Tag: deng adel

Hawks swoop with dazzling fourth term

IT WAS a disappointing night for the New Zealand Breakers who despite leading for majority of the contest were overrun by the Illawarra Hawks (75-67). A dominant final term of action from the Hawks gifted them the win and also kept their finals chances alive as they look to build heading into the remaining stages of the competition with seven of their next eight games to be played at home in Wollongong.

Without the services of Levi Randolph, who landed the winning shot last round, the Breakers looked to another familiar face in Tai Webster to lead the way in the opening stanza. New Zealand got off to a strong start finding the rim with relative ease and applying good scoreboard pressure to keep Illawarra guessing. With Webster injecting himself into the thick of things early in the game notching up 10 points, Finn Delany also got busy for the home side as things started to tick along nicely creating a handy five-point lead at the break.

The second quarter favoured Illawarra as their stars in Tyler Harvey and Justin Simon got busy. Their influence across the court was profound as they duo worked in harmony to pile on the pressure and eat back into the deficit. New Zealand worked tirelessly to maintain their slim buffer but were starting to get found out as their inaccuracy from the charity stripe cost them big-time, only converting three of their eight attempts. The momentum steadily started to shift in favour of the visitors who by half-time sat at 40 points apiece credit to Harvey nailing a driving layup with a mere five seconds left on the clock and taking his first half total to a whopping 21 points.

Having settled into a better rhythm across the court the Hawks were playing with more confidence and conviction. But they were made to work for it as the Breakers re-established the lead to make it a five point ball-game. Their increased attention on the likes of Harvey who seemed to have the ball on a string in the opening half, quelled the ball speed and attacking intent of the game but the Hawks still found a way to peg away at the margin and remain in the contest. Simon fired up as the clock ticked down sinking a much needed triple to get back within two before Sam Froling put the nail in the coffin with a mere second left on the clock to steal the lead heading into the final change.

A blistering final term of basketball from the Hawks flip the script on the game as they went on a 14 point to zip run, to not only steal the lead but create a handy eight point buffer. The efforts of Harvey once again came to the fore after going off the boil in the third, hitting an impressive triple to push the margin to a game-high 13 points. But the Breakers proved that anything you can do I can do better as they went on a points scoring spree of their own sinking eight straight, reducing the deficit but not doing enough to steal the win.

The absence of Randolph was felt across the court for New Zealand however it provided a chance for Webster to get busy and pile on the points himself with 14 points at 55 per cent from the field. Webster also amassed three rebounds and five assists but was costly with ball in hand coughing up four turnovers. Tom Abercrombie was his usual consistent self, sinking 14 points of his own to accompany his three rebounds as William McDowell-White continued to find his groove producing 13 points, five rebounds and three assists. Corey Webster was strong in his return posting 10 points and six rebounds.

Illawarra officially said goodbye to NBA player Deng Adel but in the meantime welcomed back another key cog in Justinian Jessup. Still working his way back to full fitness, Jessup managed eight points and two rebounds but provided good support to his side. It is no surprise that Harvey topscored after starring in the opening half and finished with 29 points, two rebounds and four steals to his name. Simon was the next best thanks to his 12 points and seven rebounds all of which were defensive while Froling also asserted himself thanks to his 11 points, four rebounds and three assists. Deng Deng and Daniel Grida both offered a helping hand with their five rebounds apiece.

Photo credit: Steve Bell

Moller seals the deal with a triple in overtime

IT was a dramatic finish to the game up in Wollongong with the Sydney Kings prevailing in overtime against an undermanned Illawarra Hawks side (79-75). The Kings seemed to have momentum for majority of the game but the Hawks came up big when the clock ticked down to push the game into extra time but the class of Sydney eventually came to the fore as they solidified their spot in the top four.

The first quarter was relatively low scoring as both sides attempted to feel each other out and claim some form of ascendancy on the match. The Hawks were without a couple of key cogs with Justinian Jessup, Cam Bairstow and Deng Adel both missing from action while the Kings are getting used to life without Dejan Vasiljevic and Didi Louzada. With this in mind it took a while for both sides to find their rhythm as shown through the 16-15 point term, favouring Illawarra.

The Kings quickly put a stop to that, coming out with a real pep in their step in the second to flip the script and mount pressure on the Hawks. Their ability to find the basket started to become paramount as the likes of Craig Moller and Casper Ware got busy. The duo combined to keep the scoreboard steadily ticking over and push ahead to give the Kings that much needed edge and put them on track to win their fourth game straight.

Down by six points at the main break, Illawarra answered the call in the third stanza as a couple of their key figures in Deng Deng and Sam Froling managed to find the basket. But the real magic started to unfold in the final quarter with everything on the line. In front of a home crowd and celebrating their 2001 premiership the Hawks threw everything they had at the Kings not only peppering away at the basket but so too eating into the deficit. Their ability to withstand the pressure and back themselves in was second to none.

It looked like the game was all but sealed when Kings’ Jarrell Martin nailed a handy triple with less than two minutes to play. but the Hawks had other plans with Tyler Harvey proving anything you can do, I can do better landing a triple of his own to reduce the margin to a mere two points. a step up in intensity saw the Hawks contest everything and with adrenaline pumping through their veins, the Hawks were going full pedal to the medal as Justin Simon kicked into gear. Having facilitated Harvey’s triple moments earlier, Simon was once again involved reading the pass to Ware and pick pocketing it to instead going streaming back down the court the other way and levelling the scores. With a tick under 30 seconds left to play scores were tied at 69-apiece, and despite both sides having chances with Shaun Bruce’s shot going astray and Harvey missing the game went into overtime.

Unfortunately for the Hawks they had spent all their energy in their fourth quarter comeback as the Kings piled on the pain early. The purple and gold nailed the first five points of overtime to place the Hawks on the back foot and did not look like relenting as Jordan Hunter got busy. But in the end it was Moller that landed the final blow with a handy triple to gift his side the hard-fought win.

Moller finished with 12 points and nine rebounds in an all-round solid performance for Sydney. Ware was his usual damaging self, producing a team-high 18 points, three rebounds and four assists while Hunter impressed on multiple fronts thanks to his double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds. Bruce was a menace off the boards reeling in 13 rebounds, 11 of which were defensive while Martin was no slouch sinking 11 points at 44 per cent from the field.

Froling had a day out for the Hawks walking away with a game-high 22 points plus his 12 rebounds in what was a complete performance by the forward. Harvey found plenty of chances to attack the rim in his 38 minutes on court securing 18 points and six rebounds. Simon was a real livewire and inspired his side in the final term with his 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists and five steals. Emmett Naar was a strong force on the rebounding front registering 12 for the game as Deng chimed in with a handy seven points but it was not enough to get his side over the line.

Wildcats regain top spot with win over Hawks

ROUND 14 of the National Basketball League (NBL) continued last night with Perth Wildcats securing their 17th win of the season downing Illawarra Hawks by 14 points (83-69). It was a tale of two halves as the game was evenly poised in the opening quarters, before the class of the Wildcats shone through in the third stanza to really create some separation and steal the win.

Perth controlled proceedings in the first quarter with Todd Blanchfield and John Mooney opening the account for the side. They piled on the first five points of the game and continued to mount scoreboard pressure as the quarter went on. But the Hawks did not lie down though answering the call as Tyler Harvey and Sam Froling got busy, levelling the scores midway through the term.

Only three points separated the teams at half time as the Wildcats looked to extend their lead through the hands of Clint Steindl as they established a five-point lead. With the intensity building, Hawks upped the ante in the second quarter and capitalising on their chances. Froling and Harvey continued to attack the rim and provide opportunities for the Hawks as they once again levelled the scores with less than five minutes to play in the half. Momentum continued to ebb and flow with neither side able to gain any form of continuity in their game play. However it was Illawarra that struck with Deng Adel landing a layup with three second on the clock to steal a one-point lead at the main break.

With it all to play for in the second half, the Wildcats proved their premiership credentials with a dominant third term. Although Bryce Cotton was slow in the opening half, the star guard ignited his side alongside the likes of Mooney. Their overall defence stepped up as they limited the opportunities for Illawarra to hit the scoreboard keeping them to a mere eight points for the term. Playing with more confidence across the court Perth established a handy buffer heading into the final stanza.

Justinian Jessup worked his way into the match eating into the margin with a handy jump shot to draw within six points. But that momentum was short lived as the Wildcats bit back moments later to re-establish an eight-point ball game. Cotton started to find his range and become a real threat for Perth as they added to their tally and subsequently increased the margin to run out eventual winners. The Hawks’ voodoo in the West continued with the record extending to 34 losses from 35 appearances despite their best efforts.

After a quiet start Cotton ended up topscoring for the Wildcats producing 18 points at a lowly 28 per cent only managing two from nine of attempts from long range. Blanchfield also impressed with 18 points, six rebounds and two assists while Mooney had a night out recording a double-double thanks to his 17 points and 15 rebounds. Jesse Wagstaff was strong off the bench managing 12 points and six rebounds while Mitch Norton chimed in with a handy seven points, four rebounds and five assists.

For the Hawks, it was Froling that dominated the scoreboards thanks to his 15 points while also lending a helping hand off the boards with eight rebounds seven of which were defensive. He also managed three assists, two steals and three blocks. Harvey was a force to be reckoned with 14 points and six rebounds. Justin Simon plied his trade with 10 points at 50 per cent from the field along with three steals and five rebounds. Deng Deng was another handy option chiming in with eight points as Andrew Ogilvy shot at 100 per cent for his seven points.

2021 NBL Round 14 preview: Melbourne United look to maintain top spot

ROUND 14 of the National Basketball League rolls around tonight with the top spot once again up for dispute as Melbourne United and Perth Wildcats battle for pole position. Cairns Taipans look to work their way off the bottom of the ladder, while the mid-table logjam continues to develop.

Cairns Taipans vs. Adelaide 36ers
Wednesday, April 14 @7:30pm

Adelaide have strung together two consecutive wins and will be on the hunt for their third when they take on Cairns. Although the Taipans will have their home crowd spurring them on, the 36ers have winning momentum and that counts for a lot given the current they trounced Perth Wildcats. With a sense of belief amongst the team expect the 36ers to capitalise on the Taipans who have struggled all season with consistency and man power to trouble opposition teams for a full four quarters.

Rookie Josh Giddey has been a revelation this season for Adelaide with his spatial awareness and impressive skillset doing all the damage. In his 19 games, Giddy has averaged 11.16 points, 6.84 rebounds and 7.05 assists highlighting his prowess while teammate Daniel Johnson has dominated the points scoring column with a tick over 20 points a game. Brandon Paul is another figure to keep an eye out for in the clash with guard able to effectively ply his trade to keep the scoreboard ticking over, coming off a 20 point performance last round. For the Taipans it will be up to the damaging pairing of Scott Machado and Cameron Oliver to do the heavy lifting. Machado has an average of 17.09 points, 7.36 assists and 3.68 rebounds while Oliver produces 16.55  points, 9.27 rebounds and 1.18 assists. However they will need support from the likes of Kouat Noi, Mirko Djeric and Nate Jawai if they are to overrun the 36ers.

Sydney Kings vs. South East Melbourne Phoenix
Thursday, April 15 @7:30pm

Having only played the week earlier, the Sydney Kings will be hoping to turn their fortunes around and get the win over the Phoenix in front of their home crowd. The Kings have only won one game in their last five outings, while the Phoenix have been in much better form recording three victories to hold onto third spot on the ladder. Sitting outside the top four in sixth position the Kings really need a win here as we enter the backend of the NBL season if they are to keep their finals hopes alive.

Spearheaded by Casper Ware the Kings have a reliable source of points and a real energiser bunny that can change the course of a game within a heartbeat. Ware has an impressive stat line consisting of 19.09 points, 3.64 rebounds and 4.23 assists to partner up with the likes of Jarrell Martin who has been a revelation this season. Martin is another one the Phoenix will be looking to keep a lid on as he produces 17.88 points and 6.94 rebounds on average. Teammates, Dejan Vasiljevic and Didi Louzada will need to find their groove and momentum to hit the scoreboard and provide some additional support for the duo. South East Melbourne, have no shortage of impact players with Mitch Creek often leading that contingent coming off a 26 point and five rebound effort. Creek is not alone with Kyle Adnam having a season to remember thanks to his average of 14 points while Cameron Gliddon has been a strong presence and will be eager to assert himself once again in this contest. The influence of Ryan Broekhoff and Keifer Sykes is undeniable with the duo able to cause waves both in offence and defence.

New Zealand Breakers vs. Brisbane Bullets
Friday, April 16 @7:30pm

The Bullets produced a stunning victory over Perth Wildcats in Round 13 and while they went down to United in their second clash of the round will still have a sense of belief coming into their contest against the lowly ranked New Zealand Breakers. The Bullets have shown glimpses of dominance, able to work their way back into the contest and apply a wealth of pressure something they will have to impose on the Breakers who have been known for their fast starts.

Nathan Sobey is a real livewire for the Bullets with his ability to navigate past the defence and hit the scoreboard effectively. Currently boasting an average of 23.29 points a game, Sobey will be the one to watch while the likes of Lamar Patterson and Jason Cadee have proven to be impactful players that can change the course of a game in an instant. Both Matthew Hodgson and Harry Froling are other viable options for the Bullets boasting averages of 10.35 points and 7.52 points apiece. For the Breakers it will be the services of Tai Webster and Finn Delany that will be required if they are to topple the Bullets. Webster leads the side in points with an average of 19.35 to his name along with 5.12 rebounds while Delany is a commanding presence coming off a 25 point showing against the Wildcats. Both Tom Abercrombie and Robert Loe are other figures to keep an eye out for when the Breakers take on Brisbane on Friday night.

Perth Wildcats vs. Illawarra Hawks
Friday, April 16 @9:30pm

Perth will be chomping at the bit as they look to get back on the winners list after suffering back-to-back losses to much lower ranked opponents. But the job does not get any easier for the Wildcats as they prepare to lock horns with Illawarra Hawks who are keen to keep their season alive with a much needed win here in order to secure their spot in the top four. It has been an up and down past couple of weeks for Illawarra but are hoping to build on their recent winning form to make it three wins on the trot.

There is no denying that Bryce Cotton is the barometer for the Wildcats, not only leading his side when it comes to points but so too the competition thanks to his 25.33 points a game. Cotton is also crafty with ball in hand registering 5.67 assists, meaning the Hawks will have to shut down his entire game in order to stop Perth. John Mooney is another key cog given his prowess off the boards averaging 12.05 a game along with 16.76 points. Todd Blanchfield is a force to be reckoned with, finding his form last round while Jesse Wagstaff is reliable. When looking at Illawarra it is the contributions of Tyler Harvey and Justinian Jessup that Perth will have to look out for given their capacity to break the game wide open. Harvey leads the way with an average of 20 points with Jessup sitting on 14.83 points and 4.22 rebounds. Cameron Bairstow often sneaks under the radar but is a key contributor with his 11.43 points and 6.21 rebounds.

Melbourne United vs. Illawarra Hawks
Sunday, April 18 @3:00pm

Melbourne United do not open their Round 14 account until Sunday, where they take on the Hawks in what will be a short turn around for Illawarra. The added break could work wonders for United as they look to hold onto top spot and keep their winning ways going sitting a game clear of the Wildcats. Expect the top four battle to have plenty of feeling as they look to assert themselves and prepare for the final stages of the season given Illawarra had a mixed bag of results in Round 13.

United are rich with scoring options with Jock Landale dominating in his sides performance against the Bullets and looking to replicate that type of form in his outing against Illawarra. Landale produces on average 16.5 points, 8.23 rebounds and 2.45 assists with teammate Chris Goulding a reliable figure thanks to his 16.19 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.13 assists. The unassuming Mitch McCarron can turn a game on its head while Jo Lual-Acuil is a menace off the boards averaging 5.48 rebounds. Once again Harvey and Jessup will have to be on their a-game if they are to topple United at home. If Sam Froling can find some room to hit the scoreboard and Deng Adel can get busy it will go a long way in pushing United and potentially securing a win.

 

Other games:

South East Melbourne Phoenix vs. Adelaide 36ers
Saturday, April 17 @5:30pm

Sydney Kings vs. Cairns Taipans
Saturday, April 17 @8:00pm

Perth Wildcats vs. New Zealand Breakers
Sunday, April 18 @5:00pm

Each of these teams will gear up for their second appearance in Round 14 as the competition continues to heat up. The Phoenix will take on Adelaide while Sydney Kings play host to Cairns Taipans on Saturday night. Perth close out the round against the Breakers for the second time in as many weeks with the Wildcats hoping to notch up another win to keep in touch with Melbourne United.

Harvey erupts for 35, Hawks hold off Taipans by two points

ILLAWARRA Hawks’ star import Tyler Harvey went off in Sunday’s closer for a career night in scoring, leading his team to edge out the Cairns Taipans 82-80 and going two wins clear of the fourth ranked Brisbane Bullets in the NBL standings – bearing in mind the Bullets have three games in hand.

After a tough loss two games prior to last night at home, the Hawks wanted to get off to the best start possible in what was the last game of Illawarra’s three-game home stand. With this in mind, Illawarra’s home crowd spurred their team on to a five-point lead after the first quarter as Harvey put up 10 points in that time.

While Cairns started to strike back after being down 20-25 at the first break, it had to begin through their main weapons in Cameron Oliver and Scott Machado. But as Mike Kelly’s squad started to string together some much needed scores, Illawarra’s Deng Deng and Deng Adel made their presence known to the Taipans finishing strong at the tail-end of the second quarter to put the Hawks up by 11 points at half time.

It was obvious that Kelly needed to inspire his side to a strong start in the third and Oliver felt obliged to step in early as a result. As the Cairns center kept knocking down jumpers, Justin Simon and Sam Froling answered back with buckets of their own and the third quarter ensued.

Backed by Oliver’s 10 third quarter points, Cairns pulled back the margin from 11 points at half time to just five, after a good defensive period which led to the Taipans limiting the Hawks to just 10 points before the fourth got underway.

Both sides traded baskets back and forth during the first couple of minutes in the final term before Nathan Jawai scored five consecutive points to tie up the contest with eight minutes left to play.

The one player that Cairns could not figure out how to contain was Harvey, as the first season import exploded for a career-high night putting Illawarra in the best possible position to finish the contest strongly.

In the final minute, a Simon jumpshot would fall to put the Hawks up by four, however, Jordan Ngatai dropped a triple of his own with 14 seconds on the clock to keep those in attendance on edge.

Luckily enough, Justinian Jessup remained cool and composed under pressure hitting four-straight free throws, allowing the Hawks to walk away with a narrow two-point victory and cap off a successful three-game home stretch, winning two games out of three.

In many areas of last night’s closer, both teams were relatively even throughout the meeting, but Illawarra excelled at scoring in the paint and rebounding at both ends. On the other hand, Cairns were much more disciplined from the free throw line shooting 85 per cent from the charity strike (17-20) and knocked down nine triples compared to Illawarra’s seven. All in all, both the Hawks and the Taipans shot relatively well with the sides shooting 45 and 40 per cent from the field respectively.

There was no stopping Harvey on his way to a career-high 35 points shooting 13 of 24 attempts from the field, as well as three rebounds to add to his performance. Simon was the only other Hawk to crack double digits with 10 points and six rebounds, while Andrew Ogilvy led Brian Goorjian’s roster in rebounds and assists finishing his night with eight points, nine boards and five dimes.

For Cairns, Oliver was head and shoulders above the rest of his teammates with an impressive 27-point, 12-rebound and five-assist outing. A surprising notable performance by youngster Tad Dufelmeier would also be a main headline in the box score with the 24-year-old putting up a season-high 12 points in 13-and-a-half minutes of game time.

Cairns now look to end their three-game losing streak on Wednesday night when they host the Adelaide 36ers, who are hot off a motivating win against the Perth Wildcats. Illawarra Hawks will hope to do the same thing as they head to RAC Arena on Friday to face the defending champions and kick off a Round 14 that will entail clashes against two of the top teams in the NBL.

One win in their last six, Hawks flying just below top-four as NBL21 winds down

LAST season the Cairns Taipans were the clear-cut most improved side of 2020 after a horror 2019 campaign. This season in 2021, that mantle falls to the Illawarra Hawks led by their hall of fame coach Brian Goorjian, as they pursue an unexpected top four spot that few would have predicted prior to the opening round with a current record of 10 wins and 11 losses.

Currently in the midst of a jam-packed three-game Round 13 and having won just a single game in their last six performances, Goorjian and his side are at a pivotal stage of their NBL season. If the Wollongong-based squad can emerge with a couple favourable results heading into next week, then Illawarra can create more margin for error with the limited games remaining at the tail end of the season.

However, the first of Illawarra’s three games in Round 13 did not bode well for the fifth-placed side, going down 82-88 to the Bullets last night after a lazy second half allowed the Bullets to capitalise in the last 20 minutes.

Going back to the start of the season, Illawarra’s fan base could not have asked for a better start rattling off four consecutive wins, all away from home, with Melbourne United being the only team with a win-loss record just as good earlier in the season.

The Hawks endured their first hardships of NBL21 when they went down to both Melbourne sides in the Phoenix and United back in Round 4 and 5. However, the Australian basketball community witnessed the Hawks’ ability to bounce back from defeat by toppling the Sydney Kings 85 to 82 straight after their losses.

With their win over the Kings, up next for Illawarra and the other eight sides would be the inaugural NBL Cup. For the Hawks in particular, the competition was one of highs and lows with the team finding neither good nor bad form. Illawarra split their eight matches over the four rounds with four wins and four defeats during their time down in Victoria.

Concluding the mid-season tournament tied for fourth place, it was back to the regular format of the NBL season, but the Hawks resumed their season in unceremonious fashion going down first in Melbourne against United, and then again to Perth in Western Australia. The luck briefly switched directions, when the Hawks beat the Brisbane Bullets to end Round 11, but Illawarra’s recent lack of form continued to today.

Losing both of their Round 12 contests by double digit margins (32 points to the Phoenix and 12 points to the Adelaide 36ers), it brings the Hawks to today as they attempt to solve a litany of issues on the offensive and defensive end during this late stage in the season, having won just one game in their last six outings.

Easily Illawarra’s primary scoring weapon, Tyler Harvey is aiming to make a name for himself on the professional stage and so far, he is doing just that. The 27-year-old more times than not has single-handedly wreaked havoc on defensive line-ups due to his silky ball-handling and ridiculously efficient floater game. This has seen the guard build up averages of 19.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.

Other key contributors have included Justinian Jessup (14.4 points and 4.4 rebounds), who exhibits sharpshooter qualities week in and week out, the big bodies of Cameron Bairstow (11.4 points and 6.2 rebounds) and Sam Froling (10.3 points and 7.2 rebounds) – the final individual to average double-digit point totals per game amongst the roster, Justin Simon (8.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists) who has shown glimpses of stellar play here and there, and finally Daniel Grida who will look to make an impact after returning from an ACL injury on Saturday against the Sixers.

While many players have provided either expected or impressive numbers to this point in the campaign, youngster Deng Adel has struggled to find his rhythm and really solidify himself amongst the Hawks. After averaging 15 points and 5.2 rebounds per game during his junior year at the University of Louisville, Adel has fallen flat in his rookie NBL fixture with just 6.7 points and four rebounds per game next to his name, with many keen to see what he can produce when he gets going.

Illawarra’s next two games at home bring the possibility of a positive trajectory up the standings as Sydney sit half a game above them in fourth position. But in their next encounter with the Phoenix on Friday night, perhaps some redemption can be earned by the Hawks after they suffered their biggest loss of the season against South East Melbourne not long ago. They then end their home stand by hosting the Cairns Taipans on Sunday before undertaking what will be very challenging Rounds 14 and 15 fixtures against Perth, Melbourne and Sydney. Remaining contests in Round 16 and onwards are yet to be released.

Those who are faithful to the Hawks franchise are ready to explode with passion if their side can start winning contests. If given the chance to make their first postseason appearance since the 2016/17 campaign, then how far this team can go is limitless given the high calibre play that Goorjian’s players have shown on numerous occasions, particularly early on in NBL21.

2021 NBL Round 13 preview: Hawks set for three games in six days

ROUND 13 of the National Basketball League sees a number of teams prepare to take the court twice as the backend of the season quickly approaches. After having to reschedule a game last round, the Illawarra Hawks are set to play three games over the course of six days as they look to stay in the hunt for a top four slot.

Adelaide 36ers

Perth Wildcats, Saturday, April 9 @7:30pm

The 36ers only play one game for the round and, having dropped to seventh on the ladder, desperately need a win to keep their slim finals hopes alive. However, it will not be easy, having to combat a firing Perth Wildcats side that are strong in every which way possible. Adelaide have struggled without Isaac Humphries who proved to be a lynchpin across the court. But in his absence the likes of Josh Giddey and Daniel Johnson have stepped up to the plate. Johnson leads the way with 20.33 points, 7.24 rebounds and 2.86 while Giddey boasts a stat line of 11.06 points, 6.86 rebounds and 6.72 assists. Tony Crocker has been a pillar of consistency playing 20 games while Sunday Dech just falls short of double-digits when it comes to points.

Brisbane Bullets

Illawarra Hawks, Wednesday, April 7 @7:30pm
Melbourne United, Monday, April 12 @7:30pm

The Bullets are only one win outside of the top four and if they manage to secure the two wins here could be within a chance to leapfrog up the ladder. The first game sees them take on Illawarra Hawks who have struggled for consistency as of late, while their next clash is against the second placed Melbourne United who have recaptured their dominant ways. Nathan Sobey has been a consistent figure for the Bullets averaging 23.36 points, 4 rebounds and 4.11 assists a game. Victor Law is another one that will be eyeing off a big game against the higher placed opponents producing 18.81 points and 8.25 rebounds a game while Anthony Drmic, Matthew Hodgson and Jason Cadee are instrumental.

Illawarra Hawks

Brisbane Bullets, Wednesday, April 7 @7:30pm
South East Melbourne Phoenix, Friday, April 9 @7:30pm
Cairns Taipans, Sunday, April 11 @5:00pm

It is going to be an exhausting round of basketball for the Hawks, having to play three games over the span of less than a week. The Hawks get things started with Brisbane Bullets on Wednesday night before following it up two days later against the Phoenix. They cap the round off on Sunday against the Taipans who have struggled for form the entire season and will be hoping to capitalise here. They will be hoping that Tyler Harvey is back to his damaging best after suffering back spasms last round and unable to have a huge influence on the game. His presence is undeniable averaging a team-high 19.21 points, 3.42 rebounds and 2.68 assists. Justinian Jessup is another playmaker managing 14.4 points a game while Cameron Bairstow is solid. The Hawks will need support from the likes of Sam Froling, Justin Simon, Deng Adel and Andrew Ogilvy if they are to get over the line in all three games and make a real play for a top four position.

Melbourne United

New Zealand Breakers, Saturday, April 10 @8:00pm
Brisbane Bullets, Monday, April 12 @7:30pm

Getting back to their winning ways, United are currently sitting on a five game winning streak and will be out for blood once more against the lowly Breakers and out of touch Bullets. The Breakers have had a rough run of things and United will be eager to capitalise on that while the Bullets are inconsistent to say the least. Only sitting a game away from top spot expect United to leave no stone unturned. Melbourne look to a number of players to ply their trade with Jock Landale topping the table with 16.25 points, 7.85 rebounds and 1.6 blocks a game. Captain Chris Goulding is influential and will be out for a big couple of games averaging 16.21 points while Mitch McCarron is another livewire for Melbourne United thanks to his 11.95 points, 5.25 rebounds and 4.65 assists. Unfortunately, United will be without Jack White after he ruptured his Achilles meaning Scotty Hopson, Yudai Baba and Shea Ili will have to be on their A-game to notch up the two wins.

New Zealand Breakers

Melbourne United, Saturday, April 10 @8:00pm
Perth Wildcats, Tuesday, April 13 @7:30pm

It is going to be difficult weekend for the New Zealand Breakers who first step out on the court on Saturday and then have to back it up a few days later on Tuesday. Although they will be used to the short turnaround it is their opposition which spells danger up against the top two sides in Melbourne United and Perth Wildcats meaning they will have their work cut out for them. The Wildcats are in ripping form while United have re-found their rhythm and are looking ominous. But the Breakers are not without some key talent of their own such as Tai Webster (19.35 points, 5.12 rebounds and 6 assists), Finn Delany (14 points, 6.29 rebounds and 1.88 assists). Tom Abercrombie and Colton Iverson are others to keep a watchful eye on as they look to claim their sixth win of the season.

Perth Wildcats

Adelaide 36ers, Saturday, April 10 @5:30pm
New Zealand Breakers, Tuesday, April 13 @7:30pm

Perth will be looking to continue their winning ways with another couple of victories across Round 13. They will look to open their account against Adelaide 36ers on Saturday night and then follow it up on Tuesday against the eighth placed Breakers. Bryce Cotton is the go-to man constantly lighting up the court thanks to his impressive 25.83 point average, 2.67 rebounds and six assists. Partner in crime John Mooney is the other playmaker for the reigning champs boasting a double-double of 17.22 points and 12.22 rebounds. Todd Blanchfield cannot be underestimate with the captain a consistent figure thanks to his 14.17 points and 3.28 rebounds.

South East Melbourne Phoenix

Illawarra Hawks, Friday, April 9 @7:30pm
Sydney Kings, Sunday, April 11 @3:00pm

South East Phoenix will lock horns with Illawarra on Friday night before fronting up to play Sydney two days later. The Phoenix have locked down third spot on the ladder, currently sitting two games clear but a couple of wins here could all but solidify their standings. Mitch Creek was back amongst it last round and will be hoping to build on his form boasting a season average of 20.28 points, 6.94 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Keifer Sykes is steadily building back into the thick of things while Ryan Broekhoff’s dominance is starting to come to the fore with 8.83 points to his name. Kyle Adnam has been a revelation and will be keen to keep those good times rolling while Ben Moore and Yannick Wetzell are excitement machines.

Sydney Kings

Perth Wildcats; Thursday, April 8 @7:30pm
South East Melbourne Phoenix, Sunday, April 11 @3:00pm

The Kings will have their work cut out for them facing off against Perth in their first game before locking horns with South East Melbourne Phoenix. It is going to be a top four battle all-round for the Kings and a couple of strong wins here could set them up for the backend of the season. Casper Ware is the in-form player for the Kings with the guard dominating with a 19 point average while import Jarrell Martin has been a revelation. Keep an eye out for Dejan Vasilijevic and Didi Louzada with the latter finding his form last week.

2021 NBL Round 12 preview: Rescheduled games force quick changes

THE National Basketball League (NBL) is hotting up heading into Round 12 as the ladder starts to take shape and sides look to keep their season alive with some much needed wins. With a snap lockdown in Queensland the NBL has been forced to make some fixture adjustments with the match between the Brisbane Bullets and South East Melbourne Phoenix set to be rescheduled for some time in the coming weeks.

Illawarra Hawks vs. South East Melbourne Phoenix
Thursday, April 1 @7:30pm

The Hawks and Phoenix kick things off on Thursday night with both sides in relatively good form. South East Melbourne have lost just one of their past five games and will be eager to make amends for their short comings last week against United while the Hawks have managed three wins and losses in recent weeks. It will be a hotly contested match as Illawarra (third) and Phoenix (fourth) look to keep their finals hopes alive and create some much needed security.

With Mitch Creek a chance to play this round for the Phoenix they will be hoping that his influence across the court will be felt and he will be able to pick up where he left off in terms of his points scoring and rebounding ability. Keifer Sykes is easing his way back into the rotation and will be eager to get amongst things as Ryan Broekhoff is building as the season goes on. Kyle Adnam has been a real darkhorse for the Phoenix able to constantly put up the points and hit the scoreboard. Justinian Jessup and Tyler Harvey are the two main facilitators for the Hawks and will be raring to go in this clash in order to provide them with a chance to get over the top of the Phoenix and most importantly continue their rise up the ladder. Cameron Bairstow cannot be underestimated for the Hawks averaging 11.43 points a game while Justin Simon is more than capable of locking down players with his tight one-on-one defence which the Hawks will be hoping to take full advantage of.

Perth Wildcats vs. Sydney Kings
Thursday, April 1 @9:30pm

The Wildcats are in red hot form and the Sydney Kings are the next side in their war path. Currently on a five game winning streak Perth have proven to be relentless and will be hoping to inflict the same level of pain on Sydney as they have every other team. After a shaky start to the season, the Kings now just sit outside of the top four with nine wins to their name and a win here could see them leapfrog up the ladder.

Perth have not skipped a beat in their last few outings with Bryce Cotton proving to be a man on a mission. His scintillating form has been a key factor in the Wildcats’ dominance averaging a competition high 26 points along with six assists. The efforts from John Mooney will spark concern for the Kings as Mooney has proven to be a handful off the boards boasting an average of 12.29 rebounds a game while Todd Blanchfield is more than capable of lending his hand to the scoreboard. The Sydney Kings have livewire Casper Ware who is more than capable of leading the charge topping the table with 19 points a game while also producing 4.33 assists and 3.56 rebounds a game. Jarrell Martin is another one to keep an eye out for as is Dejan Vasilijevic with the two able to regularly hit the scoreboard and influence the play. but they will have to be on their a-game if the Kings are any chance of upsetting the Wildcats.

Melbourne United vs. Cairns Taipans
Friday, April 2 @5:30pm

Melbourne United are back on the winners list having notched up three straight victories and will be aiming to stay there with a win over the flailing Cairns Taipans. The Taipans have failed to live up to the standards of their 2019/20 season currently sitting in last place on the ladder despite showing glimpses of magic but unable to put out a consistent performance. With only five wins under their belts it will not get any better facing off against a slick United side twice in this round who are itching to reclaim top spot.

The ever-reliable Chris Goulding is a lynchpin for United averaging 16.33 points a game while teammate Jock Landale is not far behind thanks to his 16.22 points. The main facet of United’s game however is their ability to share the ball around and not rely on one player to do the heavy lifting with good support coming from bench players such as Yudai Baba (eight points and 1.88 rebounds) and Jo Lual Acuil (7.41 points, 5.41 rebounds) meaning the the Taipans will have to put in a full team effort to slow down and stop United in their tracks. for the Taipans the dominant pairing of Cameron Oliver and Scott Machado will be the ones to watch with the duo able to score with relative ease if given enough time and space. Machado averages an impressive 17.89 points, 3.79 rebounds and 7.63 assists as Oliver produces 16 points and 8.89 rebounds each time he steps out on court.

Adelaide 36ers vs. Illawarra Hawks
Saturday, April 3 @8:00pm

The battle between the Adelaide 36ers and Hawks is set to be an intriguing one with the former on a five game losing streak and desperately needing a win to stay in touch with any chance of playing finals. The Hawks on the other hand, sit inside the top four but having already played a match only two days earlier could suffer from some fatigue against a desperate Adelaide outfit.

The absence of Isaac Humphries has been sorely missed with the 36ers struggling to find their mojo without him. However that is not to say that the 36ers are without star power of their own with Daniel Johnson knocking back an average of 20 points, 6.85 rebounds and shooting at 47 per cent from the field. Rookie Josh Giddey has not skipped a beat managing 10.94 points, 6.65 assists and 6.65 rebounds. Both Tony Crocker and Sunday Dech will need to be on their a-game if they are to worry the Hawks and secure a much needed win. Boasting the likes of Jessup and Harvey support from Sam Froling and Deng Adel will be needed to build some strong scoreboard pressure and keep the good times rolling for the Hawks.

South East Melbourne Phoenix vs. New Zealand Breakers
Sunday, April 4 @3:00pm

In their second game for the round, the Phoenix will have one eye on the win but will have to fight off a spirited Breakers outfit. New Zealand notched up a win last round and will be riding high but the Phoenix have a top four position and will not be keen on relinquishing their spot given the midtable logjam that is happening around them.

Cameron Gliddon, Ben Moore and Yannick Wetzell are all threats for the Phoenix with the trio able to influence the outcome of a game thanks to their drive and strength off the boards. Gliddon averages 11.39 points a game while Moore is a consistent figure off the boards thanks to his 7 rebounds. The Breakers’ Tai Webster is a force to be reckoned with averaging a tick under 20 points with his 19.56 points, 5.31 rebounds and 5.94 assists. Finn Delany will need a big game as will Tom Abercrombie if New Zealand are any chance to get over the line.

Harvey’s huge half sets up big Hawks win

IN only their second home game of the season, the Illawarra Hawks blew away the Brisbane Bullets 96-72 to take third place on the ladder with only three games left in season 2021.

A huge first half from American import Tyler Harvey was instrumental in driving the Hawks to their 10th win of the season. Harvey had one of the best individual performances of the season, scoring 23 points in the first half including a ridiculous seven from nine from downtown. His scoring explosion led the Hawks to build an unassailable lead, which reached up to 27 points, as the Bullets struggled to keep up with their opponents’ electric offence, eventually falling to the Hawks 96-72 at the WIN Entertainment Centre.

The game began in the most unusual fashion, with one of the backboards collapsing just prior to the game beginning following a warmup dunk by Deng Deng, causing a 30-minute delay to the start of the game. Once the match began, the Bullets started the game on a 6-0 run before the Hawks firmly took control of the matchup, displaying excellent ball movement and shooting from deep to take an eight-point lead into quarter time. This lead continued to grow during the second quarter, as Harvey seemed to make long range shots look easy. There was not much the Bullets defenders could do, as contesting shots was not working, and they went into the main break trailing by 20 points after a buzzer beater from Hawk Justin Simon and with a lot of work to do in the second half. Unfortunately for the Bullets, the second half brought more of the same as they were outscored by four for the half. The news was not all positive for the Hawks either, with first half sensation Harvey rolling an ankle and ruled out for the rest of the game. The Hawks were still able to keep their composure though, and take out the win by 24 points in a promising showing at the tail-end of the season.

Obviously the star for the Hawks was the hot-handed Harvey, but he had plenty of help from teammates, particularly the bench players. Illawarra’s bench produced 43 of their 96 points in a tremendous all around performance. Cameron Bairstow impressed with 12 points and five rebounds, constantly finishing good passes from his teammates. Deng Adel and Emmett Naar both contributed 11 points each in what proved to be vital contributions off the bench. For the Bullets, Jason Cadee led his team in scoring, dropping 17 points off the bench in a valiant performance, combining for a nice tandem with Harry Froling who also chimed in with 12 points of his own. Nathan Sobey was uncharacteristically quiet but fought his way to 11 points.

The win for the Hawks came at a crucial time with third place a nice spot to be sitting heading into their blockbuster clash with the South East Melbourne Phoenix, which could ultimately shape the finals as both teams are tied on wins for the season. For the Bullets, their scheduled match with the Phoenix has been postponed due to the lockdown imposed in the greater Brisbane area.

Hawks reaffirm notion as title contender, overcome United by eight

MELBOURNE United’s lead at the top of the NBL standings has become ever more precarious, after being handed their third-straight defeat during what has been a thoroughly disappointing NBL Cup stint. Their most recent downfall came at the hands of the title-contending Illawarra Hawks, who held United to a nine-point fourth quarter as they left John Cain arena with their heads held high, bewildering their opponents 77-69.

In the battle between first and third, the opening period provided no indicators of which team might start to tilt the balance in their favour, as Melbourne held a delicate 21-20 lead. However with Illawarra shooting over 50 per cent from the field, the Hawks were looking very impressive heading into the second.

Despite a slow start to the second period, United started to ramp up their intensity on the precipice of half time winning the quarter 22-16. That result widened the gap between themselves and the Hawks to seven points – the score being 43-36, as Chris Goulding led all-scorers after 20 minutes with 11 points.

The Hawks had been shooting well in the first two quarters, more efficiently than Melbourne surprisingly, knocking down 45 per cent of their attempts (two per cent higher than United) with Tyler Harvey leading the way on the back of eight points. Illawarra had, however, given the ball away profusely to this stage with nine turnovers next to their name, which in turn had led to 12 points for the hometown team compared to the Hawks two.

Illawarra got the one-point drop on United in the third, 18-17, thanks to the efforts made by their sharpshooter Justinian Jessup and big man Sam Froling who was big on the boards, but Cameron Bairstow was a surprise contributor with his production on the scoreboard.

If there is one thing in common about any one of Brian Goorjian’s teams, it is that they will fight for all four quarters and that is where the major moment of the contest occurred, as Illawarra kicked off the fourth with a nine-point run and took a five-point lead with just over six minutes left on the clock.

Mitch McCarron ended the scoring run, but from that point on Dean Vickerman’s side was playing catchup basketball through to the final buzzer as Jock Landale, Sam McDaniel and Mason Peatling would be the only other scorers for the rest of the fourth quarter.

Melbourne would not find their lead again after being held to just nine points in the fourth, whereas Illawarra amassed 21 of their own putting on a defensive masterclass and emerging victorious by eight points – a perfect example of the brand of basketball their head coach likes to play.

The Hawks’ shooting was not anything to wonder at given they would finish with a shooting rate of 42 per cent. But, scoring 14 points from the free throw line at a solid conversion rate of 82 per cent, Illawarra found this to be the best way to separate themselves from their opponents. On the other hand, Melbourne found the majority of their success in the paint scoring 38 of their points in the paint (six more than Illawarra).

Harvey was consistent and effective all night long during his 35 minutes of playing time scoring 23 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out four assists with Bairstow shocking everyone for 15 points of his own. Jessup was good from behind the arch with three triples to his name and 13 points, while Deng Adel failed to score a point but was good for six rebounds.

Representing their second half failures and one of their lowest offensive showings, not one United player would crack 20 points individually. The next closest to this feat was McCarron, who assembled 16 points and four assists, then followed by Goulding (13 points) and Landale (12 points and eight rebounds) who had unremarkable nights in comparison to previous efforts.

Melbourne will leave their city for the first time in weeks as they prepare to face their rivals the Sydney Kings next Friday in New South Wales, with teams now looking to make a late charge for the postseason. The Hawks, however, will stay in Victoria for another week to prepare for a rematch with United seven days from today.

 

Picture credit: AAP