Tag: ben madgen

NBL Round 12 review: Upsets galore throw spanner into finals race

FIVE of the seven National Basketball League (NBL) games in Round 12 were won by the lower ranked side across the weekend, with only the eighth placed New Zealand Breakers’ last-second win over cellar dwellers Illawarra Hawks the sole triumph of the higher ranked sides from Friday through to Sunday until the Sydney Kings got up on Monday night. Losses to three of the top four sides, and wins to four of the bottom five really shook up the finals race, making it still very much anyone’s ball game when it comes to the post-season series.

New Zealand Breakers (90) defeated South East Melbourne Phoenix (84)

The first upset to drop over the weekend was New Zealand’s superb six-point triumph over South East Melbourne Phoenix on Friday night. The win kept New Zealand’s finals hopes alive, after winning three of the four quarters and surviving an almighty fightback from the Phoenix in the final term. The Breakers led by two points at quarter time and made it six by the main break, then looked home and hosed with a 26-19 third quarter to extend their lead out to 13 by three quarter time. It was not over just yet, as the Phoenix roared home with a 21-14 last quarter, though the slow start, and in particular the third term cost them, falling short, 84-90. Scotty Hopson was sensational for the winners piling on 24 points, nine rebounds and three assists, while Sek Henry continued his good form of late courtesy of 17 points, two rebounds and four assists. Thomas Abercrombie (15 points, two steals) and Finn Delany (13 points, eight rebounds and two assists) provided much needed support to the others, while Brandon Ashley contributed off the bench with 13 points and eight rebounds. Mitch Creek was the star for the Phoenix, posting 24 points, three rebounds and two assists on the night, while John Roberson had 13 points, seven assists and two rebounds. Also reaching double-figure points on the night was former New Zealand forward Tai Wesley (10 points, six rebounds) and Ben Madgen (11 points, seven rebounds), as Dane Pineau had nine points, nine rebounds and a game-high two blocks.

DC Medal: 3 – Scotty Hopson (NZ), 2 – Mitch Creek (SEM), 1 – Brandon Ashley (NZ)

Adelaide 36ers (84) defeated by Illawarra Hawks (93)

While the second bottom side got it done across the ditch, Illawarra Hawks stunned the Adelaide crowd with a nine-point upset win on the road against the 36ers. The Hawks kept their very slim finals hopes alive with the victory, while forced the 36ers to hold their fourth spot by just one game. Adelaide started okay with a one-point lead at quarter time, but then the Hawks completely blew them away in the second term, slamming home 30 points to 19 as they led by double-digits at the main break. Both sides were even in the third term, and the 36ers could only manage to chew into the deficit by a point in the final quarter as the visiting side stood up defensively in the 93-84 victory. The Hawks shared the points around on-court with Sunday Dech (18 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals) leading the way, while Tim Coenraad (14 points, four rebounds and three assists) was also prominent. AJ Ogilvy came close to a double-double with a strong performance in the center thanks to 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists, as Todd Blanchfield (10 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals) also had an impressive game. For the 36ers, Jerome Randle was the standout from the shooters perspective, posting up 26 points and six assists in the win, teaming well with Daniel Johnson (19 points, four rebounds). Eric Griffin held up his own with nine points and 10 rebounds off the bench, while Jack McVeigh also picked up nine points from the pine, though the remainder of the nine players who got a run combined for 21 points.

DC Medal: 3 – AJ Ogilvy (IH), 2 – Jerome Randall (AD), 1 – Sunday Dech (IH)

Brisbane Bullets (87) defeated Sydney Kings (80)

If anyone suspected Friday night’s upsets were something in the stars, they were soon proven wrong as the seventh placed Brisbane Bullets stunned the top of the table Sydney Kings at home on Saturday. The Kings have lost their four games in the last 10 games to be fair, but the Bullets moved to within half a game of the 36ers, Cairns Taipans and Phoenix with the win. The Kings started strongly to lead by eight points at quarter time, before the home team kicked into gear with a couple of huge efforts defensively in the second and third quarters. Brisbane took the lead by three points after a 27-16 second term, then continued on with the momentum in the third thanks to a 21-13 quarter to extend it out to 11 by the final break. Sydney managed to pull the deficit back to seven by the final buzzer after a 22-18, but it was too little, too late for the premiership favourites. Will Magnay played his best game of the year for the Bullets finally earning a starting spot, posting a team-high 23 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks, taking control of the court. Lamar Patterson (15 points, three assists), Nathan Sobey (12 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Cameron Gliddon (13 points, five rebounds) were all strong contributors, but it was Magnay’s breakout game that really stood out on the night. For the Kings, Casper Ware helped himself to a game-high 26 points, five rebounds and three assists, while Jae’Sean Tate shot at 71.4 per cent from the field on his way to 13 points and three rebounds. They had plenty of players with quiet games in the match, but Daniel Kickert showed some signs coming off the bench with 12 points and three rebounds, while Xavier Cooks had seven rebounds to go with his three points.

DC Medal: 3 – Will Magnay (BB), 2 – Casper Ware (SK), 1 – Cameron Gliddon (BB)

Perth Wildcats (74) defeated by Melbourne United (87)

Melbourne United finally sought some revenge on Perth Wildcats for the 2018/19 NBL Grand Final loss, toppling the Wildcats by 13 points at RAC Arena on Saturday night. It was United’s first victory against the Wildcats since January this year, winning the first three quarters to ensure a comfortable 13-point win on the road. United started strongly to lead by two points at quarter time and extended that to eight by the main break. They kept getting stronger as the game went on, dominating the third term courtesy of a 22-14 quarter to put the margin out to 16 at the final break. The home team fought back to cut it to 13 by the final whistle, but it would not be enough as United celebrated a vital 87-74 win on the road to draw them within one and a half games. It was equally costly for the Wildcats who would have taken top spot – at least temporarily – from the Kings after Sydney dropped its game the day before. The usual suspects were at it again for United, as Shawn Long had yet another double-double with 23 points, 13 rebounds and three steals, while partner-in-crime Melo Trimble shared the game-high points of 23, as well as three rebounds and six assists. Mitch McCarron (12 points, 12 rebounds and four assists) also picked up a double-double, while David Barlow (11 points, five rebounds and two assists) and Chris Goulding (10 points) both reached double-figure points on the night. For the Wildcats, Bryce Cotton was restricted to just 15 points, two rebounds, three assists and three steals, a similarly lower than usual production was the case with Terrico White (14 points, two rebounds and two assists), while Nick Kay had 11 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals. Coming off the bench, Mitch Norton (nine points, three rebounds and two assists) and Dario Hunt (nine points, four rebounds) were both handy.

DC Medal: 3 – Shawn Long (MU), 2 – Mitch McCarron (MU), 1 – Melo Trimble (MU)

Illawarra Hawks (89) defeated by New Zealand Breakers (91)

There were probably not too many people expecting much from the bottom two clash between Illawarra Hawks and New Zealand Breakers, but it turned into an epic contest, right down to a final shot with just seconds remaining. Both sides were in the unusual position of coming off wins earlier in the weekend and therefore high on confidence, as New Zealand started the better of the two teams, leading by six points at quarter time and nine by the main break. Then the Hawks hit back to cut the deficit back to three points at the last change, before a high intensity last quarter saw the lead change and the teams level as late as just four seconds remaining on the clock, before Hopson sidestepped his opponent and drilled a jump shot with the clock counting down to win the game for the Breakers. While it was an important win for the Breakers in the scheme of their finals hopes, they also broke the hoodoo across the ditch, winning their first game on Australian soil for the 2019/20 NBL season after six consecutive losses. Hopson again starred with 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists, sharing the game-high points with Henry (21 points, two rebounds, five assists and three steals). Robert Loe was prominent in center with 13 points and two rebounds, while Abercrombie again was solid after 10 points and five rebounds. For the Hawks, Blanchfield lit it up with a team-high 19 points and three rebounds, as Ogilvy (18 points, seven rebounds) produced another sterling performance, and Emmett Naar (17 points, two rebounds and eight assists) played his best game of the season.

DC Medal: 3 – Scotty Hopson (NZ), 2 – Sek Henry (NZ), 1 – Emmett Naar (IH)

Cairns Taipans (94) defeated Adelaide 36ers (86)

In the other Sunday night game, there was actually a change of ladder positions with Cairns Taipans taking back fourth sport after handing the Adelaide 36ers their second loss of the weekend. After heading into the round with some breathing space, the 36ers find themselves outside the finals spots after the loss to Cairns, as the Taipans bounced back from a couple of losses themselves in Round 11. In this encounter, Cairns was far too strong from the get-go, slamming home 31 points to 17 in the opening term to make it catch-up basketball for the 36ers from that point on. The visiting side ate into the margin over the next three quarters, but could not do enough damage to get back into a winning position, eventually going down 86-94 at the Cairns Convention Centre. D.J. Newbill was impressive for the Taipans, sinking a game-high 26 points, as well as four rebounds and five assists in the win. Cameron Oliver (21 points, 15 rebounds, two steals and five blocks) was absolutely ridiculous off the boards, while Scott Machado might have been misfiring himself with just 9.1 per cent from the field, but was the key playmaker thanks to 13 assists and three steals. Mirko Djeric (15 points, two rebounds and two assists) and Majok Deng (13 points, four rebounds and three assists) were also impressive as starters, while Fabijan Krslovic looked solid off the bench picking up seven points and five rebounds in the win. For the 36ers, Randle helped himself to another 19 points, five rebounds and seven assists, while Johnson was again strong with 15 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Griffin picked up a double-double coming off the bench with 11 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks, while Obiri Kyei (15 points, six rebounds) and McVeigh (10 points, two rebounds) reached double-figure points.

DC Medal: 3 – Cameron Oliver (CT), 2 – D.J. Newbill (CT), 1 – Daniel Johnson (AD)

Sydney Kings (110) defeated South East Melbourne Phoenix (98)

Ladder leaders Sydney Kings bounced back from a disappointing defeat to Brisbane earlier in the round to maintain a strong season record at home with a 12-point victory over the struggling South East Melbourne Phoenix. The Phoenix sit sixth on the ladder and have been inconsistent over the past month and a half after a promising start to the season. Sydney led by two points at quarter time, but blew the game apart in the second term with a 30-20 quarter. They then extended it out to 17 points by the final break, and while the Phoenix managed to salvage something in the last quarter to cut the final margin to 12, they still went down, 98-110. Kickert was a surprise top scorer for the Kings, sinking 18 points with 70 per cent efficiency from the field. Brad Newley (16 points, three rebounds and three assists) and Tate (14 points, seven assists and two rebounds) were the only two starters to reach double figures as the bench did most of the heavy lifting thanks to Kickert, Deshon Taylor (15 points) and Shaun Bruce (12 points, five assists and two rebounds). Cooks also had nine rebounds to accompany his nine points, three assists and three blocks. For the Phoenix, Kyle Adnam played his best game with 24 points and five assists off the bench, teaming well with Roberson (25 points, five assists). Creek had a quieter outing with just 16 points, but produced 12 rebounds, two assists and three steals, while Madgen also recorded 16 points, as well as seven rebounds and two steals.

DC Medal: 3 – Daniel Kickert (SK), 2 – Kyle Adnam (SEM), 1 – John Roberson (SEM)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Rollercoaster season for Phoenix to reach crossroads in Round 12

THE new boys on the block are certainly learning the ins and outs of the National Basketball League (NBL), which in turn has exposed them to ups and downs. But with just over two months remaining until finals action begins, South East Melbourne Phoenix are right in the thick of the race.

So far in the NBL 2019/20 season, two races have emerged albeit for two different purposes. The first being the battle for top spot, with the frontrunners being the Sydney Kings, who currently hold a record of 12 wins and three losses. Closely behind them are the red-hot Perth Wildcats who sit half a game behind the Kings, with a record of 12 wins and five losses.

But then there is the second race, the battle for third and fourth place. The teams included in this contest are Melbourne United in third (eight wins and seven losses), Adelaide 36ers in fourth (eight wins and seven losses), Cairns Taipans in sixth (seven wins and nine losses) and lastly, the South East Melbourne Phoenix who sit in fifth (seven wins and seven losses).

With the season having just passed its midway point this past weekend, the Phoenix find themselves dead even in their win-loss record and with a double header weekend coming up against the New Zealand Breakers on Friday night and then the ladder-leaders Sydney Kings on Monday, the Phoenix will have a chance to really prove their mettle in the race for a top four finish.

But how did this team’s inaugural season start and what led them to this point today someone might ask. For the Phoenix, their season has been anything but consistent with the team experiencing both winning and losing streaks under the guidance of first-time head coach, Simon Mitchell.

How did we get here?

To open the season, the Phoenix opened up their history with the first ever ‘Showdown’ with cross-town rivals and big brother, Melbourne United. With more than 10,000 Melburnians in attendance, the Phoenix stunned the Australian basketball community with an upset win over their well-established counterparts. The win was aided by their marquee signing in Mitch Creek, who in his first game in the green jersey, amassed a double-double with 28 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. A similar stat line that he has maintained throughout the season. The campaign opener kicked off the Phoenix’s season, as they were triumphant in their first three match-ups including United. The next two victories came against two of the current bottom three teams in the league at the moment, the Brisbane Bullets (won 113-93) and the Illawarra Hawks (won 106-102). After going 3-0 to start their inaugural season, the Phoenix were on cloud nine, but they had a next level opponent on the horizon. One that was head and shoulders above the last combatants they had faced. The defending champions, Perth Wildcats. What occurred on Friday, October 25 gave the Phoenix a good indication of how difficult Australia’s top league could get and how much work this new team would have to do if they were to make it beyond the regular season.

The mantra that the Phoenix have followed so far to this point is not getting ahead of themselves and not dwelling too much on each result, which Creek touched on post-game after their first loss of the season.

“At the moment it’s about being cool, calm and collected for myself,” Creek said. “We’re young, we’re a brand-new franchise and we’re still figuring things out. We’re gonna be okay.”

Following that first game against Perth, the Phoenix would not go back-to-back in either wins or losses until their third encounter with Melbourne United, which kicked of their first losing streak of the season, falling first to United in a one-point thriller, then to the 36ers, and then to the Sydney Kings. Fast forward three weeks and South East Melbourne would emerge victorious against the Bullets away from home, lose to both Perth and Adelaide, and then shocking Cairns in an overtime classic at Melbourne Arena, leading us to today with the Phoenix sitting on a .500-win percentage with seven wins and seven losses.

What does the Phoenix’s season say about them?

The Phoenix have proved they have class to boot and can match it with the best with coach, Simon Mitchell emphasising the point of being a growing and emerging team. But he also stated in the press-conference following their comeback overtime win against the Taipans, “the training wheels are off.”

“We don’t consider ourselves an expansion team [anymore], we are what we are right now and we’re gonna have to blaze away through the rest of the season and just go and take care of our business.”

“It’s gonna be a hard run home for everyone.”

Given that the Phoenix can basically touch that fourth spot on the table with a good couple of a games, it is doubtful that Mitchell will have the same attitude that he expressed in that post-game press conference following their first defeat against the Wildcats. In terms of play, the Phoenix do indeed play an entertaining brand of basketball. One that has high octane offensive capabilities, but it also has a defence that has some kinks in it, which the coaching staff works tirelessly to improve.

Nevertheless, due to the Phoenix’s new chemistry as a result of it being their first season, it seems that it is only a matter of time before morale and trust start to mesh, which would be a promising prospect for one of the league’s more mediocre defences.

But as mentioned before, it is the Phoenix’s strong offence that shines through. At the forefront of their attack sits Creek, who showcases his skill on a game-to-game basis leading the league in points, averaging a remarkable 22.71 points per game. With his scoring ability comes his ability to move the ball as well, as he totals 3.93 assists per game in addition with 7.43 rebound per game. It should also be mentioned that with the return of Tai Wesley, Creek now returns to his usual small-forward position where he has proven more lethal in the past, a key sidenote in analysing this week’s contests.

Alongside Creek, sits sharpshooter guard John Roberson who helps share the scoring load and is often the reason opposing teams fall to the Phoenix’s three-point barrages, just recently dropping 36 on Cairns this past Sunday, which included eight threes from the import. Roberson averages a hefty 20.36 points per game, adding four threes a game, along with 5.43 assists to round out his contributions. With weapons like Roberson, Ben Madgen, Adam Gibson and Kendall Stephens in Mitchell’s backcourt it has looked like the smalls’ play that has determined results in the past, but in fact it is the Phoenix frontcourt that provides the best chance for the newcomer team to push past the regular season. The Phoenix frontcourt comprising the likes of Dane Pineau, Wesley, Daniel Trist and Keith Benson who have much left to give in the second half of the season.

For Pineau and Wesley, the weight of the defensive schemes is placed primarily on their shoulders given their experiences and ability level, while Creek does most of his work on the wings. Pineau, who has had a relatively solid season averaging close to eight points and eight rebounds a game, has increased his workload after being upgraded to starter under Mitchell following two years at the Sydney Kings. His ability to move the ball, crash the boards and coordinate the defence are Pineau’s primary weapons, which will also be key in both this Friday and Monday’s contests.

With Wesley finally back in the line-up following his nine-week hamstring injury, the Phoenix should have the ability to rebound more efficiently with Wesley’s inclusion two weeks ago. During Wesley’s three games since being re-activated he has averaged 11.3, 2.6 rebounds as well as 3.3 assists. These recovery games have been instrumental for Wesley’s return and he should be back to full form for the remainder of the season.

Round 12 schedule

vs New Zealand Breakers

Friday, December 20, 2019 @ Horncastle Arena

The Phoenix cross the Tasman to duel with the Breakers who are hot off a devastating loss to the Adelaide 36ers and we will have to wait and see if New Zealand comes out angry or deflated. Whichever one it is, it will be the Phoenix’s frontcourt that will need to step and help its guards, as we can expect a slashing style offence with the likes of Corey Webster, Sek Henry, RJ Hampton and Tom Abercrombie.

Given the match-ups as well for SE Melbourne’s backcourt, constant feeding into the bigs will be a good source of scoring for the Phoenix, as New Zealand has shown holes in its defence over the season, particularly around the basket. Wesley and Pineau should aim to get more shots up on Friday compared to previous rounds.

South-East Melbourne will also have the task of silencing a hostile Kiwi crowd which almost willed home a victory this past Sunday. To achieve this, Simon Mitchell’s men will need to get out ahead and quickly, something that has been lacking recently in the Phoenix’s mentality.

vs Sydney Kings

Monday, December 23, 2019 @ Qudos Bank Arena

Should the Phoenix earn a win on the road against New Zealand, the importance of their game against the Kings would become that much more crucial. The main concern for the Phoenix, would be their ability to contain the quickness of the Kings backcourt. Sydney’s main offensive weapon is their ability to penetrate defences and either dish off to bigs around the basket or find open wing players for the three-pointer.

Helping out in defence is a fundamental key in slowing down the steamroller that is Sydney’s offence, so for the Phoenix, communication and roles will once again be crucial. The main matchup however will not necessarily be Roberson versus Casper Ware, in fact it can be argued as being between Creek and Jae’sean Tate, with Creek back at the three spot. Tate does hold speed and shooting ability under his belt, but Creek’s defence should cover most of what is presented to him, as well as his rebounding ability and finishing around the basket.

Both games are important for the Phoenix, games that may define the rest of the season for them to see if they do belong in one of those top four spots compared with the 36ers, Taipans and United.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2019/20 NBL Team of the Week: Round 10

IN a weekend of high intensity and huge individual scores in the National Basketball League (NBL), it was difficult to determine a Draft Central NBL Team of the Week for Round 10. In the end, eight of the nine teams were represented, with Melbourne United and South East Melbourne Phoenix both having two members in the team, while cellar dwellers, Illawarra Hawks were the only side without a player making the final 10.

Shawn Long‘s remarkable season continued with 34 points and 15 rebounds, shooting at 71.4 per cent from the field in his standalone game against Adelaide 36ers on the weekend. He along with teammate Melo Trimble were the clear standouts for United, while for Adelaide, Eric Griffin was just as dominant across the court, picking up 34 points, nine rebounds, three steals, two assists and two blocks with a field goal shooting percentage of 78.6. The other forward in our starting side is a huge Most Valuable Player (MVP) contender and our Draft Central Medal leader, Lamar Patterson. The Brisbane Bullets big man helped himself to 27.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.5 steals across two games.

It was no surprise to see the top guard of the weekend, with Perth Wildcats’ Bryce Cotton having another stellar weekend. Cotton averaged 26.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in the Wildcats’ back-to-back wins. He was joined in the starting team by Cairns Taipans’ Scott Machado who finished with 21.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 8.0 assists and 2.0 steals from the Taipans’ two wins. Looking to the bench, the Phoenix had a couple of players with Ben Madgen and Mitch Creek both making the side. Also in the side was Team of the Week regular, Andrew Bogut, while the final spot was taken up by the controversial Glen Rice Jr. While his off-court antics led to him having his contract terminated, he went out with a bang picking up a double-double and almost a triple-double in one of the games of the year for the New Zealand Breakers.

As with every week there were some seriously unlucky omissions, but such was the tight competition in Round 10. Those in contention for a spot were Cairns trio D.J. Newbill, Cameron Oliver and Matt Hodgson, New Zealand duo Corey Webster and Brandon Ashley, Perth trio Terrico White, Dario Hunt and Nick Kay, Sydney guard Casper Ware and Illawarra’s Sunday Dech.

STARTING FIVE:

G: Bryce Cotton (PW) – 26.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.0 blocks, 50.0 FG%
G: Scott Machado (CT) – 21.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 48.0 FG%
C: Shawn Long (MU) – 34 points, 15 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 steals, 4 blocks, 71.4 FG%
F: Eric Griffin (AD) – 34 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 78.6 FG%
F: Lamar Patterson (BB) – 27.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.5 blocks, 53.7 FG%

BENCH:

G: Ben Madgen (SEM) – 20 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 58.3 FG%
G: Melo Trimble (MU) – 20 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, 63.6 FG%
C: Andrew Bogut (SK) – 12.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.0 steals, 2.0 blocks, 75.0 FG%
F: Mitch Creek (SEM) – 31 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 steals. 0 blocks, 61.1 FG%
F: Glen Rice Jr (NZ) – 30 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks,  42.3 FG%

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)

2019/20 NBL weekend preview: Round 10 – Blockbusters galore in huge round of action

FIVE teams play twice in a huge round 10 of the National Basketball League (NBL). We take a look at the seven games across this weekend.

CAIRNS TAIPANS vs. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Friday December 6, 7.30pm
Cairns Convention Centre

The round again opens in Cairns with the Taipans and Breakers both looking to make it two on the trot. The Taipans hosted Melbourne last Friday night and made it two wins in a row against the current third-placed side in the league. Cameron Oliver, Majok Deng and D.J. Newbill led the scoring for the Taipans, with the last win pushing them into sixth place on the ladder – just one win outside the top four. For the Breakers, they registered their third win of the season and lifted themselves off the bottom of the table with a strong 12-point victory over Illawarra. A dominant first quarter set up the triumph, as Sek Henry and Finn Delany led the scorers. Both sides will be eager for success, as they both return for back-up matches later in the round so they will be wanting to start their double-headers off on a good note.

PERTH WILDCATS vs. SYDNEY KINGS
Friday December 6, 9.30pm
RAC Arena

The Wildcats and Kings lock horns in a mouth-watering top-of-the-table Friday night matchup. Both sides have two games this round so the importance of a win in their first game of the round is crucial, especially since the two sides are the current leaders of the league. Perth will be wanting to bounce back on their home floor after they suffered just their fifth loss of the season last round to the 36ers. Bryce Cotton was one of only three players to hit double figures in scoring for the Wildcats, something that will have to change drastically if they are to stand any chance at overcoming the table-topping Kings. Sydney on the other hand continued on their winning ways, notching up win number 11 against Melbourne by 10-points. Casper Ware and Jae-Sean Tate continue to have standout seasons as both were instrumental in the big win.

MELBOURNE UNITED vs. ADELAIDE 36ers
Saturday, December 7, 5.30pm
Melbourne Arena

Melbourne United will be looking to bounce back and start another winning streak when they host Adelaide on Saturday afternoon. United’s winning run came to an end when they lost to the Kings in Sydney last round by 10 points. Not even a 32-point haul from Melo Trimble was enough to pull United over the line, as the Kings exacted their revenge. Chris Goulding and Shawn Long were both kept relatively quiet as well, so both will be looking to bounce back stronger against Adelaide. For the 36ers, they achieved one of the toughest tasks in the NBL – a road win against the Wildcats. Daniel Johnson made up for not being in during crunch time the previous week against the Bullets by scoring 29 points, whilst Jerome Randle continued his impressive season with 20 points. Still, that win was not enough to propel them into the top four, so they’ll be seeking a win this weekend to finally breakthrough into the finals places.

BRISBANE BULLETS vs. ILLAWARRA HAWKS
Saturday, December 7, 8pm
Queensland State Netball Centre

The Bullets will be looking to bounce back and keep in touch with the top four when they host the last-placed Hawks on Saturday night. The Bullets have now lost two matches on the trot after they fell to South East Melbourne for the second time this season. Jason Cadee, Lamar Patterson and Nathan Sobey led the way for the Bullets, but it was not enough as the Bullets lost on their home floor. For the Hawks, a second successive triple-double form LaMelo Ball was not enough to propel them over the line as they fell to New Zealand. The Hawks are now on the bottom of the NBL ladder and will be without Ball for this weekend who is out with a foot concern. The likes of Todd Blanchfield and Andrew Ogilvy will need to step up from disappointing outings against the Breakers if the Hawks hope to overcome Brisbane.

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX vs. PERTH WILDCATS
Sunday, December 8, 3pm
Melbourne Arena

South East Melbourne return home after they bounced back to end their three-game losing streak last weekend against the Bullets. The Phoenix had been close in their three-match losing run, but they finally broke through with a hard-fought 15-point win over the Bullets. Ben Madgen led the way with 23-points, with Mitch Creek and John Roberson also putting up big numbers. For the Wildcats on the other hand, this match will be their second of the round after they host the ladder-leading Kings on Friday night. It is a tough weekend for the Wildcats who take on two of the top-four teams in the competition, and they’ll be hopeful for strong performances from Cotton and Nick Kay to ensure they maximise their results this weekend.

SYDNEY KINGS vs. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Sunday, December 8, 5pm
Qudos Bank Arena

The Kings and Taipans will lock horns to play their second matchup of the weekend on Sunday afternoon in the Harbour City. Sydney travel to take on the Wildcats on Friday night in one of the toughest tasks in the league, but regardless of the result, they still face a tough matchup in taking on the Taipans. Casper Ware and Jae-Sean Tate will need to be on song in both matches if the Kings are to keep up their current winning streak which sits at five wins. For the Taipans, after they knocked off United for the second time this season, they host the Breakers on Friday night and will definitely see both games as winnable as they continue to hunt for a place in the top four.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS vs. BRISBANE BULLETS
Monday, December 9, 3.30pm
Qudos Bank Arena

New Zealand and Brisbane round out a massive round 10 when they go to battle on Monday afternoon. The game will mark both side’s second games of the round, and both will eager for wins as they both sit outside the top four. The Breakers face a tough task on Friday night against the Taipans, but they will have Glen Rice Jr return to the fold which will be a huge boost in both matches as they look to add to their three-win tally. For the Bullets, they will have two chances to bounce back after their disappointing home loss to the Phoenix last round. After their clash with the Hawks on Saturday afternoon, they will be hoping they can get two wins against the two bottom of the table teams in the competition this round.

2019/20 NBL Team of the Week: Round 9

THREE National Basketball League (NBL) teams recorded two or more players in the Draft Central Team of the Week for Round 9, with Sydney Kings and New Zealand Breakers both enjoying good wins, while Melbourne United went down in two games but still performed strongly. South East Melbourne Phoenix, Adelaide 36ers, Cairns Taipans and Illawarra Hawks all had one player each in the team, while Perth Wildcats and Brisbane Bullets did not register a player in the team after losses this weekend.

New Zealand had an impressive victory over Illawarra Hawks, with Finn Delany (20 points, 10 rebounds, one assist and one steal) recording a double-double to make Team of the Week. He was only overshadowed by Illawarra Hawks’ young gun, LaMelo Ball who recorded his second consecutive triple-double with 25 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, while Delany was joined by teammate Brandon Ashley. The Sydney Kings also had a couple of players make the team on the bench with Casper Ware and Jae’Sean Tate both putting out impressive games in a competitive week for spots.

Adelaide 36ers’ Daniel Johnson was named in the center position this week, producing the second best performance of any player over the weekend as he lead the 36ers to an upset win over Perth courtesy of 29 points, 17 rebounds, two assists and one steal. Also in the starting side was South East Melbourne Phoenix’ Ben Madgen (23 points, four rebounds, six assists and one steal) and Cairns Taipans’ Cameron Oliver (17 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks).

Looking to the bench and rounding out our Team of the Week were a couple of Melbourne United players who earned a spot with Melo Trimble and Shawn Long in the side again. There were quite a few unlucky players to miss out this round with New Zealand’s Sek Henry, Adelaide’s Jerome Randall, South East Melbourne’s Mitch Creek, Brisbane’s Lamar Patterson, Cairns’ Scott Machado, Perth’s Bryce Cotton and Melbourne’s Chris Goulding.

STARTING FIVE:

G: LaMelo Ball (IH) – 25 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 35.7 FG%
G: Ben Madgen (SEM) – 23 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 64.3 FG%
C: Daniel Johnson (AD) – 29 points, 17 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 68.8 FG%
F: Cameron Oliver (CT) – 17 points, 12 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 steals, 3 blocks, 46.7 FG%
F: Finn Delany (NZ) – 20 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 53.8 FG%

BENCH:

G: Casper Ware (SK) – 27 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, 64.3 FG%
G: Melo Trimble (MU) – 24.0 points, 1.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 48.5 FG%
C: Shawn Long (MU) – 14.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.0 steals, 2.0 blocks, 46.1 FG%
F: Brandon Ashley (NZ) – 10 points, 14 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals, 0 blocks, 50.0 FG%
F: Jae’Sean Tate (SK) – 25 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 80.0 FG%

NBL Round 9 review: Taipans and 36ers cause upsets to shake up ladder

THE ninth round of National Basketball League (NBL) games saw the matchup of two young up and coming American stars do battle across the Tasman, whereas Sydney further established themselves at the top of the table with an impressive performance against Melbourne United. The South East Melbourne Phoenix regained third spot in the standings and Adelaide’s imposing display against title contenders Perth, saw them close the gap on the top four.

Cairns Taipans (93) defeated Melbourne United (86)

Despite the Taipans’ low-lying position in the NBL standings, the boys from the far-north continue to prove that they are one of the most exciting teams to watch in the league, as they came out victors against fourth placed Melbourne United on Friday night. Contrary to only outscoring United in two quarters of play, Cairns’ second and third quarters were headlined by their starting five’s ability to find the target from deep, namely from Scott Machado and DJ Newbill who finished the game with three and two three-pointers from behind the arc respectively. Nevertheless, a Melbourne United outfit who had six players reaching double digits showcased promising signs. Firstly, United showed their depth in consistency across all positions. Secondly, their backcourt’s effectiveness, which put up prolific numbers in Friday’s loss was also solid. Melo Trimble and Shawn Long both finished with 16 points, while Chris Goulding was deadeye with 19 points. However, for Cairns, there was no doubt that Cameron Oliver was the key difference for the matchup, as he dominated at both ends of the floor. He summarised his game with 26 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. Other key contributors for the Taipans were Kouat Noi (five points and 13 rebounds) and Majok Deng (15 points and four rebounds).

DC Medal: 3 – Cameron Oliver (CT), 2 – Shawn Long (MU), 1 – Scott Machado (CT)

New Zealand Breakers (91) defeated Illawarra Hawks (79)

Spark Arena saw the face-off of the NBL’s two bottom teams, the Breakers and the Hawks. It also saw the matchup of the two American imports that 8,474 people wanted to see, RJ Hampton and LaMelo Ball. Those who attended were not disappointed and the Breakers were really feeling the home-court advantage, as they punished Illawarra for the first three quarters leading by as much as 21. But Illawarra, who had only three wins going into Saturday’s contest, would not go down that easy. Led by Ball, who would go on to finish with a consecutive triple-double (25 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists), ignited a late push cutting the lead to a mere five points in the space of six minutes. However, big fourth quarter plays from New Zealand’s Hampton (12 points and four rebounds) and Brandon Ashley (10 points and 14 rebounds) would be enough to get the Breakers over the line and hand the Hawks their ninth loss of the season.

DC Medal: 3 – LaMelo Ball (IH), 2 – Finn Delany (NZ), 1 – Brandon Ashley (NZ)

Brisbane Bullets (95) defeated by South East Melbourne Phoenix (110)

The Phoenix who have undergone a stream of losses losing five of their past seven games were able to get back into the winner’s circle and get their head above the .500 mark again this season. South East Melbourne put the hammer down on their shot selection from the first whistle to the last, shooting a stellar 59% from the field led by Ben Madgen who racked up 23 points going 9-14 in his 30 minutes of play. A surprise performance for the Phoenix was 26-year-old Kyle Adnam who had 16 points with a 75 percent efficiency rate. The Bullets who seemed almost unnoticeable in front of their home crowd shot below 50 percent still led at the end of the first half, but dropped off severely in the quarters to follow, getting outdone 34 to 57 on the scoreboard to finish the game. Despite Nathan Sobey’s 14 points off the bench, only three of Brisbane’s players in the starting five were able to crack double digits. However, Lamar Patterson came away one assist short of a double-double (14 points and nine assists). Mitch Creek for the Phoenix culminated his performance in providing 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

DC Medal: 3 – Ben Madgen (SEM), 2 – Mitch Creek (SEM), 1 – Lamar Patterson (BB)

Sydney Kings (111) defeated Melbourne United (101)

The top team in the National Basketball League once again staked its claim as this season’s favourites, coming away with a convincing 10-point victory over Melbourne United. The win continued the Kings’ impressive unbeaten record at Qudos Bank Arena, extending the streak to six straight. From the outset the Kings looked the part of ‘top-dog’, with an impressive 35 point opening quarter, giving them a 10-point buffer early in the contest. The momentum would carry over to the end of the half capped off with a Casper Ware dagger on the buzzer, giving an indication of what the rest of the game would have in store. Exceptional scoring from the Kings’ two main hitmen, Ware and forward Jae’sean Tate (27 and 25 points for each) were instrumental in the top-of-the-table team’s win, which further separates them from the rest of the league. The win has the Kings three and a half games ahead of Perth Wildcats who had their hands full with the 36ers on Sunday. United’s efforts relied solely on their guard Trimble who was on the money through four quarters, securing 32 points and five assists in 30 minutes of court-time. The loss for Melbourne allows cross-town rivals SE Melbourne Phoenix to regain third spot on the table, which sets up for some pivotal games in the coming rounds for both sides.

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

Perth Wildcats (88) defeated by Adelaide 36ers (99)

The last matchup between the Wildcats and the 36ers took place only 16 days prior to Sunday’s contest, where there was a total of 16 lead changes. But, the storyline this time in Perth was nowhere near a similar tale. The Wildcats led for a total of five minutes in the first quarter with only three lead changes occurring, and after seven and a half minutes of play 36ers forward Eric Griffin made the layup to put his team in front by two and did not look back.  The main reason being, the formidable duo of guard Jerome Randle, who holds a respectable record at the RAC Arena, finished with 20 points and eight assists, and big-man Daniel Johnson who dominated at both ends of the floor amassed 29 points and 17 big rebounds. Perth’s offence as a whole was lacking, converting a mere 31 of their 77 attempts, with the standout shooter alone being Bryce Cotton with 18 points. The 36ers win continues their four-game winning streak and puts them half a game out of the top-four trailing Melbourne United.  The 36ers will face United next Saturday at Melbourne Arena for a blockbuster game of the week.

DC Medal: 3 – Daniel Johnson (AD), 2 – Jerome Randle (AD), 1 – Bryce Cotton (PW)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

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

NBL Round 7 review: Largest NBL attendance record broken as top three bridge gap on rest

THE NBL’s Rivalry Round exhibited close results from Friday to Sunday with Melbourne United getting the one-point Throwdown victory over the Phoenix and with LaMelo Ball Illawarra was able to gather the largest attendance record at NBL game in history, travelling to Sydney for the first time against Andrew Bogut and his Kings. We also saw Cairns get the win over Brisbane, while Perth was able to come out victorious from both of their match-ups over the entertaining weekend.

Adelaide 36ers (95) defeated by Perth Wildcats (99)

Rivalry Round kicked off in South Australia where the 36ers came in looking to end a three-game losing streak. In what was a closely contested game throughout, with the point differential never getting to double digits through to the final buzzer. But with Perth’s field goal percentage finishing at 52% compared to Adelaide’s 45%, the Wildcats held their noses in front for the majority of the game and throughout the entire second half, ultimately obtaining their first win of the weekend taking the contest by four points. Despite Daniel Johnson’s double-double (23 points, 12 rebounds) and Jerome Randle’s big numbers on the scoreboard both notching up 23 points and Eric Griffin’s additional 18, five Wildcats finished with double digits. Led by Nicholas Kay who finished the night with 25 points, eight rebounds and five assists, which was further aided by centre Dario Hunt, who recorded 19 points and eight strong rebounds. The loss for the 36ers extends their losing run to four games placing them sixth on the ladder.

DC Medal- 3 N. Kay (PW), 2 D. Johnson (Ad), 1 D. Hunt (PW)

Melbourne United (96) defeated South-East Melbourne Phoenix (95)

The Melbourne Throwdown, the NBL’s newest rivalry, took centre-stage on Saturday and did not disappoint. It was the Phoenix who struck first at Melbourne Arena, as the new kids on the block held a lead as big as 12 points in the opening quarter, but due to two big three-pointers from Chris Goulding, including one on the buzzer, was able to cut the lead to five at the first break. Led by Mitch Creek’s 19 first-half points, the Phoenix possessed a six-point lead at the main break and a set the stage for a good finish. Melbourne United, who are well-known for their sporadic runs showcased this once again, as Mitch McCarron made a case for assist of the week, as his no-look behind the neck pass found its way to Shae Ili for the big-time three giving United a four-point lead. This was short lived however, as the Phoenix were able to take a commanding nine-point lead with five minutes remaining. Big plays by Shawn Long and McCarron sparked another run for United and the lone free-throw made by Melo Trimble was enough to get United over the line by a single point, emerging victorious in the third chapter of The Showdown and capping off their fifth consecutive win. Major contributors for United included Trimble (22 points and three assists) and Ili (16 pts and four assists), whereas Goulding was 3-6 from three-point range. For the Phoenix, Creek was again the high performer finishing with a massive 27 points, along with seven rebounds. In addition, Keith Benson came away with 20 points, eight rebounds and a season-high five blocks. United overtook the Phoenix to claim third spot in the standings dropping the Phoenix to fourth.

DC Medal- 3 M.Trimble (MU), 2 M.Creek (SEM), 1 K.Benson (SEM)

Cairns Taipans (94) defeated Brisbane Bullets (85)

The Taipans exploded out of the blocks to open up their clash against the Bullets leading 14-3 three minutes into the first period setting the tone for the remainder of the game. For all three of the opening quarters the Orange Army would continue to extend its lead over the Bullets leading by a whopping 20 points late in the third quarter. But luckily for Brisbane, their shining guard Nathan Sobey was able to spark a late run in the fourth quarter to make the end result more respectable, as the Bullets outscored the Taipans 28-18. Nevertheless, the damage had been done and the Taipans were able to grab their third win of the season, with the aid of their efficient big men Kouat Noi and Nathan Jawai, finishing with 20 and 14 points respectively. Noi would finish with 10 rebounds, adding a double-double to his season so far and center, Cameron Oliver, would go one rebound shy of his own double-double (13 points and nine rebs). The lone standout for the Bullets would be Sobey, as he would finish with 20 points, six rebounds and seven assists. The loss puts Brisbane at four wins and five losses on the season placing them in a tricky position to work their way up the ladder.

DC Medal- 3 K.Noi (CT), 2 C. Oliver (CT), 1 N.Sobey (BB)

Sydney Kings (92) defeated Illawarra Hawks (87)

With a great amount of participation surrounding the contest that took place at the Qudos Bank Arena prior to the game with the arrival of new rookie LaMelo Ball, tickets sold in abundance. In fact, it was confirmed that the total attendance for the match was the biggest number in history for an NBL match, with the final number of attendees being verified as 17,541. Good ball-movement and shooting would be key reasons why the Hawks would lead by four at quarter time, but the top-ranked Kings responded in-turn with a big second quarter led by MVP candidate Casper Ware. A pretty even second half would ensue with both teams trading blows back and forth, but with Jae’sean Tate taking the front-seat of Sydney’s strong shooting performance, capped off with Ware’s alley-oop dime to Bogut, the Kings would ride-out their home-court advantage to take the contest by five points. Ball did not fail to make his mark on the game finishing with 16 points and six assists supporting Todd Blanchfield’s 22. For the Kings, Tate’s 24 points and seven rebounds provided him with one his best performances this season so far. In addition, Ware’s 21 points and six assists only helped Sydney get their ninth win on the season placing them a game and a half ahead of the Perth Wildcats.

DC Medal- 3 J.Tate (SK), 2 C. Ware (SK), 1 T.Blanchfield (IH)

Perth Wildcats (88) defeated New Zealand Breakers (77)

Perth was hot on their heels after their win against Adelaide on Friday night and were looking at rounding out a successful round seven back in Western Australia. Both teams struggled to find their rhythm in the first quarter with neither team able to crack the 20 point mark. Despite this, the home crowd was able to rile up the Wildcats, particularly Bryce Cotton, who tallied 19 first-half points, helping Perth lead by 12 at the main break. Nevertheless, the Breakers found their stroke in the third quarter to half the deficit with a quarter to play, but the 36ers defence led by Damian Martin was strong enough to hold off the New Zealand charge and secure the double win over the Rivalry Round weekend. Cotton, who managed to put on a scoring showcase, finished with his second-highest points total this season with 34, as well as a return to form from Jessie Wagstaff, who finished with 14. Corey Webster managed to take away 23 points from WA for the Breakers, along with seven rebounds and four assists. But Rj Hampton was missing in action, only mustering four points in his side’s seventh loss on the year. The loss keeps New Zealand in eighth place and has Perth chasing the Sydney Kings at the top of the table.

DC Medal- 3 B.Cotton (PW), 2 C. Webster (NZ), 1 J. Wagstaff (PW)

South East Melbourne Phoenix (91) defeated by Adelaide 36ers (103)

The Adelaide 36ers came to play last night, taking it to the home side and ultimately prevailing in a hard fought contest snapping a four-game losing streak. The 36ers have been up and down to say the least this season, but pulled out all the stops against the highly rated South East Melbourne Phoenix who simply had no answers for their travelling opposition. Randle all but steered the 36ers to victory with an electric opening term downing 15 points and continued that vein of scoring to finish with 27 points for the game. He was ably assisted by forward Anthony Drmic who slotted an impressive 21 points and gobbled up eight rebounds falling two short of a double double. Griffin was another key contributor for Adelaide sinking 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists. However, Phoenix did not go down without a fight rallying in the last quarter to put pressure on the 36ers thanks to superstars Creek and John Roberson. Creek was classy across the court as per usual finishing with another double double with 22 points and 11 rebounds while Roberson had 21 points to his name. Ben Madgen recorded 14 points and Jaye Crockett nailed 13 points but overall the Phoenix seemed unable to find their usual rhythm and explosiveness. The loss sees them only just hang on to fourth spot while the win for Adelaide moves them to sixth just one win outside of the top four.

DC Medal- 3 J. Randle (AD), 2 A. Drmic (AD), 1 M. Creek (SEM)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

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