Tag: isaac humphries

Taipans stun 36ers with come-from-behind win

AN inspired and gutsy effort from Cairns Taipans saw them overrun Adelaide 36ers last night to snap a three-game losing streak and steal a narrow three-point victory (91-88). It was a topsy-turvy encounter with the 36ers holding the lead for majority of the game but Cairns working gallantly to change their fortunes.

Both sides were riddled with injuries heading into the clash with a number of key figures sidelined such as Scott Machado for the Taipans and Tony Crocker out for the 36ers. Crocker joined Isaac Humphries on the sideline but that did not seem to faze Adelaide who got off to a hot start, shooting the ball with confidence and relative accuracy to skip out to an early lead. Although scores were level at nine points apiece midway through the term, Adelaide kicked it up a gear to create some much needed separation thanks to the services of Daniel Johnson who well and truly had his radar on. Adelaide capitalised on their opponents inaccuracy as they put down 26 points to 17.

Holding a nine-point margin at the first change the 36ers looked to extend their margin and edge one step closer to a much needed win. Spearheaded by Jack McVeigh the 36ers continued their merry way, with not only the scoreboard increasing but so too McVeigh’s tally with the guard racking up 12 points before half time. However the brakes were quickly put on as the Taipans came out refreshed and raring to go. Hunting down the 16-point lead, Cairns toiled exceptionally hard to quell the offensive play of Adelaide and apply pressure of their own largely due to Cameron Oliver who was proving to be a menace off the boards. Sinking eight points straight the home side ate into the deficit and continued to build momentum with the likes of Mojave King also finding his feet and the basket.

It was a two-point ball-game at half time, with the Taipans sensing a chance to strike and push ahead of their opponents. The intensity lifted a notch with neither side willing to relinquish the ball or the lead as Adelaide put in the hard yards to extend their margin. but Cairns proved to be up to the fight, combatting everything that was thrown at them and rising to the occasion. Producing 21 points to 20, the Snakes managed to dwindle the margin to a mere point at the final change setting up an action packed final stanza.

Having held onto the lead for majority of the game, the 36ers simply ran out of legs in the last quarter while the Taipans found a way to win. Digging deep and heavily undermanned, Cairns showed nothing but grit and determination in the last quarter to not only hold on but to overcome a deficit. It was a frantic finish to the game with the Taipans establishing a seven point lead with a tick under a minute left to play, but the lead disappearing before their eyes as the clock ticked down. Huge plays from Sunday Dech and McVeigh’s ability to convert from the foul line saw Adelaide get back within just one with 13 seconds left and while Josh Giddey had a chance to level things his shot was off, gifting the Taipans a hard fought win.

It was a heart in your mouth finish to the game with a number of key cogs stepping up to the plate and leading the way for their respective sides given the calibre of missing players. Oliver had a game to remember for Cairns producing a scintillating 25 points and 17 rebounds with 16 of them defensive while Jordan Ngatai made his presence felt thanks to his 15 points. King upped the ante this match recording 14 points, five rebounds and one block as teammate Jarrod Kenny got busy on the assist front with seven to his name. Both Nate Jawai and Tad Dufelmeier produced strong performances with 13 points for Jawai and 12 points and eight rebounds for Dufelmeier.

Johnson was once again the go-to man for the 36ers racking up 22 points and four rebounds in his 34 minutes on court. McVeigh had a break out game producing an impressive 22 points at 52 per cent from the field while also racking up four rebounds, all of which were defensive. Brandon Paul was the only other player to reach double-digits thanks to his 18 points as he also collected six rebounds and two assists. Giddey fell short of a double amassing eight points, nine rebounds and seven assists as Dech registered seven points and seven rebounds.

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.

2021 NBL Round 11 preview: Ladder-defining clashes shape weekend of action

A SMALLER but action-packed Round 11 action in the National Basketball League (NBL) has plenty of ramifications for the ladder heading into the back-end of the season.

ADELAIDE 36ERS:

vs. Cairns Taipans @ Cairns Pop Up Arena, Sunday

The 36ers have the solitary game up against the Taipans on Sunday, and will be desperate for a win to stay in touch with the top four. The 36ers have slipped to a 7-12 record and the fact they are two wins behind the three teams above them is made all the more worse given they have played as many as three more games. They have lost their past four games, and will be keen to turn around a slump against the only team in worse form than them in the Taipans. Daniel Johnson (19.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists) and Josh Giddey (10.9 points, 6.6 rebounds and 6.6 assists) are the key in the absence of Isaac Humphries (15.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.0 blocks). They should win and keep the pulse of their season alive.

BRISBANE BULLETS:

vs. New Zealand Breakers @ Nissan Arena, Saturday
vs. Illawarra Hawks @ WIN Entertainment Centre, Monday

The Bullets are on the verge of breaking into the top four, with four wins in their past five games, and coming up against the bottom two side New Zealand Breakers up first. If they pass that test they will grab a top four spot, but they need to account for the team currently holding that position to stay there, in the Illawarra Hawks. Expected to take care of the struggling Breakers, the Hawks’ clash is almost an early elimination final and will put the winner in good position going forward. Nathan Sobey (23.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists) leads the way, with Victor Law (18.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.4 blocks) and Matt Hodgson (10.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocks) providing the physicality close to the basket. Going 2-0 from the round will help the Bullets put themselves in best position for finals, whilst 0-2 would be a disappointing result.

CAIRNS TAIPANS:

vs. Adelaide 36ers @ Cairns Pop Up Arena, Sunday

The Taipans are just looking for any type of form they can build after a shocking run of form with five consecutive losses since they just got past Sydney by four points on March 4. Having won only one of their past nine games, the Taipans are well and truly on life support in 2021, but could try and build some form with a victory over an equally-struggling 36ers’ outfit. Cameron Oliver has still been remarkable this season, putting up 15.7 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks, as has Scott Machado (17.9 points, 7.7 assists and 3.8 rebounds), but the pair have lacked support, particularly of late, with only Kouat Noi (10.2 points. 4.4 rebounds) the other player to start in every match with them. Back in front of a home crowd against a team that is struggling will be the Taipans’ best chance at getting a win on the board.

ILLAWARRA HAWKS:

vs. Perth Wildcats @ RAC Arena, Friday
vs. Brisbane Bullets @ WIN Entertainment Centre, Monday

The Hawks will have the best measuring sticks to work out just where they are at in Round 11 of the competition, coming up against the ladder-leading Perth Wildcats, and the team threatening to take their fourth spot on the ladder. If the Hawks can win both, they will draw closer to the top two, but a couple of losses could see them slip as much as four games outside those benchmark sides. The game against Brisbane Bullets will be particularly important for getting a step up in the lead-up to finals. Tyler Harvey (20.0 points. 3.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists), Justinian Jessup (14.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists) and Sam Froling (10.4 points, 7.0 rebounds) are the three players who have had the greatest impact on the season, starting in every game for Illawarra. A massive week for the Hawks with an early finals challenge prior to the post-season series.

MELBOURNE UNITED:

vs. New Zealand Breakers @ Bendigo Basketball Centre, Thursday
vs. South East Melbourne Phoenix @ John Cain Arena, Saturday

Melbourne United have got the monkey off the back with a drought-breaking win after four straight losses threatened to derail their season. Luckily for United, they had enough of a lead at the top that they only dropped the one spot to second, and remain in contention for the minor premiership. A first-up game tonight against the struggling New Zealand Breakers needs to be a win no questions asked, but the South East Melbourne Phoenix will be a tougher task. If United can come away with two wins, then they will mount the pressure on the Perth Wildcats heading into the back-end of the season. Jock Landale has been as expected coming into the side this season, racking up 17.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.7 blocks, while Mitch McCarron (11.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.6 steals) is the only other player to start in every game. Chris Goulding (15.8 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists) has proven to be a crucial cog with his experience out on court in crunch moments.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS:

vs. Melbourne United @ Bendigo Basketball Centre, Thursday
vs. Brisbane Bullets @ Nissan Arena, Saturday

New Zealand Breakers might be bottom two, but with the least games played, the permanent visitors to Australia will have a chance to make up some ground on their opponents over the next month. With a 4-10 record, the Breakers are desperate to gain some more wins on the board, but have a tough draw this round with a clash against the hungry United, and then a date with the Bullets – who need every win they can get as well – on Saturday. Any win is a good start, but the Breakers will be hoping to snag a couple of upsets in Round 11. Tai Webster (19.9 points. 5.4 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.2 steals) has been a shining light alongside Finn Delany (13.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists), with the exit post-injury of Lamar Patterson and injury to Corey Webster.

PERTH WILDCATS:

vs. Illawarra Hawks @ RAC Arena, Friday
vs. Sydney Kings @ Qudos Bank Arena, Sunday

The Wildcats just find a way, just when everyone has written them off, to get better and take home the points. Perth took out the NBL Cup despite being in poor form prior to it, and has built on that form in the round since, having won nine of their past 10 to head into Round 11 with a remarkable 11-4 record. The Wildcats are in the most consistent form of their lives, though their opponents the Sydney Kings (four of the past five) and Illawarra Hawks (three of five) also have more success than failure this year. Both their opponents could play finals this year, so it will be a real test for the Wildcats to continue their form, first at home tomorrow night before hitting the road for a trip to the east coast on Sunday. It is fair enough to run out of superlatives for Bryce Cotton (26.1 points. 6.2 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals) but he has been joined by partner-in-crime John Mooney (17.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists), while Todd Blanchfield (14.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists) has created a three-prong attack.

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX:

vs. Melbourne United @ John Cain Arena, Saturday

The Phoenix have finally found their groove in the NBL in their second season with four straight wins leading them from a 6-7 record to a 10-7 one and remarkably just one win away from the top two teams. Whilst admittedly the Phoenix have played an extra game or two, they are hitting form at the right time, and could match United on wins if they can win The Throwdown on Saturday back at John Cain Arena. Ryan Broekhoff is building minutes slowly off the bench with 4.3 points and 1.3 rebounds thus far, while Yannick Wetzell (11.1 points, 5.9 rebounds) and Ben Moore (11.1 points, 7.0 rebounds) have stepped up in the absence of top scorers, Mitch Creek and Keifer Sykes of late to keep the wins ticking over. It will be a tough game against United, but with several teams right on their tail, the Phoenix will be desperate to win to stay in touch with United and the Wildcats.

SYDNEY KINGS:

vs. Perth Wildcats @ Qudos Bank Arena, Sunday

Just the one game for the Kings this round, and it is another grand final rematch, coming up against top of the table Perth Wildcats. The Kings are in pretty good form with four wins from five games, almost as good as the red-hot Wildcats. If the Kings can grab the win, it will put them in good contention to grab a top four spot, and will be hoping other results go their way. Casper Ware has been at his prolific best with 19.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists this season, teaming up well with fellow shooters, Dejan Vasiljevic (17.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists) and Jarrell Martin (17.1 points, 6.4 points and 1.5 assists). Whilst the scoring drops off after that, they do get a lot of points off the bench in an even team effort. The Kings could springboard off a win against the Wildcats to set themselves up for a strong finish to the season.

2021 NBL Stats: Round 10

HEADING into Round 11 of the National Basketball League (NBL) Draft Central takes a look at some of the top performers so far. It is no surprise that a number of Perth Wildcats feature highly in the key statistical areas given their stranglehold over the competition at the moment while Melbourne United’s shared approach sees only a few players make the top five.

Points:

Bryce Cotton (Perth Wildcats) 25.43
Nathan Sobey (Brisbane Bullets) 23.56
Mitch Creek (South East Melbourne Phoenix) 21.19
Daniel Johnson (Adelaide 36ers) 20.06
Tyler Harvey (Illawarra Hawks) 20

Guiding his side to multiple wins throughout the 2020 NBL season star guard, Bryce Cotton leads the way for points with an average of 25.43. He is impressive on all fronts but is a clear standout in the competition when it comes to his ability to hit the scoreboard on a frequent basis. Nathan Sobey is hot on his heels with an average of 23.56 points for the Bullets while Mitch Creek has been a pillar of consistency for the Phoenix producing 21.19 points a game. Daniel Johnson has enjoyed his time out on court for the 36ers putting up 20.06 points as Tyler Harvey continues to ply his trade for the Hawks thanks to his 20 points.

Assists:

Scott Machado (Cairns Taipans) 7.72
Keifer Sykes (South East Melbourne Phoenix) 6.90
Josh Giddey (Adelaide 36ers) 6.65
Bryce Cotton (Perth Wildcats) 6.21
Tai Webster (New Zealand Breakers) 5.57

Although it has been a disappointing season for the Cairns Taipans, Scott Machado has still found plenty of highlights leading the league with an average of 7.72 assists. Machado is incredibly crafty with ball in hand and is not afraid to show off his skillset. Despite being out for the past couple of games Keifer Sykes has proven to be crucial with ball in hand for the Phoenix registering 6.90 assists as Josh Giddey only gets better with time for Adelaide amassing an average of 6.65 dimes a game. cotton also features within the top five for assists thanks to his 6.21 average while Tai Webster has been a solid contributor for the New Zealand Breakers in their challenging season thanks to his 5.57 assists.

Rebounds:

John Mooney (Perth Wildcats) 11.50
Cameron Oliver (Cairns Taipans) 8.89
Victor Law (Brisbane Bullets) 8.25
Isaac Humphries (Adelaide 36ers) 8.08
Jock Landale (Melbourne United) 7.88

Hailing from the Perth Wildcats, John Mooney has imposed himself off the boards with a competition high 11.50 rebounds a game showcasing his overall strength and read of the play. The next best is Cameron Oliver with the Taipans representative a menace off the boards thanks to his 8.89 rebounds while Victor Law is also up there credit to her 8.25 rebounds a game. Isaac Humphries has been forced to the sidelines for the past couple of rounds but still holds a commanding position in the competition when it comes to rebounds through his 8.08 average while Jock Landale is a force to be reckoned with for Melbourne United producing 7.88 in each outing.

Blocks:

Isaac Humphries (Adelaide 36ers) 3
Jack White (Melbourne United) 2.56
Jock Landale (Melbourne United) 1.63
Cameron Oliver (Cairns Taipans) 1.56
Victor Law (Brisbane Bullets) 1.31

Humphries tops the table with an average of three blocks a game while Melbourne United representative Jack White has showcased his ability to impact the play credit to his 2.56 blocks a game. Teammate, Landale is another handy option given his ability to bob up and effectively ply his trade producing 1.63 blocks a game. Oliver and Law round out the top five with the two boasting an average of 1.56 and 1.31 blocks a game for their respective sides.

Steals:

Justin Simon (Illawarra Hawks) 1.94
Cameron Gliddon (South East Melbourne Phoenix) 1.82
Bryce Cotton (Perth Wildcats) 1.79
Mitch McCarron (Melbourne United) 1.56
Tyler Harvey (Illawarra Hawks) 1.44

The Illawarra Hawks have two players feature in the top five for steals with Justin Simon taking out the number one spot thanks to his 1.94 steals a game while Tyler Harvey bookends it with 1.44 steals a game. Cameron Gliddon has been a consistent figure for South East Melbourne Phoenix managing 1.82 in each outing as Cotton also chimed in with 1.79 steals a game for Perth. Mitch McCarron has made a name for himself for Melbourne United picking up 1.56 steals displaying his ability to cleanly get hands to ball.

NBL21 – Round 10 preview: Melbourne United search for first win in three games

ROUND 10 of the National Basketball League (NBL) commences on Friday night as Melbourne United search for their first win in three games and Perth look to steal top spot. The excitement does not stop there as New Zealand Breakers and Brisbane Bullets go head-to-head after the exit of Lamar Patterson.

Sydney Kings vs. Melbourne United
Friday, March 19 @ 7:30pm

Still clinging to top spot, United will be hoping to get back on the winners list after a disappointing couple of outings. Currently on a three game losing streak Melbourne are in desperate need of a win if they are to retain the mantle and create ladder separation between them and Perth, with the Wildcats quickly closing in. First they will have to overcome Sydney who have a checkered history heading into the clash, winning two of their past five games. Both sides have a lot to play for as the Kings look to make a challenge for top four and United look to solidify their standings.

Melbourne United will be looking to ever-reliable Chris Goulding to lead from the front with the captain able to hit the scoreboard with relative ease and rack up the assists. His average of 17.5 points a game alongside the output of Jock Landale (16.8 points) will be an area the Kings look to stop. Landale is also a force to behold off the boards with 7.93 as teammates Mitch McCarron and Yudai Baba have also effectively chimed in throughout the season and will once again need to have an influence to get their side over the line.

For the Kings it is hard to go past livewire Casper Ware who is a steady stream of points averaging 20.47 per game along with 3.53 rebounds and 4.27 assists. Although Ware is the main facilitator he gets a wealth of support from the likes of Dejan Vasilijevic (17.87 points, 3.47 rebounds and 1.87 assists) and Jarell Martin (17.44 points, 6.33 rebounds and 1.11 assists). The trio will need to be at their damaging best if they are to upset United.

Perth Wildcats vs. Cairns Taipans
Friday, March 19 @ 9:30pm

The Wildcats have enjoyed a recent run of hot form and up against the last placed Cairns Taipans could extend their winning streak to four games straight. Hot on the heels of Melbourne, a win here could see the reigning premiers overtake United and steal top spot if everything falls into place. Perth are playing with a renewed sense of confidence and belief while the Taipans are struggling to build any form of offensive pressure an area the Wildcats will be looking to exploit in their clash.

Led by Bryce Cotton, the Wildcats will look to attack the rim and post a commanding score with the guard averaging a competition high of a 25.23 points. It does not stop there for Cotton with the star accumulating 2.92 rebounds and 6.38 assists a game. John Mooney has had a season to remember boasting averages of 17.54 points, 11.77 rebounds and a steal while captain Todd Blanchfield is a reliable avenue for the side. others to keep an eye out for throughout the clash include Jesse Wagstaff and Mitchell Norton.

The damaging duo of Cameron Oliver and Scott Machado will be the ones the Wildcats will need to stop if they are to topple Cairns. The pair are able to inflict scoreboard pain averaging 17 and 17.88 points respectively while Oliver is strong off the boards with 9.19 rebounds and Machado a menace with ball in hand registering 8.13 assists. Majok Deng and Kouat Noi are also not to be underestimated for the Taipans.

South East Melbourne Phoenix vs. Adelaide 36ers
Saturday, March 20 @ 5:30pm

The battle between South East Melbourne Phoenix and Adelaide 36ers is set to be a tantalising one as they look to keep their respective seasons alive. The Phoenix are currently secure in fourth spot having won three consecutive games while the 36ers have dropped down the ladder since the absence of Isaac Humphries. However the Phoenix are not without injury concerns of their own as a number of key cogs will be missing, meaning Adelaide could be in with a shot to overrun their opponents and kickstart the back-half of their season.

Captain Mitch Creek will not take the court this round meaning South East Melbourne will have to look to others to pave the way in this challenge – cue NBA recruit Ryan Broekhoff who despite only playing limited minutes in his first outing is more than capable of taking the reins and leading the charge. Kyle Adnam has made a name for himself throughout the 2021 season and will need to step up to the plate in this contest averaging 14.5 points, two rebounds and four assists. The influence of Cam Gliddon and Yannik Wetzell will be crucial for the Phoenix to get the win.

Daniel Johnson has been a reliable figure for Adelaide managing 20.35 points, 6.94 rebounds and 3.06 assists a game. Rookie, Josh Giddey has been a revelation, yet to skip a beat and will be a likely candidate to impress given his 10.69 point average which accompanies his 6.44 rebounds and team-high 6.56 assists. Tony Crocker is another one to watch out for thanks to his 10.76 points a game.

Brisbane Bullets vs. New Zealand Breakers
Saturday, March 20 @ 8:00pm

There will be no love lost between these two sides with personnel changes aplenty as Lamar Patterson departed the club and subsequently joined the old firm, Brisbane Bullets for the remainder of the season. That aside, and it has been a challenging season for the Breakers given they only have four wins to their name while Brisbane have doubled their record with eight. Teetering on a top four position the Bullets will be eager to put a stop to the fast starting New Zealand side and claim some early ascendancy to mount a chance to pressure the top four.

The combination of Nathan Sobey and Victor Law will be the one the Breakers will be concerned about with the pair able to shoot with ease and cause all sorts of scoreboard trouble. Sobey leads the team for points scored with 24.33 to his name alongside 3.47 rebounds and 4.33 assists while Law is also prolific thanks to his 19.6 points and 8.27 rebounds. Matthew Hodgson has been a key contributor throughout the season as has Anthony Drmic and Jason Cadee all of which will be aiming to get on the scoreboard again.

Unfortunately Corey Webster will be missing for the Breakers leaving a big hole to fill for the New Zealand outfit with brother Tai Webster likely to further shoulder the load. Tai Webster tops the side for points with 20.08 to his name while also collecting 5.31 rebounds and 5.62 assists. Finn Delany is another focal point for the Breakers producing 13.62 points and 6.32 rebounds.

Other games:

Melbourne United vs. Illawarra Hawks
Sunday, March 21 @ 3:00pm

Sydney Kings vs. Cairns Taipans
Sunday, March 21 @ 5:00pm

Perth Wildcats vs. Adelaide 36ers
Monday, March 22 @ 9:30pm

The Hawks will play their first and only game against Melbourne United in what is set to be a scintillating matchup given the standings of the two sides. An extended break could do Illawarra a wealth of good while United will have to back up having played Friday night. The Hawks will look to Tyler Harvey and Justinian Jessup to lead the charge once again with the star duo proving too hot to handle averaging 20.6 and 14.53 points respectively a game. other contributors such as Cameron Bairstow and Sam Froling will have to bring their a-game if they are to overcome the higher ranked United.

Perth could knock Melbourne off their perch if they register two wins and United do not while the Kings will be eager to assert themselves on the lowly Taipans.

Sixers on the verge of lost season without injured Isaac

IT has been just under two weeks since former NBA player and 23-year-old superstar Isaac Humphries sustained an injury to his left foot back in NBL21 Round 7 against the New Zealand Breakers. But to-date, the Adelaide 36ers have had mixed results since the forced departure of their talented bigman.

Because of these results – which include two losses and a win – many have been left to wonder as to how much damage could potentially be done to Adelaide’s win-loss record and position on the standings, ahead of Humphries’ much-anticipated return to the line-up in a few weeks.

It is obvious that the 36ers’ frontcourt presence will be hindered for the duration of Humphries’ injury, but people sometimes forget just how effective the former Atlanta Hawk really is. Averaging over 15 points per game and a field goal percentage of 60, Humphries ranks amongst the top 20 in the NBL when it comes to scoring and second within the 36ers, trailing behind only Daniel Johnson, who is averaging a mammoth quantity of 20.2 points per contest.

Humphries has kept himself busy on the boards with an exceptional average of eight rebounds – the fourth highest in the league – which has often resulted in the frequent combination of the two statistics as the former Kentucky Wildcat has totalled four double-doubles to this point in the season. Further adding to his defensive output, Humphries also leads the competition in blocks per game, and is the only player averaging three blocks or more across the nine teams in the competition.

After reading his litany of accolades, one can objectively state that not only has Humphries been a valuable asset to Adelaide 36ers Head Coach Conner Henry so far in his returning season since playing for the Kings back in 2017/18, but a consistent one as well. That being said, that value now presents the major problem of filling the void that Humphries has left behind.

In the three games that the 36ers have competed in since the injury, there have been a number of individuals that have attempted to pick up what Humphries had left behind in terms of output, not including the horrendous performance given against the Breakers in Round 7.

Despite losing to the Illawarra Hawks in the first of their two Round 8 clashes, 89-98, there were numerous individual that filled up the box score at the conclusion of 40 minutes. Most noticeably, it was not a forward or center that came into the limelight, but rather import Tony Crocker, who has had a rather dry run of scoring in recent outings. Nevertheless, the American came away with 23 points, while Josh Giddey continued his good run of form with 14 points, nine assists and six rebounds.

In the loss to the Hawks, it was evident that without his running mate, Johnson struggled to finish off his opponents as per usual. While the starting center scored 17 points, Humphries’ replacement Keanu Pinder had a rather absent performance, which ultimately compounded Adelaide’s failures on the night.

The Sixers bounced back two days later to knock over the Cairns Taipans to conclude Round 8, but it required the sizeable 30-point and nine-rebound from Johnson on the night. Surprisingly though, in their win over the Queensland side it marked the second consecutive game where Jack McVeigh showed out for his team with the 24-year-old securing 14 points on the night, off the back of 16 points in their previous loss to Illawarra.

Moving along to last night’s encounter with the Brisbane Bullets, and it seemed as if Adelaide’s new temporary core unit was firing on all cylinders. Nevertheless, it was the Bullets that emerged triumphant by five points in what was one of the best offensive displays between both sides in a game so far this season, toppling the further struggling 36ers side 109-104.

It was again Johnson (29 points and nine rebounds), Giddey (19 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds) and McVeigh (18 points and eight rebounds) doing most of the heavy lifting, with the help of Sunday Dech (20 points and three rebounds). But it seemed that even with a high-performing offence coupled with Johnson’s efforts down low, Adelaide still could not get enough done to get over the line against a high-calibre team like Brisbane.

On a positive note, after some disappointing results as of late, Adelaide still has many chances and an abundance of time to try and reverse their fortunes for the remainder of the 2021 NBL campaign. Having dropped two games below .500 (seven wins, nine losses), the team’s opponents unfortunately will only get more formidable, with their next two meetings to harbour opponents in Perth Wildcats and the South East Melbourne Phoenix.

There is no defined date for Humphries’ return to the hardcourt, as opposed to the four-to-six-week timeline fans were given at the time of ankle injury. But, given their most recent run of games, it seems that Adelaide’s best option while they wait for their forward’s return is damage control and to acquire wins when they need to, rather than when they want to – which will hopefully prepare them well for a late-season charge.

The 36ers can already look past their NBL Cup aspirations due to the current tournament ladder, as they now share the equal worst record with the Taipans (two wins, five losses), but can hope to improve their regular season situation with a possible eighth win on Sunday night against the Wildcats to close out Round 9.

NBL21 – Round 9 preview: Broekhoff enters the fray for Phoenix

A MID-TABLE logjam is sure to be somewhat broken up after a blockbuster Round 9 of National Basketball League (NBL) action, when the likes of Brisbane Bullets and Adelaide 36ers go head-to-head, whilst all Victorian and New South Wales battles are set to be matches to watch.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS vs. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Wednesday, March 10 @ 5pm

The opening game of Round 9 sees a reborn New Zealand Breakers taking on the team they leapfrogged on the table last round in Cairns Taipans. It will be the first of three games in the round for the Breakers who begin to make up for lost games. They will lock horns with Perth Wildcats and South East Melbourne Phoenix with 48-hour turnarounds between games, and will hope to come away with some crucial points. The Breakers lost their last start, but had won their previous two games to be 3-7, four games in hand against a Taipans’ side whose season is slowly slipping away at 4-10.

The Webster brothers have been phenomenal this season from the back court, as Tai Webster is averaging 21.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.2 steals, while Corey Webster has managed 18.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.2 steals. Finn Delany has stepped up and progressed with a double-digit average of 11.4 points to accompany 6.5 rebounds, while import Colton Iverson has similar point and rebound averages, with 7.6 and 7.1 respectively.

For the Taipans, five players average double-digit points this year, and Scott Machado is now leading the way with 17.7 points, 8.6 assists and 3.6 rebounds, teaming up with partner-in-crime Cameron Oliver, who is near a double-double of 16.4 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. Kouat Noi, Mirko Djeric and Majok Deng all sit with 10-plus points per game this season and have no issues scoring, but have not been able to get their side over the line often enough.

 

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX vs. MELBOURNE UNITED
Wednesday, March 10 @ 7.30pm

Top of the table Melbourne United will be aware of a hungry South East Melbourne Phoenix as the two Victorian rivals prepare to go head-to-head again. United dropped their last game to Brisbane Bullets in a shock loss, but still remain well clear of the rest of the competition, with 10 wins from 12 games. The Phoenix have played an extra game, but have not managed to gain consistency, with a 6-7 record and three losses from their past four games. They will finally unleash their not-so-secret weapon in this match though, as NBA talent Ryan Broekhoff is out of quarantine and ready to fire. The long-range shooter is one to watch in this contest as he makes his Phoenix debut.

Outside of Broekhoff, the Phoenix still have Mitch Creek as a danger man, averaging 20.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists and he will form a formidable duo with Broekhoff. Keifer Sykes has missed the last few games, but prior to his exit he was putting up 16.7 points, 6.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds, while Kyle Adnam has stepped up in the absence of Sykes, knocking down 13.9 points and 3.5 assists for the 2021 season.

Jock Landale has been difficult to stop this season, one of only two players to start every game in 2021, averaging 16.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.8 blocks. He and Mitch McCarron (11.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.7 steals) are the consistent starters, while the team has really missed Chris Goulding (17.5 points, 2.5 rebounds) of late, but Jack White (9.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.3 blocks) remains a big man to contain.

 

BRISBANE BULLETS vs. ADELAIDE 36ERS
Thursday, March 11 @ 5pm

Two teams either side of the top four will lock horns on Friday evening when Brisbane Bullets go up against Adelaide 36ers. The Bullets are fresh off a win over Melbourne United, and have suddenly clicked into gear with four wins from five games and in red-hot form. The 36ers snapped a three-game losing streak last game, but sit in fifth with a 7-8 record, desperately needing a win her to keep in touch with the top four considering their extra two games played.

The Bullets monster scoring duo of Nathan Sobey and Victor Law have ensured Brisbane remains a contender, with both players averaging more than 19 points per game. Sobey has put up 23.1 points. 4.2 assists and 3.4 rebounds, while Law is averaging 19.2 points. 8.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.6 blocks for the 2021 season. Matt Hodgson has stepped up into the center position coming off the bench with 10.5 points and 5.3 rebounds, teaming up well with Harry Froling (6.0 points, 5.8 rebounds).

Adelaide have struggled since Isaac Humphries went down, and it has seen Daniel Johnson remain as the main man on the scoring front. He has averaged 20.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists this season, while Tony Crocker (11.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.0 steals) is the other double-figure scorers. In the back court, Josh Giddey (9.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.4 steals) and Sunday Dech (9.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals) have both held up their own in the contest.

 

SYDNEY KINGS vs. ILLAWARRA HAWKS
Thursday, March 11 @ 7.30pm

In the later Thursday night match, third placed Illawarra Hawks will lock horns with sixth placed Sydney Kings in another all-New South Wales state battle. The Hawks are three places higher than the Kings, but the Kings are only a win behind with a 6-7 record. If Sydney get up in this match, both sides will sit 7-7 from 14 games in what shapes up as an evenly matched contest.

Casper Ware is the only Kings player to start in every match, putting up 21.2 points, 3.9 assists and 3.5 rebounds, sharing a similar scoring combination to the Bullets with fellow guard, Dejan Vasiljevic. The Victorian back court player is averaging 19.0 points and 3.6 rebounds this season, while Jarrell Martin has put up 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds at the other end in his limited matches. Brad Newley is one player that has impacted coming off the pine, putting up nine points and five rebounds per game this season.

Illawarra has been fortune with a consistent line-up throughout the year, as three players have started every game, and eight players have taken the court in every match as well. Tyler Harvey (20.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists) and Justinian Jessup (14.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists) have been a dominant duo in the back court, while big men, Sam Froling (10.0 points, 6.9 rebounds) and Cameron Bairstow (11.2 points, 6.8 rebounds) have been difficult to stop up front.

 

PERTH WILDCATS vs. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Friday, March 12 @ 5pm

While the Breakers will be coming in for their second of three games for the round, Perth Wildcats will enter Round 9 for the first time on Friday evening. The Wildcats will only play the two games in the week, coming up against Adelaide 36ers on Sunday in the other match. They sit 7-4 from 11 games and need to capitalise on these games if they are to catch United at the top of the NBL ladder, but are sitting pretty in the NBL Cup having won five of their past six games and well on top in that regard.

The reigning back-to-back champions have found players to step up and assist Bryce Cotton (24.5 points. 6.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.6 steals), with another import in John Mooney even hitting 30 points, and currently averaging a double-double. The 206cm, 111kg big man is averaging 17.6 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, as well as a complete 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks. Todd Blanchfield (14.9 points, 3.1 rebounds) and Mitch Norton (7.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists) are other Wildcats who are making waves in season 2021.

 

OTHER GAMES:

CAIRNS TAIPANS vs. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Friday, March 12 @ 7.30pm

BRISBANE BULLETS vs. SYDNEY KINGS
Saturday, March 13 @ 5.30pm

ILLAWARRA HAWKS vs. MELBOURNE UNITED
Saturday, March 13 @ 8pm

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS vs. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Sunday, March 14 @ 2pm

PERTH WILDCATS vs. ADELAIDE 36ERS
Sunday, March 14 @ 4.30pm

 

Picture credit: Getty Images

Hawks soar past Adelaide 36ers

ILLAWARRA Hawks got back on the NBL winners list, pushing past Adelaide 36ers who slumped to their third straight loss, 98-89. Walking away with a nine-point win, the Hawks will have plenty to be happy with aafter overcoming an early deficit and putting in the hard yards to assert themselves on the competition.

Adelaide got things started hitting the scoreboard within the first 15 seconds of the match to show that they had come to play. That intensity lingered throughout the opening term as they put up shots to increase their lead and stop the Hawks from getting their signature game play up and running. Facing a six-point deficit at quarter time, the Hawks switched on in the second to break free of Adelaide’s shackles and steal back some of the ascendancy as shown through their 25 to 21 point second quarter effort.

With only two points separating the two sides at half time the Hawks worked in overdrive to power past the 36ers and create a lead of their own. A number of players made their presence felt both in offence and defence as Illawarra established a handy four-point lead. but that was short lived as Adelaide answered the call with some big plays of their own to go into the final change, levelling the score. Controlling the play in the final term it was the likes of Deng Adel that led the charge, showcasing his class and smarts to withstand the pressure and deliver time and time again for the Hawks. Their overall intensity and pressure forced the 36ers into errors while Illawarra capitalised on their chances to run away with the victory.

The Hawks shared the points around with five players reaching double-figure points but it was Tyler Harvey that once again stole the show for Illawarra. Harvey was more than happy to put up shots from beyond the arc and while his accuracy was only at 54 per cent he still managed to sink six triples. Former NBA player Adel had his best game to date posting 19 points while also collecting eight rebounds and five assists to drag his side over the line while the ever-reliable Cameron Bairstow sunk 14 points of his own. Justin Simon was also a handy option for the Hawks producing 13 points and falling just short of a double-double with nine rebounds. The only other player to reach double digits was Justinian Jessup, with the guard nailing 12 points in his 37 minutes on court. He also picked up four rebounds and two assists as Sam Froling chimed in with another eight points and six rebounds to have an influence on the game.

The absence of Isaac Humphries was well and truly felt for the 36ers who missed his presence both on the scoreboard and on the rebound with the bigman a consistent threat. In saying that, a number of other players upped the ante as Tony Crocker topscored for the 36ers posting 23 points at 52 per cent from the field, while Daniel Johnson was the next best when it came to points scored sinking 17. He also managed eight rebounds, seven of which were defensive, and collected four assists. Rookie Josh Giddey continued on his merry way, starring for the 36ers with his playmaking abilities well and truly coming to the fore through his nine assists. It did not stop there for Giddey with the youngster producing 14 points, six rebounds and three steals. Teammate Sunday Dech also had an impact on the game slotting 14 points and four assists, but it was not enough to get his side over the line.

NBL21 – Round 8 preview: Wildcats and Phoenix to battle for fifth time

AS Summer turned into Autumn, the National Basketball League (NBL)’s new tournament NBL Cup rolled on, and a massive 10-game round over five days will be a treat for fans in Victoria. This round features the first four matches at the revamped State Basketball Centre, before returning to John Cain Arena for the remaining six games.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS vs. BRISBANE BULLETS
Wednesday, March 3 @ 5pm
State Basketball Centre

Fresh off their first win in some time, New Zealand Breakers seemingly clicked without the injured Lamar Patterson, as the bench players stepped up to have a real impact in a one-sided dominance of Adelaide 36ers last round. A 32-6 first term was unheard of, especially from the bottom team as the Breakers put the 36ers to the sword and then moved ahead of Cairns Taipans given their four games in-hand.

The Webster brothers have been sensational for the Breakers this season, combining for 38.9 points, with Tai Webster picking up 20.6, as well as 6.4 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.3 steals, while Corey Webster has 18.3 points 3.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.1 steals. Finn Delany (12.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.1 blocks) has come on in leaps and bounds while import Colton Iverson (6.5 points, 7.5 rebounds) applies the defensive pressure close to the basket.

The Bullets have their two key shooters in Victor Law and Nathan Sobey, who funnily enough are the only two Bullets who have started in each of the 10 games this season. They have combined for 43.1 points, which is almost 50 per cent of their entire team’s total. Law is averaging a whopping 8.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks to go with 19.7 points and 2.5 assists, while Sobey leads the team in points with 23.4, as well as 4.0 assists and 3.7 rebounds. Harry Froling will have a big job on Iverson, averaging the 6.3 points and 6.1 rebounds and teaming up with Tyrell Harrison (5.5 points, 5.6 rebounds).

Brisbane will be favourites in this clash, but if the Breakers can build on their last performance and make that the standard, they will begin to move up the ladder and still have games in-hand.

 

PERTH WILDCATS vs. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Wednesday, March 3 @ 7.30pm
State Basketball Centre

South East Melbourne Phoenix had a confidence-boosting win last start, getting up despite not having gun import Keifer Sykes for the first time this year. The Phoenix have now strung three of the past four together, and are one of the more in-form teams of the competition. The most in-form team could well be the Wildcats who looked in a touch of trouble early at 1-2, though it showed how not to read into the first few rounds form, as Bryce Cotton has led the back-to-back premiers back to title contention, knocking off Melbourne United and have now won four of the past five to sit second with a 5-3 record.

The Phoenix are waiting for not only Sykes to return to the side, but Ryan Broekhoff whose 14-day quarantine spell is winding up with the ex-NBA talent ready to hit the court. A trio of Sykes (16.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists), Broekhoff and Mitch Creek (20.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists) will be hard for any defence to try and contain, but the Phoenix also have some great bench players who can step up and play a role. Kyle Adnam had nine points and 13 assists last start as he replaced Sykes in the starting spot, and is someone who is known for their high-impact play.

The Wildcats have been perfectly led by Cotton (24.4 points, 7.4 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.9 steals), but he has helped lift his teammates. Import John Mooney is enjoying a remarkable season, playing all eight games and putting up 18 and 12 rebounds per game, while Todd Blanchfield (13.6 points, 3.0 rebounds) has also been a key lynchpin since crossing from the east coast at the Hawks. All five starters at Perth have played every game, and that continuity has been helpful in remaining consistent in their approach.

These two sides have met far too many times already considering Perth have played only the eight games, but with a 2-2 record from the four previous clashes, it is fair to say this could go either way.

 

CAIRNS TAIPANS vs. SYDNEY KINGS
Thursday, March 4 @ 5pm
State Basketball Centre

Two of the bottom three sides will be keen to get a wriggle on when they clash at the State Basketball Centre on Thursday. The last placed Cairns Taipans (3-9) are almost in panic mode, but not quite, having lost the past three games following some progress with back-to-back victories. They will be keen to step up in the NBL Cup and try and catch the teams above them, being two wins behind every other side other than New Zealand, and playing an additional game (or more) than the other sides bar Adelaide. For the Kings, they can level their win-loss record at 6-6 with a victory here, and be within touch of the top four.

Despite sitting on the bottom, the Taipans top-end talent is undeniable. Cameron Oliver (17.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks) has been phenomenal again in NBL21, while Scott Machado (17.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 9.0 assists) has been the key facilitator on offence. While the question over Cairns was how the depth would step up, Kouat Noi (12.6 points, 4.8 rebounds), Majok Deng (11.2 points, 4.9 rebounds) and Mirko Djeric (10.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists) have all been contributing, it is just a case of getting the wins to tick over sooner rather than later.

With so much turnover during the off-season, the Sydney Kings were an unpredictable unit heading into NBL21, and the question mark was whether there would be enough support for Casper Ware (21.5 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.1 steals). He has found a back court partner in Dejan Vasiljevic (17.8 points, 3.6 rebounds) and the recruitment of import forward Jarrell Martin (18.6 points, 7.1 rebounds) has been a fantastic investment. The bench has stepped up when required, with Brad Newley being a perfect player to provide composure on court, putting up 9.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.

Sydney has been in better form and therefore will be favourites in the clash, but Cairns has to break through eventually given its talent on paper.

 

ILLAWARRA HAWKS vs. ADELAIDE 36ERS
Thursday, March 4 @ 7.30pm
State Basketball Centre

An Illawarra Hawks side looking to snap its recent form of three losses in four games – after being 5-2 and previously 4-0 – will have no better chance against the Adelaide 36ers than when the South Australian team head in without star five, Isaac Humphries. Injuries can derail a team’s season, and Humphries’ form this year has been nothing short of sensational with his blocking and all-round gameplay. Now the 36ers – who have replaced him with Jack Purchase – will need to find a way to win without him.

Daniel Johnson will be a consistent source of points for the 36ers regardless of who stands beside him, putting up 19.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists, while the next highest scorer is Tony Crocker (10.5 points, 2.4 rebounds) who will need to provide more support to ‘DJ’ without Humphries in there. Josh Giddey has been an all-round talent with 9.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists, while Sunday Dech has been a worthy back court partner for the teenager, putting up 8.8 points and 4.9 rebounds.

Illawarra has had eight players involved in every game this season, with three of them permanent starters. Tyler Harvey (20.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists) and Justinian Jessup (15.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists) have been impressive, while Sam Froling (10.7 points, 7.0 rebounds) could feast on a Humphries-less 36ers outfit. Coming off the bench, Cameron Bairstow (11.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.1 blocks) and Justin Simon (9.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.2 steals) both add different dimensions to the Hawks’ squad.

Without Humphries, one has to lean to the Hawks, especially after Adelaide’s effort in the last round, though if the 36ers can find a way to cover the big man, then they are still right in title contention.

OTHER MATCHES:

PERTH WILDCATS vs. BRISBANE BULLETS
Friday, March 5 @ 5pm
John Cain Arena

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS vs. MELBOURNE UNITED
Friday, March 5 @ 7.30pm
John Cain Arena

ADELAIDE 36ERS vs. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Saturday, March 6 @ 5.30pm
John Cain Arena

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX vs. SYDNEY KINGS
Saturday, March 6 @ 8pm
John Cain Arena

MELBOURNE UNITED vs. BRISBANE BULLETS
Sunday, March 7 @ 2pm
John Cain Arena

ILLAWARRA HAWKS vs. PERTH WILDCATS
Sunday, March 7 @ 4.30pm
John Cain Arena

The only other side remaining is Melbourne United, who take to the court on Friday night up against the Breakers. By that stage it could be a top-against-bottom clash depending on other results, or the Breakers could be coming in with back-to-back wins under their belt. Regardless, United are sitting pretty at the top of the table, and are clear title favourites. Jock Landale (16.1 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.6 blocks) and Jack White (9.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.3 blocks) are strong big men, while Chris Goulding (16.8 points, 3.0 rebounds), Scotty Hopson (10.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists) and Shea Ili (10.0 points, 2.2 rebounds) are all capable of putting up double-figure points totals.

Picture credit: via SBS