Tag: David Barlow

United to run gauntlet for top-four finish

FOLLOWING their loss to the 36ers on Saturday night, it marked Melbourne United’s third loss in four contests. As a result of the defeat, United now sit precariously in fourth position with Adelaide sitting only half a game back and the Bullets just one win behind in sixth.

With a quarter of the season to play and only seven games remaining, Dean Vickerman’s men need to find a strain of good form quick if they are to have the best chance of making the postseason.

“It’s been a sub-standard quarter [of the season] for us, but we’ve got another quarter of the season to go,” Vickerman said in his post-game presser last Saturday.

“We’ll need a positive score out of these [games], whether it be 5-2, whether it be 4-3, we need a positive outcome.”

One of Melbourne’s main detriments at this point of the season, particularly during their last four contests, has been the sub-par performance of their point guard, Melo Trimble.

The 25-year-old import has struggled from the field recently, failing to crack ten points in his last three games. In Saturday’s game against the 36ers, Trimble stumbled his way through 31 minutes of play and converted only two of his thirteen attempts on the night, finishing with five points.

During his encounters with Adelaide, Illawarra and Brisbane, Trimble had failed to achieve a shooting percentage of at least 30 per cent, as well as the following week, only shooting 31 per cent against the Taipans, who sit half a game ahead of United in third position.

Other members of United’s starting five have also been substantially absent from the floor. Namely, ex-Melbourne Tiger and Boomer, David Barlow. Despite Barlow only averaging 7.95 points and 4.16 rebounds per game, Barlow’s output has decreased over the last three weeks, which is severely counterproductive in a league that has been neck and neck from Round 1.

Barlow, who’s been an influential leader in the National Basketball League for eleven seasons, has scored a total of 23 points in his last four games and has shot an unremarkable 33.3 per cent from the floor. This has in turn caused a three-and-a-half-minute decrease in Barlow’s minutes at this end of the season.

Whether or not Casey Prather does make a last-minute return, despite being ruled out for the rest of the season, Vickerman and his staff have a lot to ponder as the season starts to reach its pointy end and every loss becomes even more significant.

While United struggles with their front-court woes, one of their roster’s oldest players has recently regained a level of form that has not been exhibited in his last couple of seasons.

Chris Goulding, who put up very impressive numbers in his performances against the 36ers and the Hawks averaging 23.5 points a game, has seen a substantial increase in his minutes as a result, going from around 30 minutes a game to almost 36.

Given Goulding’s newly refreshed form, perhaps a different style of offence might just be the thing that gets Melbourne over the line in the next five rounds, or perhaps less prominent players, such as the developing Shea Ili or Boomer Mitch McCarron can step up to the task.

Nevertheless, for Goulding, as he said following his side’s defeat against Adelaide, he needs more than just a good shooting performance, he needs wins to justify these efforts.

“[My stroke] feels fine,” he said, “I feel confident in my shot but when you don’t win there’s not much point in making six three-pointers.”

The Road to the Postseason

As stated earlier, Melbourne still awaits seven more challengers in their NBL 2019/20 campaign, with the bulk of their top tier competition coming within the next ten days facing both top teams and a team keen on redemption. Here is the snapshot for Melbourne United’s next three matchups as well as the team’s schedule wrapping up the season.

Sunday, January 19 vs New Zealand @ Spark Arena

The first step in the race for a semi-final spot is to cross the Tasman and defeat a team that is looking to regain lost footing in the standings. The Breakers, who once sat in fifth position only two rounds ago, lost two very important games to third placed Cairns and the sixth placed Bullets in Round 15. For Melbourne and most other teams, the number one priority should be neutralising both Scotty Hopson and Sek Henry early on in the contest. Therefore, this match provides the perfect setting for Melo Trimble to bounce back to good form with a strong performance against the Breakers’ backcourt.

Sunday, January 26 vs Sydney @ Qudos Bank Arena

When Round 17 swings around, Melbourne has a chance to really justify their case for a finals berth as they do battle away against the top side in the league. The bulk of the responsibility will fall onto United’s big men. Shawn Long, Melbourne’s marquee import signing of the season, is averaging almost a double-double with 19.4 points and 9.8 rebounds being tallied every game. If Long along with others in his front-court can keep second-chance points limited and out-rebound the Kings, then pushing the floor and shooting accuracy will ultimately decide the outcome.

Wednesday, January 29 vs Perth Wildcats @ Melbourne Arena

In order to give themselves the best possible run to the playoffs, United will need to attempt to slay the in-form Wildcats, who are coming off a strong victory against the Kings. With the Wildcats having threats at almost every position, it will take more than just good execution on United’s part. Obtaining Bryce Cotton’s penetration ability, Terrico White’s strength at the wing position and Nicholas Kay being proficient everywhere else, a top to bottom effort will be required by Melbourne.

Final sprint

Saturday, February 1 vs Brisbane Bullets @ Nissan Arena

Saturday, February 8 vs Illawarra Hawks @ Melbourne Arena

Thursday, February 13 vs Cairns Taipans @ Melbourne Arena

Sunday, February 16 vs South-East Melbourne Phoenix @ Melbourne Arena

2019/20 NBL preview: Round 13/14 – The look ahead

IN a special National Basketball League (NBL) preview, we take a look at each NBL side and their upcoming games in Round 13 and Round 14 to determine where they might be situated heading into the final month of basketball action.

1 SYDNEY KINGS

Position: 1st
Wins: 13
Losses: 4
Points: 26
Difference: +105

vs. Perth Wildcats | Saturday, December 28, 5:30pm | Qudos Bank Arena
vs. Illawarra Hawks | Tuesday, December 31, 5:30pm | WIN Entertainment Centre
vs. Adelaide 36ers | Saturday, January 4, 8:00pm | Qudos Bank Arena

Best Possible Position post-R14: 1st
Worst Possible position post-R14: 3rd

The Sydney Kings come into the top of the table clash against Perth Wildcats in somewhat shaky form, but remain a win clear with the Wildcats ahead of the big game at Qudos Bank Arena. The Kings will still start favourites, but the Wildcats had been on a nice run before dropping a game to Melbourne United last round which saw them miss the opportunity to steal top spot temporarily. The Kings then take on Illawarra Hawks on the road and will celebrate the New Year in Cairns this year, before a four-day break ahead of the big game against fifth placed Adelaide 36ers who will be in the top four by that stage. There is a reason the Kings are on top of the table, with enviable depth, but mostly because of the top-end talent. Some sides have players that are great that fill the same roles, while the Kings seem to have found a player to fill each role to perfection. NBA center, Andrew Bogut continues to be a force to be reckoned with despite some inconsistent form of late, while Casper Ware is a points-scoring machine this season. Jae’Sean Tate is one player touted to earn an NBA spot at some stage if not next season, while draft hopeful Didi Louzada has been flying under the radar this season. Throw in Australian bigs, Brad Newley and Craig Moller, and the Kings have a really strong starting five and one. Still the team to beat given the depth of the side, plus the three A graders and a couple of B graders in their starting line-up.

2 PERTH WILDCATS

Position: 2nd
Wins: 12
Losses: 6
Points: 24
Difference: +45

vs. Sydney Kings | Saturday, December 28, 5:30pm | Qudos Bank Arena
vs. Adelaide 36ers | Wednesday, January 1, 5:30pm | Adelaide Entertainment Centre
vs. Brisbane Bullets  | Sunday, January 5, 5:00pm | Queensland State Netball Centre

Best Possible Position post-R14: 1st
Worst Possible position post-R14: 3rd

Reigning champions Perth Wildcats might have shown some inconsistencies at the start of the season, but hit their straps midyear to sit second heading into the last game prior to 2020. They would love nothing more than to take the scalp of the top-ranked Kings and eye off top spot, but still have to get the job done with two games in the New Year over the next couple of weeks. They will rack up the frequent flyer miles with three consecutive games on the road, starting in Sydney on December 28, before flying to Adelaide for the New Year’s Day clash against the 36ers, before the trek up to Queensland for the battle against the Bullets on January 5. They are pretty secured inside the top three, but the first two games in particular are ones they will want to win to assert their dominance and put themselves in the best position for the extra home final and a chance at back-to-back flags. Bryce Cotton has continued his remarkable 2018/19 season form, averaging around 22 points per game, well aided by Terrico White who has the 16.3 points per game average. Nick Kay has been a third scorer for the Wildcats with 14 points and 7.7 rebounds, but the knock will be the depth after that. Dario Hunt has proven handy, and is the next highest with 8.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, but no player averages more than four assists or rebounds, or seven points per game – aside from Clint Steindl (8.2) – so they will need others to stand up if the likes of Cotton and White are held like they were against United. Still plenty of youth cycling through to force competitiveness amongst the roster.

3 MELBOURNE UNITED

Position: 3rd
Wins: 10
Losses: 7
Points: 20
Difference: +63

vs Cairns Taipans | Thursday, December 26, 5:30pm | Melbourne Arena
vs. Brisbane Bullets | Sunday, December 29, 5:00pm | Melbourne Arena
vs. Illawarra Hawks | Saturday, January 4, 5:30pm |  WIN Entertainment Centre

Best Possible Position post-R14: 1st
Worst Possible position post-R14: 5th

They took a while to gel, but once they got going, United became a damaging force within the NBL. They have won seven of their past 10 games, including two on the trot which given the evenness of the competition, is the equal most of any side with New Zealand Breakers the other. In the three games they have over the next two rounds, Melbourne take on the two Queensland sides back-to-back at Melbourne Arena with a handy three-day preparation in between, before a six-day break before travelling to Cairns on January 4 in what is set to be a blockbuster game against the new-and-improved Taipans. Melo Trimble gets to face his old side once again, and the 191cm guard has been in all sorts of terrific form, averaging 22 points per game, and more than four rebounds and four assists as well. Shawn Long crossed the ditch from the Breakers over the off-season and has been absolutely phenomenal this year, earning the nickname “Mr Double Double” and he has rarely missed out on the opportunity to stuff the stats sheet. In 17 games this season, Long has averaged 19.8 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game to be the premier center and set to be named in that role for the Team of the Year, and potentially take the MVP off fellow center, Bogut. Chris Goulding is the other exclusive scorer who has put up more than 17 points per game, while Mitch McCarron and David Barlow are always contributing strongly. Similar to the Kings, United has a variety of damaging players who fill different roles, rather than all of the same kind. Long and Trimble are good enough to lead this team to a title, with the next three durable and consistent as they come. United cannot afford to lose all three games though and potentially drop out of the top four.

4 CAIRNS TAIPANS

Position: 4th
Wins: 8
Losses: 9
Points: 16
Difference: +22

vs. Melbourne United | Thursday, December 26, 5:30pm | Melbourne Arena
vs. South East Melbourne Phoenix | Tuesday, December 31, 8:00pm | Cairns Convention Centre
vs. Brisbane Bullets | Friday, January 3, 7.30pm | Cairns Convention Centre

Best Possible Position post-R14: 3rd
Worst Possible position post-R14: 7th

Cairns handed its fans an early Christmas present with a win last round to grab fourth spot back from Adelaide 36ers. The 36ers dropped a home game to bottom of the ladder Illawarra Hawks, while the Taipans – who lost back-to-back games in Round 11 – took back the spot they had worked so hard to earn after a slow start. Dubbed the most exciting team in the NBL by plenty on social media, the Taipans might not have the same star factor as other sides, but they have proved that they can impact a game outside the stats. A tough few games are coming up with a Boxing Day clash against United in Melbourne the biggest of the lot, before back-to-back games in Cairns either side of New Year, with matches against South East Melbourne Phoenix and Brisbane Bullets. The Taipans will need to win at least two games to retain fourth spot, but a third win would likely guarantee it given the 36ers have games against the top two teams as well as the bottom two ones coming up. While the Taipans might lack the star power other sides have, it would be remiss not to consider American import, Cameron Oliver in that star power bracket, with the 203cm forward shooting 16.4 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. While he averages less than an assist per game, he has his role off the boards to give it to the likes of Scott Machado (14.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game) who does all the playmaking for the side, whilst pickpocketing the opposition with 1.5 steals per game. While those two have been the standouts all season, Majok Deng (13.2 points and 3.9 rebounds) and Kouat Noi (11.4 and 6.5) have also been strong off the boards. Cairns’ rebounding is a strength in the game, and the Taipans can move it end-to-end really well. Wins are just crucial now given the mid-table log-jam.

5 ADELAIDE 36ERS

Position: 5th
Wins: 8
Losses: 9
Points: 16
Difference: -37

vs. New Zealand Breakers | Sunday, December 29, 3:00pm | Adelaide Entertainment Centre
vs. Perth Wildcats | Wednesday, January 1, 5:30pm | Adelaide Entertainment Centre
vs. Sydney Kings | Saturday, January 4, 8:00pm | Qudos Bank Arena
vs. Illawarra Hawks | Monday, January 6, 7:30pm | Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Best Possible Position post-R14: 2nd
Worst Possible position post-R14: 9th

Finalists last year, the 36ers would be ruing their missed opportunity when they went down to Illawarra at home last Friday night. They have a chance to atone in the New Year at the same venue, and have been treated to a relatively good fixture for a team having to play four games over the next couple of weeks. First they host New Zealand Breakers on Sunday, then welcome Perth in a New Years Day classic, before travelling to Sydney three days later for a date with the Kings. They round up their four-game schedule over Rounds 13 and 14 with a home match against the Hawks on Monday, January 6. Over the off-season, Adelaide lost a star in Nathan Sobey, but recruited one of the best talents in the NBL in Jerome Randle. The pure scorer has put up 20.2 points per game this season to go with 4.5 assists per game, while Daniel Johnson is averaging another couple of rebounds a game to go with his 16.8 points. Eric Griffin has had an impact off the bench and got better as the season has worn on, teaming well with Johnson in the forward-center role, as has Harry Froling who is another 211cm giant. Jack McVeigh has been an influence over the last couple of weeks and would not be far away from earning a start, while Ramone Moore has played both starting and bench roles this season. This next couple of weeks could determine Adelaide’s season, with the 36ers playing the top two sides and the bottom two sides, but remarkably could end up anywhere from second to last based on other team’s results. Expect them to maintain a spot in the mid-table, but it is fascinating just to see how much of a knives-edge their season is on.

6 SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX

Position: 6th
Wins: 7
Losses: 9
Points: 16
Difference: -6

vs. Illawarra Hawks | Saturday, December 28, 8:00pm | Melbourne Arena
vs. Cairns Taipans | Tuesday, December 31, 8:00pm | Cairns Convention Centre
vs. New Zealand Breakers | Sunday, January 5, 3:00pm | Melbourne Arena

Best Possible Position post-R14: 3rd
Worst Possible position post-R14: 9th

The Phoenix started like a house on fire in season 2019/20, but have just been smouldering since, losing eight of the past 11 and just doing enough to stay in touch with the top four. They desperately need to start racking up the ‘Ws’ if they are not to fall behind, and have a kind enough draw over the next couple of weeks to do so. They have home games either side of the New Year against bottom two teams, Illawarra Hawks and New Zealand Breakers which if they are to be a real contender this season, should bank them without too much problem – especially given the Hawks and Breakers have a combined 3-12 record on the road – two of which came last round. Round 13 and 14 is make or break for the Phoenix, and realistically, with the exception of Mitch Creek every week, they have not had the consistency the teams above them have had. Creek has been phenomenal as expected and would be a challenger for the MVP this season, posting numbers of around 23 points, seven rebounds, four assists and one steal per game. John Roberson has shown his clutch ability, such as against the 36ers a couple of rounds ago when he sank 21 points in six minutes to win the game in overtime. Ben Madgen has been solid without being outstanding, while Dane Pineau and Adam Gibson have shown glimpses at times. They just need to find more consistency in their game, with more regular support for Creek from players that have potential, but just cannot fire together at times. The Phoenix could lift themselves up into the top four with wins here, or drop into the bottom couple if they lose them all. Three losses would spell danger for their finals hopes and no doubt there would be some reaching for the panic button if three losses eventuated.

7 BRISBANE BULLETS

Position: 7th
Wins: 7
Losses: 9
Points: 14
Difference: -41

vs New Zealand Breakers | Friday, December 27, 7:30pm | Queensland State Netball Centre
vs. Melbourne United | Sunday, December 29, 5:00pm | Melbourne Arena
vs. Cairns Taipans | Friday, January 3, 7.30pm | Cairns Convention Centre
vs. Perth Wildcats | Sunday, January 5, 5:00pm | Queensland State Netball Centre

Best Possible Position post-R14: 3rd
Worst Possible position post-R14: 9th

Brisbane has shown this season that it is that genuine mid-table team that on its best day can challenge the top sides – such as knocking off the Kings last week – but does not quite have the firepower of the top three sides. They have a huge couple of weeks coming up with limited rest between games. Luckily for the Bullets, they have three of the four games in Queensland, starting with a must-win home clash against New Zealand Breakers on Friday night. They then make a trip down to Melbourne two days later for a tough assignment against United, before returning to the Sunshine State in the New Year for a head-to-head against the Taipans, and then at home two days later against reigning premiers, Perth. Like Adelaide and South East Melbourne, Brisbane’s season is on a knives-edge. Win all four and all of a sudden the Bullets have fired into the top four. Lose them, and they will be staring down the barrel of a bottom two finish. The Breakers should be a non-negotiable win given New Zealand’s track record on the road, while Brisbane genuinely play well at home (5-2) compared to their away trips (2-7) which means the Bullets will likely finish Round 14 with an additional two wins to their name, but potentially a third if they can grab the win against Cairns. Lamar Patterson (19.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.0 assists) deserves Team of the Year honours, working hard with recruit Nathan Sobey (15.4 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists). The area of concern for the Bullets is the inconsistencies of the rest of the team, with Will Magnay starring in his first start last week and will likely remain there from here-on, while Matt Hodgson and Jason Cadee have been solid this season. Brisbane does not have the A-grade talent outside of Patterson and Sobey, but with more internal improvement such as Magnay’s double-double performance last week, they could trouble a few sides on the run home.

8 NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS

Position: 8th
Wins: 6
Losses: 10
Points: 12
Difference: -33

vs. Brisbane Bullets | Friday, December 27, 7:30pm | Queensland State Netball Centre
vs. Adelaide 36ers | Sunday, December 29, 3:00pm | Adelaide Entertainment Centre
vs. South East Melbourne Phoenix | Sunday, January 5, 3:00pm | Melbourne Arena

Best Possible Position post-R14: 4th
Worst Possible position post-R14: 9th

A week ago this side was dead and buried, the fans were frustrated given the bad luck they had endured between injuries and suspensions, and their star player in Corey Webster was loaned to China in order to bank $150,000 with the season seemingly gone. A week later, New Zealand banked back-to-back wins, trumping the Phoenix at home, then finally breaking its road win drought with an important late win over the Illawarra Hawks. While the money for Webster will be crucial for the club, fans might begin to wonder what could be if the Breakers can build on the form from last round. They actually have a few friendly games coming up over the next couple of weeks with three sides outside the top four in Brisbane, Adelaide and South East Melbourne all on the schedule. The problem? They are all on the road, and with six consecutive losses when travelling until New Zealand finally broke the drought, the Breakers are not a side that travels well. They have to head to Queensland on Friday, before jumping on a plane to Adelaide for a second game two days later. They have a week’s break before crossing the ditch again, this time to try and repeat their efforts against the Phoenix, albeit on Australian soil. The bad luck that has plagued the Breakers this season has included injuries to NBA top five draft pick hopeful, RJ Hampton and Scotty Hopson, with Hopson’s replacement Glen Rice Jr coming into the side, having a massive impact in three games before having his contract torn up for ill-discipline off the court. Webster has since been loaned so with only Hopson in the side of late, it has been a real time of change for the Breakers. Others have had to stand up, which they have in recent weeks, with Sek Henry, Thomas Abercrombie and Brandon Ashley all playing important roles, as Robert Loe is beginning to become the starting center they had hoped. Realistically, unless the cards all fall their way and they can continue on the form they have shown – and more importantly learn to be a threat on the road consistently – finals are not something many would expect for the Breakers this season. They have some good young players coming up and could be a team to watch in 2020/21, but for now, it is about playing as well as they can and proving some doubters wrong for the rest of the season.

9 ILLAWARRA HAWKS

Position: 9th
Wins: 4
Losses: 12
Points: 8
Difference: -118

vs South-East Melbourne Phoenix | Saturday, December 28, 8:00pm | Melbourne Arena
vs. Sydney Kings | Tuesday, December 31, 5:30pm | WIN Entertainment Centre
vs. Melbourne United | Saturday, January 4, 5:30pm |  WIN Entertainment Centre
vs. Adelaide 36ers | Monday, January 6, 7:30pm | Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Best Possible Position post-R14: 5th
Worst Possible position post-R14: 9th

It is not often the bottom side on the ladder is the most watched and attended team in any competition, but it goes to show just how much of a drawcard potential number one pick in the 2020 NBA Draft LaMelo Ball is to basketball fans. Destined to be a terrific talent in the future, Ball puts bums on seats and helped the Hawks smash plenty of attendance and viewing records. It has been equally disappointing for the Hawks that Ball has been missing the last few weeks due to injury, with an expected return date early in the New Year. Aaron Brooks was set to form a really dominant one-two partnership with Ball in the NBL this season, but he managed just seven games before going down with injury and ruled out for the remainder of the 2019/20 NBL season. Without the pair in the side, the Hawks effectively lose 35 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists per game which is the combined average of the pair. They now have an incredibly tough draw over the next four games with a trip to Melbourne on Saturday against the Phoenix a challenging encounter, before a couple of games at home either side of the New Year, though both come against title contenders, Sydney and Melbourne. They wrap up the four-game schedule with a visit to Adelaide to face the 36ers in the last game of Round 14. Todd Blanchfield is the only Hawks player to have started every game this season, averaging 11.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per match, while AJ Ogilvy has been a consistent player off the boards with 10.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. Theoretically, the Hawks could move as high as fifth, but would need so many results to fall their way. Though if they can win three of the four games somehow, then they put themselves in contention for finals. Realistically though, they are still three and a half games outside the top four, and it would take a miracle to get back from here.

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 6 review: Kings and United stand tall in big round of action

SYDNEY Kings and Melbourne United stood tall with a couple of wins across the weekend, emerging as two of the four teams to beat, with South East Melbourne Phoenix also getting a win and Perth suffering a loss to the Kings.

New Zealand Breakers (101) defeated by Melbourne United (104)

Last year’s grand finalists, Melbourne United survived a massive comeback across the ditch to hold off a fast-finishing New Zealand Breakers outfit by three points at Spark Arena. United actually trailed at half-time by two points in what had been a competitive first half, before really tightening the screws in the third term, slamming home 33 points to 14 to open up a massive 17-point advantage at the final break. It was far from a complete contest however, as New Zealand roared to life in the last term, shooting 34 points to Melbourne’s 20 to get within three at the final buzzer, but it would not be enough. Chris Goulding led the way with 24 points, four rebounds and four assists on the night, while Shawn Long continued his ripping form for United with 22 points and eight rebounds. Melo Trimble created some havoc up front with five assists, three rebounds and 16 points, while David Barlow and Mitch McCarron combined for 12 rebounds and 18 points. For the Breakers, the choice to bring former NBA player, Glen Rice Jr into the fold for the injured Scotty Hopson bore fruit as he added a game-high 26 points at 60 per cent efficiency from the field, forcing fouls left, right and centre on his way to a 100 per cent effort from the foul line. Corey Webster had 20 points of his own to go with eight rebounds and four assists, while RJ Hampton (16 points, seven rebounds and two assists) and Brandon Ashley (10 points, eight rebounds) were also prominent off the boards. The win saw United snatch back third spot with a third consecutive win, while new Zealand slumped to a second consecutive loss to remain in seventh.

DC Medal: 3 – Chris Goulding (MU), 2 – Shawn Long (MU), 1 – Corey Webster (NZ)

Brisbane Bullets (85) defeated by Sydney Kings (95)

Much like the previous game, a comeback was centre stage between the Kings and Bullets, but this time it was successful with a dominant third term in favour of the visitors which saw them stage a remarkable fight back. Brisbane led by eight points at the first break and 13 points by half-time. Rather than gradually chewing into the deficit, Sydney went all out in the third quarter, completely dominating its opposition on the way to a 28 point to eight term to hit the front by seven points. They went on with it from there with a 20-17 final term to run away 10-point winners, 95-85. Brad Newley led the way with 20 points and seven rebounds, while Jae’Sean Tate added 18 and two. Casper Ware was busy setting up avenues to the basket with 17 points and five assists, while Craig Moller (13 points, six rebounds) and Didi Louzada (11 points, four rebounds and three steals) were also busy. For the Bullets, Lamar Patterson was best on court with 20 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and one block. Matt Hodgson (13 points, three rebounds) and Nathan Sobey (12 points, six rebounds) were also prominent, but it was the Bullets’ foul trouble that got them in the end, with 30 personal fouls to 19, including three players on their last foul, and two on their fourth. The Kings were able to bounce back from their three-point loss to Melbourne to remain a game clear of Perth on top of the table before the one-verse-two clash on Sunday. Brisbane slipped to fourth and are just points difference ahead of the Phoenix.

DC Medal: 3 – Lamar Patterson (BB), 2 – Brad Newley (SK), 1 – Craig Moller (SK)

South East Melbourne Phoenix (103) defeated New Zealand Breakers (78)

South East Melbourne Phoenix bounced back from their second loss of the season in the best possible fashion, downing New Zealand by 25 points at Melbourne Arena on Saturday night. The Phoenix held a narrow lead at quarter time, but the Breakers hit back with a strong 31-24 second quarter before the Phoenix took control. They completely dominated the second half, adding 51 points to 30 to completely storm away with the contest and grab the win. Mitch Creek was once again the top points scorer, picking up a double double after piling on 21 points and 11 rebounds, along with four assists. John Robertson had 17 points and nine assists to come close to a double double himself, while Dane Pineau stepped up to play his best game of the season, delivering 18 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. In his hundredth game, Kyle Adnam had 12 points, while Jaye Crockett was prominent off the bench with 14 points, eight rebounds, two assists and three steals. For New Zealand, Webster led the team once again with 22 points, five rebounds and three assists, while Rice Jr backed up his debut with a solid second game thanks to 19 points, seven rebounds and two steals. Ashley (17 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks) was terrific in defeat, as was Sek Henry (11 points, five rebounds, eight assists and two steals) off the bench.

DC Medal: 3 – Mitch Creek (SEM), 2 – Dane Pineau (SEM), 1 – John Robertson (SEM)

Cairns Taipans (91) defeated by Illawarra Hawks (101)

Kouat Noi‘s famous words in the Cairns Post before the Taipans’ match with Illawarra was that he did not rate LaMelo Ball. It proved to be a real talking point on the night as Ball completely tore the game apart with his best performance yet. The potential number one pick in the 2020 NBA Draft helped Illawarra open up a 14-point lead by half-time, and while the home side managed to cut the deficit back to 10 by the final break, could not chew into the deficit any further, going down by 10 points, 91-101. Ball was scintillating with 24 points, six rebounds, eight assists, three steals and one block to be the clear standout on the court, as Noi went on to have the 10 points, three rebounds and two assists. Ball had plenty of contributors helping the Hawks’ cause however, with David Anderson (17 points, eight rebounds), Josh Boone (15 points, nine rebounds) and Todd Blanchfield (12 points, five rebounds and three assists) all prominent, though the next best after Ball was Sunday Dech off the bench with 21 points, five rebounds, five assists and one steal, shooting at a deadly 70 per cent from the field, including dropping four of five from long range. Mirko Djeric was the top scorer for the Taipans coming off the bench, shooting 19 points and five rebounds, while Cameron Oliver contributed across the court, helping himself to 16 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. Scott Machado and DJ Newbill both put up 12 points apiece in the defeat, but were quieter with a combined three rebounds and five assists. The win moved Illawarra to just points difference off Cairns and New Zealand at the bottom of the table.

DC Medal: 3 – LaMelo Ball (IH), 2 – Sunday Dech (IH), 1 – Cameron Oliver (CT)

Melbourne United (109) defeated Adelaide 36ers (90)

Melbourne United’s season kept rolling on with a fourth consecutive win, this time over Adelaide 36ers at Melbourne Arena on Sunday. The home side had to play catch up after trailing by eight points at the first break, but piled on an equal-high 37 points in the second term whilst restricting the visitors to just 14 to lead by 15 at half-time. Adelaide managed to claw a point back in the third, but Melbourne went on with it in the final term, scoring 29-24 to run out 109-90 winners. Trimble was the star with 32 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals, joined among the best was Goulding who posted 20 points, three rebounds and one assist. Long continued his strong form with 16 points, four rebounds and three blocks while Barlow was also impressive across the court with 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists. For the 36ers, Jerome Randle led the scoring with 17 points, as well as two rebounds and three assists, while Anthony Drmic (16 points, two rebounds and two assists) and Daniel Johnson (13 points, four rebounds and two assists) were also solid without anyone being outstanding. The win meant Melbourne regained third spot from the Phoenix, while Adelaide sit in sixth.

DC Medal: 3 – Melo Trimble (MU), 2 – David Barlow (MU), 1 – Chris Goulding (MU)

Sydney Kings (104) defeated Perth Wildcats (85)

The top-of-the-table Kings showed why they will be a force this season, sending a message to the competition with a 19-point victory over reigning premiers, Perth Wildcats in a top two clash. Neither side could be split in the first term, but it was the Kings who made the first move after quarter time, adding 29 points to 26 to lead by a narrow three points. They built on that lead with a dominant third term, piling on 30 points to 18 to race out to a 15-point advantage, then finished off strongly 25-21 in the last quarter to secure a 104-85 victory. Next Generation NBA young gun, Louzada was the star for the Kings, adding 28 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals, shooting at 66.7 per cent from the field. Ware (23 points, three assists), Newley (13 points, five rebounds and two assists) and Tate (12 points, eight rebounds) were others who stood tall in the win. For the Wildcats, Bryce Cotton was a colossus with a game-high 36 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Nick Kay was the other key scorer in an otherwise low scoring individual effort for the losers, posting up 18 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

DC Medal: 3 – Didi Louzada (SK), 2 – Bryce Cotton (PW), 1- Casper Ware (SK)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

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

NBL 2019/20 Weekend preview: Round 4 – Huge round of action with plenty of double-ups

ROUND 4 of the NBL brings plenty of action with eight games set to be played from Thursday to Monday. Melbourne United are yet to register a win this season while the Kings and Phoenix will be searching to keep their unbeaten streak alive.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS v. ILLAWARRA HAWKS
Thursday, October 24
5:30pm

It has been a very inconsistent start to the 2019/2020 campaign for the Hawks who have only registered one win from their five games thus far but despite that they have shown some promise with the likes of LaMelo Ball taking the competition by storm. On the other hand, the Breakers have had less opportunities so far only playing two games but losing both making for an intriguing battle. The Breakers have multiple players that can stand up under pressure with the likes of Scotty Hopson and Corey Webster able to score freely if given time and space while highly touted NBA prospect RJ Hampton will be hoping to have more of an impact on the court against another potential NBA draftee, Ball. After a disappointing start to the season the Hawks will be aiming to restore some continuity in their gameplay and get their campaign rolling with the likes of Tim Coenraad and Aaron Brooks crucial on the scoreboard.

ADELAIDE 36ers v. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Friday, October 25
7:30pm

Both sides are coming off wins and will be riding high heading into their Friday clash. The Taipans only notched up their first victory of the season last week while the 36ers will be hoping to progress up their ladder by securing their third win of the year. Cairns simply outclassed their Perth opponents, last week making the most of their opportunities and should draw off that belief in this clash with Majok Deng leading from the front with 22 points last round. Cameron Oliver, DJ Newbill and Scott Machado will have to bring out the big guns and perform if they are to get over the top of the higher placed 36ers. Eric Griffin and Daniel Johnson are key for the 36ers given their ability to score and skill above the rim to gather rebounds.

PERTH WILDCATS v. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Friday, October 25,
9:30pm

South East Melbourne Phoenix are set to travel to Perth to take on the Wildcats and keep their unbeaten streak rolling. Perth currently have third spot sewn up while the Phoenix sit in second making for a high intensity and exhilarating battle between the two sides. The Wildcats suffered a shock loss last week but then struck back against United highlighting their composure and never say die attitude. Bryce Cotton, Terrico White and Nick Kay are instrumental for the Wildcats and if are not contained can prove to be detrimental to the opposition with their explosiveness, scoring range and rebounding ability. The newly established Phoenix have not skipped a beat with the likes of Mitch Creek leading from the front time and time again while John Roberson exploded last week and will be hoping to replicate his form against quality opposition this week. Dane Pineau is crucial for South East with his strength on the rebound.

MELBOURNE UNITED v. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Saturday, October 26
5:30pm

Melbourne United and New Zealand Breakers are both searching for their first win of the season. After competing in the NBAxNBL preseason programme both sides have failed to register a win in the NBL and will be hoping to rectify that issue. United have had their chances falling narrowly to reigning premiers Perth last round along with the Phoenix in the opening round highlighting their ability to match it with the best but fading away when it counts. Chris Goulding has been a rock for United so far this season while the inclusion of Melo Trimble and Shawn Long has been seamless hitting the scoreboard and posing a threat. If they can get some separation early it could go a long way in helping to set up their first win for the season. The Breakers will have their work cut out for them if they are to notch up their first win against United.

SYDNEY KINGS v. BRISBANE BULLETS
Saturday, October 26
8:00pm

The Sydney Kings have an unblemished record and will be hoping to extend that record against the Bullets at home. Sydney seem to be getting better and better every game with their connections across the court near on impossible to stop when on song given the class and skill of Andrew Bogut, Casper Ware and Brad Newley. All three have showcased their shooting range and defensive pressure making them a tough task to stop for the inconsistent Brisbane. The Bullets got off to a flyer this season winning two games on the trot before falling victim to the 36ers and Phoenix with their main aim this round to wrestle back some momentum. Jason Cadee, Nathan Sobey and Lamar Patterson are the key playmakers for the Bullets and must have an influence if they are to get their side the win.

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX v. ADELAIDE 36ers
Sunday, October 27
3:00pm

It will be both sides second game of the round meaning there could be tired bodies out on the court, but if all things go to plan it could be a riveting match-up. With Phoenix securing second spot and Adelaide fourth expect both sides to fight tooth-and-nail to surge ahead. South East Melbourne is yet to drop a game this season while the 36ers have lost just the one meaning there is a lot on the line for both clubs. Ben Madgen has showcased his worth throughout the season hitting the scoreboard when needed while teammate Kendall Stephens can be an impact player. For the 36ers Jerome Randle and Ramone Moore will be wanting to up the ante even more.

ILLAWARRA HAWKS v. PERTH WILDCATS
Sunday, October 27
5:00pm

Fatigue could be a real issue for both sides given it is their second game of the round and have been forced to travel once each. The Wildcats are no easy beats, with their plethora of stars across the court able to have an impact while the Hawks inconsistency could shoot them in the foot. Ball has plenty of X-factor for Illawarra, but up against White, Cotton and Kay may find it hard to shine. But Perth have fallen victim to lower placed teams going down to the winless Taipans last round showing that it is possible for the Hawks if they play their cards right. Perth has already won against the Hawks at RAC Areana and now head to Illawarra to see if they can go two-up on their opponents.

CAIRNS TAIPANS v. MELBOURNE UNITED
Monday, October 28
7:30pm

Not many would have expected Cairns to have more wins than United by this stage of the season but that is the reality with Melbourne searching for their first win of the season. Both sides have struggled to close out matches and perform for the full four quarters making for a hot contest. Although it will be their second game for the round expect United to throw everything at the Taipans in order to notch up the all important victory while the Taipans will not go down without a fight. Mitch McCarron, David Barlow and Alex Pledger could all have a big influence on the game for United while Kouat Noi and Nathan Jawai are known to be impact players when called upon for Cairns.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Round 14 results:

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

NBL1 Men’s Round 13 review: Ballarat Miners juggernaut rolls on

THE Ballarat Miners continue to reign supreme in the National Basketball League (NBL)1, showcasing another strong 97-69 win at home against the Geelong Supercats. Despite opening decently in the first term to trail by six, the Supercats’ were let down in the second, with Ballarat increasing their lead to 18 points by the main break. Forward, Joshua Fox came close to a double-double in the win with 21 points, nine rebounds, two assists and 66 per cent shooting from inside the arc. His teammates, Kuany Kuany (23 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Jerry Evans Jr (21 points, seven rebounds and three assists) also impressed at home. For the Supercats, Lewis Thomas led the way, dropping 16 points with eight rebounds and two assists in the loss, but pulled up poorly with his shooting efficiency (6-17). Teammate, DeMarcus Gatlin, also impressed with 17 points, three rebounds and two assists – making up for his team’s poor shooting with 7-11 for the night.

The Geelong Supercats managed to clean up their work on the road in their second outing, defeating the Ringwood Hawks 77-88. The Supercats only conceded the one term in the win, besting the home side comfortably in the opening half. Despite hitting back in the second, Ringwood’s efforts could not get them to the line. As we enter Round 14, the win drops the Supercats in 4th while the Hawks continue to struggle at the bottom in 17th. Cousins was huge in Geelong’s win, earning 26 points, eight rebounds and five assists with a 56 per cent field goal (FG) efficiency. Teammates, Anthony Williams (22 points, three rebounds and four assists), Ma’alo Hicks (11 points and five rebounds) and Thomas (10 points, nine rebounds and seven assists) also impressed for Geelong. Matthew Fennel (16 points and eight rebounds) and Adrien Sturt (15 points and eight rebounds) led scoring for Ringwood and protected the paint well. Off the bench, Jacob Gibson and Trevor Latham, impressed with 15 and 13 points respectively – Latham hitting 6-7 from just 18 minutes.

The Ballarat Miners continued to dominate the round with an 89-60 win over the Hobart Huskies at home. The Miners opened with a 28-18 first term before closing their lead out to 13 points at the main break. Hobart pulled closer in the second (17-14) and third terms (19-15) but were blown away in the fourth (25-13) to lose by 29 points. Evans Jr dropped a double-double in victory with 21 points and 11 rebounds – putting him 10th for PPG for the league. Teammates, Deng Acuoth (14 points, eight rebounds and two assists), Sam Short (15 points, three rebounds and eight assists) and Fox (14 points, seven rebound and five assists) also came close to double-doubles but fell short despite impressive numbers. Jalen Adams led for the Huskies with 13 points and eight rebounds, while Tad Dufelmeier followed close on 11 points and seven rebounds. In Hobart’s first game they faced the Kilsyth Cobras at home and won 80-62. Both sides impressed in the opening half, sitting 35-35 at the main break. Though the Huskies proved too good, surging to a 45-27 half to close out the game. Dufelmeier controlled the floor with 22 points, seven rebound and six assists, while Adams hit a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Jacob Richards was also a highlight, hitting 18 points, six rebounds and three assists across 24 minutes. For Kilsyth, Tohi Smith-Milner earned a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, alongside guard, Isaac Turner, who dropped 15 points in the loss.

The Kilsyth Cobras followed up their first loss in Tasmania with an important 81-86 win over the North West Thunder. Despite opening the first half three points better than the visitors, the Thunder’s sub-par third term (16-22) may have cost them the game, with the Cobras shooting clean across four terms (21-21-22-22). Milner came close to a double-double in the win, securing 25 points, nine rebounds and two assists alongside teammate, Turner (24 points), who followed close on the board. The pair were assisted well by guard, Michael Wearne (15 points, four rebounds, five assists), and forward, Chris Patton (14 points, seven rebounds and four assists), opening up the offense with their playmaking ability. In the loss, Jordan Bowling, was immense for the Thunder, dropping 25 points, 13 rebounds and four assists on his way to a double-double. Nicholas Baynard (16 points, 13 rebounds and four assists) and Joseph Chilcott (14 points) were similarly impressive.

In the tightest game of the round, the Frankston Blues come out on top in a 99-98 thriller against the Melbourne Tigers. The game opened in Frankston’s favour, outscoring Melbourne 52-46 in the first half, scoring 50 points from the paint for the game. Melbourne responded well in the second half, scoring 25 points from turnovers, coming extremely close with a 18-27 final term. Igor Hadziomerovic dominated on the board for the Blues, scoring 25 points with three rebounds and five assists, while teammate, Najeal Young, dropped a double-double with 20 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. Damon Bozeman also impressed for the Blues with 18 points and seven rebounds. Michael Wells was unstoppable for the Tigers, scoring 39 points with three rebounds and two assists at 59 per cent FG efficiency. Michael Luxford was also impressive with 23 points, four rebound and three assists, while Nic Pozoglou had 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists in the loss.

Frankston followed up their impressive win over Melbourne with a second over the Southern Sabres (119-92) at home – making it six in a row for Frankston. The Blues blitzed the Sabres in the second term, dropping a massive 38 points to 21 to take a 22-point lead into the half. The Blues dominated in the paint (58-points) and off the fast break (26) but struggled defensively at times, allowing more scores from turnovers (18). The Sabres kept close in the second half but failed to shorten the margin from the second term. Young could not miss for the Blues, dropping 25 points with an 84 per cent FG efficiency, four rebounds and two assists. Bozeman finished similarly with 26 points at 70 per cent FG efficiency, six rebounds and three assists, while Alister Macdonald impressed off the bench with 17 points and four rebounds from 21 minutes. For the Sabres, Samuel Mcdaniel led with 20 points, five rebounds and four assists, with David Barlow (13 points, four rebounds and six assists) and Ryan Beisty (12 points and six rebounds) also impressing in the loss.

The Bendigo Braves gain some much-needed separation from the Diamond Valley Eagles with a tight 86-84 win at home. The win puts Bendigo in 7th spot – only one win off 5th, while Diamond Valley place in thirteenth, just win ahead of 16th. Despite the Eagles big second term (21-30), the effort fell short with Bendigo winning the remaining quarters. Ray Turner dominated the game for the Braves, recording a double-double with 31 points, 16 rebounds and three assists, while Mathiang Muo also held his own with 17 points. Logan Hovey recorded a double-double, earning 27 points, 10 rebounds and three assists for the Eagles, while Anthony Odunsi held up with 17 points. The loss marks Diamond Valley’s third consecutive defeat, worsening their record on the road with two wins and seven losses.

Following the tight affair in Bendigo, the Albury Bandits continue the night with a huge 110-71 win over the Eltham Wildcats. Despite the 39-point margin, the Wildcats kept close in the first term, scoring 25 points to 27. They went on to lose touch in the second (28-12), conceding 20 points from turnovers and 16 points from second chances for the game. Ken-Jah Bosley starred in the win with 31 points, four rebounds and five assists, alongside Torren Jones, who recorded a double-double with 25 points and 15 rebounds. Coming off the bench, Deba George recorded a double-double with 20 points, four rebounds and 13 assists. In the loss, Josh Sykes picked up 21 points and seven rebounds, while guard, Justin Aver, finished with 11 points, six rebounds and four assists.

The Knox Raiders cop a huge 40-point loss (66-106) against the Nunawading Spectres, who were successful in protecting their near-perfect record on the road (8-1-0). The Spectres shut down the game early, scoring 40 points to 15 in the second term to take a 28-point lead into the main break. With 55 points scored from the bench, Lucas Walker recorded a huge double-double with 27 points and 10 rebounds, alongside Jack Saunders (12 points) and Andrew Steel (13 points, two rebounds and three assists) who also starred off the bench. Of the starters, Costa Hronpoulos (15 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Simon Conn (14 points and seven rebounds) impressed the most for the Spectres. Mike Rose led for the Raiders with 12 points, three rebounds and four assists – Simon Grant (10 points, eight rebounds and two assists) and James Hunter (10 points, two rebounds and two assists) also impressing.

In the last game of the round the Dandenong Rangers move to sixth on the table following an 82-95 win over the Waverley Falcons. The Falcons did well to cut the margin to five points by the end of the third, but lost touch in the fourth; Dandenong managing 21 points from turnovers and 12 from fast breaks for the game. Dexter Kernich-Drew performed well with 28 points, five rebounds and four assists, alongside Matt Kenyon (18 points, seven rebounds and three assists) and Lucas Barker (12 points, six rebounds and six assists) who also had good games. The Waverley Falcons had big performers in Dylan Travis (24 points, seven rebounds and six assists) and Deondre Mcwhorter (23 points and 12 rebounds). Michael Harper (12 points, six rebounds and four assists) and Bennie Lewis (13 points) also impressed in the loss.

Round 13 results:

Ballarat Miners (97) defeated Geelong Supercats (67)
Hobart Huskies (80) defeated Kilsyth Cobras (62)
North West Thunder (81) defeated by Kilsyth Cobras (86)
Frankston Blues (99) defeated Melbourne Tigers (98)
Bendigo Braves (84) defeated Diamond Valley Eagles (82)
Albury Wodonga Bandits (110) defeated Eltham Wildcats (71)
Ballarat Miners (89) defeated Hobart Huskies (60)
Knox Raiders (66) defeated by Nunawading Spectres (106)
Ringwood Hawks (77) defeated by Geelong Supercats (88)
Frankston Blues (119) defeated Southern Sabres (92)
Waverley Falcons (82) defeated by Dandenong Rangers (95)

NBL1 Men’s Round 12 review: Miners lock up double chance

BALLARAT Miners have secured the double chance in the National Basketball League (NBL)1 competition, moving four and a half games ahead of fifth placed Kilsyth Cobras with just four games remaining. The Cobras do have a game in hand meaning they could theoretically move past the Miners should they win all their games and Ballarat lose all their games, but they face fourth placed Frankston Blues on the run home meaning there is no way the Miners can drop out of the top four. Ballarat made it possible thanks to a narrow six-point win over Diamond Valley Eagles at home. The Miners never had it their own way, trailing by as much as seven points at the final break, before piling on 18 points to five in the final term to run out 79-73 victors. Kuany Kuany topscored with 19 points as well as six assists, four rebounds and three steals, while Josh Fox (12 points and 15 rebounds) and Deng Acuoth (11 points, 11 rebounds) picked up double-doubles and Jerry Evans Jr (14 points, nine rebounds and three assists) was not far off one either. Anthony Odunsi was the standout for the Eagles with 26 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Ben Allen (17 points, eight rebounds and three assists) was also solid for the losing side.

Diamond Valley Eagles had a second loss in a tough fixturing round – playing the top two sides – going down to second placed Nunawading Spectres, 97-109. The Spectres won every quarter, but by no more than five points in a tight contest that saw one of the title contenders prevail well. Tom Wright sank 27 points as well as eight rebounds and three assists for the winners, while Lucas Walker (15 points, nine rebounds), Simon Conn (15 points, eight rebounds) and Dain Swetalla (19 points, six rebounds) were all strong off the boards. Shane McDonald was the playmaker for the side with nine assists to accompany his 10 points and three rebounds in the win. Logan Hovey was a standout for the Eagles, finishing with 17 points and seven rebounds, while Matt Reynolds (15 points, four rebounds) and Odunsi (11 points, seven rebounds and five assists) were also productive in defeat. In the Spectres’ other game, they triumphed by three points over Ringwood Hawks in a thriller. Like the Miners, the Spectres were forced to come from behind, trailing by five points at the final break having lost the first three quarters. But as every great side does, Nunawading found a way and broke through for a home victory. Swetalla (19 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Conn (18 points, 10 rebounds) picked up double-doubles while Wright had another big game, posting 20 points, three rebounds and four assists in the win. Matthew Fennell (22 points, seven rebounds) and Adrien Sturt (19 points, six rebounds and two blocks) were the best for the losers.

After the narrow loss, Ringwood had to back up against Knox Raiders the next day, but were overwhelmed as the Raiders kept their finals hopes alive in the 114-97 win. Despite a dominant second term by the Hawks which saw them take a five-point lead into the main break, the Raiders had their measure, slamming home 65 points to 43 in a dominant second half performance on their way to a 17-point success. Damon Heuir led the way with 25 points, one of six Raiders to reach double figures as Cadarian Raines (18 points, 12 rebounds and three assists) picked up a double double and Mike Rose (18 points, six rebounds and nine assists) was not far behind. Sturt again impressed for the Hawks in defeat with 24 points and two rebounds, while Fennell picked up a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Jacob Gibson worked hard for 16 points, two rebounds and three assists.

Knox’s finals hopes remained alive thanks to losses to the teams just inside the eight such as Waverley Falcons (now ninth) and Melbourne Tigers (sixth but just half a game in front). The Falcons went down to cellar dwellers Southern Sabres in the final match of the round, losing 77-91. In a dominant last term, the Sabres came from three points down to post 27-10 and run away 91-77 winners. Sam McDaniel (15 points, 12 rebounds and four assists) picked up a double-double, while Rhys Carter (21 points, five rebounds and three assists), Jaden Weldon (14 points) and Callan McDonald (10 points, eight rebounds) were all busy. For the Falcons, Deondre McWhorter‘s double-double (20 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks) caused headaches for the visitors, while Tim Liesting (21 points, three rebounds and three assists) and Dylan Travis (17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists) came close to a double-double himself.

The Tigers’ trip down south was not a pleasant one, dropping both games to North West Thunder (eight points) and Hobart Huskies (21 points) to now sit a game off fourth and only half a game inside the top eight. In the Thunder’s loss, the Tigers started strongly to lead by seven points at the first break, but the Thunder pulled back over the next three quarters to draw level by the final buzzer, then finish stronger in overtime scoring 15-7 to win 90-82. Nick Banyard posted 24 points, 15 rebounds and three assists in a massive game, while Jordan Bowling (16 points, 12 rebounds) also picked up a double-double. Kai Woodfall (21 points, three rebounds and two assists) and Reyne Smith (11 points, three rebounds, two assists and three steals) were also productive. Mike Wells (23 points, six rebounds and four assists) was impressive for the Tigers, but it was Nic Pozoglou back to his best, posting a double-double of 20 points, 16 rebounds, three assists and three steals to tighten the screws on the Thunder. Young star William Hickey helped himself to 16 points, six rebounds and three assists in one of his best games for the year. The Tigers were no match for the Huskies in their clash, as Hobart’s Jalen Adams produced a huge 28-point game, well aided by partner-in-crime Tad Dufelmeier (12 points, nine rebounds and seven assists) and Jacob Richards (13 points, nine rebounds and two assists) off the boards. Pozoglou again looked impressive with 19 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals, while Hickey had 18 points and nine rebounds in defeat.

In one of the most crucial games of the round heading into the weekend, Dandenong Rangers were able to breathe a sigh of relief, defeating Kilsyth Cobras by 11 points at home. The Rangers trailed by a point at half-time but went on with it in the second half courtesy of a 45-33 performance. Lucas Barker (24 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists) was just one rebound off a triple-double, while Dexter Kernich-Drew (21 points, two rebounds) and Matt Kenyon (17 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals) were also solid. It was an even performance across the board for the Cobras despite the defeat, with Michael Wearne (17 points, four rebounds), Felix Van Hofe (17 points, five rebounds) and Tohi Smith-Milner (14 points, seven rebounds) all balancing between scoring and rebounding work. The Cobras loss opened the door for the resurgent Frankston who took the opportunity with both hands as they dismissed Albury Wodonga Bandits, 120-105 in a high-scoring contest on the road. In a remarkable final term, the Blues scored a competition-high 41 points in a quarter to race away with the victory. Damon Bozeman recorded an equal game-high 26 points, four rebounds, two assists and three steals, while Daniel Trist (15 points, 13 rebounds) picked up a double-double, while Igor Hadziomerovic (19 points, five rebounds) and Majok Majok (14 points, eight rebounds and three assists) were also terrific. Torren Jones (26 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks) was the standout for the Bandits in the loss, while Deba George (24 points, four rebounds, five assists and three steals) and Cirkook Riak (19 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals) also tried hard throughout.

In the other two games, Geelong Supercats proved too good for Southern Sabres, winning 89-78 thanks to Lewis Thomas (22 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals), Anthony Williams (20 points, two rebounds and five assists), Demarcus Gatlin (16 points, seven rebounds, two assists and three steals) and Ma’alo Hicks (14 points, 11 rebounds and two assists). The Sabres’ David Barlow (18 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists) came agonisingly close to a triple-double, while McDaniel was busy again with 17 points and nine rebounds – almost a double-double. Meanwhile Bendigo Braves came from 14 points down at half-time to run out four-point victors on the road against Eltham Wildcats thanks to a 59-41 second half to remain in the eight by half a game. Ray Turner was the difference with 36 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks in a huge game for the Braves, well assisted by Mathiang Muo (16 points) and Daniel Hansen (13 points, four rebounds and six assists). Adam Doyle was the top scorer for the Wildcats, finishing with 22 points, seven assists and three rebounds, while Josh Sykes (19 points, eight rebounds, two steals and three blocks) and Geremy McKay (17 points, 12 rebounds and two assists) were their usual impressive selves.

Round 12 results:

North West Thunder 90 defeated Melbourne Tigers 82
Dandenong Rangers 95 defeated Kilsyth Cobras 84
Southern Sabres 78 defeated by Geelong Supercats 89
Nunawading Spectres 99 defeated Ringwood Hawks 96
Albury Wodonga Bandits 105 defeated by Frankston Blues 120
Hobart Huskies 102 defeated Melbourne Tigers 81
Ballarat Miners 79 defeated Diamond Valley Eagles 73
Eltham Wildcats 88 defeated by Bendigo Braves 92
Diamond Valley Eagles 97 defeated by Nunawading Spectres 109
Knox Raiders 114 defeated Ringwood Hawks 97
Waverley Falcons 77 defeated by Southern Sabres 91

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Round 11:

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