Tag: jock landale

Olympics review: Day 7 – Boomers and France make it three from three

IT was another day of action packed basketball at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, as Australia continued their merry winning ways despite missing the services of Aron Baynes while the United States also collected a convincing win against Czech Republic.

Iran (62) defeated by France (79)

Iran put up a good fight against France but in the end France was simply too strong both in offence and defence walking away with the wind. Holding a five-point lead at quarter time France went on to inflict more pain in the second with a 24-10 term to really assert their dominance on the contest. Although Iran hit back in the third it was too little, too late as France came home strong and sealed the win. Shooting accuracy was the main differential between the two sides as France converted at 49 per cent from the field while Iran only managed 34 per cent. Rebounds were relatively close with only ten separating the two (42-32) while looking at assists France also led the way with 24 to 17.

Hamed Haddadi made his presence well and truly felt for Iran registering 18 points while he also racked up the rebounds with 12 to record a handy double-double. It did not stop there though as he chimed in with five rebounds, two steals and three blocks. Both Arsalan Kazemi and Benham Yakhchalidehkordi slotted 11 points apiece with Kazemi reeling in eight rebounds and three steals in the loss. Thomas Heurtel was the main port of call for France as he drained 16 points in just under 15 minutes while he also managed three rebounds. The points were shared around for France as Timothe Luwawu Cabarrot added 12 points along with five rebounds and three assists while Nando De Colo and Vincent Poirier contributed a solid 10 points each.

Italy (80) defeated Nigeria (71)

Italy stood up against Nigeria to run out with a nine-point win, coming out with a real fire in the belly in the opening quarter draining 29 points to 17 to establish a handy 12point lead at quarter time. But Nigeria struck back in the second piling on 22 points while keeping Italy to just the 11. Nigeria maintained that momentum heading into the third quarter to really assert their dominance and create a hefty lead at the final change. But Italy was not done with yet as they came out with a point to prove in the fourth term draining 24 points while keeping Nigeria to a mere eight.

Five players for Italy made it into double digits as Nicolo Melli made his mark with 15 points at 50 per cent from the field. Melli also recorded five rebounds and a steal while Achille Polonara drained 13 points, five rebounds and two assists. Nico Mannion did not skip a beat with 14 points while Simone Fontecchio also slotted 12 points and four assists in the win. Chimezie Metu was in fine form for Nigeria recording 22 points and 10 rebounds in what was an all-round solid performance. He managed an impressive six triples from seven attempts at 86 per cent. Joran Nwora was the next best with 20 points in his 34 minutes of court time while Jahill Okafor finished with 14 points and eight rebounds to his name.

Australia (89) defeated Germany (76)

The Boomers claimed another win, this time over Germany by 13 points. Germany raced out of the blocks early in the first quarter but Australia hit back in the second to not only level the scores but so to take the lead. That momentum continued into the third and they really romped at home in the 4th with a 23 to 17 point term. Australia had the upper hand when it came to field goal percentage shooting at 50 per cent however Germany were hot on their tails with 41 per cent. Germany reigned supreme on the rebound front with 45 to 28 with their form off the boards keeping them within striking distance.

Patty Mills was once again in dominant form for Australia posting 24 points, six assists and one rebound in the wind. He was ably assisted by Jock Landale who produced 18 points at 70 per cent from the field in just 25 minutes of court time. He also managed three rebounds and three assists in the win while Nick Kay also found his groove with 16 points, four rebounds and four assists. Dante Exum was the other player that managed to hit he strides with eight points, four rebounds and three assists. For Germany Andreas Obst led the charge sinking 17 points albeit at a lowly 38 per cent while teammates Johannes Thiemann and Niels Giffey registered 11 points each. Thiemann just fell short of a double-double with his nine rebounds, while speaking of rebounds Johannes Voigtmann was in blistering form off the boards with 13 to his name.

USA (119) defeated Czech Republic (84)

The United States came away with a romping 34-point win against Czech Republic. The US were surprised in the first term as Czech Republic opened up a seven point lead at quarter time before Team USA put the jets on in the second to flip the script and get the game back on their terms. They really put the foot down in the third with a 35-17 term while they upped the ante even further in last with 37 points to 24 in what turned into a dominant performance.

Jayson Tatum topscored for Team USA with an impressive 27 points in 24 minutes of play. He managed a 50 per cent conversion rate from down town draining five shots from 10 attempts while also picking up two rebounds. Kevin Durant upped the ante in this performance finishing with 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists to his name. Zach Lavine was solid with his 13 points while Jrue Holiday also found the net with his 11 points shooting at 71 per cent from the field. For the Czech Republic Blake Schlib was the man to watch producing 17 points and five rebounds while Jan Vesely was also a solid contributor with his 13 points in just under 30 minutes of play. Ondrej Balvin made his presence felt collecting 15 points, four rebounds and one assist as Tomas Satoransky also got into his groove with a stats stuffing performance consisting of 12 points, six rebounds and eight assists.

Photo credit: Getty images

Olympics review: Day 4 – Boomers remain undefeated as US get on the board with dominant win

FRANCE and Australia remained the only undefeated teams after two rounds in the men’s basketball top two pools, with the United States getting on the board in a big way, and Germany keeping its hopes of progressing to the next stage alive.

Men’s:

Nigeria (92) defeated by Germany (99)

Germany set up a tantalising final group match with Australia after running away with a seven-point win over Nigeria thanks to a dominant final term. Following the loss over Italy, the Germans led by three points at quarter time, but Nigeria – searching for its first win of the Olympics – drew level by the main break. Neither team could be split with a 24-apiece third term, before Germany pulled away in the last, piling on 25 points to 18 to win, 99-92. They led the rebounds by seven (35-28), and were more accurate from the field (54 to 51 per cent), though Nigeria had more assists (22-19) and less turnovers (18-20), with double the steals (12-6).

Johannes Voigtmann led the way for Germany with 19 points, and seven rebounds, while it was Maodo Lo who was the facilitator, picking up 13 points and nine assists – though nine turnovers – as well as two rebounds. Moritz Wagner (17 points, three rebounds), Danilo Barthel (14 points, two assists) and Johannes Thiemann (nine points, 10 rebounds) were the other key Germans. Jordan Nwora was a lone hand on the scoring front for Nigeria, putting up 33 points – including seven of 12 from beyond the arc – and collecting seven rebounds and two assists. Miye Oni (15 points – five of six from long-range – and two rebounds) was the other double-figure scorer for the losing side.

USA (120) defeated Iran (66)

After a poor start to their Olympic campaign, the United States were finally able to celebrate an emphatic win, giving the fans some relief that the team formerly referred to as the “Dream Team” was not as bad as Iran. The United States had 60 points to 30 on the board by half-time and never looked like losing with another 60 points to 36 in the second half, to run away with the dominant 54-point win, 120-66. The United States had double the assists (34-17) and only six turnovers, dominating most statistics such as the shooting percentage (55 to 37 per cent) and long-range makes (19-9), as well as steals (10-3) and blocks (10-1).

Damian Lillard picked up 21 points, all of which were three-pointers (seven of 13), as well as five assists to be one of six double-figure scorers. Devin Booker (16 points, four rebounds), Jayson Tatum (14 points, four rebounds and two assists), Zach Lavine (13 points, eight assists and four rebounds) and Kevin Durant (10 points, five rebounds and five assists) all got in on the scoring act in a real team effort. Hamed Haddadi (14 points, seven rebounds) was the best for Iran, with Mohammad Jamshidijafarabadi (14 points, three assists and two rebounds) and Navid Rezaeifar (13 points, two rebounds and two assists) the other double-figure scorers in the loss.

Italy (83) defeated by Australia (86)

A third quarter flurry from Australia has helped the Boomers grab a vital three-point win over Italy and put themselves in best position to grab top spot in in the Pool stage. The Boomers trailed by a point at quarter time, before stepping up in the third to win the quarter 21-17 and lead by three at the final break, which ended up being the final margin, 86-83. Italy had a higher scoring clip (50 to 46 per cent) but Australia dominated the rebounds (44-30) and assists (26-16), with the Boomers capitalising on their second chance points (17-5).

Jock Landale topscored for the winners with 18, as well as seven rebounds and two assists in the win. Fellow big man Aron Baynes had 14 points and seven rebounds, hitting two of three from long-range. Patty Mills finished with the 16 points, and despite being inaccurate for him (six of 17 from the field), he had six rebounds and five assists in the victory. Joe Ingles (14 points – four of nine triples – four rebounds and five assists) and Nick Kay (15 points, seven rebounds and two assists) were the other double-figure scorers. For Italy, Simone Fontecchio (22 points, four rebounds) and Nico Mannion (21 points, seven assists and three rebounds) teamed up for the majority of the points, while Achille Polonara finished with 12 points and seven rebounds.

Czech Republic (77) defeated by France (97)

France remained undefeated in Pool A with a strong 20-point win over the Czech Republic in the late match. The Czech Republic started off strongly, racing out to a six-point lead at the first break, but France not only caught up, but powered past them over the next two quarters with a 27-point turnaround. Winning the second term 29-12 and the third quarter 26-16 put them up by 21, before the Czechs won the last quarter by a point to make it an even 20-point loss, 77-97. France shot more efficiency from the field (56 to 53 per cent), had more rebounds (35-26) and assists (27-24), in what was otherwise a fair even game outside the shooting and rebounding.

Evan Fournier picked up a match-high 21 points, as well as three assists and two rebounds to lead the way for his team. Nando de Colo (17 points, eight assists) and Thomas Heurtel (11 points, seven assists and two rebounds) were both terrific facilitators for the French, while Vincent Poirer (14 points, five rebounds) also reached double-figure points. Jan Vesely was the topscorer for the losing side with 19, also collecting five rebounds and three assists, as Tomas Satoransky (14 points, 10 assists) and Ondrej Balvin (18 points, eight rebounds) were lively, and Patrick Auda (14 points, two rebounds) also hit double-figure points.

Picture credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

2021 Olympics preview

THE Olympics rolls around every four years, or in this case five given the current climate with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But with that it provides an opportunity for the best athletes and basketballers to culminate in one spot and represent their country. With players stemming from all different leagues and countries expect an action packed couple of weeks of high class basketball both in the men’s and the women’s. Draft Central takes a look at some of the standout players from each nation and potential medallists.

Men’s:

Group A:

Iran
France
USA
Czech Republic

It is fair to assume that the US will once again take out top spot in Group A with the nation renowned for its basketball excellence and sheer star power. The US currently hold the number one ranking in the world, and will be keen to keep that tradition running with a convincing performance in the group stage but will be tested against the likes of France who are likely to give the US a run for their money. Iran and Czech Republic are on the lower end of the FIBA standings but that does not mean they will not be tough competitors.

When looking at top performers it is hard to go past the services of Kevin Durant who has tasted his fair share of success both on the national and international stage. Durant has received a wealth of accolades such as MVP awards in the NBA to being named in the All-NBA team. But one thing he is yet to secure is the coveted gold medal and this could be his opportunity for the US. Playing alongside the likes of Damian Lillard, the up and coming Jayson Tatum and Draymond Green, America are nicely poised to push for a gold medal. Having just won the NBA title with Milwaukee Bucks expect the likes of Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton to have a real fire in their belly to keep that winning momentum happening and to add to their growing trophy cabinet. Rudy Gobert will be the main player in focus for France given his reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year while Nicolas Batum is also a livewire. Tomas Satoransky has proven that he can be a match winner for Czech Republic and will need to unlock that level of heroics throughout the Olympics to give his side a chance.

Group B:

Australia
Germany
Italy
Nigeria

The Boomers have enjoyed a rapid rise over the past couple of years and have showcased their dominance in their past couple of outings with a huge upset win over the US. With this level of momentum and victories already against the likes of Nigeria expect Australia to lead the way in Group B and secure top spot. Nigeria are currently 22nd in the world and will be hoping to increase their standings, while Italy is nicely poised in 10th and will be eager to string together some strong consecutive performances to assert themselves on the contest.

There will be plenty of key contributors across the board but when looking at the Boomers there are a couple of standouts with flagbearer and fan favourite Patty Mills likely to set the court alight. Expect the San Antonio Spurs representative to set the tone with his constant hustle, speed and drive across the court while Joe Ingles is another one to keep an eye on given his NBA experience. Chris Goulding and Jock Landale have been in fine form coming off premiership glory with Melbourne United in the NBL. Throw in the likes of NBA draft hopeful Josh Giddey and the Boomers are shaping up nicely to be real gold medal contenders if they are able to put out consistent high level performances. It has been a while since Germany have competed in basketball but Washington Wizards guard Isaac Bonga will be hoping to make an impact, while for Italy keep an eye out for the experienced Nicolo Melli. Nigeria have eight players currently in the NBA highlighting the extreme depth the nation has, making for an exciting pool of action.

Group C: 

Argentina
Japan
Spain
Slovenia

Group C is going to create plenty of intrigue with the host nation, in Japan the lowest ranked country heading into the event. It is the first time that Japan has competed in basketball since 1976 and they will be hoping to improve their output this time around. However it will not be easy up against the likes of Spain who hold second spot in the FIBA rankings, while Argentina are also no easy beats given their fourth placed ranking. Expect the contest between Argentina and Spain to be enthralling as the two nations go head-to-head in order to secure the number one position in the group.

There is no denying that Luka Doncic is the main draw card for Slovenia with the guard an imposing figure in the NBA and likely to bring that attitude into the Olympics. Expect Doncic to carry the weight of his nation and lead from the front to give his country a chance to propel past the group stage. For Japan, Yudai Baba will hoping to use his NBL experience to full advantage when he takes the court, while both Rui Hachiamura and Yuta Watanbe are also imposing figures both in stature and game play. Watanbe stands at six foot nine inches, and will not be overwhelmed by the bigger bodies credit to his three years with the Toronto Raptors in the NBA. All eyes will be on Argentinian veteran Luis Scola who is suiting up for his fifth Olympics campaign while Spain are littered with match winners. For Spain they have a couple of tried and tested campaigners that will be eager to lead the way with Marc Gasol and his brother Pau Gasol more than capable of hitting the scoreboard while Ricky Rubio should not be underestimated.

Prediction:

Gold medal: Australia
Silver medal: USA
Bronze medal: Spain

Women’s:

Group A:

Korea
Serbia
Canada
Spain

Group A is the most stacked pool with three nations inside the top 10 all competing. With the men not qualifying for Serbia the hopes of a nation rest on the shoulders of the women’s team. Serbia are more than capable of dominating and have proven that time and time again. But the pool is littered with top contenders as Spain are no slouches and in fact sit higher in the FIBA rankings currently holding onto third spot while Canada is hot on their heels sitting in fourth spot. The battle for prime position will go right down to the wire.

Regulars at the Olympics, Canada will be hoping that their big names such as Kia Nurse and Natalie Achonwa are able to step up to the challenge and pave the way. Nurse is no slouch and has a wealth of accolades to her name having played both in the NBL and NBA. For Spain, expect the likes of Astou Ndour to lead the way given her WNBA experience if she is to assert herself on the competition.

Group B:

Nigeria
Japan
France
USA

The US will be eager to maintain their number one status and take out the top of the table for Group B. They are renowned for their depth and talent but will have to be on their a-game up against the likes of France who have proven to be real fighters. Japan will be hoping to do their nation proud and create a couple of upsets, while Nigeria sit 17th in the world but are more than capable of causing upsets aplenty.

USA have the weight of the nation on their shoulders as they look for their seventh straight gold medal at these Olympic games. Littered with star players across the court the US will be hoping that the likes of Ariel Atkins, Breanna Stewart and Sylvia Fowles are able to step up to the plate and dominate. As one of the most experienced heads out on court expect Sue Bird to have a huge influence on team USA when things get heated. France will be hoping that they are able to rally together to generate some real momentum with the likes of Marine Johannes at the helm.

Group C:

Australia
Puerto Rico
China
Belgium

Australia would be quietly confident heading into the group stage of the Olympics having knocked off the US only weeks earlier and with a head full of steam. The Boomers are locked into second spot on the world standings with Belgium likely to be their toughest competitors in the early stages given they are ranked sixth. China are no easy beats and will be hoping to hit their straps to rise up the ladder while Puerto Rico will be hoping to leave nothing in the tank and make a name for themselves.

The Opals will be without the services of Liz Cambage but that will not stop them as the likes of Ezi Magbegor and Bec Allen look set to take the reins. Throw in the likes of Steph Talbot and Leilani Mitchell and Australia have a strong cohort of players able to impose themselves on the contest and score easily. Having qualified for their first Olympics expect the likes of Belgium representative Emma Meesseman to lead the way credit to her WNBA experience and finals credentials.

Prediction:

Gold medal: USA
Silver medal: Australia
Bronze medal: Canada

 

Photo credit: Basketball Australia

Boomers tip off Olympic preparations in style

AUSTRALIA’S Olympic men’s basketball campaign tipped off with a trio of wins, providing fans with more confidence the Boomers can medal at next week’s Tokyo Olympics. In a warm-up tournament in Las Vegas, the Boomers defeated Argentina, USA and Nigeria, with the Australian Opals set to hit the court on Saturday against USA.

AUSTRALIA (87) defeated ARGENTINA (84)

A Patty Mills buzzer-beating triple kick-started the Boomers’ Olympic preparations with a memorable three-point triumph over Argentina. Fittingly during NAIDOC Week and just after fellow Indigenous hero Ash Barty won Wimbledon, Mills was the saviour, draining a last second basket from beyond the arc courtesy of a sweet set play from big man Jock Landale. Mills finished with 17 points – four of 11 from long-range including the two last late daggers – four rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Fellow deadeye, Joe Ingles managed the 16 points – four of 11 from three-point ranges, three assists, two rebounds and two steals. Matisse Thybulle‘s defensive efforts were what caught the eye, producing three blocks and nailing all three long-range attempts on his way to 15 points, five rebounds and four steals. Aron Baynes (14 points, eight rebounds) was also strong at both ends. Dante Exum (seven points, three assists and two steals from 15 minutes) relieved with some key points in small minutes.

Luis Scola (25 points, eight rebounds) was the dominant scorer for Argentina in the loss, while Facundo Campazzo (12 points, five assists and two steals) and Luca Vildoza (11 points, two assists) also reached double-figure points.

AUSTRALIA (91) defeated USA (83)

Without a doubt the best win of the lead-up tournament was against Gold Medal favourites USA, as the world heavyweights took an early lead, before Australia roared back into it and took control to win in the second half. The United States led by nine points at half-time with Damian Lillard dominating and Baynes out with a knee injury. A stunning 19-6 run late in the third term – capped off by a Chris Goulding triple – turned it around for the Boomers to be leading by five at the main break and Mills did the rest with 10 points in five minutes to lead the Australian side to a memorable eight-point triumph.

“It was all about our defence,” Mills said after the win. “We understand that at the start of this campaign that for us to be really competitive and to achieve our goals we need to hang our hat on the defensive end especially against a team like the US.

“For us to take away their athleticism where they like to get out in transition to make easy baskets and dunks that was pretty impressive for our second game. “But we are not satisfied and we know we can still get a lot better and our focus is going to continue to be to hang our hat on defence for this entire campaign.”

Mills again topscored with 22 points, as well as four assists and two rebounds, whilst it was Ingles (17 points, four rebounds and three assists – and three triples) who worked well with Goulding (11 points and three triples) from beyond the arc. Thybulle was again a strong defender with 12 points, three assists, two rebounds and two blocks – including a memorable one of USA star Kevin Durant – while Nick Kay came close to a double-double with eight points and nine rebounds in 25 minutes, and Landale had eight and seven in 17 minutes.

Lillard finished with 22 points – after 16 in the first half – and four rebounds, nailing six of 11 from long-range. Durant (17 points, four rebounds, two assist sand two blocks) also had four triples, while Bradley Beal (12 points, three rebounds and two assists) and Jayson Tatum (eight points, three rebounds and four assists) both held their own.

AUSTRALIA (108) defeated NIGERIA (69)

Completing the trifecta, Australia produced its most dominant win of the warm-up series with a massive 39-point victory over Nigeria. Despite both teams coming in undefeated after Nigeria equally shocked Argentina and USA, it was Australia that completely destroyed Nigeria, led by Goulding who was deadly from long-range. The Boomers rested Baynes, Mills, Ingles and Matthew Dellavedova for the game, and it was a bunch of talented NBL stars who stepped up in the huge victory.

“We’ve got a good system, I’ve been playing in it for a lot of years now and I’m pretty confident with where I can find my shots in it,” Goulding said post-game.

“I think we were locked in from the jump defensively. We had seen how they’d played their last two games, they’re a potent offensive team with a lot of athleticism and they can really shoot the ball. So we had to be keyed in on that.

“Then at the other end we had to play to our strengths by moving the ball and with man movement, and we were able to run up a pretty hefty international score so we are pretty happy with that.”

Goulding was stunning with seven from seven beyond the arc for a perfect 21 points, four assists and three rebounds, as second side Duop Reath (17 points, three rebounds and two assists), Nathan Sobey (15 points, four rebounds and five assists) and Landale (14 points, five rebound and two blocks) all stood out. The future of green and gold in Josh Giddey (14 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Josh Green (11 points, three steals) also impressive in the victory.

For Nigeria, Ogi Emegano and Josh Okogie both had 10 points, while Precious Achiuwa (Seven points, six rebounds) and Jahlil Okafor (seven points, five rebounds) hit the boards well in what was a disappointing performance for the losing side.

 

Picture credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Melbourne United season summary

WITH the National Basketball League (NBL) season done and dusted we take a look at the performance of each team and how they fared in season 2021. The next team under the microscope is Melbourne United who won the 2021 NBL title.

SEASON SUMMARY:

It was a season to remember for head coach Dean Vickerman and his strong Melbourne United side, who ultimately overthrew the Perth Wildcats in a thrilling Game Three of the grand final series. The win was a welcomed outcome for the side, who were determined to have another taste at glory since their last win back in the 2017-18 NBL season.

United’s monumental season was encompassed by 28 wins and eight losses, which helped to secure their position at the top by the end conclusion of the regular season. Despite the added pressures of rounding off the regular season as a result of the Victorian lockdowns, it only seemed to help United take the top spot in the competition. The reigning champions’ roster was kept pretty similar for the majority of the season, with no major injuries plaguing the team during the season.

HOW IT UNFOLDED:

Melbourne United opened their season with a win against the Adelaide 36ers, as they kicked off what would be a phenomenal season. In the aftermath of their win against the 36ers, United saw a string of wins before hitting their first loss of the season back in round six of competition. But the slight loss of momentum from Melbourne had failed to continue. Eventually, composure and form were regained in a 10-point win against the Illawarra Hawks that ignited a winning streak. As a result of this winning streak, United would be seen to dominate the scoreboard and take out the title.

United’s chances of securing their second title in four years became a lot clearer when they took down the Southeast Melbourne Phoenix in the semi-final series. The cross-town rivals were no match for Melbourne United who put on a fiery performance to defeat the Phoenix 2-0.

Finally, Melbourne’s showdown with the second-placed Perth Wildcats saw a tight contest between the two sides. United took full advantage of the final series right from the get-go. Game one saw them get over the line against Perth by three points, meanwhile, Melbourne took out game two by nine points. Melbourne capped off the grand final season at John Cain Arena 81 to 76.

WHAT WORKED WELL:

A key part of the sides’ gameplay, United’s defence had a clear presence on the scoreboard.

Yudai Baba’s performance throughout the season a small taste of how good the sides’ defence was. His 31 steals and nine blocks were not only critical for the side to secure the years’ title but also resulted in the fan-favourite picking up Melbourne United’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Chris Goulding helped his side to get started and delighting United fans during the first four minutes. The star talent put on a show collecting three triple-points in the first four minutes of the game and caused chaos for Wildcats’ offense. His nine points paved the way for what was to come in the thrilling contest. Goulding continued to keep the pressure on the Wildcats with 14 points, four rebounds and two assists.

Alongside Goulding, Jock Landale whose performance also proved critical for United with 15 points, nine rebounds, two rebounds and two blocks.

WHAT WENT WRONG:

Whilst Melbourne ranked pretty strong in defence coming in first in the competition, they slipped when it came to offence coming in third just behind Phoenix and Perth. Overall, Melbourne United had a pretty good year given they had taken out the minor championship as well as the grand final series.

ROSTER NEWS:

Melbourne United are not stopping following on from their season win, immediately turning their attention to their roster for the NBL22 season.

A major disappointment for United with Mitch McCarron departing the team to join the Adelaide 36ers.

However, in an effort to fill the void left by McCarron, Melbourne has secured two-time Olympic basketballer Matthew Dellavedova for next season. The Victorian-native, who also has 450 NBA games under his belt, will bolster an already versatile United team.

Dellavedova will join Sydney Kings veteran Brad Newley next year as new signings. Meanwhile, Shea Lli, Chris Goulding, Jack White, Mason Peatling, Jo-Lual-Acuil and David Barlow all re-signed to remain contracted with the team. Zac Triplett has also signed on with Melbourne United.

LOOKING TOWARDS NEXT SEASON:

It will not be a surprise that United will be on everybody’s radar going into the 2022 season. Melbourne United will be aiming for a back-to-back win come this time next year. With Dellavedova and Newley being thrown into the mix of big names, be prepared to see Melbourne United out on the court playing for yet another championship to add to their collection.

 

Picture credit: Daniel Pockett/AAP

United clinch 2021 NBL championship with a clean sweep

MELBOURNE United are the 2021 National Basketball League (NBL) champions claiming Game 3 in front of a home crowd. Holding top spot for majority of the season, it all came down to whether or not they would get the job done in the big dance and that they did, downing Perth Wildcats by five points (81-76) in an absolute thriller.

After spending 30 days on the road, Melbourne got the chance to play at John Cain Arena and had one thing in mind – to lift the premiership – and that was clear from the opening minutes. Inspired by veteran and United stalwart Chris Goulding, United dug deep to walk away with the chocolates. It was always going to be difficult for the Wildcats who had been dealt their fair share of injuries throughout the series with Most Valuable Player (MVP) Bryce Cotton out of action and Mitch Norton worse for wear. But that return of Luke Travers and Clint Steindl definitely gave the visitors a bit of a pep in their step. However it was not enough to knock United off their perch, imposing themselves in Game 3 much like they did in Game 1 and 2.

The opening quarter started with a bang as Melbourne wasted no time giving their fans plenty to cheer about. An 11 points to two run gifted them a handy lead and the ascendancy, with Goulding finding his stroke from deep nice and early while Mason Peatling got involved in the action. In his first game of the series, Travers showcased how important his inclusion in the Wildcats side was with a couple of early points to keep his side in the hunt. The Wildcats were up to their usual tricks by dominating off the boards picking up 13 rebounds to a mere six but were getting outdone by their opponents when it came to shooting accuracy.

A nine-point differential grew to 10 points as United looked to forge ahead but the Wildcats were not going to let it slip any further as they increased the defensive pressure. Reducing Melbourne’s ability to find their way to the rim, Perth limited their opponents to just five points in over six minutes of play while up the other end they were playing with a wealth of freedom. The Wildcats outscored United 18 to 12, with the likes of Todd Blanchfield having an influence while unfortunately it was curtains for Norton who was forced to the sideline with his continuing hip injury.

When the second half rolled around, only three points separated the two sides with the game looking like it could go either way. United fans hearts dropped when Perth hit the lead thanks to a couple of handy threes from Kevin White and Corey Shervill but the home side were not about to let it slip through their fingers. They rallied with a seven point run to steal the lead back as Scotty Hopson bobbed up alongside Jock Landale and Goulding.

With only quarter left to play it all came down to this. Yudai Baba decided it was his time to have a say draining five points as he pushed his side out to an 11-point margin. But in true Wildcats style they fought back going on a points scoring spree of their own to take things up a notch and make United sweat. John Mooney kept Perth alive with the big man having an influence up both ends of the court while a couple of the veterans for both sides plied their trade. It was a heart in your mouth final minute of play with Blanchfield sending the crowd into raptures after landing a triple to shrink the margin to just three points. But it was Landale that made his mark draining a huge jump shot followed by the icing on the cake from Baba to reign victorious and grant United their second premiership in four years.

It was a game to remember for Landale who not only landed the most crucial shot of the game with less than 40 seconds left on the clock to seal the deal for the home side, but so too walked away with the Larry Sengstock Medal as the Grand Final MVP for his efforts. Landale collected 15 points, nine rebounds, two steals and two blocks in his outing. He alongside Goulding were in hot form throughout the clash as they continued to step up to the plate and deliver. Goulding registered 14 points, four rebounds and two assists. But it was not just a two-man show as a host of other players plied their trade and got the job done for United in a tantalising battle as Peatling showcased his class with 12 points at 83 per cent from the field while Hopson also scored 12 points and picked up three assists. Mitch McCarron was influential off the boards thanks to his seven defensive rebounds as Baba finished with 11 points to his name.

For the Wildcats it was Mooney who was once again the main player in focus recording 14 points and a whopping 13 rebounds for his efforts. White also chimed in with 14 points of his own at 41 per cent from the field as Blanchfield registered a double-double credit to his 11 points and 11 rebounds in an all-round solid performance. On return, Travers was consistent sinking nine points and picking up six rebounds, two assists and a steal while Will Magnay tried hard with his 10 points.

Photo credit: Melbourne United Twitter

NBL 2021: Grand Final series – Stats analysis

ONLY days away from Game 3 of the Grand Final series and both Melbourne United and Perth Wildcats are preparing for an epic battle. In this analysis we will break down the statistics from Game 1 and Game 2 and analyse what each side needs to do if they are to claim Game 3.

Game 1 StatS:

Perth Wildcats were so close to getting the chocolates in Game 1 but fell short by three points as Melbourne United kickstarted their premiership tilt. The game was incredibly close on the scoreboard and the statistics mirrored that with not much separating the two sides in the end. Melbourne shot marginally better from the field with a 40 per cent conversion rate thanks to their 30 shots from 75 attempts in comparison to Perth’s 39 per cent. They also had the upper hand when it came to scoring from within the arc boasting a 50 per cent strike rate while the Wildcats sat at 42 per cent. But the tables turned when it came to letting go from long range as Perth imposed themselves with a 36 per cent clip as opposed to Melbourne’s 27 per cent, despite both sides nailing nine triples apiece.

United recorded two more intercepts than their opponents in Game 1 with 42 to their name in comparison to 40 while they also had more assists than Perth (17-13). Perth had their moments in defence collecting seven steals to six but their sloppy hands and costly turnovers came back to bite them as the home side coughed up the ball 17 times, while United treasured possession with just 12 turnovers across the board.

In terms of blocks, Melbourne made use of their bigmen racking up five while Perth only managed two but they gave away a couple of unnecessary fouls finishing with 17 to their name in comparison to Perth’s tidy 13. United imposed themselves in close with a whopping 40 of their 73 points coming from in the paint. Their ability to compete and convert was a key reason for their success as they kept the Wildcats to just 26 points. They also impressed when it came to second chance points slotting 13 to six and also flexed their bench depth with 23 points in comparison to 18.

Game 2 Stats:

Shooting percentage seemed to be a major issue for Perth Wildcats in Game 2 only converting at a mere 36 per cent from the field. On the flip-side, Melbourne United imposed themselves sitting at 45 per cent from the field sinking 26 shots out of the 57 attempts. United also held the upper hand specifically looking at two point accuracy albeit marginally with a 47 per cent clip compared to Perth’s 43. Another key shooting difference came in United’s ability to seal the deal from down town converting 10 of their 23 attempts to sit at 43 per cent while it was a very different story for Perth who struggled to find their range with six from 25.

When Perth did get hand to ball they managed to shoot nice and close to the rim, outscoring United when it came to points in the paint with 28 to 22 and also impressed with their second chance points with 15 to eight. Their never-say-die attitude and hustle was a key feature throughout Game 2 as they worked in overdrive to find avenues to the basket credit to Melbourne’s defence. One of the most significant and damaging statistics to come out of the game however was United’s ability to score off the bench. The visitors racked up a whopping 41 bench points while Perth only managed to slot a mere 16 highlighting the stark difference between the two sides and ultimately giving United the upper hand.

Perth narrowly edged out United when it came to rebounds amassing 40 in comparison to Melbourne’s 39, showcasing their ability to contest off the ring while they also had less turnovers (10-11). United impressed with their ball smarts to control proceedings with 17 assists to 13 while their defensive pressure was also obvious as shown through their five steals and four blocks as Perth only managed three and two respectively.

What needs to happen?

The top of the table United are one win away from claiming the ultimate glory and have the opportunity to do so in front of a home crowd. United have won all four games this season at RAC Arena but have been somewhat inconsistent at home against Perth so will be hoping for a big performance. Melbourne have been on the road for a long time now, notching up their 30th day away from home but that has not stopped them from racking up the wins securing eight victories from 10 appearances. Conversely, Perth Wildcats have really struggled to find their form and hit the scoreboard. Having dropped the first two games of the series, the back-to-back premiers will be hoping to dig into their big bag of tricks and find a way to win to push it to Game 4.

Spearheaded by coach Dean Vickerman, United have a wealth of depth at their disposal and will be hoping to exploit that in this match-up. Chris Goulding and Jock Landale will once again be the main focus for the side given their explosive nature both in offence and defence. The bench depth is an area with which United have the upper hand and that has shown in both performances so far this series with the likes of Scotty Hopson, Shea Ili and Jo Lual-Acuil – if available after going down with injury in Game 2 – will be hoping to replicate.

Plagued by injury with MVP Bryce Cotton out of action, Luke Travers missing and Clint Steindl out with a groin complaint, the Wildcats are somewhat the walking wounding while Mitch Norton has hobbled through the past two games. If the Wildcats are to muster up something extraordinary they will need breakout performances from their main two facilitators in Todd Blanchfield and John Mooney. The duo are more than capable of imposing themselves and racking up both the rebounds and points which they will need to do to get Perth over the line.

Photo credit: Paul Kane

2021 NBL Grand Final preview: Game 3

THE National Basketball League (NBL) Grand Final series moves to Melbourne for Game 3 with Melbourne United looking to seal the deal against Perth Wildcats in front of a home crowd. Having played the first two games at RAC Arena the ease in COVID-19 restrictions has allowed play to transition to Victoria on Friday night with the game set to be an absolute blockbuster.

Melbourne United are sitting pretty with two wins under their belts and are one win away from securing the coveted premiership. It has been a rollercoaster series so far with Perth getting out to early leads in both games but United showcasing their class and grit to grind down the Wildcats and win. Unfortunately Perth have been struck down with a wealth of injuries with Bryce Cotton yet to take the court due to his injury, Luke Travers and Clint Steindl were both sidelined in Game 2, while sparks flew around the fitness of Mitch Norton who appeared to tweak something. Perth will once again be tested for depth in Game 3 while United are going along swimmingly on the injury front with the only concern Jo Lual-Acuil who left the court.

Scoring is proving to be a real issue for the Wildcats who have been unable to hit the 80-point mark in their past seven encounters. Meanwhile United have showcased their firepower and dominance from long range to keep the Wildcats out of the game. Momentum will be a focal point in this clash with United expected to come in with a head full of steam. But one thing that cannot be discounted is Perth’s ability to do the unthinkable. The two-time premiers have an uncanny ability to whip something up out of nothing and will need to be at their damaging best if they are to keep their slim premiership hopes alive.

United will be hoping to shut down Todd Blanchfield once again and really put the clamps on the forward like they did in Game 2. Blanchfield was an excitement machine in Game 1 but failed to have the same impact second time around but does not often have two quiet games. John Mooney is another player for the Wildcats that can turn a game in the blink of an eye given he averages 17 points and 11.4 rebounds but has not reached those heights so far this series. Kevin White and Will Magnay will have to up the ante if they are to upset United and apply some real scoreboard pressure.

Looking at United and the home side will have plenty of pep in their step when they host Perth on Friday. Chris Goulding found his stroke from beyond the arc in Game 2 and if he continues on that trajectory it could spell trouble for the Wildcats. It is a two-pronged attack for United with Goulding and Jock Landale able to hit the scoreboard with great ease. the pair have quickly become a commanding force with Landale both a threat off the boards and on the points scoring front thanks to his average of 16.5 points and 7.8 rebounds. But it is the support from their bench players that gives United a real edge with Yudai Baba having a blistering performance in Game 2 and Scotty Hopson and Mitch McCarron able to inflict scoreboard pain in a short amount of time.

Photo credit: Will Russell

United make it two from two away from home

MELBOURNE United are one step away from claiming the ultimate prize toppling Perth Wildcats in Game 2 of the Grand Final series (83-74).  Backing up their performance from only days earlier, United got the job done at RAC Arena digging deep in the second half.

It was a blistering first term of basketball from Perth as the home side charged out of the blocks with a real point to prove. Only going down by three points in Game 1 it looked as if the Wildcats were out for vengeance nice and early despite missing the likes of Bryce Cotton, Clint Steindl and Luke Travers. It was always going to be hard to find scoring avenues but the Wildcats did not have that issue in the opening term as John Mooney and Will Magnay inserted themselves in the contest. United would not give in though as Chris Goulding picked up where he left off, finding his stroke from down-town alongside Jock Landale. But Perth were relentless piling on eight points straight and continued to attack the rim as Kevin White replaced Mitch Norton who was struggling with an injury he sustained in Game 1. By quarter time the Wildcats had established a handy 10-point lead to put them in good stead for the match.

Disappointed with their efforts in the first term United came out with a much more spirited performance to start the second, pegging away at the deficit thanks to eight straight points as Jo Lual-Acuil found his groove. It was not until Yudai Baba drained a three-pointer that United hit the front. But the twists and turns continued as the lead changed hands once again as Perth went on a handy nine point scoring spree to quash United’s momentum. With the clock ticking down to half time, Baba had other ideas as he landed one from three-point range before bringing the house down with a half-court shot on the buzzer to level the scores at 42 apiece.

With neither side really able to assert themselves on the contest it was United’s time to shine and that they did. Goulding showcased his leadership and grit to spur his side on as they rallied, adding nine consecutive points to establish a handy lead. but Goulding proved costly on the foul front notching up his fourth for the evening and subsequently pushing him to the bench. Credit to Melbourne’s defence the Wildcats were unable to find any easy avenue to the basket as Mooney was shut down and Todd Blanchfield struggled to have the same impact he did in Game 1. United controlled majority of the term despite a couple of late points from White and Magnay to get the three quarter time buffer to five points.

It was all coming down to the final quarter with United looking to close out the game and the Wildcats hoping to do the unthinkable and flip the script to notch up a win. But that was not to be, as Melbourne got busy in the first couple of minutes with Scotty Hopson opening the account with a jump shot to set the wheels in motion. Goulding was re-injected back into the action with the captain impressing with his dominance from beyond the arc . Things just continued to steadily tick along for United as their class and depth shone through against a depleted Perth outfit.

Mooney was the main playmaker for the Wildcats producing 17 points and nine rebounds while Blanchfield was down on his Game 1 efforts finishing with 13 points and eight rebounds. Norton managed 12 points in his 27 minutes while White also chimed in with a handy 12 points and two rebounds. There were a few more contributors for the victors but once again it was Goulding that led the way sinking 21 points at 50 per cent from the field. His dominance from three-point range was a standout draining four shots from seven attempts. Landale racked up a double-double thanks to his 12 points and 17 rebounds, 15 of which were defensive while Baba had a game to remember sinking 15 points and four rebounds. Lual-Acuil was the only other player to reach double figures with 10 points as Hopson walked away with nine points to his name.

Game 3 will be played at John Cain Arena as Melbourne United look to seal the deal with a win and secure the coveted premiership. But it will not be easy given Perth are back-to-back champions for a reason and will be eager to make amends for their shortcomings.

Photo credit: AAP

United claim upper hand in Game 1

MELBOURNE United scraped home to snatch a narrow three point victory in Game 1 of the Grand Final series against a depleted Perth Wildcats (73-70). It was a hard slog with neither side willing to give an inch as the lead chopped and changed throughout the contest.

In front of a packed RAC Arena the home side was hoping to kick things off with a bang but were hit hard by injury before the game even started with three time MVP Bryce Cotton still out of action and Luke Travers unable to take the court with calf soreness. United were on the money early with captain, Chris Goulding inspiring the side before Mason Peatling contributed to the scoreboard. But the Wildcats were not about to lie down as the cogs started to tick over as Travers’ replacement in Clint Steindl converted his free-throws and Mitch Norton found his way to the rim. Perth continued this momentum to end the term with a nine point to three run creating a narrow one point lead at the break 19-18.

Looking to capitalise on their dominant end to the term Wani Swaka Lo Buluk nailed consecutive shots to push the margin out to three points before both Todd Blanchfield and John Mooney got involved in the action for Perth.  The lead ballooned out to as much as seven points as the Wildcats shut down United’s drive to the basket through their defensive efforts. It was a high intensity final three minutes of basketball in the second quarter as both sides traded blows in hope to gain the upper hand and a last second triple from none other than Goulding was exactly what the side needed heading into the main break.

Only four points separated the two sides at half time and United were eager to eat into that deficit from the opening minutes of the third quarter. With Steindl out of the game for Perth and Melbourne still at full capacity the visitors made use of their bench depth. With less than nine minutes left on the clock United levelled the scores at 35 points apiece but that was short lived as Perth hit back to forge ahead. But the twists and turns continued as Jock Landale came to life in the third with the star recruit imposing himself in every way he could while Goulding was at his damaging best from beyond the arc. United did not look like relenting with the momentum well and truly favouring them as veteran David Barlow showed some spark with a handy triple as Melbourne started to assert themselves. As the clock ticked down to the final change the visitors held a four point lead thanks to a 29 point to 18 term.

With it all to play for in the final term United were in the box seat and while the boisterous crowd were trying their hard to spur the Wildcats on it was not enough. Blanchfield was monumental for the Wildcats but it was the likes of Landale and Goulding that were doing a wealth of damage as they continued their merry way for United. In fact the lead skipped out to as much as 10 points midway through the quarter thanks to a hookshot from Jo Lual-Acuil. But as the quarter went on the spirit and fight of Wildcats came to the fore as they dwindled the margin back to three but fell short of victory with a potential to Norton also at the forefront of Perth’s mind.

Blanchfield was a consistent figure for the Wildcats topscoring with a whopping 27 points and seven rebounds all of which were defensive. Kevin White chimed in with a handy 10 points and five rebounds coming off the bench while Mooney was down on his productivity only registering eight points, seven rebounds and four steals. For United, Goulding was running hot sinking 23 points along with three rebounds and two steals. Landale was also proficient thanks to his 17 points at 43 per cent from the field plus his seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Mitch McCarron had an influence off the boards reeling in 11 rebounds and also managed six points while Lual-Acuil finished the game with 10 points and seven rebounds to his name.

Photo credit: Paul Kane