Tag: Daniel Kickert

2019/20 NBL Preview: Round 19 – Bullets looking to cement spot in top four

THERE are only five games in Round 19 of the National Basketball League (NBL) with the Brisbane Bullets the only side to play two games this round. It will be a ladder defining round of action with a host of top four clubs set to do battle and teams hanging on by a thread hoping to sneak their way into finals contention.

BRISBANE BULLETS v. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Friday, February 7, 7:30pm
Nissan Arena

It will be a hotly contested match between the fourth placed Brisbane Bullets and fifth placed New Zealand Breakers to kick off the start of the round. With finals edging closer the Bullets will be hoping to hold onto fourth spot but a loss against the Breakers who are hot on their tail could end their chances. Brisbane are on a six-game winning streak, gradually getting stronger each and every game while the Breakers have won four of their last five, making for a tantalising battle. Lamar Patterson has been the go-to guy in previous outings for the Bullets with the forward posting up high numbers both on the scoreboard and in rebounds. Patterson is coming off a double-double having knocked back 31 points and 12 rebounds, making him the danger man for the Breakers. Nathan Sobey and Jason Cadee will also have to stand up in the contest if the Bullets are to get the win over the charging Breakers. New Zealand have their own set of star players looking for a chance at playing finals led by the likes of Brandon Ashley who showed just how much damage he can do last round with 31 points and 12 rebounds to his name. Scotty Hopson is just as dangerous with the guard able to find the net with ease while Finn Delaney and captain Tom Abercrombie are no strangers to the big stage, able to stand up under pressure and deliver. This game will ultimately come down to who can withstand the pressure for the longest and which side is willing to lay it all on the line for a chance at finals.

MELBOURNE UNITED v. ILLAWARRA HAWKS
Saturday, February 8, 5:30pm
Melbourne Arena

With a spot at finals still on the line it is do or die for Melbourne United who have had the wood over Illawarra Hawks the past couple of encounters. United have been inconsistent to say the least winning some huge games and dropping some easier match-ups making this contest all the more exciting. On the other hand, the Hawks have really struggled to get any form of winning momentum while also being plagued with injury. Melbourne have only won one of their past five games showcasing just how much a win here could mean to the sixth placed side. It will be up to the likes of Chris Goulding and Melo Trimble to lead the way for United with the latter hitting his straps at the right time. Trimble fell victim to the midseason slump but with a sniff of finals has returned to form of late with 36 points in his latest outing. Big man Shawn Long has also been a key contributor for his new side and will be hoping to make a splash against the Hawks and get his side back on the winners list. Both Mitch McCarron and David Barlow will be hoping to make up for a relatively quiet last round and hit the scoreboard. It is all about pride for the Hawks now, with Josh Boone proving to be a shining light in recent weeks while Todd Blanchfield and Tim Coenraad have combined to become a force off the boards. United will have to throw everything they have at the undermanned Hawks if they are any chance to get finals redemption.

ADELAIDE 36ers v. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Saturday, February 8, 8:00pm
Adelaide Entertainment Centre

With third spot on the ladder almost tied up the Cairns Taipans will be out to officially secure their finals chances while the 36ers will be looking to shake things up. Although they can statistically make the finals, Adelaide’s chances are very slim but a win here and some fortunate losses to teams around them could see the top four open-up. Cairns have been in hot form with their on-court synergy causing headaches for opposition teams. Led by the likes of DJ Newbill the Taipans have roared into action winning four of their past five and do not look like stopping. Cameron Oliver and Scott Machado have proven to be the deadly duo with the two combining week in and week out to post a hefty total. Oliver is crafty across the court, able to find the basket with ease collecting 17 points last round. Throw in the likes of Majok Deng and the Cairns are a real powerhouse when they get going, making it a challenging task for Adelaide. The 36ers will be looking to the likes of Jerome Randle and Eric Griffin to pave the way and keep their season alive. Both players have shown time and time again throughout the season that they can pull a cat out of the bag with their exciting game play and scoring prowess. Daniel Johnson should not be forgotten about for the 36ers with the forward able to navigate his way around the court and use his big frame to outmuscle opponents and score freely coming off a 22-point game.

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX v. SYDNEY KINGS
Sunday, February 9, 3:00pm
Melbourne Arena

After a successful start to the season the South East Melbourne Phoenix have well and truly fallen off the boil but will want to end the season on a high and cause a major upset. The Kings currently sit one game ahead of Perth in second and will be aiming to increase that lead with a win over the Phoenix, but South East should not be discounted. The boys in green have an uncanny ability to do the unthinkable and could cause a real stir if they get the win over the firing Kings. Mitch Creek has returned to form with the star proving to be the real barometer for his side with his scoring ability while John Roberson has been handy on the scoreboard. The South East duo will have to go big in their clash if they are any chance to win while Dane Pineau and Ben Madgen will have to step up to the plate to help out both defensively and offensively. Unfortunately for the Phoenix, the Kings have a wealth of talent with Casper Ware a real menace while Jae’Sean Tate has been a revelation. Big man Andrew Bogut is a force to be reckoned with and will be looking to impose himself once again on the lowly Phoenix. Brad Newley has been another strong contributor along with Daniel Kickert for the Kings making for a tough challenge for the Phoenix who will have to overcome a strong attacking team.

PERTH WILDCATS v. BRISBANE BULLETS
Sunday, February 9, 5:00pm
RAC Arena

Sitting one game away from top spot on the ladder, the Wildcats will be searching to inflict some pain on the Bullets who are vying for a top four position. Perth have struggled against Brisbane throughout the season dropping two of their past three encounters against the Bullets, making for an intriguing contest to close out Round 19. The Wildcats are extremely hard to stop when they are on song with the likes of Bryce Cotton able to light the court up with his speed and ability to drain shots from anywhere on the court. Cotton managed 30 points last week while Nick Kay is another one to watch for the Bullets. It is hard to go past Terrico White who has been relatively inconsistent but still has plenty of firepower. NBA recruit Miles Plumlee has been a handy inclusion for the Wildcats, making the challenge even tougher for the Bullets. Expect Patterson to stand up under pressure credit to his strong form against the Wildcats while Matt Hodgson will have his work cut out for him against Plumlee. Will Magnay has been solid in recent weeks for Brisbane and will have to replicate his high output if the Bullets are to ruffle some feathers and claim a major scalp ahead of finals.

2019/20 NBL preview: Round 17 – Little time left in the season, who will break?

THE battle for that elusive fourth spot in the finals is set to ramp up, as four sides are within a single win of snagging a higher position. Following United’s crushing defeat to the Breakers, they need to recover quickly if they are to hold on to their position in the standings, as they close out the round to an in-form Sydney side that is hot off the back of a South East Melbourne drubbing. On the other hand, the Bullets face an important double-header weekend in their quiet run to the postseason, squaring up to a down-and-out Phoenix side and an anxious 36ers squad raring to go in front of their home crowd. Lastly, out in WA, Perth is keen to steal top spot from the Kings, but will have to topple the Breakers who have fought back into the title conversation after their own successful double-header last week with convincing victories against United and Sydney.

Brisbane Bullets vs South East Melbourne Phoenix
Thursday, January 23, 7:30pm
Nissan Arena

Both of these sides go into Round 17 with very different feelings as to what is expected of them. The Brisbane Bullets, who just recently came off a strong victory against the Illawarra Hawks, now sit equal fourth with Melbourne United (both teams are 11-11) vying for that last playoff spot. Their expectation coming into the last week of January is to stay ahead of the mid-table pack, whereas for the Phoenix, their expectation is catching up with the pack. With just six games remaining, there is a slight chance South East Melbourne could regain lost footing, however, this would require a perfect ending to the season where the Phoenix would win all of their remaining games. This begins with Brisbane on Thursday night. For Brisbane in terms of strengths, it starts and ends with their frontcourt. Led by Lamar Patterson’s big numbers both in points and rebounds (20.59 points and 6.0 rebounds), good performances by Will Magnay (8.14 points and 5.67 rebounds) and the in-form Matthew Hodgson (10.3 points and 5.77 rebounds) would go a long way in attaining a must-win contest at home on Thursday night. For the Phoenix, it has been an uncharacteristic last month for Mitchell Creek (19.95 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists), who has been unable to find his rhythm as of late. In Creek’s last five contests, the small-forward has failed to crack twenty points in a game, while also getting diminishing numbers in his assists and rebounds. For the Phoenix to get the results they want at this end of the season, Creek will need to return to the form he had throughout the first half of the campaign. With Dane Pineau, John Roberson and Kendall Stephens running the backcourt, responsibility will fall to their bigs if they are to give the Bullets a run for their money.

Illawarra Hawks vs Sydney Kings
Friday, January 24, 7:30pm
WIN Entertainment Centre

In Round 17, we get to see the best team in the NBL matchup against the worst, but given the last time these two teams met it was the Hawks that came out on top in a shock upset, so it is best not to underestimate this Hawks side. It will be the Hawks that will need to find a way to stop the rampant Kings offence from gaining traction early on in the ballgame. Veterans in Todd Blanchfield and Tim Coenraad were able to hold off the Kings in their last meeting due to slick ball-movement and consistency from the floor. Blanchfield has been in terrific form, averaging 21.4 points per game over the last month and will be one of the go-to men for his struggling Illawarra team. In regards to Sydney, ultimately for the standings’ frontrunners, Sydney has one of the most lethal ball-handling duos in Casper Ware (19.8 points and 4.1 assists) and Jae’Sean Tate (15.7 points and 5.6 rebounds), who were instrumental in last week’s win against the Phoenix, need to use their speed to their advantages, thus creating space for shooters such as Daniel Kickert (8.6 points and 3.0 rebounds) and Didi Louzada (10.0 points and 4.1 rebounds). With the Perth Wildcats one lone win behind the Kings, it is imperative that they are not complacent, as an unlikely loss would shift the whole finals schedule. For the Hawks, being out of finals contention might prove to be good for the NSW side, as there is ample time to prepare for next season. But for the most part, it is about maintaining an adequate level of pride now for the bottom seeded team.

Adelaide 36ers vs Brisbane Bullets
Saturday, January 25, 5:30pm
Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Perhaps the most significant game of the round in terms of the standings, the Bullets enter South Australia two days after the first of their two games over the weekend looking to enter the top four, should Melbourne go down to Sydney the next day. For Adelaide, it is a matter of climbing back up the standings as they currently sit anxiously in seventh, coming off a hard loss to Cairns. With Adelaide lacking the necessary depth to challenge the Taipans for four whole quarters last week, despite a monumental 38 points from Daniel Johnson, this week will not be the time to repeat that same game plan. Bigs like Eric Griffin (15.0 points and 6.6 rebounds) and Harry Froling (7.0 points & 3.0 rebounds) seemed almost non-existent in their performances against the Taipans, indicating a major crossroad for the way the 36ers hope to finish the season, especially given the power and strength Brisbane has in its own frontcourt. While Brisbane has quietly risen up to fourth position, it should not go unrecognised that the Bullets’ captain Nathan Sobey has been playing a good brand of basketball up until this point in the season averaging 15.95 points, 3.5 assists and four rebounds a game, meaning given what is on the line for Sobey’s squad, you can most likely expect one of the captain’s best performances to date in his lengthy NBL career.

Perth Wildcats vs New Zealand Breakers
Saturday, January 25, 8:00pm
RAC Arena

It seems as if every single game from now on has a significance around it and this is another case of just that. A win for Perth may very well tie them at the top of the table with the Kings should they lose to United on Sunday. While for the Breakers, a win could edge them closer into the top four depending on the results of various other games. The clash between these two teams is set to be an offensive showdown with two of the league’s best wing players going head-to-head in Terrico White (16.6 points and 3.9 rebounds) and Scotty Hopson (19.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists). While these two stars of the league battle it out, Bryce Cotton (22.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists) would have the advantage against whoever would fill the one spot for the Breakers given his run of form as of late. Averaging over 22 points per game, Cotton has cracked the twenty-point mark in every game over the past month and it does not look like Rj Hampton or an injury-hampered Sek Henry have the repertoire to slow him down at this stage. Another focus point for New Zealand has been the attention around big-man Robert Loe, who until recently had really come into his own. In his last four encounters, Loe has averaged almost 14 points a game and has been a substantial threat around the ring and could be a major issue for the likes of Miles Plumlee and Nicholas Kay. A win for either team here would speak volumes for how their respective seasons can pan out.

South East Melbourne Phoenix vs Cairns Taipans
Sunday, January 26, 3:00pm
State Basketball Centre

South East Melbourne heads back home for their second game of the round looking to either continue their perfect string of games or take part in a less meaningful occasion, should the Phoenix go down to the Bullets in the round-opener. The Taipans however, have worked themselves into third position with a little bit of breathing room as they aim to keep a two-game distance from United and Brisbane or perhaps start to whittle down the deficit between them and the Wildcats. Last week was a major flex for Cairns late in the season, as Dj Newbill (19.6 points and 3.1 assists), Scott Machado (16.9 points and 8.1 assists) and Cameron Oliver (16.6 points & 9.2 rebounds) all dominated in their team’s performance against the 36ers, as all players produced massive efforts in the contest, showcasing possibly what the best form from the trio would look like, which is a stern warning to the rest of the league. Whilst the game plan should not be too different for the Phoenix following on from their Brisbane clash, again it will come down to their bigs’ ability to control the defensive glass and limit second chance points from the likes of Oliver, Kouat Noi and Majok Deng.

Sydney Kings vs Melbourne United
Sunday, January 26, 5:00pm
Qudos Bank Arena

The tipping point is at Melbourne United’s front door, as they currently sit in the middle of a major slump, losing four of their last five clashes, most recently against the Breakers in Auckland. With the added pressure of Brisbane now level with them in the standings, United should come out firing immediately in Sydney’s fortress and should settle for nothing less than a victory if they are to stay in the top four. While Melbourne’s shooting woes continue to hinder their run to the postseason, the biggest talking point is the abysmal run of late for point guard Melo Trimble (19.3 points and 5.0 assists). Averaging only 10 points per game in the last month and seeing a five-minute decrease on the floor in their loss to New Zealand, the United coaching staff have been testing new structures to get the struggling side in the air, with only a handful of games left to play. Perhaps the recent good form of Chris Goulding (17.4 points) and the defensive consistency of Shawn Long (19.4 points and 9.6 rebounds) is enough to topple a strong Sydney offence. For the Sydney Kings, their main objective on the night should be making United second guess their defensive strategies. Whether it be through various screens and post plays, it has been proven that with Ware and Andrew Bogut (8.5 points and 9.1 rebounds) both on the floor, the team’s ball-movement is unrivalled across the league and should cause Melbourne significant headaches when these two are on the floor.

NBL Round 15 review: Mid-table logjam as finals approach

CAIRNS Taipans grabbed third spot, South East Melbourne Phoenix moved out of the bottom two, and Perth Wildcats and Sydney Kings showed why they are the two teams to beat in what was a big round of action in the National Basketball League (NBL).

Cairns Taipans (85) defeated New Zealand Breakers (79)

Cairns broke New Zealand’s five-game winning streak with a thrilling six-point victory at home on Thursday night thanks to a strong second quarter. The Taipans trailed by five points at the first break, but turned the game around in the next quarter with a 30-19 term to lead by six at half-time. New Zealand got back on top in the third term, posting 20-14 and levelled the scores at the final break. It was the home side that stepped up in the last stanza, claiming a vital win to leapfrog Melbourne United into third spot on the NBL ladder. Scott Machado led the way with 29 points, seven rebounds and three assists, well helped by D.J. Newbill (20 points, four rebounds and three steals) and Cameron Oliver (14 points, eight rebounds, two steals and two blocks) for the Taipans. Scotty Hopson had a costly 10 turnovers, but still managed 18 points for the Breakers, as well as eight assists, seven rebounds and two steals. Thomas Abercrombie (16 points, seven rebounds) was strong off the boards, while the Breakers’ best could well have been Robert Loe off the bench, posting a team-high 24 points, seven rebounds and two blocks.

DC Medal: 3 – Scott Machado (CT), 2 – Robert Loe (NZ) , 1 – D.J. Newbill (CT)

Illawarra Hawks (77) defeated by Perth Wildcats (99)

Perth maintained a two-win gap inside the top two with an important 22-point victory over Illawarra on the road. The Hawks are anchored to the bottom of the table and barring a complete revival, will win this season’s wooden spoon. The Wildcats, with the introduction of seven-year NBA player Miles Plumlee coming off the bench, showed why they are a premiership contender with a strong first half. Perth posted 54 points to 36 in the first two quarters to lead by 18 points at the main break. Determined not to be blown away, the Hawks picked up after the break to win the third quarter, 24-19, but were soon outclassed again in the last with a 26-17 term as the Wildcats cruised to a 99-77 victory. Bryce Cotton led the way once again with 23 points, four rebounds, six assists and four steals on the night, while Nick Kay picked up a double-double courtesy of his 14 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Terrico White (17 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals) was strong once again, while Plumlee finished his debut with six points, three rebounds, one assist, one steal and two blocks. For the Hawks, Todd Blanchfield was the standout thanks to 26 points and eight rebounds, while Sunday Dech (15 points, five rebounds) and Daniel Grida (11 points, three rebounds) were the other two players to reach double-figure points.

DC Medal: 3 – Bryce Cotton (PW), 2 – Nick Kay (PW), 1 – Todd Blanchfield (IH)

Sydney Kings (92) defeated Cairns Taipans (83)

After riding high from a win on Thursday night, Cairns Taipans were unable to topple the ladder-leading Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena. The Taipans showed enough to suggest they are deserving of finals, matching it with the Kings for three quarters, but it was the first term that ultimately cost them. Sydney got away to a seven-point lead in the opening term and from there managed to hold the visitors at bay, winning the final two quarters by a point and breaking even in the second term to ensure the margin had enough breathing space with the eventual nine-point victory. Casper Ware and Daniel Kickert topped the Kings’ point-scorers with 18 apiece, the latter of whom set up the home side in the opening term. Jae’Sean Tate posted 15 points, eight rebounds and two steals on the night, while Brad Newley (13 points, three rebounds) and Andrew Bogut (six points, eight rebounds) were also impressive. Majok Deng was the top scorer for the Taipans, sinking 18 points, as well as six rebounds, while Machado (16 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals), Newbill (15 points, seven assists and three steals) and Mirko Djeric (14 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals) also contributed in the unlucky defeat.

DC Medal: 3 – Scott Machado (CT), 2 – Jae’Sean Tate (SK), 1 – Daniel Kickert (SK)

Adelaide 36ers (100) defeated Melbourne United (86)

A Jerome Randle inspired Adelaide 36ers survived a challenge from top four side Melbourne United to post a 14-point win at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on Saturday night. The victory meant the home side moved just half a game out from United who look far from secured in the finals spots. The 36ers started strongly to lead by eight points at the first break, before United hit back to cut the deficit to five at the main break. Adelaide regained control in the second half and never let it go despite the visiting side’s best efforts, posting 47 points to 38 in order to run out 100-86 victors. Randle was a star throughout but stepped up in the last quarter, posting 23 points, three rebounds and three assists, well aided by big men, Eric Griffin (21 points, 11 rebounds) and Daniel Johnson (19 points, seven rebounds). Brendan Teys (11 points, four assists and three rebounds) and Anthony Drmic (nine points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals) were also impressive on the night. For United, Chris Goulding (26 points, three rebounds and two assists) led the way in scoring, while Shawn Long‘s sensational season rolled on thanks to yet another double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Mitch McCarron just missed out on a double-double following numbers of 10 points, nine rebounds and five assists, while Melo Trimble was quiet with five points and five assists.

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

New Zealand Breakers (85) defeated by Brisbane Bullets (95)

After five consecutive wins on the trot, Round 15 proved to be an unlucky one for the Breakers, dropping both games over the weekend, with the latest being a 10-point loss to Brisbane at home. Normally steady on home soil, it was not the Breakers’ night after the Bullets slammed home 34 points to 21 in the second term to race away to a 10-point advantage at half-time. New Zealand clawed its way back to a five-point deficit by the final break, but that went back out to 10 by the last buzzer following a 26-21 final term in favour of the visitors. Lamar Patterson was simply sensational again for the Bullets, putting up numbers of 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while Matt Hodgson produced a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. EJ Singler was not far behind thanks to his 13 points, nine rebounds and two assists, while Taylor Braun also helped himself to 14 points and two rebounds. Hopson was a shining light for the Breakers with 14 points, four rebounds and six assists, aided by Abercrombie (17 points, four rebounds) and Sek Henry (17 points, three rebounds and two assists).

DC Medal: 3 – Lamar Patterson (BB), 2 – Matt Hodgson (BB), 1 – Scotty Hopson (NZ)

Illawarra Hawks (82) defeated by South East Melbourne Phoenix (90)

In the final match of the round, South East Melbourne Phoenix maintained a spot in the finals race thanks to an eight-point win over cellar dwellers, Illawarra Hawks. It was the Hawks’ second loss at home over the weekend, as the Phoenix moved ahead of the Breakers following their disastrous run of form over the past couple of months which saw the league’s newest side drop to eighth on the table. Now only a couple of games outside the top four, the Phoenix can regroup, which started with a come-from-behind victory against the Hawks. Illawarra led by eight points at quarter time, but it was the Phoenix after that, securing an eight-point lead themselves at half-time then blowing it out to 13 by the final break. The home side cut the final deficit back to eight by the buzzer, but it was to no avail, going down 82-90. Dane Pineau‘s form continued after a mammoth double-double with 14 points – at 100 per cent from the field no less – as well as 18 rebounds – 14 defensive – and three blocks. He was far from alone on the scoring front with Kendall Stephens putting up 20 points, six rebounds and two steals, while Ben Madgen (17 points, three rebounds and five assists) and John Roberson (12 points, two rebounds and seven assists) covered for Mitch Creek in his quietest game for the season with just eight points, four rebounds and two assists. For the Hawks, Blanchfield again led the scoring with 15 points, as well as two rebounds, two assists and three steals, while Sam Froling (13 points, 11 rebounds) was the home side’s best, and Dech (13 points, five rebounds and two assists) and Grida (13 points) equalled his scoring output.

DC Medal: 3 – Dane Pineau (SEM), 2 – Kendall Stephens (SEM), 1 – Sam Froling (IH)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

32 – Bryce Cotton (PW)
31 – Lamar Patterson (BB)
30 –
29 –
28 – Shawn Long (MU)
27 –
26 –
25 –
24 – Mitch Creek (SEM)
23 – Scott Machado (CT), Jae’Sean Tate (SK)
22 –
21 – Casper Ware (SK), Melo Trimble (MU)
20 – LaMelo Ball (IH), Jerome Randle (AD)
19 –
18 –
17 – John Roberson (SEM), Cameron Oliver (CT)
16 –
15 – Nick Kay (PW)
14 – Daniel Johnson (AD)
13 – Andrew Bogut (SK)
12 – Eric Griffin (AD)
11 –  Corey Webster (NZ)
10 – DJ. Newbill (CT)
9 – Terrico White (PW)
8 –
7 – Chris Goulding (MU), Nathan Sobey (BB), Scotty Hopson (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)
3 – Sek Henry (NZ), Didi Louzada (SK), Glen Rice Jr (NZ), Finn Delany (NZ)
2 – Jason Cadee (BB), Sunday Dech (IH), David Barlow (MU), Mitch McCarron (MU), Tim Coenraad (IH), Robert Loe (NZ), Kendall Stephens (SEM)
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)

NBL Round 13 review: NBL breaks attendance record over upset-heavy holiday period

DUE to the extended round, the schedule hosted nine matches over the course of the holiday period, which saw the largest total attendance throughout a single round in NBL history. A total of 67,201 people bought tickets to see out the end of the decade in their NBL memorabilia and cheer their sides on. The round saw massive upsets, as the Illawarra Hawks upstaged the Sydney Kings, as well as the Adelaide 36ers toppling the Perth Wildcats in South Australia. Round 13 also saw the mid-table race become even tighter as key losses to Melbourne United have allowed third position in the standings to be up for grabs. A total of one and a half games now separates the third and eighth positions, the first time to have happened in the history of the league this late in the season.

Melbourne United (75) defeated by Cairns Taipans (77)

The round kicked off on Boxing Day with the annual ‘open-air’ matchup at Melbourne Arena, as the Taipans, who were in hot form, took on United. With Cairns racing out of the blocks, scoring seven of the first eight points of the game, it was Melbourne who had the task of playing catch-up throughout the game. The strong first quarter would produce an eleven-point double-digit advantage for the visiting side, while keeping United to just nine points. The scoring woes for United however would extend into the second quarter, with the side managing 11 points as a squad, taking their halftime tally to a mere 30 points, breaking the record for lowest points in a first half so far this season. It would not be until the final period that the home side started to grind their way back into the game with big plays made by guards Chris Goulding and Shea Ili levelling the game with just over a minute to play. But, further proving that Dj Newbill is currently one of the best finishers in National Basketball League, the Cairns’ guard made the game winning layup to steal the away win for the Taipans as he finished with 20 points. Once again it was Scott Machado that led the charge for the Taipans, as he summarised his game with 20 points, six rebounds and five assists. It was also a big night for Marco Djeric, as he walked away from the contest with a humble 14 points, as well as four three-pointers under his belt. Despite the loss, it was United’s big-man in Shawn Long that did his job on the boards, collecting another double-double on the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds, whereas Goulding pulled out his old party tricks going five of seven from the three-point arc, finishing with 15 points.

DC Medal: 3 – Scott Machado (CT), 2 – D.J. Newbill (CT), 1 – Melo Trimble (MU)

Brisbane Bullets (96) defeated by New Zealand Breakers (99)

It was heartbreak at the Armory on Friday night, as Scotty Hopson’s buzzer-beating three-pointer crushed the hearts of the Queensland faithful, allowing the Breakers to nab a three-point win against Brisbane. In a game where the Bullets managed to keep New Zealand at an arm’s distance, it looked as if the home side’s potential victory might start to move them up the NBL ladder, but in the last second those aspirations were once again thwarted, despite leading the game in all categories. Brisbane’s goal of limiting Hopson’s damage was safe to say, unsuccessful, as he racked up 27 points, six rebounds and four assists. He was further aided by Finn Delaney, who gathered 18 points and seven rebounds. Falling one rebound short of another double-double, Brisbane’s Lamar Patterson made a case for a potential NBL First-Team nomination with his performance, amounting 21 points and nine rebounds in addition to his eight assists. Nathan Sobey again took home big numbers, finishing with 29 points. In this hotly contested battle, it was very visible that these sides made cases for a postseason opportunity come late-February, and in doing so have put the rest of the league on notice.

DC Medal: 3 – Scotty Hopson (NZ), 2 – Nathan Sobey (BB), 1 – Lamar Patterson (BB)

Sydney Kings (85) defeated by Perth Wildcats (98)

The Wildcats continued their race to the postseason with another away victory over their top-of-the-table adversary, the Sydney Kings, as well as well as tightening their view on the top spot of the ladder. In a game between the two top teams in the NBL, it fell down to one man to run the show and be the deciding factor in the Perth side’s win. Bryce Cotton shot the lights out at Qudos Bank Arena knocking down 39 points, four rebounds and three assists along with putting on one of his best performances from behind the arc, going 8-13 from deep. While Cotton took man of the match honours, Sydney’s man in the same position Casper Ware was not absent in the slightest as he managed six three-pointers in his side’s loss, ultimately adding up to 33 points by the final whistle. The main difference maker that could be dissected in the stateliness for both sides, was Perth’s ability to capitalise on second chance points. The Wildcats finished with a plus-six in total rebounds which converted to 19 second chance points, while the Kings only managed to gather eight. However, it was Sydney’s big men that came out on top against Perth’s, capitalising on 40 points in the paint compared to the Wildcats’ 26. Outstanding performances for Perth fell to Cotton’s fellow guard Terrico White who tallied 24 points and big-man Nicholas Kay who rounded up another double-double with a quiet 10 points and 10 rebounds. Andrew Bogut’s 15 points and 12 rebounds was Sydney’s lone notable showing besides Ware’s.

DC Medal: 3 – Bryce Cotton (PW), 2 – Casper Ware (SK), 1 – Andrew Bogut (SK)

South East Melbourne Phoenix (112) defeated Illawarra Hawks (102)

Coming off two away losses the previous round, the Phoenix were looking to bounce back into the playoff conversation and the new kids would deliver. It was evident early on that the Phoenix were feeling their stroke and it would continue throughout the game. Despite the Hawks staying with South East Melbourne for the majority of the game, they could not keep up with the 56 percent shooting of the home side and went down to the Melbourne side 102-112. The Phoenix took out all the shooting categories on the night leading in field goal percentage, three pointers made and free throws. As a result of the Phoenix’s shooting efficiency numbers came in bunches for many of their players. While guard John Roberson led the team with 28 points, Tai Wesley showed signs of being back to his old form with 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Mitch Creek also contributed 25 points to the victory and Kyle Adnam produced 15 points off the bench. For the Hawks, it was Todd Blanchfield and Sunday Dech that led the way with both men scoring 22 and 20 points respectively.

DC Medal: 3 – Tai Wesley (SEM), 2 – John Roberson (SEM), 1 – Mitch Creek (SEM)

Adelaide 36ers (87) defeated by New Zealand Breakers (96)

The Breakers, who were seen by most as a team that would be lucky to get off the bottom of the standings, strung together their fourth consecutive victory with their triumph over the 36ers. It was a successful round for the Breakers walking away with two wins over the weekend. The result was hard-won by the Breakers as they needed to lead in all categories to squeeze out the nine-point victory. To round this out, the Breakers went to the free-throw line for a season-high 42 times, converting 30 of these attempts. New Zealand’s decisive factor came down to the two-man play from guards Hopson and Sek Henry. Hopson, who’s recent play has elevated his team into postseason contention pulled away with 28 points, seven rebounds and four assists, whereas Henry snagged 20 points and nine assists. While 36ers Guard Jerome Randle has proven to lead his side to victory on numerous occasions this season, his 28 points, six rebounds and four assists. Big-man Daniel Johnson notched a 19 point and 10 rebound double-double on top of Randle’s efforts. With the two victories over the weekend, the Breakers jumped into seventh position repositioning the Bullets to eighth.

DC Medal: 3 – Scotty Hopson (NZ), 2 – Jerome Randle (AD), 1 – Sek Henry (NZ)

Melbourne United (96) defeated by Brisbane Bullets (102)

Following their heartbreaking loss against the Breakers earlier in the round and United’s narrow defeat to the Taipans, both teams knew the significance of their game on Sunday night. However, it was performances from Jason Cadee, Patterson and Sobey that brought home the victory for Brisbane and as a result, made the race for third and fourth place on the ladder even more intense. Cadee who brought the biggest improvement for the Bullets, made his first five attempts from three-point range and finished the night with 21 points. In addition, Patterson continued his stellar season with a huge 35 points and six rebounds, while Sobey’s 24 points rounded out the majority of the Bullet’s scoring load. Despite Long’s 25 points and eight rebounds leading the way for Melbourne United, it was Brisbane who made more of their shots. The Bullets shot at a 48 percent  clip compared to United’s 41 percent and the visiting side managed six more three pointers than the hosts (16 to 10 in favour of Brisbane). The two losses from United over the weekend lengthens their distance from the Kings and the Wildcats, therefore putting their postseason hopes in jeopardy. While the hard-fought win by the Bullets keeps them in eighth position.

DC Medal: 3 – Lamar Patterson (BB), 2 – Shawn Long (MU), 1 – Nathan Sobey (BB)

Illawarra Hawks (85) defeated Sydney Kings (80)

Not many people went into Tuesday night’s game expecting the worst team in the NBL to oust the best team, especially given the Kings’ performance in the first period. The Kings exhibited a shooting clinic to open the match, leading by 10 points after 10 minutes, showing perhaps a routine victory for the ladder-leaders was to come. Illawarra started to fight back through decisive ball movement and advantageous mismatches cutting the lead in half by halftime. Despite the Kings leading by eight with the final quarter still to play, Illawarra’s newfound chemistry came out once again in the most unlikely of turns. The Hawks outscored Sydney 25 to 12 and took home the upset of the round toppling the title favourites by five. Whilst rebounding and assists were relatively even across both sides, Illawarra’s shooting was second to none on the night shooting close to 50 percent (48 percent). Kings’ big man Bogut was almost non-existent in the outcome, managing to only score four points in 21 minutes. Jae’Sean Tate made honourable contributions on the night with 23 points and six rebounds, as veteran Daniel Kickert made his shots count going four from five from downtown (12 points). The 300-gamer in Tim Coenraad made his 11-point difference on the game, which in turn spurred his side on to their fifth win on the season. Marquee performances for the Hawks came off the bench, seeing Josh Boone compile 21 points and nine rebounds, as well as 16 points and eight assists from Emmett Naar. Sydney’s two losses over the weekend have closed the gap even more for defending champions, the Perth Wildcats, who sit half a game behind them.

DC Medal: 3 – Josh Boone (IH), 2 – Jae’Sean Tate (SK), 1 – Emmett Naar (IH)

Cairns Taipans (92) defeated South East Melbourne Phoenix (84)

The Cairns Convention Centre was the stage of this decade’s final NBL game and those who attended were eager to see two of the league’s top shooting teams go at it. For the Taipans it was a slow start, struggling to make shots in close and failing to capitalise on the fast break. Nevertheless, on the stroke of halftime Cameron Oliver found Newbill on the three-point line as he drilled it on the buzzer, cutting the deficit to six. Newbill’s three-pointer sparked a flurry of seven straight three-pointers to start the second half from both sides, but a strong third-quarter by the Taipans was enough to set the tone for the rest of the match taking home their third win in a row going a game clear of the 36ers who trail in the fifth position. The loss for the Phoenix puts their season record at eight wins and ten losses as well as Breakers and the Bullets. Machado (29 points and eight assists) and  Oliver (25 points and 10 rebounds) both had routine nights for the Taipans, while no Phoenix players failed to crack the 20 points mark. Roberson managed four three-pointers to accompany his 19 points, as Creek snagged 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists in his side’s loss.

DC Medal: 3 – Cameron Oliver (CT), 2 – Scott Machado (CT), 1 – Mitch Creek (SEM)

Adelaide 36ers (100) defeated Perth Wildcats (97)

Both sides had large aspirations heading into the first game of 2020. The Adelaide 36ers who had lost three consecutive matches, had found themselves sitting in eighth position on the ladder for the first time this season. But a win against the Wildcats would remedy that and propel them into fifth. For the Wildcats, a win away would see them regain that top spot on the ladder that the Kings had held all season. The contest was neck and neck throughout the first half which was capped off by a three-quarter court heave on the buzzer by Wildcats guard Mitchell Norton to wrap up an enticing 20 minutes of play. Throughout the third quarter it was the play of 36ers big men Daniel Johnson and Harry Froling that helped build the home side’s 12-point lead leading into the last quarter. Despite the offensive onslaught from Perth in the last quarter, Adelaide would manage to hang on by a miniscule three points, therefore sliding into fifth in the standings. Eric Griffin finished his game with 24 points and six rebounds as just one of the six 36ers players to reaches double digits. Anthony Drmic was also a major contributor in the win collecting 18 points and six rebounds, whereas Johnson was influential from start to finish (12 points, seven rebounds and six assists). Wildcats guard Cotton alongside White made up most of the scoring load gathering 22 and 21 points respectively, while Majok Majok squeezed out a double-double (10 points and 10 rebounds).

DC Medal: 3 – Eric Griffin (AD), 2 – Anthony Drmic (AD), 1 – Bryce Cotton (PW)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

31 – Bryce Cotton (PW)
30 –
29 – Lamar Patterson (BB)
28 – Mitch Creek (SEM)
27 – Shawn Long (MU)
26 –
25 –
24 –
23 – Melo Trimble (MU), Casper Ware (SK)
22 – Scott Machado (CT)
21 – Cameron Oliver (CT)
20 – LaMelo Ball (IH), Jae’Sean Tate (SK),
19 –
18 –
17 – Scotty Hopson (NZ), John Roberson (SEM), Jerome Randle (AD)
16 –
15 – Daniel Johnson (AD)
14 –
13 – Nick Kay (PW), Eric Griffin (AD)
12 – Andrew Bogut (SK),
11 – Corey Webster (NZ)
10 – DJ. Newbill (CT)
9 – Terrico White (PW), Nathan Sobey (BB)
8 – AJ Ogilvy (IL)
7 –
6 – Kouat Noi (CT), Sek Henry (NZ),
5 – Aaron Brooks (IL), Brad Newley (SK), Brandon Ashley (NZ), Anthony Drmic (AD),
4 – Chris Goulding (MU), Dario Hunt (PW), Ben Madgen (SEM), Mitch McCarron (MU)
3 –Dane Pineau (SEM), Didi Louzada (SK), Glen Rice Jr (NZ), Finn Delany (NZ), Sunday Dech (IH),  Will Magnay (BB), Daniel Kickert (SK), Tai Wesley (SEM), Johs Boone (IH), Emmett Naar (IH),
2 – Matt Hodgson (BB), Jason Cadee (BB), David Barlow (MU), Tim Coenraad (IH), Tom Abercrombie (NZ), 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)

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)

NBL Round 5 review: Long turns it on for United as they end Kings’ undefeated reign

SHAWN Long and his Melbourne United teammates ended Sydney Kings’ reign as the only undefeated side in the competition, producing a thrilling 107-104 win in the final game of the National Basketball League (NBL) competition on Monday night. Long rocketed to the top of the Draft Central Medal with five votes from his two games, while in other results, Brisbane Bullets picked up a couple of wins, including a classic over Perth Wildcats. Sydney also survived a thrilling contest with an overtime win against Adelaide 36ers.

New Zealand Breakers (93) defeated Cairns Taipans (85)

New Zealand grabbed its second win of the season with an important victory over a determined Cairns’ side to leapfrog the Taipans and move into sixth spot on the table. The Breakers did the bulk of the damage early, piling on 22 points to 11, before managing to maintain the 11-point lead at the main break. Cairns dug deep to cut into the margin by six for a five-point deficit at the final break, but New Zealand took control once again to win the last term and run out eight-point victors. Corey Webster was the dominant scorer on the court for the winners, sinking 23 points, as well as eight assists, three rebounds and two steals, while RJ Hampson added 18 points of his own as well as three steals, two assists and two rebounds. Brandon Ashley was the other double-figure scorer, picking up a double-double on the night containing 14 points and 11 rebounds. For the Taipans, it was Cameron Oliver who was busy once again with 23 points, five rebounds and three blocks, while Scott Machado (11 points, 10 assists and three rebounds) continued his sensational season form. Majok Deng (18 points, seven rebounds), Kouat Noi (16 points, six rebounds) and DJ. Newbill (15 points, seven rebounds) were all strong off the boards, but could not keep control of the ball with the visiting side having 18 turnovers and only having two points off their bench compared to the Breakers’ 22.

DC Medal: 3 – Corey Webster (NZ), 2 – Brandon Ashley (NZ), 1 – Cameron Oliver (CT)

Brisbane Bullets (87) defeated Perth Wildcats (78)

Brisbane grabbed a top four place with an all-important nine-point win over a highly fancied Perth Wildcats outfit on Friday night. The Bullets lead by one point at the first change, but extended their lead at each change, winning every quarter and just doing that bit more to get home. In the end, the 87-78 result was testament to a great four quarter effort, even if there was not a complete domination in any one term. Lamar Patterson was again terrific, sinking 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Jason Cadee had a team-high 17 points, four rebounds and five assists. Taylor Braun (12 points, four rebounds and two assists) and EJ Singler (10 points, two rebounds and two assists) were also busy on the scoring end. For the Wildcats, it was no surprise to see the damaging duo of Terrico White (23 points, five rebounds and two assists) and Bryce Cotton (15 points, four rebounds and two assists) strong but not as dominant as they have been, while Chris Steindl contributed 11 points off the bench.

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

South East Melbourne Phoenix (98) defeated by Melbourne United (110)

Melbourne United successfully achieve redemption in Throwdown II, defeating their cross-state rivals, South East Melbourne Phoenix by 12 points in a twilight Saturday evening game. In what was one of the individual performances on the year, Long tore the game apart early and delivered a massive 31 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and one block as United won three of the four quarters, including opening up a 13-point advantage at half-time. Long was far from alone on the scoring front though, with Chris Goulding adding 24 points, three rebounds and three assists, while Melo Trimble and Mitch McCarron both had 13 points and four rebounds apiece. For the Phoenix, Mitch Creek was the highest scorer with 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, while John Robertson (16 points, five rebounds and two assists) and Ben Madgen (16 points, four rebounds and two assists) were also consistent. The win meant Melbourne moved out of the bottom two, while the Phoenix slipped two games behind top spot to sit just one win clear in third spot.

DC Medal: 3 – Shawn Long (MU), 2 – Mitch Creek (SEM), 1 – Chris Goulding (MU)

Adelaide 36ers (96) defeated by Sydney Kings (98)

Ware there was a will, there was a way, and Casper found that way with a vital two-point floater in the last minute, helping ease the nerves of the visiting team for his Kings to remain undefeated in season 2019/20. It was a bitter blow to the 36ers, who looked home and hosed having built a mammoth final term comeback after trailing at the final change in a momentum-swinging contest. Remarkably, Sydney scored its lowest quarter score and highest quarter score in back-to-back quarters, and came from 12 points down to lead by nine at three quarter time. A huge effort by a previously quiet Daniel Johnson willed his side back into the contest, sinking 13 points in the final term, but it all came down to a Anthony Drmic lay-up which tragically hit the rim and back out in the last second of regulation for the Kings to breath a sigh of relief. Then in overtime, Johnson – who averaged 91 per cent from the free throw line coming into the game – had the chance to level the scores from the line but missed both, only for Ware to trick Ramone Moore up the other end and instead of shoot for the triple, sidestepped him and put up the successful floater. It turned the tide in overtime gave the Kings enough breathing space to sensibly hold on and get a two-point win. Andrew Bogut was mammoth in the first three quarters, having Johnson’s number with 18 points and 12 rebounds, while Jae’Sean Tate was best on court for his 16 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals. Ware who was virtually unsighted early came to play in overtime, finishing with 14 points, two rebounds and three assists. Brad Newley (15 points, eight rebounds and four assists) and Didi Louzada (17 points, five rebounds and three assists) were the other busy Kings. For the 36ers, Johnson stepped up in that final term to finish with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Jerome Randle (23 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals) and Moore (18 points, six rebounds) were also prominent in what was one of the games of the season.

DC Medal: 3 – Jae’Sean Tate (SK), 2 – Andrew Bogut (SK), 1 – Anthony Drmic (AD)

New Zealand Breakers (79) defeated by Perth Wildcats (84)

While both these sides came into this game with differing results from a couple of days prior, it was the visiting side that came away from the win to bounce back from the loss to Brisbane. Perth had to come from six points down at the main break to have an outstanding third term, piling on 31 points to 21 to lead by four at the final break. In a tight final quarter tussle, it was the Wildcats who did enough to secure the win against the Breakers to win, 84-79. Dario Hunt sank 21 points and had 11 rebounds in a big double double effort, while White (18 points, seven rebounds and three assists) was also big with his partner-in-crime, Cotton missing from the side. Nick Kay had 13 points, four rebounds and three assists on the night, while young gun Kyle Bowen became the creator with seven assists – one third of his team’s total. For the Breakers, Ashley stood tall once again with 21 points, five rebounds and two steals, while Webster was the home team’s best with 21 points, six rebounds and six assists. Hampton was busy as per usual with nine points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals, but it was not enough to help his side get the win.

DC Medal: 3 – Corey Webster (NZ), 2 – Terrico White (PW), 1 – Dario Hunt (PW)

Illawarra Hawks (69) defeated by Brisbane Bullets (83)

Brisbane capped off a strong weekend with a second victory, this time over Illawarra Hawks thanks to a fast start. The Bullets fired from the first tip-off, scoring 27 points to 15 in the opening term, then piled on 26-17 in the second to lead 53-32 by half-time. While the Hawks hit back in the second half to win the final two quarters and bridge the gap, it was too little, too late for the home side. Nathan Sobey was prominent on the scoring end with 18 points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal for the Bullets, while Cadee (16 points, three rebounds and three assists) and Matt Hodgson (15 points, nine rebounds and one assist) were also big scorers. It was Patterson’s work on the defensive end and playmaking up the attacking end which stood out however, posting up 11 points, eight rebounds – all defensive – and seven assists in the big win. For the Hawks, LaMelo Ball was a lone hand in terms of scoring, putting up 19 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals, while Todd Blanchfield (10 points, three rebounds) was the other player to reach double figure points. The result meant Brisbane finished the round in third, while Illawarra remain rooted to the bottom of the able after eight games.

DC Medal: 3 – LaMelo Ball (IH), 2- Lamar Patterson (BB), 1 – Nathan Sobey (BB)

Melbourne United (107) defeated Sydney Kings (104)

The home crowd delight was evident in Melbourne United handing Sydney Kings’ their first defeat of the season as United continue their strong form of late, which included knocking over Southside Flyers earlier in the round. For the Kings, it was an unlucky three-point defeat, given the game had started promisingly to lead by four points at quarter time and seven at the main break. It was at this point that Sydney’s coach, Will Weaver was ejected from the game following two technical fouls after he provided some advice to the referees for some untoward behaviour towards Tate. It changed the course of the game somewhat as Melbourne’s stunning third term of 28-21 got United back on track and level with the Kings, then overran them in the final term by three points to win by that exact margin in one of the games of the season. Three United players reached 20 points on the night, with Trimble putting up 27 points, three rebounds and five assists, followed by Goulding (22 points) and Long (20 points, 14 rebounds and three assists), while McCarron (12 points, eight rebounds) and David Barlow (13 points, six rebounds) were also impressive on the court in a strong team effort. It was a bitter sweet homecoming for Ware, who was best on court with a massive 34 points against his old side, also amassing five rebounds and four assists in the defeat. Daniel Kickert (13 points, three rebounds) and Shaun Bruce (13 points, eight assists) and Craig Moller (nine points, seven rebounds) were others who stood tall despite not putting up as many points.

DC Medal: 3 – Casper Ware (SK), 2 – Shawn Long (MU), 1 – Melo Trimble (MU)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

15 – Shawn Long (MU)
14 –
13 –
12 – Bryce Cotton (PW)
11 – Lamar Patterson (BB), Mitch Creek (SEP), Andrew Bogut (SK), LaMelo Ball (IH)
10 – Jae’sean Tate (SK)
9 –
8 – John Robertson (SEM), Scott Machado (CT), Cameron Oliver (CT), Casper Ware (SK)
7 – Nick Kay (PW)
6 – Daniel Johnson (AD), Corey Webster (NZ), Melo Trimble (MU)
5 – Aaron Brooks (IL), Scotty Hopson (NZ), Eric Griffin (AD), Terrico White (PW)
4 – Nathan Sobey (BB)
3 – Brad Newley (SK), AJ Ogilvy (IL), Sek Henry (NZ), Brandon Ashley (NZ), Dario Hunt (PW)
2 – Matt Hodgson (BB), Jason Cadee (BB)
1 – DJ. Newbill (IL), Majok Deng (CT), Dane Pineau (SEM), Chris Goulding (MU), Anthony Drmic (AD)

NBL Round 2 review: Three sides remain undefeated

NEWCOMERS South East Melbourne Phoenix have joined three of last year’s National Basketball League (NBL) finalists in the top four following two rounds of action. While New Zealand Breakers are yet to play a game due to their NBAxNBL pre-season games in America and Adelaide 36ers have played just the one match so far, it is just the three teams that remain undefeated with the Phoenix joining reigning premiers Perth Wildcats, and finalists Sydney Kings in the top three spots. In the standalone Monday night game, Illawarra got its season going with a late free throw to win in a one-point thriller over Cairns.

Brisbane Bullets (90) defeated Cairns Taipans (74)

Brisbane started its weekend with a second consecutive victory to temporarily take top spot, coming from four points down at the main break to run away with a 16-point win at home over Cairns Taipans. The all-Queensland battle saw the Taipans take the early lead by three at the first change and extend that to four by half-time. Brisbane then showed what it was capable of in the third quarter, piling on 31 points to 14 in the third quarter, before finishing off the game strongly, 14-11 in the final term. It was the second half defensive effort that restricted the Taipans to just 25 points for the entire half – after 24 and 25 in the first and second quarters respectively – that won the Bullets the game. Nathan Sobey was back to his best with a game-high 21 points, five assists, two rebounds and a block for Brisbane, well aided by Matt Hodgson who backed up his Round 1 effort with 14 points, four rebounds, two steals and three blocks, shooting at 100 per cent from the floor. EJ Singler was handy off the bench with 10 points, two rebounds and a game-high four steals. Lamar Patterson did not have as much impact on the scoreboard as in Round 1 with just seven points, but he still contributed with six rebounds, four assists and a steal. For the Taipans, Scott Machado picked up 16 points, 10 assists and two rebounds in a double-double effort, while Cameron Oliver (16 points, seven rebounds but seven turnovers), Majok Deng (14 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Mirko Djeric (14 points, five assists) also were strong offensively.

DC Medal: 3 – Nathan Sobey (BB), 2 – Scott Machado (CT), 1 – Matt Hodgson (BB)

Perth Wildcats (103) defeated Illawarra Hawks (76)

Perth Wildcats retook top spot on the table with a 27-point victory over Illawarra Hawks, handing the Hawks their second straight loss to start the season. The Wildcats looked completely dominant across the first three quarters, showing why they are the team to beat in season 2019/20, sinking 84 points to the Hawks’ 56 to end the game with a quarter to play. The Hawks managed to win the final term by a point, but it was too little, too late with Perth establishing itself as even more damaging at RAC Arena. While all the talk pre-game was about LaMelo Ball, Perth star Bryce Cotton reminded everyone what he was capable of, sinking 28 points, having seven assists and four steals, while partner-in-crime Terrico White helped himself to 19 points, six rebounds and three assists. Dario Hunt had 16 points and nine rebounds, while Nick Kay (nine points, seven rebounds) and Majok Majok (eight points, eight rebounds) were prolific off the boards. Ball still stood out with 15 points, eight assists, three rebounds and three steals as arguably the best for his side, along with David Anderson (14 points, four rebounds and two blocks) and Josh Boone (10 points, 12 rebounds and two steals).

DC Medal: 3 – Bryce Cotton (PW), 2 – Dario Hunt (PW), 1 – Terrico White (PW)

Sydney Kings (102) defeated Adelaide 36ers (80)

For the third time in two days, the NBL had a different ladder leader, with Sydney Kings taking up the top spot on the table after defeating Adelaide 36ers at home. It was Adelaide’s first game for the season after playing in the United States, and the start looked like jet lag might have got to them with the red-hot Kings sinking 30 points to 14 to take a very handy 16-point lead into quarter time. They extended the lead in each break to 17, 21 and finally 22 points in a four-quarter effort to send a message to the rest of the competition in the 102-80 victory. Brad Newley was the top shooter for the Kings with 18 points, six rebounds and three assists, while Jae’Sean Tate was again prominent with 16 points, six rebounds and four assists, while Daniel Kickert also had 16 points accompanying two rebounds and two assists. Casper Ware (10 points, five rebounds) contributed despite shooting at just 25 per cent, while Andrew Bogut was relatively quiet with eight points, four rebounds and three assists. Shaun Bruce had a team-high seven assists to go with four rebounds, while Craig Moller had 12 points and four rebounds off the bench. For the 36ers, Daniel Johnson was the clear standout player with 26 points and seven rebounds, while Jerome Randall returned to face his former side and helped himself with 16 points, three rebounds and five assists. Ramone Moore (10 points, four rebounds and two assists) and Anthony Drmic (10 points, four rebounds and three steals) were the other two 36ers’ to reach double-figure points.

DC Medal: 3 – Brad Newley (SK), 2- Jae’Sean Tate (SK), 1 – Daniel Johnson (AD)

South East Melbourne Phoenix (113) defeated Brisbane Bullets (93)

In the battle of two undefeated sides, South East Melbourne Phoenix got the chocolates in their first ever home game, defeating Brisbane Bullets by 20 points to leapfrog the Bullets. The visitors took a two-point lead into quarter time, before the Phoenix regained control in the next term courtesy of a 32-25 quarter. They extended the lead by a further seven points with a 31-24 term, before finishing off the game with another dominant quarter, scoring 27-19 on their way to a comfortable 20-point win. John Robertson powered to 30 points, two rebounds and six assists with a remarkable 71.4 per cent from the field, including an eye-opening nine from 11 from three-point range. Kendall Stephens was even more accurate, sinking 17 points at 75 per cent from the floor, while making five of seven from three-point range. Mitch Creek was still remarkable overall, sinking 25 points and having seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals to be best on the court for the second straight week, while Ben Madgen had a strong game with 13 points, nine rebounds and four assists. For the Bullers, Patterson backed up his Round 1 effort with 30 points, four rebounds and three assists, while Sobey was strong again with 15 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Off the bench, Will Magnay (13 points, five rebounds and one block) and Singler (10 points, five rebounds, two assists and one steal) were prominent despite the loss.

DC Medal: 3 – Mitch Creek (SEM), 2 – John Robertson (SEM), Lamar Patterson (BB)

Illawarra Hawks (89) defeated Cairns Taipans (88)

In a battle of two sides with a couple of losses already to their names, it was the Illawarra Hawks who claimed the narrowest of victories over Cairns Taipans at WIN Entertainment Centre. The home side narrowly escaped the game going into overtime courtesy of an AJ Ogilvy free throw with 1.1 seconds left on the clock in the fourth. Cairns started strongly to lead the Hawks by five at quarter time and half-time, before the home team hit back with a 28-17 third term to regain the advantage by six heading into the final term. Cairns again regained control to win the term by five in the last quarter, and the game looked set for overtime, before Ogilvy delivered from the free throw line. The point moved Ogilvy to 19 for the game, as well as six rebounds, five steals and two assists in a massive effort. Aaron Brooks (19 points, five rebounds and seven assists) and Todd Blanchfield (20 points, three rebounds and two assists) were also prominent, while Ball showed his talent in spurts with nine points, five assists and five rebounds. For the Taipans, Deng battled hard on his way to 17 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals, but it was the return of D.J. Newbill who played his first game of the season, posting up a game-high 26 points, as well as three rebounds, four assists and a steal. Cameron Oliver (14 points, seven rebounds) and Machado (14 points, three rebounds, six assists and two steals) were the other players who tried hard throughout the contest.

DC Medal: 3 – AJ Ogilvy (IL), Aaron Brooks (IL), D.J. Newbill (IL)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

6 – Mitch Creek (SEP)
5 – Jae’sean Tate (SK)
4 – Lamar Patterson (BB), Bryce Cotton (PW)
3 – Scott Machado (CT), Melo Trimble (MU), Nick Kay (PW), Nathan Sobey (BB), Brad Newley (SK), AJ Ogilvy (IL)
2 – Shawn Long (MU), Casper Ware (SK), LaMelo Ball (IH), John Robertson (SEM), Matt Hodgson (BB), Dario Hunt (PW), Aaron Brooks (IL)
1 – Terrico White (PW), Daniel Johnson (AD), D.J. Newbill (IL)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekend previews: NBL – Round 16

THERE is not long to go now in the National Basketball League (NBL) home and away season, and some surprising results last week puts a lot of focus on Round 16. The Bullets and 36ers had losses last week that could have seen them break away from each other, and the top spot changed so many times throughout the six-day round. This week, there is a couple of double-headers with the Breakers and United, plus Sydney and Brisbane. Perth have a standalone game against the Hawks as they roll on towards their 33rd consecutive playoff series. 

New Zealand Breakers v Melbourne United
Friday, 5:20pm at Spark Arena

The key matchup: Shawn Long v Josh Boone
Long has been smoking it lately, averaging 24.7 over the last seven games including 32 points at 66.7 per cent against Cairns last week. Definitely unheralded in the grand scheme of the league, he is averaging 8.9 rebounds a game and had three steals last week, as well as eight blocks in his last three games. Boone has recorded four double-doubles in his past four matches, and narrowly missed a fifth when he scored eight points against Brisbane in Round 11. It is all to do with his rebounds as his presence is one of the best in the league with his 204cm frame that he can out-muscle many of the best.

Last time they met: Melbourne United (108) v New Zealand Breakers (101)
It was back in Round 6 that these teams last met, and the lead changed 15 times throughout the game. Adelaide led by a game-high 10 twice throughout the second quarter, but it was Melbourne that had a 10-3 run within the last two minutes to ice the game. Chris Goulding provided five points in that run on his way to 14 points overall, but it was imports Josh Boone (26 points, seven rebounds) and Casper Ware (24 points, three rebounds, four assists) that were the main guys. For the Breakers, Corey Webster was the only one to score more than 15 points (31 points) as he had a whopping eight assists too.

Season so far: Melbourne had two wins last week against Illawarra and Adelaide and scored 113.5 points across those two games for a points against average of 90.0 points. These enabled United to take top spot. New Zealand also had two wins at home over the Taipans and Bullets, averaging 111.0 points for 101.0 points against. At the conclusion of the round, they are still in seventh, two games out of the top four.

The game: The Breakers will find themselves the underdog when Melbourne come across the water, and it’s hard to argue that Melbourne aren’t a form team at the moment with shooting and points at a very high rate. United have some serious players at the moment in Boone and Ware but are getting valuable contributions from the five in Mitch McCarron and David Barlow. New Zealand will want to end their season with some highs and knocking off United will be good for them as they look to next year. 

 

Brisbane Bullets v Sydney Kings
Friday, 7:43pm at Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre

The key matchup: Lamar Patterson v Daniel Kickert
Patterson has been wonderful since joining Brisbane and is leading their scoring (17.4) and steals (1.5), and second on their rebounds (6.1) and assists (3.8). He’s always in a position to make a run at the basket, or at least shoot when he thinks he is capable, which will go a long way to deciding the fate of the Bullets for the rest of the season. Kickert has been shooting well for the Kings (50 per cent) but been low on scoring (12.7 in his last three). When Kickert comes off the bench, he’ll go to Patterson as the form forward for the Kings after David Wear and Brad Newley have also been down. He gets good minutes, but needs to make use of them to benefit the Kings season.

Last time they met: Sydney Kings (87) defeated Brisbane Bullets (81)
The Kings were in charge for most of this contest, and although the margin got out to 11 points in the fourth, Brisbane always managed to close in, despite having only three players in double figures. For Brisbane, Daniel Grida had a double-double when he scored 23 points along with 10 rebounds and two assists while Lamar Patterson had 21 points, eight rebounds and four assists. For the winning Kings, Andrew Bogut was massive with 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Jerome Randle had 15 points, six rebounds and seven assists.

Season so far: Brisbane still manage to hold onto fourth spot with percentage on their side after a terrible week where they lost to the Kings and Breakers. Sydney had the win over the Bullets, before a surprise 20-point loss to the Wildcats saw them slip into third.

The game: The Bullets really shot themselves in the foot last week and their road to the playoffs is in danger again with his matchup. The Kings are a great team, working together and finding a way to win despite their scoring being the lowest in the league (85.4), their shooting is among the best (47 per cent). Brisbane are just as good so for this game, it’s about who can place the most pressure on shooters to hopefully limit their field goal percentage. The Kings will definitely be put off by their loss last round, but they’ve won their last five against the Bullets who can’t afford any more stuff-ups this season. 

 

Perth Wildcats v Illawarra Hawks
Friday, 9:53pm at RAC Arena


The key matchup: David Anderson v Nicholas Kay
Kay has been a beast for Perth, sinking many shots that he takes – 59 per cent for the year and 71.1 per cent through the last three games to average 15.2 points. Definitely improving on his past three years, pulling down 8.5 rebounds and game and 3.3 assists which is perfect for a player of Kay’s calibre. Anderson’s season hasn’t stood out but in a Hawks team that has been underwhelming, he’s often been the one to take the rebounds (3.7) while getting into the paint. A starter, but he doesn’t play enough minutes to full show what he can do but hopefully with the Hawks season coming close to an end, he can some more time on court. 

Last time they met: Illawarra Hawks (81) defeated Perth Wildcats (77)
A big upset, considering Perth were leading for majority of the first three quarters, getting out to as much as a 15-point lead after a 28-18 first quarter. Illawarra had a perfect second half in general (43-27) to round out winners. Big men David Anderson (21 points) and Todd Blanchfield (19 points) led the way for the Hawks, and for the Wildcats, Bryce Cotton had 21 points and three each of rebounds and assists.

Season so far: Perth got back on track last week, winning against Adelaide and then surprising the competition with a big win over then-ladder-leaders Sydney. These two wins puts them back into second. Illawarra lost to United, but won a close one to Cairns and sit sixth with an 11-12 record.

The game: Three straight wins for the Wildcats and suddenly there’s talk of them staying in the top four again, something that the players and coaching staff are adamant of. Unfortunately for Illawarra (who have not won in the west since 2016), Perth seem to be on a good run and at home, Perth have been very good at 9-2. The Hawks are a good defensive team (8.0 steals and 3.1 blocks) so will press continuously and make plenty of fast breaks, but the form of Cotton and Kay could likely overpower the Hawks side, that should be happy to blood some young stars like Daniel Grida and Emmett Naar.

 

Cairns Taipans v Adelaide 36ers 
Saturday, 2:50pm at Cairns Convention Centre


The key matchup: Melo Trimble v Nathan Sobey 
It’s always a mouthwatering matchup when these two come together. Two of the best shooters in the NBL, they take the game on without a care in the world, but remain selfless when needed. Much of the attention for opposition teams has been on Trimble (and for good reason), as he can very deadly. He is continuing his good run of points (31 and 24 last round) as well as nine of each rebounds and assists, and when at the line, rarely misses. Sobey is still strong with 16.2 points and more than five rebounds and assists this season. He is a complete player who has also recorded at least one steal in 14 of his last 15 games.

Last time they met: Adelaide 36ers (87) defeated Cairns Taipans (82)
Cairns started off really well but a middle period of consecutive 16-point quarters hurt their chances at staging a quicker comeback as it was two-point margin with 13 seconds left. Daniel Johnson had 22 points and five rebounds, and was supported off the bench from Majok Deng (17 points). Trimble had six assists for Cairns and scored 18 points, as did Nate Jawai who also had nine rebounds.

Season so far: Two tough losses for Cairns who came so close again throughout the season, losing to New Zealand and Illawarra by a combined eight points. Because of that, they still sit eighth, while Adelaide are still knocking on the door of finals, as they too lost two games against Perth and Melbourne.

The game: Both these teams can fluctuate on form, but the big issue will be for Adelaide who need to win after going down twice last week. They will be thanking their lucky stars that Brisbane could not get away, so there’s still plenty of chances to nab that last spot. Adelaide are great at shooting the ball (46 per cent), but better yet, are good at getting their own rebounds (14.1) for second chance points and are a clear leader with points scored (95.9). Cairns on the other hand are on the other end of spectrum across the competition but have upset a few teams this season so the 36ers should not take this game lightly.

 

Sydney Kings v Brisbane Bullets
Sunday, 2:50pm at Qudos Bank Arena

The key matchup: Jerome Randle v Cam Gliddon
Randle had 15 points, six rebounds and seven assists last time they met which was last week. He’s only scored below 10 on two occasions early on in the season on his way to 18.2 points per game. Randle is also capable of instigating plays with 3.9 assists and can get under his opponents for vital turnovers. Gliddon hasn’t had the best month, five scores under eight since December 8. Nevertheless, he is still averaging 14.4 this season and seen his steals be on par with his previous seasons at 1.4 a game (2.2 the past five games).

Last time they met: N/A

Season so far: At the end of round 15, Sydney ended up in third place as they ground a win against Brisbane before being completely outplayed by a Perth team hellbent on winning. Brisbane will be counting their lucky stars as their fourth spot wasn’t taken even though they lost two from two.

The game: A Sydney-Brisbane double header could put some things right for the team that lost on Friday. The Kings hold home court advantage in this Sunday matchup, holding a 6-5 record at the venue (and just one more loss in the past 12 months). On the Kings side too will be their record against Brisbane in their home state, the Bullets not recording a win in Sydney since 2016. The Kings might not be able to go anywhere, but with both teams having a game behind second-place Perth, now is the time to start climbing and cementing their spots on the ladder.

 

Melbourne United v New Zealand Breakers
Sunday, 5:20pm at Melbourne Arena


The key matchup: DJ Kennedy v Tai Wesley 
Wesley was a monster when these teams met in Round 1 at Melbourne Arena, his old stomping ground. Wesley knows the court well obviously which is why he can scale his game to suit. Wesley was in foul trouble last week which resulted in his six points against Brisbane, but he had 16 and 20 in his last two, both against Cairns. Wesley has been known to get in the double figures for rebounds and assists too. Since coming back from injury, Kennedy has had a score of two against Perth, but returns of 17 and 16 against Illawarra and Adelaide has put him back where he belongs. He’s riding on confidence with knowing his role and had a combined 22 rebounds last weekend too including three steals against the 36ers. 

Last time they met: N/A

Season so far: Melbourne were dominant last week and were rewarded by claiming top spot once again this season. New Zealand are still making things tough for them, and other teams as they’re seventh but a couple of games behind the pack.

The game: Another Round 16 double header, as the Breakers now travel to Melbourne where the Breakers won in a Round 1 clash 88-81. United should comfortably put them away at home this time, but a weary travel schedule could see some stars held back early in the game. Former United forward, Tai Wesley was on fire against his old team scoring 25 points while Boone and Ware were quiet for United, which is definitely not the case anymore. There’s not much separating these teams on the stats sheet, but United presence is a lot stronger.

 

Illawarra Hawks v Cairns Taipans
Monday, 7:50pm at WIN Entertainment Centre


The key matchup: Todd Blanchfield v Devon Hall
A lot rests on Blanchfield for the Hawks, their bonefide star, with 15.0 points in a team that averages 88.2 a game. He is also their best three point shooter (41 per cent), while sitting at 48 per cent overall. The big man can pull in some rebounds (4.7) but naturally, is having a great season compared to his previous campaigns. Hall can have plenty of looks at the basket, but it does not always result in a score. He is shooting at 37 per cent this season and is averaging under 10 points a game, with 4.4 rebounds his saving grace. The Taipans need to find a proper forward, but Hall is young so with some more years, he can come good.

Last time they met: Illawarra Hawks (82) defeated Cairns Taipans (81)
It was a tale of two halves last week as each team dominated in a particular half. The Hawks got out to a 18-point lead in the second, but Cairns came back big to lead throughout the third quarter break, until the Hawks used all their strength to come away with the win. The scoring was shared around for the Hawks but Brian Conklin was good with 15 points and eight rebounds. Cairns were led by Melo Trimble who finished with 24 points, five rebounds and three assists.

Season so far: Illawarra are close to a spot in the final four (sixth), but will need to win some tough games in the coming weeks, after going one and one last week. Cairns are last, wand will end up there come the end of the season, but their ability to push teams and win as they won one and lost one last round.

The game: These two have combined some for classic matches in recent times, and it was only highlighted by a nail-biter last week on Australia Day. Both are good at keeping pressure on their opponents and putting up massive blocks. Cairns shot 29.6 per cent from three point range last week while the Hawks were 6/15 but both can be much better, especially the Taipans. If Cairns get on a roll and can put down a few more baskets, they could win this one away. 

Weekend previews: NBL- Round 13

ROUND 13 of the National Basketball League (NBL) begins in northern New South Wales with the Hawks, who are riding high after beating Sydney, hosting the 36ers. Illawarra travels to Sydney to play the Kings again on Sunday where the home side will be wanting revenge for last week. Adelaide and Brisbane should be a good match-up considering their ladder positions, while the Taipans could provide another upset when they compete against Perth and Melbourne.

Illawarra Hawks v Adelaide 36ers

Thursday, 7:50pm at WIN Entertainment Centre

Key match-up: Jordair Jett v Nathan Sobey

Jett has already held the likes of Jerome Randle and Bryce Cotton and will look to add Nathan Sobey to that list. He has great defensive pressure, keeping those two aforementioned players to 10 of 29 from the field. It’s unlikely Sobey may have a bad game, as he scores 20 or more four times in the last six games, but has been off this season against the Hawks (39 per cent). Jett picks out teammates in good positions inside the arc too so Sobey should be aware of his opponent and any loose Hawks players, meaning he’ll have his hands full.

Last time they met: Illawarra Hawks (87) defeated Adelaide 36ers (86)

Illawarra led for a small portion on either side of the first break, otherwise it was all Adelaide thanks to 24 points to Nathan Sobey and 14 points and 11 rebounds to Jacob Wiley. The Hawks never gave up the fight though, winning the final quarter 20-12 to end up one-point victors. Todd Blanchfield was helpful in driving the baskets, scoring a two and a three in 30 seconds of play to give him 10 points for the match. Jordair Jett made sure of the result with two successful free throws, as he top-scored for the Hawks with 15 and six rebounds.

Season so far: The Hawks are not far off the pace, two games off of fourth, but need a lot of percentage. However, they are riding high after a surprise win over Sydney. The 36ers are within reach of the top four but still seem a long way off their game that saw them take United to a fifth game in last year’s championship, going down to New Zealand last week.

The game: The 36ers have all the makings of the team that put them into the championship game last season, but this year their defence has taken a hit. They’ve still got powerful shooters, and average 30 three-point attempts in games against Illawarra- the most of any team the 36ers have played. That says a lot about the Illawarra defence too, giving up 92.5 points this season. The Hawks are one of the form teams in the NBL at the moment and could shake up the competition with another solid win against a struggling opponent.

Sydney Kings v New Zealand Breakers

Friday, 7:43pm at Qudos Bank Arena

Key match-up: Andrew Bogut v Shawn Long

These are two of the in-form centres of the NBL. Bogut has been in Most Valuable Player (MVP) calculations, but Long has been the standout for the past couple of weeks. The Sydney centre has been a big reason why the Kings are at the top, cause their points for is the second-lowest in the competition. He averages 12.1 rebounds a game and had 19 and 17 against Illawarra and Cairns respectively.  The Breakers centre had a blinder against the 36ers last round with 28 points and 18 rebounds including a steal and three blocks. In the second game of the round, Longscored 33 points with six rebounds.

Last time they met: Sydney Kings (71) defeated New Zealand Breakers (70)

Scores were even at the main break, but then New Zealand was kept to just six points through the 10 minutes in the third quarter. The Breakers almost clinched a great comeback defeat, shooting 29 to 15 points in the last, but fell short after a Tom Abercrombie three. He finished on 18 points while Tai Wesley chipped in with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Andrew Bogut was massive, shooting 11 of 15 for his 23 points, while maintaining his defensive pressure with 16 rebounds.

Season so far: The Breakers enjoyed two wins last week, one coming against Perth and the other against Adelaide. It puts them in a good position at an eight and nine record, but they’re one of two teams to be behind in games played. Sydney is pretty on top, and has only played 18 games this season so far, staying strong at home.

The game: Given Sydney’s latest run of close games, the Breakers will give themselves every chance to get the ‘W’. The defence will go a long way to seeing where the results sits, as Sydney bodes well with Bogut and the Breakers are enjoying Long’s input lately. The Breakers find ways to score, averaging 90.4 across 17 games, whereas Sydney’s last three games have all been within the 70s. This game will be decided on good passing, with both turning it over a bit and being two of the three lowest teams for assists.

Perth Wildcats v Cairns Taipans

Friday, 9:53pm at RAC Arena

Key match-up: Bryce Cotton v Melo Trimble

These are two of the best all-round players in the competition that can always find ways to get to ball into their hands and create magic. Cotton has Trimble pipped for points (23.6) whereas Trimble is averaging 20.4 points this season. But what makes Trimble effective is his ability to enter into every territory on the court, seen by 3.4 rebounds and 4.7 assists. He had his most well-rounded game last week against Sydney and his opponent will need to watch his eyes closely to anticipate what Trimble’s moves could be. Cotton is the more of the same (4.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists) and uses his fast feet to get under the basket.

Last time they met: Perth Wildcats (93) defeated Cairns Taipans (78)

This was a blowout result as the Perth lead kept getting bigger after the first quarter. The Taipans got within a shot midway through the third quarter, but couldn’t get ahead. It was a whole team effort by Cairns with six players in double figures, but Lucas Walker (16 points, six rebounds) and Melo Trimble (14 points, four assists) were good. For the Wildcats, they had five in double figures with Terrico White (22 points, four rebounds, five assists) and Nicholas Kay (17 points, five rebounds, four assists) coming up big.

Season so far: The Wildcats were out of their form slump for a couple of games, but will feel flat after losing to New Zealand last weekend. They’re still second on the same amount of wins as Sydney, when Cairns are last on the ladder with two wins for the season.

The game: Anything can happen in this league and it’s usually towards the end of the season that upsets happen. Cairns will be riding high on confidence after the win over Sydney, and Perth is hit and miss at the moment. Being at RAC Arena will be difficult for the Taipans, with the Wildcats only losing one at home this season against the Kings last month. These teams are shooting even enough (seperated by one per cent), but any team can be good on their day as proved before, and the emphasis will be on steals and limiting turnovers.

Adelaide 36ers v Brisbane Bullets

Saturday, 2:50pm at Titanium Security Arena

Key match-up: Nathan Sobey v Cameron Gliddon

Sobey has barely put afoot wrong this season, getting a lot of personal bests. He’s averaged 22 points in the past two games and pulls down massive rebounds too. His knowledge and awareness of game plans and his teammates’ positions are strong, as he’s the best in the league with 4.8 assists this year. Gliddon isn’t as damaging apart from at the basket (14.5 points) and can be up one week and down the next. He scored 16 points in his last game, so hopefully he won’t continue to trend and perform badly in this crunch match.

Last time they met: Adelaide 36ers (101) defeated Brisbane Bullets (91)

This was a topsy-turvy game with 10 lead changes but it was Adelaide who ran out winners at the final buzzer. Nathan Sobey continued an excellent run with 24 points, six rebounds and three assists, much like Daniel Johnson, who shot 20 points to go with eight rebounds and four assists. Lamar Patterson excelled with 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists for Brisbane.

Season so far: In Round 12, the Bullets were off against Cairns but at their best against Melbourne.They managed to stay in fourth by the end of the round, but lost some percentage in the Taipans loss. Adelaide lost to the Breakers, otherwise could’ve been in the top four.

The game: These two teams are so even that this game can have serious ramifications on the end of the season, and a win would be a blessing for either side. They sit fourth (Brisbane) and fifth (Adelaide) and their percentage is even at 1.01 per cent. Both sides are capable of shooting out of the blocks, and are some of the leaders in field goal percentage, where the Bullets are keen to continue their lead in three-point shots (199 from 495). It couldn’t be anymore different in terms of rebounds, as the 36ers lead the Bullets by 7.1 rebounds.

Sydney Kings v Illawarra Hawks

Sunday, 2:50pm at Qudos Bank Arena

Key match-up: Daniel Kickert v Brian Conklin

Kickert has been shooting really well for the Kings this season overall with 10.4 at an even 50 per cent.Coming off the bench, it’s exactly what the Kings need in times of trouble. If Illawarra push them, he’ll be welcome on the court. Kickert can rebound well when Bogut and Brad Newley are off, averaging 4.6 a game. Conklintoo makes his influence felt off the bench, making good stats in his time on court. He’s having a good return to the NBL, averaging 13.8 points along with 5.6 rebounds. While most of the attention is on Blanchfield, Conklin needs a lot of attention on him too.

Last time they met: Illawarra Hawks (78) defeated Sydney Kings (71)

It continued the trend of upsets last round, with the Hawk sbeating the ladder leaders, pushing away whenever the Kings were closing in. Brian Conklin was fouled three times within the last 30 seconds and converted six attempts at the line. He finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. Working with him was Tim Coenraad who had 18 points and five rebounds. For Sydney, Kevin Lischput down four three-pointers on his way to 19 points while Andrew Bogut had a whopping 19 rebounds along with eight points and six assists.

Season so far: The Hawks had a good round, beating the Kings, but still sit in seventh. The Kings lost to the Hawks, and Cairns took them to the final few minutes. But Sydney still maintains its first placing.

The game: It will be interesting to see if the Hawks learnt anything from last week against the Kings and if so, maybe they can use that to their advantage this time around. When the Hawks are down, they don’t stay down for too long, with their longest losing streak being three. It’s important for the Hawks to not be chasing the Kings, so they must get a good conversion rate in the first quarter, as they had the wood over the Kings in threes and free throws last round. Corning the Kings into turnovers will be vital to the Hawks’ chances, just as well as fast breaks.

Cairns Taipans v Melbourne United

Sunday, 5:20pm at Cairns Convention Centre

Key match-up:Nathan Jawai v Josh Boone

Jawai has had an great last few rounds, constantly finding avenues to the rim to pick up some handy points. Jawai has averaged 16.0 points in the last four games alone and battled hard in the with 6.1 rebounds. Where Jawai is strong, and Boone lacks is when looking out for teammates. Jawai averages 2.1 assists including seven last week against  Sydney. They both shoot well (Jawai at 60 per cent compared to Boone’s 54%) and Boone is more than capable of gathering a lot of missed shots (7.8) but Jawai has a lot more weight on the United centre.

Last time they met: Melbourne United (87) defeated Cairns Taipans (80)

Cairns led for a large portion of this game, and by as much as 12 points in the third quarter, while Melbourne led for a long time but always in small amounts (their biggest lead was eight in the first three and a half minutes). United had Casper Ware play a blinder with 34 points, with a handy contribution by Mitch McCarron (16 points, nine rebounds). Cairns was led by Nate Jawai who had 17 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.

Season so far: The Taipans tasted success last week against Brisbane and held their nerve, but couldn’t prevail over ladder-leaders, Sydney. Their results last week still hold them in eighth place, six games behind seventh. Melbourne lost to the Bullets and is one game off of top spot.

The game: Both teams will be looking at tasting success again, coming close last week, and the Taipans winning a game too. The Taipans don’t have enough shooters (being Trimble and now Devon Hall) to really give them good looks (last in the league with 1207 attempts). Melbourne has a good all-round effort from its starters and bench (1329 attempts). The defence will come into play though with Melbourne’s average of 4.5 blocks a game and the Taipans’ average of 6.4 steals, with both teams effective off the glass.