Tag: Cam Gliddon

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

NBL Semi-final Series previews

IT is an age-old saying that defense wins championships, and in these two semi-final matchups of the 2018/19 National Basketball League season, that is certainly true. Some of the best defensive players go head-to-head, whereas on the opposite end of the court, sharp shooters are likely to bust heads to put up as many shots as they can. Game 1 for each series begins on Thursday night. Starting in Melbourne, where United host rivals the Sydney Kings in a contest that will be heated through out the series. While the later game sees Brisbane travel to Perth to take on the Wildcats in a tough ask at RAC Arena. Each team deserves their place in the NBL Finals, with plenty of superstars taking to the court to fight it out for a spot in the Grand Final.

Melbourne United v Sydney Kings
Thursday, 7:50pm at Melbourne Arena
Sunday, 2:20pm at Qudos Bank Arena
Tuesday, 7:50pm at Melbourne Arena (if needed)

The key matchups:
Josh Boone v Andrew Bogut

It’s a bit saddening that this matchup comes up in the semi-finals, only due to seeing these two showcase their skills for five games rather than three. Two of the best big men in the league, their battles so far have proved some good results. Bogut perhaps has the wood over Boone, due to his presence alone, but more so his exceptional ways that he can put up vital blocks (2.8 for the season, 3.0 against Melbourne) to stop the layups and dunks. Boone averages 1.5 blocks both for the season as a whole, and against Sydney. Bogut has had double-digit blocks in every game against United for a total of 53, where Boone has pulled down 35 boards against the Kings. Boone did not have the greatest game against Cairns in the final round and should be rested and come with vengeance. Last years finals saw Boone get 13.3 points at 56% with 8.1 rebounds across seven games. Bogut is no stranger to finals either. During his time in the NBA he’s played in 58 playoff games for 5.5 points, 7.6 rebounds (10.9 in the 2013/14 playoffs) and 1.5 blocks. In addition, having finals success with the Golden State Warriors in 2013/14.

Casper Ware v Jerome Randle
These two love going at it, and both have been hitting the right notes all season long. Ware has been slightly down lately, noticed in his field goal percentage, while Randle has been shooting brilliantly at 46% this year. Randle has Ware covered in their matchups this season, the Kings guard picking up two games over 21 points (including a 35 point game), whereas Ware has been held to below 10 points twice. Both have been great at giving off the ball (Randle has 4.3 season assists against Ware’s 4.8) and have the know-how to instigate plenty of crucial plays, or try to make them on their own. Ware hasn’t shot the greatest in the last seven games, converting below 43% in those games, so he needs to pick himself back up to make a difference in this series. In last year’s finals matches, Ware had 19.3 points and 2.9 assists in seven games. Randle played finals in 2016 where he put up 24.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.7 assists with 1.3 steals in three games with Adelaide.

How they got here: United always remained competitive, defending their 2017/18 NBL title. They were given plenty of scares throughout the season, with five overtime games, winning four of them. Losses down the stretch to Sydney and Cairns hurt their chances of ending the season in top spot. Sydney started off poorly, losing two straight games to Adelaide but came together as a team quite quickly to lead talks about a championship-winning team. They finished the season with a 18-0 record, the same as Melbourne and Perth, but percentage played a deciding factor that prevented them from a home court advantage.

Season form against each other: Melbourne and Sydney have played each other four times throughout the course of the season, with United taking a 3-1 lead. In Round 4, United won 77-70 at home where they didn’t give up a lead. DJ Kennedy hit 24 points with 10 rebounds. Sydney had Jerome Randle doing the hard yards with 15 points, three assists and two steals. In Round 7, at Melbourne Arena again, United survived a Sydney fightback, running out 84-82 victors. United’s Casper Ware was magnificent with 23 points, five rebounds and six assists, whereas Randle played as good as he did all season, finishing with 35 points. In Round 10 it was Sydney’s turn to host, but a 19-10 fourth quarter saw United steal a win 75-70. Andrew Bogut was massive with 11 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks. For United, David Barlow scored 12 points with 11 rebounds and three blocks in this match. Their final meeting of the season came in Round 17, again in Sydney. This time, the home side were able to manage a win, breaking a 10-game drought, claiming a 97-85 win. Randle had 21 points with six assists, while for Melbourne, Kennedy had 13 points and eight rebounds.

Leaders against each other:
Jerome Randle (Sydney Kings): 86 points at 21.5 per game.
Casper Ware (Melbourne United): 57 points at 14.25 per game.
Rebounds: Andrew Bogut (Sydney Kings): 53 rebounds at 13.25 per game.
Josh Boone/DJ Kennedy (Melbourne United): 35 rebounds at 8.75 per game.
Assists: Casper Ware (Melbourne United): 21 assists at 5.25 per game.
Jerome Randle (Sydney Kings): 12 assists at 3.0 per game.
Field goal percentage: Mitch McCarron (Melbourne United): 55.3%
Brian Bowen (Sydney Kings): 51.78%
Steals: Kevin Lisch (Sydney Kings): seven steals at 1.75 per game.
Chris Goulding (Melbourne United): five steals at 1.7 per game.
Blocks: Andrew Bogut (Sydney Kings): 12 blocks at 3.0 per game.
Josh Boone (Melbourne United): six blocks at 1.5 per game.

The game: Both teams have found ways to win away from home this season, which might work in Sydney’s favour having the possibility of traveling to Melbourne twice. United are eight wins and six losses to the Kings’ nine wins and five losses. They’re just as good with a home court advantage too, each side really getting big crowds behind them, leading them to victory. All across the court, the matchup will be entertaining as even the other players, with the likes of Mitch McCarron and David Barlow for United and Daniel Kickert and Brad Newley for the Kings providing a added spark. United have plenty of shooters that put up lots of shots, attempting 172 more shots than Sydney, and average 5.3 more points. As much as Andrew Bogut is tall, United lead the Kings by 3.7 offensive rebounds and it’s the likes of Melbourne’s forwards who leap at the ball. United steal well, however the Kings are the lowest stealing team with 4.9 this year. This season, Melbourne and United have gone head to head in converting their shots, with two percent or less from the field separating the two quality sides.

Perth Wildcats v Brisbane Bullets
Thursday, 10:20pm at RAC Arena
Saturday, 2:50pm at Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre
Monday, 9:20pm at RAC Arena (if needed)

The key matchups:
Bryce Cotton v Cam Gliddon
The two top scorers for their respective sides, Gliddon will want to tighten up his defensive game in order to restrict Cotton presences. The Wildcat has averaged 27.75 points against the Bullets this season at 58.05%, so whenever Cotton feels he’s got a good look, he’ll back himself to get the points. Thoughout this season Cotton has averaged 22.5 points, and grabbed nine rebounds against Melbourne in the final game to average 3.8 for the regular season. Gliddon averages 4.5 rebounds against Perth so he certainly get high on the rim to start a quick transition. Against Perth, Gliddon averages 15.25 points, which can be a handy contribution for the Bullets. Cotton, over his two-year NBL career has been exceptional when it comes to finals. Last year, in two games, he averaged 26.5 points and in 2017, through five games, averaged 25.2 points at a combined 49.0%, definitely stepping up. The last time Gliddon played finals was in 2016, where he averaged 4.0 points in two games and before that, in 2014, he averaged 12.3 points in four games in 2014, however, a now-seven-year veteran, should know the pressure and play accordingly.

Nicholas Kay v Lamar Patterson
Kay has played the big-man role well this season, in all areas of the court. Averaging 15.3 points for the season with 8.7 rebounds, he’s helped Perth recently get back into the swing of things. Against Brisbane, Kay has scored 56 points (14.0 at 59.5%), 39 rebounds and 10 assists with five steals. Patterson was helpful for Brisbane since he came into the side, and in 22 games, are leading their scoring, rebounds (and defensive rebounds) and second for assists. Patterson’s presence has done wonders for the Bullets, who’s opponents are fearful of what he can do, and in only two games against Perth, he has played a key role. In those two games, he’s scored 30 points and had 12 rebounds.

How they got here: Perth started the season on fire, losing just one game in their first 11 matches of the season. Their season took a bit of a tumble late in the year, losing eight games in ten matches between Round 8 and Round 14. Fortunately for the Wildcats, talk of missing the playoffs sparked them and from there, won the next six to confirm their spot for a 33rd consecutive season, finishing with a 18-10 record. Brisbane fought hard for their spot, and won in Round 18 against New Zealand to overtake Adelaide on percentage for the last placing with a 14-14 record. Brisbane were the surprise outfit early in the season, especially when they beat Perth, but what brought the Bullets undone was losing games they shouldn’t have. Early on they lost to Cairns and Illawarra by lengthy margins and heading towards finals, lost to teams like the Breakers, Cairns and Sydney three times.

Season form against each other: Perth and Brisbane have battled on four occasions this season, and it’s an even ledger at two apiece. Each of the matches came within the first 10 rounds, and Brisbane were the only team to beat the Wildcats in their first 11 games. The first matchup in Round 2 went Perth’s way, 88-73. Bryce Cotton starred for the Wildcats with 28 points, three rebounds and four assists. Cam Gliddon was Brisbane’s top scorer with 13 points, adding eight rebounds. A short turnaround towards a second meeting, in Round 3, Brisbane fought back hard, taking what they’d previously learnt to not give up a lead after half time before finishing with a 100-96 win at home. They had valuable contributions from everyone, but Jason Cadee was good with 14 points, four rebounds and seven assists. For Perth, Terrico White was their best, ending the game with 19 points and six rebounds. In Round 5, it was back at RAC Arena, and another close game with the home side beating the Bullets 90-87. A strong game by both team, it was Cotton who provided 37 of the Wildcats’ points, with three rebounds and assists each. Lamar Patterson joined in for the Bullets with 13 points, and four rebounds and assists each in his second game since coming in for Alonso Gee. Their final meeting back in Round 10 was another comeback win for Brisbane, the final result being 93-86 after the Wildcats led by 14 points in the third quarter. Gliddon was a handy contributor with 24 points, three rebounds and assists each, while on the Perth roster, Cotton tried hard to get his team across the line with 29 points and three rebounds and assists each.

Leaders against each other:
Points: Bryce Cotton (Perth Wildcats): 111 points at 27.75 per game.
Cam Gliddon (Brisbane Bullets): 61 points at 15.25 per game.
Rebounds: Nicholas Kay (Perth Wildcats): 39 rebounds at 9.75 per game.
Cam Bairstow (Brisbane Bullets): 21 rebounds at 5.25 per game.
Assists: Jason Cadee (Brisbane Bullets): 15 assists at 3.75 per game.
Damien Martin (Perth Wildcats): 14 assists at 4.67 per game.
Field goal percentage: Matthew Hodgson (Brisbane Bullets): 68.75 per cent.
Mitch Norton (Perth Wildcats): 63.68 per cent.
Steals: Damien Martin (Perth Wildcats): six steals at 2.0 per game.
Cam Gliddon (Brisbane Bullets): six steals 1.5 per game.
Blocks: Mika Vukona (Brisbane Bullets): four blocks at 1.0 per game.
Angus Brandt (Perth Wildcats): two blocks at 0.5 per game.

The game: Both sides won their respective games at home this season, so perhaps Perth is in the box seat for this finals series. Brisbane have failed to win the important games this season, and while even against Perth and 3-1 against Melbourne, they are 0-4 against the Kings this season. Brisbane have arrived into the finals on the back of some exceptional shooting though, with players like Cam Bairstow capable of draining threes (48 per cent), as well as Cam Gliddon attempting 187 from outside of which 73 found the net. Despite not playing as many games as his teammates, coming into the team in Round 4, Lamar Patterson led the Bullets season scoring (18.1), the next best being Gliddon at 13.7, which could be a reason as to why the Bullets are shooting 89.4 points per game. Although this may seem low, the Wildcats are below them – barely – at 89.3 points per game. However, when the Wildcats have the Fans MVP Bryce Cotton – who led the league scoring with 22.5 points – who can also find ways to get to the line, they are primed for big scores. A difference for this game, as they are both good shooting teams are the ability to gather the loose ball at their own basket; Perth lead this over Brisbane 13.7 to 11.5 per game and the tall timber at the Wildcats means they can get off a second chance point or pass it off to someone on the outside. Both are good with assists, and as above, Brisbane can palm it off to those with good looks from deep. Perth will be on an attack from Game 1, and will relish turnovers, of which Brisbane average 12.3 a game, which they’ll need to bring down for finals where every possession is precious.

Young gun spotlight: NBL- Round 12

PLENTY of young National Basketball League (NBL) talent has been on show lately, and the new year brings with it more players getting more improved time on court. Melo Trimble is himself, lighting up the Taipans as they found their second win of the season, while Brian Bowen and Harry Froling are still performing strongly. Newcomers, Fabijan Krslovic, Tyrell Harrison and a debut from AJ Davis must’ve had Christmas wishes come true, getting some good looks on the floor.

Cairns Taipans – #1 Melo Trimble

Trimble shot 13 points to help Cairns get a surprising win against Brisbane on Thursday night. Besides that, he had no real effect, despite going at plus 26, but kept Bullets guards, Jason Cadee and Cam Gliddon to a combined eight points. In the final game of the round, the Taipans pushed the Kings and Trimble was helpful in netting 22 points, including three from beyond the arc. A better game, Trimble contributed with six rebounds and five assists and drew 11 fouls with his speed and evasiveness. 

New Zealand Breakers – #3 Finn Delaney

Had a great game for the Breakers in Round 11 against Adelaide with 18 points and five rebounds. He backed it up in Round 12 against the 36ers again, but only scored two points and one rebound. In the Breakers’ second game of the round, Delaney netted four points, along with three rebounds and an assist.

Adelaide 36ers – #11 Harry Froling

It’s probably little time until Froling starts for Adelaide,  with the 20 year-old putting up good numbers. His stat line against New Zealand read as 14 points and five rebounds. He shot 80 per cent from inside the arc, six from six at the line and was rebounding from both ends.

Brisbane Bullets – #11 AJ Davis

Davis had his debut for the Bullets against Melbourne, and in four minutes, he made one field goal from two attempts.

Illawarra Hawks – #11 Daniel Grida

Grida shot 10 points in Round 11 against Brisbane- a season-best for the Hawks guard. In Round 12, Grida had five points and one rebound.

Brisbane Bullets – #12 Will Magnay

Magnay had two trips to the line and converted two free throws, which was the amount of points he ended on. He also put up a block in his nine minutes on court.

Melbourne United – #14 Tohi Smith-Milner

Smith-Milner didn’t make an impact on the scoreboard but he did have one rebound to complement his five assists. He played a nice nine minute stint in United’s loss to Brisbane.

Cairns Taipans – #20 Fabijan Krslovic

Australian-born Krslovic, who moved from a four-year stint with the Montana Grizzlies in the National Collegiate Athletic Assocation (NCAA) division one, played his second game with court time this NBL season. He had two and a half minutes against the Bullets, shooting one for one in the last minute of the game, and was Cairns’ final scorer.

Sydney Kings – #20 Brian Bowen

You can’t bash Bowen for being consistent week-in, week-out. In the past eight games his points record is four, four, four, five, five, seven, seven and finally four against Cairns. So, that being said, maybe another four points is on the cards this round. Anyway, in Round 12, Bowen had seven points and three rebounds against the Hawks, followed by four points and seven rebounds against Cairns.

Brisbane Bullets – #24 Tyrell Harrison

The tall 214cm centre hasn’t seen much game time but the 19-year-old has helped the Bullets’ team. This week against the Taipans, he played two and a half minutes and was able to record an assist and rebound. The week before though, he played over three minutes for four points and one rebound, shooting 100 per cent, but missed one free throw from one attempt.

Perth Wildcats – #25 Rhys Vague

Vague had his second-highest points count of the season with eight, shooting 75 per cent. He added to his stats with three rebounds and one assist.

Melbourne United – #30 Sam McDaniel

It’s been a while since United featured on this list and McDaniel played just shy of five minutes against the Bullets on the Gold Coast. He’s still searching for his first points of the season, but he pulled down two rebounds.

Weekend previews: NBL – Round 1

THE opening round of NBL will see plenty of new faces take to the court. We previewed what’s set to be a massive first round.


New Zealand Breakers v Brisbane Bullets
Thursday, 5:20pm at Spark Arena

The key match-up:
Shea Ili v Jason Cadee
Picked up as part of Brisbane’s rebuild, Cadee will look to impress in his first NBL game for the Bullets. He proved dangerous both going in and at range for Sydney last season. Shea Ili will need to keep Cadee accountable on defence and is likely to inject plenty of his own class going inside. Defensively, both need to play a little loose to prevent inside runs, but not enough to let the other put down at range.

Last time they met: Brisbane Bullets (81) defeated New Zealand Breakers (76)
Brisbane took home a five-point win the last time these teams faced. For the Bullets, Perrin Buford sunk 18 points and took 10 rebounds, with Travis Trice following close with 17 points of his own. DJ Newbill stood tall for the Breakers, leading in points with a strong 21-point performance.

Last season: The Bullets finished at the bottom of the table in the 2017-18 NBL season. Their last win was against the Illawarra Hawks, losing their last three games to close out a disappointing season. Similarly, the Breakers’ last win for the season was also against the Hawks in Round 17, but they managed to lose their remaining six games, including both games against Melbourne United in the semi-finals.

The game: Brisbane is set to show a lot more strength in the back court after signing the Australian Boomers pair, Cam Gliddon and Jason Cadee. Cadee is likely to make some waves early on for his new side but faces a fair challenge in Ili. The Bullets are set to come out firing in their third season back in the NBL, needing to make a statement on their worth to the competition. Ili’s class on the inside will be on display with Corey Webster also looking to make a statement with his return after a poor run of injuries in 2016-17.


Adelaide 36ers v Perth Wildcats
Thursday, 7:50pm at Titanium Security Arena

Key match-up:
Daniel Johnson v Nicholas Kay
Kay loves to drive to the ring, but despite this predictability, he often proves too good to stop. While Johnson definitely has Kay covered in terms of height, it will be hard for him to match Kay’s speed or agility in the paint. In saying that, Johnson will back a few people down under the ring, so Kay will likely have the harder job in defence.

Last time they met: Adelaide 36ers (89) defeated Perth Wildcats (88)
The 36ers narrowly beat the Wildcats in the game that sent them to the finals. Mitchell Creek played close to 39 minutes, picking up 22 points and six rebounds, with Josh Childress dominating on the inside with 25 points and 11 rebounds. JP Tokoto was pivotal with 14 points, six rebounds and five assists, while at range, Bryce Cotton lit up the stadium with a 31-point game.

Last Season: The 36ers had a stellar 2017-18 season, going all the way to the finals to face Melbourne United. Despite their eventual loss, they still managed to win two out the five games against the best in the league. While the Wildcats’ run in the finals was a short one, they still managed to finish third on the table with 16 wins and 12 losses.

The game: Cotton will need to be checked early because he will be sinking them from range, with Kay going hard off the drive. The Wildcats have got a decent bit of offensive coverage, but Daniel Johnson will likely dominate off the rebound, while Nathan Sobey and Ramone Moore will have their own impact on the board.


Illawarra Hawks v Melbourne United
Friday, 7:50pm at WIN Entertainment Centre

Key match-up:
Andrew Ogilvy v Josh Boone
Ogilvy will have his work cut out for him against Boone on Friday night. Boone’s dominance under the ring is hard to match, so Ogilvy will need to utilise his height as best he can. Boone is likely to sit well on the board if left unchecked, but Ogilvy should not be underestimated at the ring. The pair will be all over each other all day, so we are bound to see a few put backs and defensive rebounds.

Last time they met: Illawarra Hawks (94) defeated Melbourne United (84)
In the last game before finals the Hawks took out the then-ladder leaders in a 10-point victory at Hisense arena. Tim Coenraad (24 points, six rebounds and two assists), Nicholas Kay (27 points, seven rebounds, one assist) and Demitrius Conger (20 points, six rebounds, three assist) all dominated under the ring, all recording more rebounds than their opponents. Tai Wesley finished with 14 points and four rebounds, while Boone finished similarly with 14 points and three rebounds.

Last Season: Melbourne’s last season was undoubtedly brilliant, finishing the leagues’ champion and topping the home and away season with 20 wins and eight losses. Illawarra Hawks probably have some reservations about facing the reigning champions in the first round. They rounded out the bottom four with 12 wins and 16 losses, three wins below the New Zealand Breakers in fourth.

The game: Brian Conklin is bound to have a significant impact on the board alongside Todd Blanchfield and big man, Nichloas Kay. However, it’s doubtful that the Hawks will have enough to knock off United with their talent. Casper Ware and Chris Goulding are likely to combine well on the scoreboard, while Josh Boone eats up the rebounds and puts up a few on his own. Unfortunately for the Hawks, United have covered most of their bases in their line-up. They will need their big names to have some strong performances if they hope to upset.


Sydney Kings v Adelaide 36ers
Saturday, 2:50pm at Qudos Bank Arena

Key match-up: Jerome Randle v Nathan Sobey
Randle’s handle and speed with the ball is likely unmatched by anyone in the NBL. He boasts an excellent control of the ball going forward and manoeuvres gracefully past defenders. Sobey will have some trouble trying to minimise Randle’s impact, but Randle will likely face the same problems when facing Sobey. Both are very agile players, but Randle may be a cut above Adelaide’s guard.

Last time they met: Adelaide 36ers (104) defeated Sydney Kings (101)
As expected, Creek (30 points, four rebounds and two assists) and Shannon Shorter (20 point, four rebounds and five assists) had big games for the 36ers along with Daniel Johnson (22 points, six rebounds and four assists) who dominated under the backboard. Brad Newley had a strong game with 21 points and seven rebounds, while Randle topped the board for his team with 22 points and an impressive 11 assists.

Last Season: These two team had opposite endings to the 2017-18 season. While the 36ers made it to the finals and finished second on the table, the Sydney Kings had a rather disappointing season, finishing second-last with 11 wins and 17 losses. However, they did manage to win four of their last five games.

The game: Sobey, Moore and Johnson are set to be the Kings’ biggest problem. Johnson will likely muscle up a few on the inside while Sobey should hold himself well in contest with Randle. In saying that, minimising Randle will be no easy feat. He’s likely to sink a few alongside Newley. It will probably go the way of the 36ers due to their better spread, but Randle could also have a big kick off to this season.


Brisbane Bullets v Cairns Taipans
Saturday, 7:50pm at Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre

Key match-up: Cameron Bairstow v Alex Loughton
Since they are both damaging in the paint, there could be a few wrestles for the rebound throughout the game. Bairstow is likely to have some issues accounting for Loughton’s jumper, but should have him covered if he tries to push inside.

Last time they met: Cairns Taipans (83) defeated Brisbane Bullets (80)
It seems everybody stood up for the Taipans the last time these two sides faced. Loughton sunk 22 points, Mitch McCarron had 16 with nine rebounds and three assists, and Jarrad Weeks downed 15 with four rebounds and four assists. There were only two real standouts for the Bullets in Daniel Kickert (27 points, eight rebounds and one assist) and Travis Trice (26 points, one rebound and five assists). The pair stood tall and worked hard to keep their team close.

Last season: Neither of these teams had stellar performances last season, so this game could go either way. Brisbane’s considerable list change means it will be hard to pick a winner in this contest, but the Bullets are bound to kick the season off strong. After finishing on the bottom of the table for the third year in a row, facing the Taipans might instill some confidence. The Taipans may have finished only a little higher than the Bullets, but the sides did both lose four of their last five games.

The game: Heading into their second game, we are still likely to see some solid performances from Gliddon and Cadee in the back court, with Gliddon coming up against his old side. Loughton should also make a few waves, with Japanese sensation, Makoto Hiejima looking to come in with a strong first round. Bairstow will likely pose a threat on the rebound and drive for the Taipans, with DJ Newbill shooting strong and Nathan Jawai providing a strong body in defence.


Melbourne United v New Zealand Breakers
Sunday, 7:50pm at Melbourne Arena

Key match-up: Casper Ware v Shea Ili
Both these men move well with the dribble. Ware shows plenty of polish driving inside, whereas Ili plays with a little more range. Ili’s biggest task will be to match his footwork and keep his run limited, but Ware has proven crafty in tighter positions. Ili will best minimise Ware if he’s able to break him open on the offensive, and with his unpredictable style, it shouldn’t be too hard.

Last time they met: Melbourne United (88) defeated New Zealand Breakers (86)
The last time these teams faced, United eliminated the Breakers from the finals and went on to win the league. Boone had an outstanding game, dropping 33 points and 15 rebounds. Ware also played well with 15 points and six assists, and Casey Prather stood tall with 12 points and 11 rebounds. For the Breakers, Newbill performed well across the board with 21 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Kirk Penney (17 points, three rebounds and two assists) and Robert Loe (16 points and four rebounds) were also impressive.

Last season: While it is sufficing to say that Melbourne finished the top of the table for good reason, New Zealand’s season should not be overlooked. The Breakers had a strong start to the season, but had a sharp drop come the second half, losing four of their last five games.

The game: Boone should have another big performance against the Breakers, finishing last year with great form. Ware’s class should be firing on all cylinders as he weaves his way to the ring, and Goulding is bound to sink a few as well. For the Breakers, Ili might prove a problem for the reigning champions, with Webster looking to stand well in the first round. Despite a few good efforts, United should walk away with a comfortable win and set themselves up nicely for next round.


Perth Wildcats v Illawarra Hawks
Sunday, 5:20pm at RAC Arena

Key match-up:
Angus Brandt v Andrew Ogilvy
This will be an interesting contest to say the least. Stats are pretty similar for the pair with Brandt having the slight edge in scoring (9.8 average in 2017-18), but Ogilvy having the lead in rebounds (5.5 average in 2017-18). Ogilvy also has a slight height advantage, but Brandt remains quite agile and quick for a centre. The Hawks tall will have to use his strong read if he’s going to take an advantage, but Brandt’s speed might prove too much.

Last time they met: Illawarra Hawks (96) defeated Perth Wildcats (84)
The Hawks took a comfortable win over the Wildcats the last time they faced. Rotnei Clarke scored 21 points with six assists, and Conger similarly picked up 21 with four rebounds and three assists. Kay (13 points, seven rebounds and two assists) and Johnson (11 points, six rebounds and one assist) had strong performances under the ring. JP Tokoto (27 points, 12 rebounds and two assists) and Cotton (25 points, three rebounds and four assists) were the two most outstanding performers for the Wildcats.

Last season:
The Hawks won two of their last five games for the home and away season, topping off the bottom four; three wins away from fourth spot. The Wildcats similarly finished with two wins from their last five but managed to finish third with 16 wins. Wildcats also had the least amount of points scored against them which speaks wonders for their defence.

The game:
Cotton will likely give the Hawks a lot of trouble at range, with Kay and Brandt mopping up well under the ring and dominating off their drive. The Hawks have a lot of less tried talent so the weekend could be interesting. Blanchfield is likely to have an impact alongside Coenraad, while Ogilvy will have his work cut out for him against the Wildcats’ big men.