Tag: Jarrod Kenny

2019/20 NBL Semi-final 3 preview: Perth Wildcats vs. Cairns Taipans

WITH the series at one game apiece for two of the highest scoring offences in the league, Game 3 of the Wildcats/Taipans series goes back to RAC Arena on Thursday night and the Cotton/Machado MVP conversation can finally be laid to rest for this season.

The opening game of the series went Perth’s way by a single point off the back of a 43-point exhibition provided by Bryce Cotton, in front of more than 13,000 screaming fans layered in red clothing. The following game at the Cairns Convention Centre, however, was one that was efficiently and diligently handled by the Taipans, as a 30-16 first quarter by the home side, was enough to keep the Wildcats at bay for the remaining three quarters, leading to an 11 point victory for the Snakes.

With the result of this series to be determined later tonight, there are a number of things each side needs to do if they are to gain any significant edge throughout the 40 minutes of basketball.

If we look at the Wildcats first, the main factor in anything the defending champions do, is decided by the performance of their league MVP in Cotton. Their star import guard shot the lights out in Game 1, going 14 of 25 from the field, while also accumulating 10 made three-pointers in the process. The fact that the Wildcats live and die by Cotton’s sword was further proven in Game 2 up in Cairns, where Cotton’s stat line was a complete shell of his previous game’s, going five from 12 from the field, resulting in only 11 points. This stark contrast in points and performances outlines that Perth’s number one concern going into the deciding game of the series, will be their reliance on Cotton.

While Cotton is Perth’s number one producer on the floor, it is also important to remember that another member on the Wildcats’ squad is a member of this season’s All-NBL First Team. This individual being Nick Kay. Kay, averaged over 15 points, 7.6 rebounds and more than three assists throughout the NBL season, has often been touted as the league’s most productive work horse. Kay’s output come Game 3, will decide how effective Cotton can perform, which in turn would affect the entire squad as a result.

Looking to the team that has its mind set on spoiling the party for all of Western Australia, the Cairns Taipans are starting to hone in on their franchise’s first NBL title, and with one more win, they could have one hand on this year’s hardware.

In terms of what the Taipans need to do to make an away win at RAC Arena a reality, does not rely on the performance of a single player. Mike Kelly’s playmaking schemes throughout the season have been based on a five-man offence and defence. With this style of play by the Taipans, the majority of their ball flow goes through their star guard in Scott Machado. Machado who has proven himself one of the league’s top play makers given he averages 16 points and 7.9 assists per game following the regular season, the way he controls the game’s tempo sets him apart from his peers in the competition. However, while Machado’s numbers were high in their Game 1 loss and low in his team’s Game 2 win, his ability to move the ball on offence on a consistent basis makes his weapons around him more effective against an inconsistent Wildcats defence as shown in Game 2.

While players like Marco Djeric, Nathan Jawai, Kouat Noi and Jarrod Kenny are all able to be utilised in their own ways against Perth’s defence, the most impact for the Taipans depends on the outputs of Dj Newbill (18.8 points, 3.1 assists and 3 rebounds) and Cameron Oliver (17 points and 9.1 rebounds). It can be assured that both these stars will look to make an impact on Thursday night, but will the size of Perth’s front-court be too much for Cairns’ “big three”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekend wash-up: NBL – Round 18

THE regular season is in the books and for six teams, their 2018/19 NBL season comes to an end, while for the Perth Wildcats, Melbourne United, Sydney Kings and Brisbane Bullets, the postseason awaits.

New Zealand Breakers 130 defeated Illawarra Hawks 96

Two teams who will not be taking part in the postseason tournament faced off on Thursday night with the winner moving into sole possession of 6th place on the NBL ladder. The Breakers were hoping their final home game of the season would be a great one and something that would give their fans hope heading into the offseason. The Breakers crowd were rocking early on, with their team jumping out to a huge first half lead, a lead which they would continue to build throughout the game. New Zealand won every quarter and built the lead to almost 40 points several times throughout the game before closing out with a 130-06 win. Eight players scored in double figures for the home side, led by Shawn Long’s 21 and Corey Webster’s 18. The Breakers season is one of definite disappointment as they had shown the potential to be one of the better teams in the league when they played their style of game, however the consistency just was not there on a week to week basis. For the Hawks, the loss signals back to the beginning of the season where their defence let them down and cost them a number of games. Their offence was serviceable throughout the game, especially when the second unit entered the game, with three bench players scoring in double figures.

Melbourne United 85 defeated by Cairns Taipans 87

If ever there was a trap game, this was it! Melbourne United opened the first of a two game homestand for the final round and a chance to secure homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs for a second consecutive year. The homestand began with a contest against the bottom of the table Cairns Taipans. United got off to a poor start, struggling to stop the Taipans offence, led by Melo Trimble and David Newbill, as well as an inability to hit shots of their own. The Taipans built a strong lead heading into the fourth quarter and continued to execute the gameplan and put themselves in position to steal a win. Cairns held an 86-79 lead with just three minutes remaining before United finally got on a roll and shut down the Taipans offence. A 6-0 run over the next two minutes, cut the lead to just one with 30 seconds remaining before Jarrod Kenny hit a clutch free throw in the final 10 seconds to increase the lead to two. Melbourne United had one final chance to escape with a win, however unfortunately for the Melbourne fans, Mitch McCarron’s three pointer would just miss, as Cairns ended Melbourne United’s hopes of claiming top spot. Trimble and Newbill combined for 39 points as the duo enjoyed quite the duel with Casper Ware and Bryce Cotton who combined for 40.

Perth Wildcats 93 defeated Adelaide 36ers 85

Following Melbourne United’s loss the night before, the Wildcats had a chance to claim top spot with a win over Adelaide, who were hoping to tighten their grasp on the final playoff spot. In a potential first round matchup, Adelaide were impressive early on but Perth would eventually find their rhythm. Heading into the final quarter, the 36ers held a narrow four point lead as the game had the feel of one that would come down to the wire. The Wildcats came out with a flurry to begin the final term where Bryce Cotton would prove just how valuable he is as he once again rose to the challenge and carried his side to victory. Big shots, electric drives and clutch plays from Cotton led the Wildcats to an eight point win and with it top spot and homecourt advantage in the playoffs. Cotton finished with 29 while Terrico White added a further 20. The loss significantly hurts the 36ers chances of securing the fourth seed and opens the door for the Bullets later in the round, to take their spot.

Sydney Kings 89 defeated Cairns Taipans 84

Looking to record their second consecutive upset over the big three this round, the Taipans rolled into Sydney for their final game of the season. The Kings would require a victory and a loss by Melbourne United to claim the second seed and homecourt in the first round. Both teams brought the intensity early, with Cairns once again proving they’re a better team than their record and ladder positioning may show. The Kings turned up the intensity of the defensive side of the ball, something that has been a staple of their turnaround season and with it ceased control of the game in the second half. The Taipans would not go quietly, taking the game into the final minutes before the Kings superiority shun through as they closed out a tight win. A huge win in the context of the season and a huge win without Jerome Randle. Andrew Bogut was his usual reliable self with a 12 point, 12 rebound double double to go with 6 assists as he once again facilitated the offence. Melo Trimble did everything he could to get his side the win but the lack of support around the star player was once again on full display. Trimble’s terrific season comes to an end as does the teams season as a whole.

Brisbane Bullets 84 defeated New Zealand Breakers 78

As the classic NBA line goes; ‘’win or go home’’. The Brisbane Bullets had a simple task. Win and go to the playoffs, or lose and watch the playoffs from home. The Brisbane crowd provided the energy for their team early on and the players responded, producing a sound first half and carrying a narrow lead. Shawn Long and Tai Wesley kept the visitors in the game, combining for over half of the team’s total points in the end, with 40 of the total 78. Long and Wesley went toe to toe with Lamar Patterson and Jason Cadee for Brisbane who scored almost half of their sides points with 41 between them. With just two minutes remaining the game was tied at 77 and the hometown crowd were on the edge of their seats. Lamar Patterson knocked down a layup to give the Bullets the lead before coming down the very next possession and drilling a three pointer to put the game out of reach. The big shots from Patterson assured the Bullets fourth place on the NBL ladder and the final spot in the playoffs, where they will take on the 1 seed Perth Wildcats.

Melbourne United 81 defeated Perth Wildcats 70

The final game of the regular season took place Sunday afternoon in Melbourne with the two best teams in the competition going head to head in a potential Grand Final preview. The Wildcats had already secured top spot but had every intention of ruining United’s quest for the number two spot and homecourt against the Kings in the first round of the playoffs. The game was an offensive struggle, a combination of poor shot selection, bad turnovers and some tight defence overall which saw no team score over 20 points in a single quarter for the first three periods. Down seven heading into the final 10 minutes it looked as though Melbourne would fall for the second consecutive game this weekend and drop to third on the ladder. The Wildcats maintained the lead of seven into the final three minutes before United locked down their offence and started to hit shots of their own. Two consecutive layups from Casper Ware and Mitch McCarron cut the lead to a one possession game before Chris Goulding nailed a huge three to tie the game with 15 seconds remaining. The Wildcats had a chance to end the game in regulation but were unsuccessful as we were sent into an extra session. In the overtime period, United took complete control, outscoring Perth 13-2 and closing out the season with a win despite Casper Ware going just 3 of 16 from the field. Credit goes to DJ Kennedy and Mitch McCarron who combined for 36 points.

A huge finals series ahead with the top seeded Perth Wildcats hosting the Brisbane Bullets in one side of the bracket, while the reigning champions Melbourne United host the resurgent three seed Sydney Kings in the other series.

Weekend previews: NBL – Round 14

AS we come to the final stretch of this National Basketball League (NBL) season, it’s important for teams to starting winning at all costs and there’s plenty on the line this round. Adelaide has two chances against Perth and Sydney, while the Breakers will believe they can beat the Hawks and Taipans. It’s also a telling time for the Wildcats, as if they continue to drop, it could spell disaster for a team that’s had such a good run of post-season appearances. The ladder is closer than ever, and this round, teams could have the ability to shake it up.

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

Key match-up: Nathan Sobey v Bryce Cotton

Nathan Sobey‘s brilliant run came crashing down last week, only scoring four points, but his eight rebounds and five assists just meant he still integrates himself into the game. He’s having a career-best year, but last week was uncharacteristic, turning it over six times and shooting two of 13. Ramone Moore is ruled out for the rest of the season which means Bryce Cotton will be running around looking after Sobey, which will put a blight on his own game. Cotton is good when he’s allowed free reign, but has been down lately too, so he needs a big week as well.
Last time they met: Perth Wildcats (99) defeated Adelaide 36ers (91)

Back on the 2018/19 NBL opening night, it was Perth who stole the win in front of a packed RAC Arena. The Wildcats led by as much as 15 in the middle of the third, but a 36ers fightback where they took the lead had Perth nervous. Nathan Sobey (20 points, six assists) and Daniel Johnson (23 points, 10 rebounds) were magnificent for the 36ers, as was Bryce Cotton for Perth with 22 points (14 in the final quarter), three rebounds and five assists.
Season so far: Adelaide had one win and one loss last round, but is very much still in the frame for a final berth. Perth has slipped to third place after a devastating loss to Cairns last round.
The game: After Perth’s recent woes, there’s every opportunity for the 36ers to pounce and considering they need to keep winning for the chance to play finals, their offence will make every basket count. Sobey needs to make his shooting count this week, as the crowd rallies behind him all the time. Perth’s woes are largely due to their offence, dropping 11.1 average points from their 10-1 record before the international window to now – sitting at 83.0 points per game, which is last in the league. The 36ers just need to be a present all around and challenge the Wildcats to play, hoping they turnover the ball a lot. 

Illawarra Hawks v New Zealand Breakers 
Friday, 7:50pm at WIN Entertainment Centre


Key match-up: Andrew Ogilvy v Shawn Long 
It seems that nobody can really match it with Long at the moment, but Ogivly will try. Long had 20 points and 10 rebounds last week against Sydney – against Andrew Bogut more so. He’s good at getting under the basket to collect offensive and defensive rebounds (9.2 total rebounds) and regularly shoots well. The Hawks shouldn’t be scared of him so much into fouling him every chance they get, but should be wary of how he can control the ball. Ogilvy has had his moment this season, scoring well at a good rate. His rebounds are up from last season and can chip in with an assist or two as well. The two big men will want to get on each other’s nerves to force the other to play uncharacteristically.
Last time they met: New Zealand Breakers (96) defeated Illawarra Hawks (79)

The Hawks never recovered from a 10-22 first quarter, as they remained evenly matched in the scoring from then on. Shawn Long had a double-double with 26 points and 13 rebounds and was supported by Armani Moore (13 points, seven rebounds, two assists). Andrew Ogivly had some reign (13 points, 10 rebounds) while Jordair Jett had 16 points, four rebounds and three assists.
Season so far: Illawarra’s round was finished nicely last week, with a 12-point win over the Kings after a tight loss against Adelaide, who is now sixth. The Breakers’ loss at the hands of the Kings puts them at the back of the group in seventh.
The game: The Breakers aren’t the greatest team away from home, but will need to overcome their record to remain in the final frame. Illawarra is peaking at the right time and a win here will ignite the Hawks faithful. It’s important for the Hawks to continue their momentum down the final stretch of vital games. The Hawks always remain calm down the line in close games and their bench players are a good source of points too. The Breakers have the wood over the Hawks for average points, and with two games behind, are just showing how good their shooters are. 

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


Key match-up: Jerome Randle v Nathan Sobey
Randle has had a lot of success this season and regularly gets a big bag of points. He’s averaged 18 in the past three games and shot at 50 per cent last week. He didn’t have a turnover at all last week, and can be handy with assists (3.9). Sobey is a powerful player, highlighted by his exceptional stats line that includes 5.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists. He only had 10 points last time against he Kings so Sydney will have another plan in place to stop Sobey.
Last time they met: Sydney Kings (93) defeated Adelaide 36ers (81)
This was a commanding win from the Kings who never gave up the lead from the two-minute mark of the first quarter. Although the home side never gave up, the gap was too big thanks to the duo that was Brad Newley (26 points, six rebounds, four assists) and Jerome Randle (23 points, four rebounds, five assists). For Adelaide, 20 year-old, Harry Froling showed his might in the league, top-scoring for the 36ers with 23 points, as well as six rebounds.
Season so far: The 36ers aren’t too far from fourth, with just one game separating them and Brisbane. The Kings are outright top with 13 wins but the loss against the Hawks will hurt as they hope to continue on.
The game: This is a short turnaround for the 36ers who might remain tired, and this is where Sydney must put the burners on. The Kings have at times this season been pretty flat (second-last in points for with 85.5). The Kings are a good team wherever they are on the court and are a great defensive side, but good looks from the 36ers thanks to their 19.0 assists a game will ignite a challenge.

Brisbane Bullets v Cairns Taipans 
Saturday, 7:50pm at Brisbane Entertainment Centre

Key match-up: Matthew Hodgson v Nathan Jawai

Hodgson has really started to emerge now, averaging 14.3 points in the past fortnight, and last week had a stellar 12 rebounds against the 36ers (taking his average to 6.4 this season). He shot at 100 per cent last week (six of six), and not for the first time this season either. Jawai is also proving to be a vital member of the Taipans team, and has averaged 16.0 in the past six games. Like his opponent, Jawai is good at rebounding (6.2) and has popped up in the assists column quite a bit in recent weeks (including seven against Sydney).
Last time they met: Cairns Taipans (109) defeated Brisbane Bullets (80)
A moment of jubilation for the Taipans and their fans gave the home team their second win of the season. Cairns left nothing in the tank after a massive 37-17 third quarter. Devon Hall was good with 24 points, five rebounds and six assists, as was veteran, Jarrod Kenny with 15 points, six rebounds and three assists. Lamar Patterson was the best for the Bullets, starring as he threw down 27 points, along with four rebounds and three assists.
Season so far: The Bullets had a great win over Adelaide to strengthen themselves, one game ahead of the 36ers on the ladder. Cairns had success against Perth, but fell away in overtime to Melbourne, remaining with three wins in eighth.
The game: Surprisingly, the Taipans have beaten the Bullets in their last three outings and would be hoping to continue that in this game. Brisbane has been successful this season largely thanks to dead-eye shooting (joint leaders with 47 per cent), while Cairns is the complete opposite (43 per cent). The Bullets have a great awareness of when to shoot and take their time with their offensive positions, as they go at 40 per cent from deep. Cairns is starting to get high scores and push teams to the edge, something the Bullets won’t want as they solidify their spot in the top four.

Perth Wildcats v Melbourne United
Sunday, 3pm at RAC Arena

Key match-up: Bryce Cotton v Casper Ware

This match-up comes every time these two sides meet, and for a good reason. Both the match-makers of their respective sides have an ability to really change the course of a game by themselves. They’re each not afraid to take the game on, and if they drive themselves to the bucket, it’s not being selfish, it’s about their own state of mind that they can do something special. Ware was instrumental in Melbourne’s run last week, casually putting down plenty of tough shots from all over the court (including seven of 11 outside). He’s averaging 20.1 points, but 27.3 in the last three games, with his rebounds and assists on the up too. Cotton was held to 11 points last time he met United, but take away that and he averages 24.0 in his other six throughout the seven-game stretch. A disciplined player, he knows how to steal without picking up fouls and a player like Ware shouldn’t be cornered into giving away the ball too much, or at all.
Last time they met: Melbourne United (82) defeated Perth Wildcats (65)
Perth hit the first points of the game, but from there, it was all Melbourne. The margin did become even at one point in the second, but a 23-6 third quarter was the difference. Casper Ware put down 18 points, five rebounds and two assists, and Chris Goulding was big too with his 19 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Nicholas Kay was the shining light for the Wildcats, leading with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Season so far: Perth is still in a slump, despite a win back in Round 11, but a mighty team should stay in the top four. Melbourne went on a 21-0 run against Cairns to steal a win and keep in the top two.
The game: It was only a little while ago that these two sides met last, and it’ll be fresh in the Wildcats’ mind. Still in a slump despite two wins (both against Cairns) since the international window, Perth must be switched on this time around against a fellow finals-bound team. It’s hard to say that if the Wildcats let this game slip, they risk losing out of the post-season campaign, especially when mid-tier teams keep rising. United will know of Perth’s struggles and won’t change anything up from their game plans. Last week, they came back from the brink against Cairns, and while it was against a team that’s last, they can surely bring that energy against Perth. It’s a good test for the Wildcats, who have quality opposition in the coming weeks too, and to begin fresh with their roster of some of the best talent in the league will be welcomed.

Cairns Taipans v New Zealand Breakers
Monday, 7:50pm at Cairns Convention Centre

Key match-up: Melo Trimble v Tai Wesley

You can’t look past Trimble after his 42-point outing against Melbourne, and before that, a 32-point game when playing Perth, averaging over 52 per cent shooting in each. He’s never down for long, but the Breakers, and more so Wesley, won’t want him playing like that when all hope is riding on the Breakers to do well in the final rounds of the season. His assists have been down in recent weeks but that’s understandable, as he makes up for it. It’s not enough for New Zealand to foul him either, as he shoots 82 per cent from the line. Wesley can do all that on his own too, just not as extreme as Trimble. The Breakers forward is good when he shoots (he went at 81.8 per cent two weeks ago) and is mostly always over 50 per cent. If he’s not shooting himself, he’ll be in the paint waiting for the offensive rebound (2.2) and second-chance points. Down the other end, he can be deadly, picking up 3.7 defensive rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.5 blocks.
Last time they met: New Zealand Breakers (89) defeated Cairns Taipans (78)
It was looking like it would be a close finish but a 27-13 fourth quarter by the Breakers meant Cairns couldn’t have a win in front of its dedicated fans. Melo Trimble did well for the Taipans where he shot 23 points and had six assists, with Nate Jawai pulling up big with 11 points and nine rebounds. New Zealand had a strong core, and it was Shawn Long who provided 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Season so far: The Taipans rued their defence last week as Melbourne ran riot at the end, but there’s positive signs for the season ahead. The Breakers need to make their games count now, and can’t lose too many like last week.
The game: It’s seventh versus eighth but Cairns have belief after last week. After wins against Perth and Brisbane, the Taipans just can’t afford the lapse in concentration that occurred against Melbourne. The Breakers will be relieved that their scoring is spread, meaning the Taipans can’t just focus on defending one player. Both teams are matched statistically, but defensively, New Zealand is better at blocking shots (5.0) thanks to players like Wesley (1.5) and Long (1.4), who just also provide pressure around the outside and rim.



Weekend wash-up: NBL- Round 12

ROUND 12 saw a number of huge upsets as some of the top teams in the league were toppled in disappointing performances. The top three teams in the competition (Sydney, Perth and Melbourne) all suffered defeats over the weekend while the bottom three teams (Cairns, Illawarra and New Zealand) all tasted victory.

Cairns Taipans (109) defeated Brisbane Bullets (80)

The Taipans came into the round well and truly entrenched into bottom spot on the National Basketball League (NBL) ladder and their season a complete disaster to this point. However, their round 12 performance would prove to be an absolute masterclass as they flashed their full potential in a dominant performance over the in-form Brisbane Bullets. The Taipans won all four quarters and built their lead to as much as 30, firing on all cylinders at the offensive end while also locking down the Bullets offence. The win for the Taipans was just their second of the year but gives their fans hope through the second half of the year that they can be a force to be reckoned with in the future. Devon Hall, Nathan Jawai, DJ Newbill, Melo Trimble and Jarrod Kenny all scored in double figures in what was Cairns’ most complete team performance to date. For the Bullets, their offence was almost non-existent outside of Lamar Patterson,who scored 27 points on an efficient 10 of 14 from the field.

Adelaide 36ers (96) defeated by New Zealand Breakers (104)

The Breakers and the 36ers entered the round just one game out of a top four position as the two teams met in a crucial clash which could have bigger ramifications down the line. The 36ers have been struggling to rediscover their form from last season, seemingly unable to put together a strong game plan for the full four quarters. This was exemplified in this game as they came out the blocks on fire and led 49-41 at the half. From that point on however, it would be the Breakers who took all the momentum and ran away with the victory. Shawn Long was near unstoppable for New Zealand with a 28 points, 18 rebounds double-double. His ability to generate second shots for his team whiet also restricting the second-chance opportunities for Adelaide were a big key to victory. Teammate, Tai Wesley also added a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds as the two nullified the influence of Adelaide’s big men, leaving much of the load to guard, Nathan Sobey,who was impressive despite the loss.

Illawarra Hawks (78) defeated Sydney Kings (71)

The Kings came into the round in a three team battle for top spot and had a golden opportunity to separate themselves from Melbourne and Perth. They took on the Hawks who had been impressive of late in what was expected to be a tough outing. The two teams played an old school, grind-it-out defensive battle, with the top scorers for both teams being held relatively in check. Illawarra controlled the majority of the contest but was unable to create enough separation to put the Kings away. The Kings had the lead down to as low as one point with 40 seconds remaining before Brian Conklin hit four clutch free throws down the stretch to ice the game. Kevin Lisch led the Kings in scoring with 19 with his offence being crucial, given the poor shooting game of Jerome Randle and the lack of impact from Brad Newley. The second unit would prove to be the difference for Illawarra with Brian Conklin and Tim Coenraad combining for 35 points in just 37 minutes of play.

New Zealand Breakers (97) defeated Perth Wildcats (84)

The Wildcats were flying high early in the season and appeared to be returning to the championship form of seasons past, however their form in recent weeks has raised some alarm bells. This coincided with them taking on a New Zealand team who had found its stride in recent weeks and was coming off an impressive victory earlier in the round. In almost a repeat of their contest against Adelaide from earlier in the round, the Breakers fell behind early and struggled to find a rhythm. The third quarter would once again be the charm for the Breakers though, as they doubled Perth up with a 26-13 stretch to take a lead into the final term. From there, the Breakers took over and cruised to a comfortable 13-point victory and dropped the Wildcats to yet another loss. The duo of Shawn Long and Tai Wesley were impressive once again,combining for 53 of the team’s 97 points and protecting the rim on the defensive side of the ball. The two former NBA stars for the Wildcats in Bryce Cotton and Terrico White enjoyed some success for Perth with 43 points between them, but ultimately would not be enough for the win.

Brisbane Bullets (95) defeated Melbourne United (86)

Following the losses of the Kings and Wildcats, the defending champions, Melbourne United had a golden opportunity to reclaim their place atop the NBL ladder. That task would not be so simple as they took on the Bullets in Brisbane. The two teams engaged in a tough battle from start to finish as we entered the fourth quarter with the Bullets ahead by one point.The Bullets took control of the final term early and never allowed United to get back in the game, with the Melbourne side seemingly unable to get the defensive stops when it mattered most. Casper Ware made some big shots down the stretch to cut into the margin, scoring a game high 29 but it would not beenough as the Bullets knocked the reigning champs off to continue the round of the underdogs. A total team performance saw four of their five starters score in double figures, led by Matthew Hodgson’s 17 points. It was a huge win for the Bullets following their disappointing outing against the Taipans from earlier in the round to ensure they maintain their spot in the top four, just three games behind the top-of-the-table Sydney Kings. The loss for Melbourne United sees them drop back to third, whereas a win would’ve placed them atop the standings.

Cairns Taipans (82) defeated by Sydney Kings (86)

The Taipans continued their home stand with an encounter against the Sydney Kings to close out the round. In another strong outing, the Taipans had the home crowd buzzing as they gave the Kings everything they could handle and almost pulled off another monumental upset. After falling behind by 11 points in the first quarter, the Taipans played three near perfect quarters and left themselves an opportunity to steal a victory. Trailing by one point with two minutes remaining, the Kings got huge shots from Kevin Lisch, Jerome Randle and Daniel Kickert on consecutive possessions to put the game out of reach and get the Kings a huge bounce-back win. Nathan Jawai played his best all-round game of the season with 16 points, eight rebounds and seven assists on 8/10 from the field. Melo Trimble also stuffed the stat sheet with 22 points, six rebounds and five assists. For the Kings though, it was the huge game from Andrew Bogut who controlled both ends of the floor with 15 points and 17 rebounds, while acting as the team’s defensive anchor.

Taipans defy shooting inaccuracy to record opening round win

CAIRNS Taipans overcame great defensive pressure and uncontested errors in the second term to record an 18-point win over Brisbane Bullets on the weekend. The Bullets were fresh off a victory over the Breakers in New Zealand, but it was the away team that took home the points in this encounter as well, lead by debutant Melo Trimble.

It took until the final quarter to finally shake off the determined bullets, but the Taipans got the job done, pleasing coach Mike Kelly who became the first Cairns coach to win in his first National Basketball League (NBL) game.

“I thought even when we weren’t playing great, they believed in what we were trying to do and kept going with it, which as a coach you just hope you’re doing the right things, and these blokes just kept grinding and then it just kinda broke open with some made shots from a few guys so it was great,” Kelly said. “I think defensively we did the things we were trying to do and had great effort, so that’s the thing I’m most proud of right there. “We didn’t shoot the ball well but we’re a good shooting team I think. “If we continue to play defense, we were up and down in pre-season as well so we just have to take the things we do well and keep doing them well defensively, and then everyone is going to come to the party offensively. “Hopefully we don’t have to have one guy score 30 to get a win.”

Trimble did just that, landing 30 points to go with his five rebounds and three assists. Kelly said despite the scoring percentage dropping into the 20s in the second quarter, he never lost faith in what the team could accomplish if they stuck to the plan.

“Some of the shots were tough shots,” he said. “You’ve got to give credit to their defence, and some of the shots I would take again. I think Devon Hall‘s a good shooter, if he gets open I want him to shoot the ball. I think it’s just staying consistent with what we’re trying to do. “To shoot that percentage and score 88 points, you’ve got to be pretty happy. “We’ll just continue to try and do the things to get these guys open shots and one week it will be Melo, another week it will be Melo and DJ (Newbill) and Devon, we do have Kuany Kuany, Alex (Loughton) was good at times, Mitch Young came in and gave us really good minutes. “Jarrod Kenny was in there when we had our little run in the fourth and then Melo came in and topped it off, so it is as we said before it is a team thing and this group wants to play in that way.”

When asked about what it was like taking over a team following a long-term coach in Aaron Fern, Kelly said he looked forward to continuing the brand with a different style.

“I have a lot of respect for what the Taipans have done in the past under Aaron Fern and respect for him as a coach,” he said. “It’s funny though, this is a brand new team. “We have three blokes from the roster last year, and so I want to be known as a team that competes every night, and plays hard and plays for each other and I think we tried to do that tonight. “I want to be known as a good shooting team also but that’s going to take some work. “Those are the qualities that will make us consistent in this league and I think we have the guys that can compete in this league and it showed tonight against a tough team who just went out and beat New Zealand in New Zealand so I just want to be consistent.”

Cairns plays its first home game against Illawarra next Sunday.

2018/19 NBL Season Preview

THE 2018/19 National Basketball League (NBL) season is set to be the most exciting yet, with many big names taking to the court. We previewed each team in the lead-up to the highly anticipated season.

Pic: Matt King – Getty Images

ADELAIDE 36ERS

The 36ers finished second last season and pushed Melbourne United all the way in the NBL Grand Final. Star, Mitch Creek has earned an NBA contract with the Brooklyn Nets, which will prove to be a big loss for Adelaide.

Three-time club Most Valuable Player (MVP), Daniel Johnson has been named as captain this season after signing a deal that will see him remain at Adelaide until the end of the 2020-21 season. Australian Boomer, Nathan Sobey will be the vice-captain this season. Shooting guard, Brendan Teys has signed on for his sixth season with the Sixers, joining Majok Deng, Anthony Drmic, Adam Doyle, Harry Froling and Ramone Moore who will also stay with Adelaide.

American, Jacob Wiley has been acquired for the 2018/19 season. Wiley has spent some time in the NBA, debuting for the Nets last season and playing for the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Summer League. Jack McVeigh also joins the Sixers on a three-year deal. McVeigh was a previous captain of the Australian Under 19 team and has been playing for the Cornhuskers at the University of Nebraska.

 

BRISBANE BULLETS

The Bullets finished on the bottom of the table in the 2017/18 season with nine wins and 19 losses.

They have made an exciting signing for the 2018/19 NBL season, with NBA veteran, Alonzo Gee joining Brisbane on a one year deal. Gee has played over 400 NBA games and has spent time at Washington, San Antonio, Cleveland, Portland, New Orleans and Denver. Japanese shooting guard, Makoto Hiejima has also been recruited by the Bullets and could make a big impact. Hiejima has been playing in the Japanese national team since 2013 and has spent time with the Afshin Sea Horses. The duo join a host of signings, including five-time NBL champion, Mika Vukona and Commonwealth Games Gold medalist, Cameron Gliddon.

Guard, Jason Cadee will stay with the Bullets until the end of the 2020-21 season. This will be his ninth season in the NBL and he will come into the side after a successful Commonwealth Games campaign. Forward, Reuben Te Rangi has also signed on at Brisbane. Te Rangi played for the Tall Blacks at this year’s Commonwealth Games and claimed a bronze medal.

 

CAIRNS TAIPANS

The Cairns Taipans finished sixth last season with 11 wins and 17 losses. With new coach, Mike Kelly at the helm, the Taipans could turn around last season’s form.

Oklahoma City Thunder shooting guard, Devon Hall has been acquired for the 2018/19 season. Hall was selected in Round 2 of the 2018 NBA Draft and spent some time on the court in the summer league, playing five games for the Thunder. Cairns also picked up another American guard in Melo Trimble. Trimble was signed by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA last year, where he then played for the Iowa Wolves in the G-League. After playing for the Taipans in 2013, Mitch Young has returned to the side for the 2018/19 season. Other key signings include Australian Boomer, Lucas Walker and two-time NBL Champion, Jarrod Kenny.

NBL All Australian, Alex Loughton will play his ninth season for Cairns this season. However, the side has lost Cameron Gliddon and Mitch McCarron, with Gliddon heading to Brisbane and McCarron opting to play at Melbourne in the 2018/19 season.

 

ILLAWARRA HAWKS

The Illawarra Hawks finished fifth in the 2017/18 season with 12 wins and 16 losses.

Last season’s captain, Kevin White has also re-signed for the upcoming NBL season. This will be White’s fourth season at the club. Swingman, Tim Coenraad has also re-signed for the upcoming season. He currently sits third on the Hawks’ all-time games played list.

The Hawks have signed two former league MVPs in Brian Conklin and Cedric Jackson. Conklin has been playing in the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto and has been involved in championships in both the French Cup and FIBA Europe Cup. Jackson is a three-time championship player for the New Zealand Breakers and will now have a stint at the Hawks. Point guard, Jordair Jett also joins Illawarra for the 2018/19 season. Jett previously played with the Townsville Crocs and took out both the club MVP award and Defensive Player of the Year. The Hawks have also obtained Melbourne Boomers 2017/18 championship player, David Andersen for the upcoming season. He was a rookie for Illawarra 20 years ago and is now back for the 2018/19 season. Australian Boomer, Todd Blanchfield will also suit up for the Hawks this season.

 

MELBOURNE UNITED

Melbourne United are the reigning champions of the NBL, finishing first on the ladder with 20 points and eight losses. They defeated Adelaide in a tense finals series and would be raring to go back-to-back in the upcoming season. Head coach, Dean Vickerman will remain at the club until the end of the 2021-22 season.

Point guard, Casper Ware and shooting forward, Chris Goulding have returned for the 2018/19 season. Both were key components of Melbourne’s winning outfit last season and could again dominate the court this season. Dominant centre, Josh Boone has also re-signed for the upcoming season.

American shooting guard/ forward, D.J Kennedy will join United this season. He has played four years of college basketball at St John’s University in New York, so he brings a wealth of experience into the line-up. Australian Boomer, Mitch McCarron has also joined Melbourne on a three-year deal. Former New Zealand Breaker centre, Alex Pledger is another exciting recruit for United. Pledger is a four-time NBL Champion and a Tall Blacks representative.

 

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS

The New Zealand Breakers finished fifth last season with 15 wins and 13 losses.

The Breakers have signed 25 year-old American, Shawn Long. Long previously played with Philadelphia in the NBA on a short-term contract and followed this up with three appearances in the summer league with the 76ers, Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls. Small forward, Armani Moore and shooting guard, Patrick Richard are two exciting players that will join the side for the 2018/19 season. The Breakers have also acquired Melbourne United duo, Tai Wesley and Majok Majok, which will prove to be two key signings for the club.

Power forward, Finn Delany has re-committed to the Breakers, signing a two-year deal in the off-season. Delany has recently won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games. Swingman, Tom Abercrombie and point guard, Shea Ili have also put pen to paper for another season at New Zealand. This takes Abercrombie’s tally to 13 years with the club while Ili is coming off being named the 2017/18 NBL Most Improved Player.

 

PERTH WILDCATS

The Wildcats had a promising 2017/18 season, finishing third on 16 wins and 12 losses.

Australian Boomers players, Angus Brandt, Damian Martin and Jesse Wagstaff will all be again playing in Perth for the upcoming season. Wagstaff, Martin and Norton are Commonwealth Games Gold Medallists, which will hold the Wildcats in good stead this season. Reigning NBL MVP, Bryce Cotton will also go around again for Perth after a stellar 2017/18 season.

American, Terrico White has been added to the Wildcats’ roster for the 2018/19 season, and is a former NBA Draft pick. Two-time Perth championship player, Tom Jervis has also signed up for the upcoming season. Jervis has spent two years at Brisbane but is now returning back to his hometown. Australian Boomers power forward, Nick Kay is another key recruit for the Wildcats. The 25 year-old has played 90 NBL games, brining plenty of experience to the Perth line-up. Australian teammate, Mitch Norton also joins the Wildcats after previously playing with the Illawarra Hawks.

 

SYDNEY KINGS

The Sydney Kings didn’t record ideal results last season, finishing seventh with 11 wins and 17 losses.

Sydney hopes to rectify this through the biggest recruit of the off-season in Andrew Bogut. The Australian centre has had stints in the NBA with Milwaukee, Golden State, Dallas, Cleveland and the Los Angeles Lakers. He is also a championship player with the Warriors. Former Brisbane Bullets forward, Daniel Kickert is another big signing for the club. The Australian Boomers player became the first player in NBL history to shoot over 50% from the field, 40% from the three-point line and 90% from the free-throw line in the 2016/17 season.

Australian Boomers player, Kevin Lisch has re-committed to the club for the 2018/19 season. The two-time NBL MVP will be joined by 2017 MVP, Jerome Randle once again for the upcoming season. Randle averaged 19.8 points, 5.2 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game in the 2017/18 season. Two-time Olympian, Brad Newley and former college basketball player, Dane Pineau have also re-committed for the upcoming season.