the CoE, 96-61 in a convincing victory. Mike Wells led the points scoring for the Tigers with 19, as well as four rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Dave Pineau (15 points, nine rebounds), Michael Luxford (15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists) and Nic Pozoglou (seven points, 16 rebounds and six teals) were impressive off the boards. For the CoE, Clarke was the dominant scorer with 16 points, nine rebounds and two assists, while Bannan had another 11 rebounds, and Kian Dennis shot 14 points and had three rebounds, three assists and two steals.

In the other game on Sunday, top-of-the-table Ballarat Miners moved three games clear on top thanks to a 10-point win over Albury Wodonga Bandits. Jerry Evans Jr had another day out with 28 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks, while Kuany Kuany (20 points, three rebounds and three assists), Josh Fox (15 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and three steals) and Deng Acuoth (seven points, 10 rebounds and four blocks) all worked hard in the victory. For the Bandits, Cirkook Riak managed 26 points and six rebounds, Deba George helped himself to 23 points, four rebounds and a game-high nine assists, while Torren Jones picked up a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds in the loss. There was some celebration over the weekend for the Bandits however, knocking off Southern Sabres by 23 points on the road. Jones (31 points, 17 rebounds and two steals) picked up another double-double, while partner-in-crime Ken-Jah Bosley posted 30 points, three rebounds and three steals. George was the other dominant scorer with 26 points, three rebounds, eight assists and two steals. In the Sabres loss, it was the usual duo of David Barlow (25 points, eight rebounds and two steals) and Sam McDaniel (21 points, four rebounds and two steals) who were among their best.

A team that maintained its percentage lead over the Bandits was Hobart Huskies, who knocked off Knox Raiders on Friday night in a three-point thriller. The Huskies came from 13 points down at quarter time to storm to the front in the third term and lead by three at the final break before a topsy-turvy final term saw that deficit remain by the final buzzer. Tad Dufelmeier posted 23 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and five steals, while Jalen Adams (17 points, eight rebounds), Zachary White (16 points, seven rebounds, two assists and three steals) and Jack Stanwix (17 points, three rebounds and three assists) were also busy in the match. Adam Thoseby (25 points) led the way for the Raiders, while James Hunter picked up a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds, as did Cadarian Raines, registering 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Raiders rebounded from the loss to the Huskies to knock off the other Tasmanian side in North West Thunder, getting up by 13 points. Thoseby again top scored with 22 points and six rebounds, while Raines (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Hunter (10 points, 12 rebounds) picked up double-doubles in the second game as well. Lachlan Dent (12 points, three rebounds, four assists and three steals) was solid for the Thunder, while Jordan Bowling (16 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals) was the losing side’s best. The Thunder was returning from an unsuccessful trip to Geelong on the Friday night, going down to the Supercats by five points in a gallant effort. The Thunder shocked the home crowd to lead by 11 points at quarter time, but by the main break, the Supercats were up by three in a change of fortunes. That margin was five by the final break and it was enough to see them hold on by that margin with an even final term. Ma’alo Hicks had 20 points, four rebounds, two assists and four steals in the win, while Lewis Thorne (18 points, 11 rebounds picked up a double-double) and Demarcus Gatlin (nine points, six rebounds and six assists) played an all-round game. Bowling again top scored for the Thunder with 19 points as well as seven rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Nick Banyard (16 points, nine rebounds) and Joseph Chilcott (15 points, seven rebounds and two steals) were also productive in defeat.

In the other game over the weekend, Frankston Blues got up over Dandenong Rangers by 12 points, knocking their neighbouring rivals down to eighth, and now sit just percentage outside the top four in a remarkable season revival. Lachlan Barker scored 23 points, nine rebounds and five steals, while Daniel Trist (18 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals), Najeal Young (15 points, nine rebounds and two steals) and Damon Bozeman (16 points, two rebounds and four assists) were all impressive for the Blues. Matt Kenyon (19 points, four rebounds and three assists) led the way for the Rangers, while Lucas Barker (15 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals), Tim Lang (14 points, six rebounds and three assists) and Dexter Kernich-Drew (10 points, 10 rebounds) were others who stood up despite the defeat.

Round 11:

Geelong Supercats 79 defeated North West Thunder 74
Hobart Huskies 89 defeated Knox Raiders 86
Melbourne Tigers 96 defeated Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence 61
Southern Sabres 84 defeated by Albury Wodonga Bandits 107
Dandenong Rangers 82 defeated by Frankston Blues 94*
Diamond Valley Eagles 99 defeated Waverley Falcons 94
Bendigo Braves 84 defeated by Ballarat Miners 88
Kilsyth Cobras 99 defeated Nunawading Spectres 87
North West Thunder 61 defeated by Knox Raiders 74
Eltham Wildcats 107 defeated Ringwood Hawks 89
Ballarat Miners 103 defeated Albury Wodonga Bandits 93
Ringwood Hawks 101 defeated Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence 94
Nunawading Spectres 94 defeated by Waverley Falcons 101