Tag: Josh Boone

2019/20 NBL preview: Round 16 – Milestones to highlight big round heading into finals

WITH only four rounds to go in the National Basketball League (NBL), expect some big performances and ladder defining games to take place in hope to secure that all elusive finals spot. Round 16 also marks plenty of milestones for a host of key players adding further excitement to the clashes.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS v. SYDNEY KINGS
Friday, January 17, 5:30pm
TSB Stadium

After gathering some momentum, the Breakers hit a wall last round dropping both their games and relegating them back to eighth spot on the ladder while their opponents firmed their spot on top. The Kings have been the team to beat all season and this game will be no different with Sydney looking to well and truly announce themselves on the competition and iron out any inconsistencies in their game play. However, finals are not completely out of the picture for New Zealand and they will know that, making for a game jam-packed with action. The Breakers have shown that they can do the unthinkable and stamp their foot down with their clever ball movement but the biggest obstacle will be shutting down livewire Casper Ware and big man Andrew Bogut. Both players are influential for the Kings able to turn the game on its head within an instant. Ware can score from anywhere and at any given time while Bogut’s no-nonsense attitude and big frame at the basket is hard to stop. But the Breakers have their own stalwart of players with the likes of Robert Loe and Scotty Hopson able to drop hefty totals when needed. Loe was well held in his second game last week, but knocked back 24 points in the game before showcasing his skillset and scoring prowess. If New Zealand are any chance to make finals they must win this clash against the Kings, which will be no easy feat.

PERTH WILDCATS v. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Friday, January 17, 9:20pm
RAC Arena

Being one win away from first place on the ladder expect the Wildcats to come out with plenty of intensity against the Phoenix in hope to snatch prime position. Both sides have the same winning pattern in the last five rounds – two wins, three losses – and will be looking for consistency heading into the finals. The Phoenix are a smoky to make finals but if they can pull off a coup here it could set them up for a finals berth but they must bring their A-game. On the other hand, Perth are well aware of the stakes at hand if they drop the game with the gap between them and third reducing. In recent weeks, superstar Mitch Creek has struggled to have his usual prolific impact on the scoreboard and will want to rectify that if South East Melbourne are any shot of toppling the Wildcats. Kendall Stephens made a big splash in Round 15 posting a team-high 20 points while veteran Ben Madgen also stood up to take control of the game. Both players will be hoping to duplicate their performances again this round to keep their finals hopes alive. It will prove to be a milestone game for Bryce Cotton with the Perth Wildcats shooting machine set to play his 100th NBL game. Cotton is no stranger to the big stage or big moments and will be looking to deliver once again while teammate Terrico White has also found some form in the past couple of games making them a deadly combo. Nick Kay should not be forgotten about able to hit the scoreboard and collect rebounds making them a well-rounded team.

BRISBANE BULLETS v. ILLAWARRA HAWKS
Saturday, January 18, 5:30pm
Nissan Arena

It has not been a great year for Illawarra who have struggled from the get-go and the Bullets will be aiming to capitalise on their inconsistencies in hope to progress further up the ladder. Brisbane will be searching for their fourth win in five weeks showcasing the hot form they are in meanwhile the Hawks will be looking to secure just their sixth win for the season. The Bullets have consolidated in recent weeks, running the court well and sharing the load around making them a real threat to be reckoned with. To continue the round of celebrations, Nathan Sobey will make his 150th NBL appearance while opposition player, Josh Boone will play his 100th with both players looking to leave a lasting imprint in their milestone matches. The Hawks will have their work cut out for them up against Lamar Patterson who can turn on the afterburners. Patterson is a real barometer for the Bullets, once he gets started he is hard to stop, going to post, dishing off assists and collecting rebounds. Support from Sobey, Cameron Gliddon and Taylor Braun will help to set up a strong foundation for the Bullets. Todd Blanchfield has been a shining light for the Hawks this season with the captain consistently leading from the front and doing his part to post a competitive total. He will need assistance from the likes of Sunday Dech and Tim Coenraad if they are any chance to rustle their opponents feathers.

CAIRNS TAIPANS v. ADELAIDE 36ers
Saturday, January 18, 8:00pm
Cairns Convention Centre

This could quite easily be one of the games of the round given how much is at stake for both teams. The Taipans have a firm grip on third spot, sitting slightly ahead of Melbourne United but the Adelaide 36ers cannot be discounted nipping at the heels of the top four. Cairns are coming off a loss last round while the 36ers will be riding high after securing a hard-fought win making it an enthralling clash between the two sides. Adelaide have proven they have what it takes to play finals and a win here could all but secure them a spot but the Taipans will be out for vengeance. DJ Newbill has been a key player for Cairns leading the way both on the scoreboard and with rebounds while Majok Deng has come into his own in recent weeks knocking back 18 points and six rebounds in Round 15. However, the most deadly duo for Cairns is Scott Machado and Cameron Oliver with the two able to single handily change the course of a game with their scoring prowess and basketball nous. Both had relatively quiet games by their lofty standards last week and will be looking to make amends against the 36ers. Adelaide are not without their own plethora of star players with the likes of Eric Griffin and Jerome Randle headlining the attack. Randle is renowned for his ability to stand up in clutch moments and deliver while Griffin is an imposing figure across the court. Daniel Johnson is another key player for the 36ers and will have to perform if his side is going to make it to finals.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS v. MELBOURNE UNITED
Sunday, January 19, 3:00pm
Spark Arena

New Zealand will host the inconsistent Melbourne United who have struggled to maintain their winning ways throughout the season. With a spot at finals on the line the Breakers cannot afford to leave anything to chance and must dominate from the first buzzer if they are to keep Melbourne at bay. Much like the Breakers, United will have to get on the front foot early to solidify their spot in the top four making it a do-or-die clash for both teams. Melbourne are coming off a disappointing loss and will be seeking to prove themselves against their lower ranked opposition and most importantly iron out any gaping flaws. In his 50th NBL game and career best form Shawn Long will be hoping to set the court alight with his damaging style of play, attack on the scoreboard and tenacity. Paired with the likes of fellow 50 gamer Melo Trimble the two could cause all sorts of havoc add in captain, Chris Goulding expect plenty of fireworks. The trio have plenty of potential with Stanton Kidd also developing into a key figure in the line-up and Shea Ili returning. Young gun RJ Hampton can have an impact for the Breakers while Sek Henry and Tom Abercrombie all know how to hit the scoreboard.

SYDNEY KINGS v. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Sunday, January 19, 5:00pm
Qudos Bank Arena

In the final game of the round there is plenty on the line with South East Melbourne Phoenix looking to stay in touch with the rest of the pack while the Kings are hoping to pull further away at the top of the ladder. It will be a tantalising match-up given the star power both sides have, however inconsistency has plagued South East Melbourne throughout the season and Sydney will be looking to exploit that. The Kings have gone from strength to strength and have an impressive win-loss ratio in front of their home crowd only dropping two games and winning nine giving them the upper hand heading into the clash. The hosts have plenty of options when it comes to scoreboard pressure with Jae’Sean Tate able to pile on the points along with Brad Newley and Didi Louzada. Throw in Ware and Bogut and the Phoenix are up for a tough battle but they will know how much a win here could change their season. Dane Pineau was red hot last round recording a double-double thanks to his 19 rebounds and 14 points while John Roberson is as cool, calm and collected as they come making him a game changer for the Phoenix. This game could go down to the wire so expect plenty of fireworks.

2019/20 NBL Round 15 preview: Race for finals set to tighten

WITH one win separating the first placed Sydney Kings and second placed Perth Wildcats a loss in Round 15 could see a new ladder leader. The battle does not stop there with a mere three wins separating third from eighth meaning each game this round could alter the ladder and shape the finals race.

CAIRNS TAIPANS v. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Thursday, January 9, 7:30pm
Cairns Convention Series

At the start of the season not many would have expected this to be the game of the round but both sides are coming in hot and are looking to extend their respective winning streaks. New Zealand have won their past five games while the Taipans have made it four from their last five making it a tantalising Thursday night battle. The Breakers have been dealt their fair share of struggles throughout the season but have found the winning formula in the last couple of rounds and will want to keep that momentum going if they are to make finals. Scotty Hopson has been key for them hitting the scoreboard time and time again while Tom Abercrombie has shown his worth recording a team-high 24 points in their last outing. The likes of Finn Delaney and Robert Loe have also been important for the Breakers with the duo combining nicely across the court. In front of a home crowd expect the likes of Scott Machado and Cameron Oliver to stand up and relish the pressure. Both know how to put on a show with their rangy shooting while Oliver has proven he is an asset coming off a strong performance of 12 rebounds and 21 points. It will be a tight battle and with plenty on the line expect the Taipans and Breakers to leave no stone unturned to secure prime position on the ladder.

ILLAWARRA HAWKS v. PERTH WILDCATS
Friday, January 10, 7:30pm
Win Entertainment Centre

It has been a testing year for the Illawarra Hawks who have been dealt a handful of injuries to key players and struggled to make a real splash. On the other hand, the Wildcats have continued to go from strength to strength despite suffering a shock loss last round. The Hawks have put up a strong contest week in, week out but have fallen short and with the Wildcats looking for redemption could be in for a tough match. Bryce Cotton has been up to his usual tricks shooting from anywhere and most importantly capitalising, making him a real danger man for the Hawks. If he and Terrico White can get off the chain early they could pose a dominant threat and cause havoc for their opposition given their scoring prowess. Another key player to look out for will be Nick Kay who can have a profound impact if given the time and space. The addition of NBA star Miles Plumlee will provide further depth, class and firepower to an already stacked Perth line-up. Illawarra will once again be without star recruit LaMelo Ball who has proven to be a real game changer and will be sorely missed in the clash given his tenacity, class and flashy gameplay. Josh Boone has made a splash in recent weeks along with Todd Blanchfield but if the Hawks are any chance to get over the line they will need big performances from their star players.

SYDNEY KINGS v. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Saturday, January 11, 5:30pm
Qudos Bank Arena

The top of the table Sydney Kings will be aiming to extend their lead, taking on the Taipans who have put their hand up for finals contention. Cairns have been in hot form in the past month but having played one game already this round could suffer some fatigue, something they cannot afford to do against a slick Kings outfit. The Kings have a plethora of star power both on the court and bench with Casper Ware the main instigator when it comes to scoring. Ware can explode out of the blocks with his dynamic movement and hustle to get in tight and attack the boards, meanwhile big man Andrew Bogut is a prominent threat for the Taipans given his stature and basketball nous. Throw in Jae’Sean Tate and the Taipans could be in for a real battle but have proven on more than one occasion that they can mix it with the best in the business. DJ Newbill is as experienced as they come and is a real leader for the group using his skill and body positioning to get within scoring range or gobble up rebounds. Fellow Cairns teammates Machado, Oliver and Nate Jawai must weather the storm that is the Kings and bring their signature play to the table to topple the ladder leading Kings in what could be another enthralling battle.

ADELAIDE 36ers v. MELBOURNE UNITED
Saturday, January 11, 8:00pm
Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Expect plenty of excitement on Saturday night with both sides coming off important wins and looking towards the finals. Melbourne United had a slow start to the season unable to string consecutive wins but have found some form as of late, claiming victory in three of their past five games and will be looking to consolidate against Adelaide. The 36ers had a mixed bag of results in Round 14 and will be looking to potentially leapfrog the Taipans if they are held winless this round. It will be an interesting battle with United having a wealth of options to choose from and headlined by former New Zealand Breakers star, Shawn Long who is in career-best form. Melo Trimble has been relatively quiet in recent weeks and will be hoping to have a big impact against Adelaide to get his side over the line. The combination between Chris Goulding and Trimble has shown to be impactful in the past with their dynamic style and ability to bounce off each other while Stanton Kidd came into his own last round in a dominant outing. The 36ers are not without their own weaponry in the likes of Jerome Randle who if left unattended can cause all sorts of trouble collecting 43 points last round across two outings. Eric Griffin is another key player for Adelaide, able to have an impact at the basket, while Daniel Johnson provides plenty of excitement.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS v. BRISBANE BULLETS
Sunday, January 12, 3:00pm
Spark Arena

In their second game of the round and back on home soil the Breakers will be hoping to make it two from two to cap off a successful week. The Bullets have had an up and down season to say the least but will be seeking revenge after a loss on the buzzer two weeks ago against cross-ditch rivals. The Breakers have shown class and composure under pressure in recent weeks to prevail in tight matches, but will have to bring their A-game against the Bullets who have Lamar Patterson. The forward knocked back 35 points last round and will be wanting to replicate his hot form once again to guide his team to victory. Nathan Sobey and Ej Singler showed their worth last round going to post and using their skill to mount pressure both offensively and defensively for Brisbane. The Bullets have a tendency to fade in and out of games but if they find the right time to strike they could fly home happy. Youngster RJ Hampton has his moments but if he can have a big game for the Breakers it could set the side up and make them a real threat with finals quickly approaching. Sek Henry is another one that could explode out of the blocks after a couple of quieter games.

ILLAWARRA HAWKS v. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Sunday, January 12, 5:00pm
Win Entertainment Centre

It has been a disappointing past couple of rounds for the Phoenix who have simply fallen off the wagon making this clash with Hawks an interesting one. Although the Hawks have only registered five wins for the year they have shown glimpses of brilliance but have not regularly performed. South East Melbourne have struggled to maintain their consistency, putting together solid patches with key wins over higher ranked sides but then dropping the ball. Expect former NBA star Mitch Creek to be out for revenge after a quiet game last round only managing a mere 11 points by his lofty standards while John Roberson has continued to stand up and score freely no matter the situation. Roberson sunk 31 points in his side’s loss and will need support from the likes of Ben Madgen and Dane Pineau if they are any chance of winning against the Hawks. Illawarra will be looking for big performances from Emmett Naar and Sunday Dech who can both hit the scoreboard and apply defensive pressure with three steals collectively.

NBL Round 14 review: Breakers notch up fifth straight win

SOME narrow losses and big wins saw the ladder change slightly at the end of Round 14 of the National Basketball League (NBL), with the Kings restoring their winning ways and Taipans continuing their fight for finals. The Breakers kicked it up another gear while South East Melbourne Phoenix struggled to find their momentum in attack.

Cairns Taipans (91) defeated Brisbane Bullets (89)
A mere two points separated the sides at the final buzzer despite Will Magnay converting two free throws in the dying seconds of the match. It was a tight game with both sides unwilling to give an inch and pushing each other to extremes in hope to creep up the ladder. Cairns got the jump on their opposition early and did not look like giving up but a 30-point last quarter from Brisbane saw the Taipans almost drop the game. DJ Newbill was solid as ever posting another 28 points to lead all points scorers from both sides and once again proving just how crucial he is to the Cairns line-up. Cameron Oliver also made his presence felt, recording a double-double thanks to his 21 points and 12 rebounds. He was a real beast under the ring, gobbling up anything that came his was with the next closest Magnay with eight. Scott Machado provided some excitement for the Taipans with 16 points and six assists to his name. For the Bullets, Ej Singler led the way finding the basket with ease and most importantly converting to finish with 20 points and six rebounds. Magnay had a standout game for the Bullets recording 14 points while Nathan Sobey played his role piling on 10 points and picking up five rebounds and five assists.

DC Medal: 3 – DJ Newbill (CT), 2 – Cameron Oliver (CT), 1 – EJ Singler (BB)

Illawarra Hawks (91) defeated by Melbourne United (104)
A gallant effort by the hosts could not contain Melbourne United who had a point to prove after dropping both their games last round. The Hawks looked to have it in the bag thanks to a big third term, piling on 24 points to 17, but the tables quickly turned in the fourth for Melbourne to regain control and ultimately walk away with the four points. United went on a scoring spree in the fourth to add 32 points to the table, while keeping the Hawks at bay and only allowing them 17 points. Chris Goulding lit up the court once again for United, contributing 21 points along with four assists. Teammate Stanton Kidd had a breakout game scoring 21 points and five rebounds while Shawn Long was right amongst the action with 17 points and seven rebounds. It was not all bad for Illawarra who once again proved they can mix it with the best with Josh Boone leading the way with a double-double thanks to his 12 points and impressive 14 rebounds. Other key contributors Tim Coenraad (18 points) and Todd Blanchfield (14 points) also made an impact on the scoreboard however it was not enough to get their side over the line.

DC Medal: 3 – Chris Goulding (MU), 2 – Shawn Long (MU), 1 – Josh Boone (IH)

Sydney Kings (91) defeated Adelaide 36ers (77)
The Sydney Kings found their mojo once again, dismissing the Adelaide 36ers by 14 points in a strong performance by the highly touted side. It was game on from the first whistle with only two points the margin before the Kings started to build momentum and steadily increase the lead to all but grant them the win. The Kings were close to unstoppable from two-point range, sitting at 65 per cent compared to Adelaide’s 35 per cent and proving that was where the game was won and lost. Brad Newley had the magic touch for the Kings sinking 20 points while big man Andrew Bogut also got involved, racking up yet another double-double with 10 rebounds and 13 points. Jae’Sean Tate continued his dominant form, dropping 20 points and finding a wealth of ball off the boards with seven rebounds and three assists. It was a disappointing outing for the 36ers who fell away when it counted but the likes of Jerome Randle and Daniel Johnson led the way. Randle topscored for the away team with 24 points while Johnson contributed a double-double of his own with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Eric Griffin also did not muck around, adding 12 points to the tally but Sydney ultimately showed what they can do.

DC Medal: 3 – Jae’Sean Tate (SK), 2 – Andrew Bogut (SK), 1 – Jerome Randle (AD)

South East Melbourne Phoenix (92) defeated by New Zealand Breakers (97)
The Breakers’ five point victory over the Phoenix marks the fifth consecutive win for the New Zealand based side who are on a roll at the moment after completely turning their season around. It is a tale of two stories with the Phoenix jumping out of the box early but fading away as the season wares on whereas New Zealand have built into the season finding good synergy across the court and posing a real threat to opposition teams. John Roberson was the main target for South East Melbourne with the talented guard contributing over a third of the sides overall score with 31 points along with eight assists. Dane Pineau was in hot form knocking back 17 points and collecting a whopping 20 rebounds while Tai Wesley stood up for the Phoenix posting 14 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Superstar Mitch Creek was well handled, unable to have his usual influence across the court and only mustering up 11 points credit to the work of the Breakers. Tom Abercrombie plied his trade for the Breakers nailing 24 points and was aided by the likes of Scotty Hopson  with 19 points and eight assists alongside Finn Delaney who piled on 18 points. The solid contribution across the board from New Zealand helped to surge them ahead and secure fifth spot on the ladder.

DC Medal: 3 – John Roberson (SEM), 2 – Tom Abercrombie (NZ), 1 – Scotty Hopson (NZ)

Brisbane Bullets (97) defeated Perth Wildcats (85)
After a narrow loss earlier in the round, the Bullets bounced back accounting for the second placed Perth Wildcats in what was a convincing performance. Brisbane looked like a new and improved unit against Perth, owning the court and denying them any easy chance pushing forward. Lamar Patterson put on a masterclass knocking down 35 points and running the courts with ease while Nathan Sobey upped the ante, scoring 17 points and collecting seven rebounds. Matthew Hodgson was solid across the board converting 17 points and racking up six rebounds credit to his clever positioning around the rim with teammate Magnay also collecting nine rebounds. The Wildcats struggled to fire on all cylinders with Bryce Cotton having to do a bulk of the work putting on 24 points and six rebounds. Nick Kay also plied his trade adding some scoreboard pressure with his 18 points but it was not enough to quell the efforts of the Bullets who were simply unstoppable. Terrico White had little to no effect with 10 points, four rebounds and three assists to his name capping off a relatively disappointing outing for the reigning premiers.

DC Medal: 3 – Lamar Patterson (BB), 2 – Bryce Cotton (PW), 1 – Nathan Sobey (BB)

Adelaide 36ers (102) defeated Illawarra Hawks (96)
The 36ers got their name back in the winning books with a six point victory over the depleted Hawks who were once again without NBA potential number one draft pick LaMelo Ball. The Hawks were so close yet so far, pushing the 36ers to their limits but ultimately were outrun by Adelaide who had a point to prove if they were to stay in the race for finals. With accuracy on their side the Hawks put up a strong performance, leading at half time albeit by only two points before Adelaide turned the screws on and really got to work to snatch the lead. Forward, Anthony Drmic led from the front making his work to post look easy with a team high 24 points accompanying his five rebounds and one steal. The usual suspects in Randle and Griffin were up to their old tricks with 19 and 15 points respectively while Brendan Teys left his mark with 13 points, five rebounds and five assists for the 36ers. On the other hand, Blanchfield went to work for the Hawks showcasing his scoring prowess with 35 points but was the lone hand in terms of scoring with Boone only delivering 14 points but amassing seven rebounds. Sunday Dech worked tirelessly to have an impact, recording 16 points and four assists but Adelaide refused to give up, running out strong in the second half.

DC Medal: 3 – Todd Blanchfield (IH), 2 – Anthony Drmic (AD), 1 – Jerome Randle (AD)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

29 – Bryce Cotton (PW)
28 – Lamar Patterson (BB)
27 – Shawn Long (MU)
26 –
25 –
24 – Mitch Creek (SEM),
23 –
22 –
21 – Casper Ware (SK), Melo Trimble (MU), Jae’Sean Tate (SK),
20 – LaMelo Ball (IH)
19 –
18 –
17 – Scott Machado (CT), Jerome Randle (AD), John Roberson (SEM), Cameron Oliver (CT),
16 –
15 –
14 – Daniel Johnson (AD),
13 – Nick Kay (PW), Andrew Bogut (SK),
12 –
11 –  Corey Webster (NZ),
10 – Eric Griffin (AD),
9 – Terrico White (PW), DJ. Newbill (CT),
8 –
7 – Chris Goulding (MU), Nathan Sobey (BB),
6 –  Kouat Noi (CT), Scotty Hopson (NZ),
5 – Aaron Brooks (IL), Brad Newley (SK), AJ Ogilvy (IL), Anthony Drmic (AD)
4 –  Dario Hunt (PW), Brandon Ashley (NZ), Ben Madgen (SEM), Todd Blanchfield (IH), Tom Abercrombie (NZ),
3 – Sek Henry (NZ), Dane Pineau (SEM), Didi Louzada (SK), Glen Rice Jr (NZ), Finn Delany (NZ)
2 – Matt Hodgson (BB), Jason Cadee (BB), Sunday Dech (IH), David Barlow (MU), Mitch McCarron (MU), Tim Coenraad (IH),
1 – Majok Deng (CT), Craig Moller (SK), Jesse Wagstaff (PW), Keith Benson (SEM), Tohi Smith-Milner (MU), RJ Hampton (NZ), Angus Glover (IH), Emmett Naar (IH), Josh Boone (IH), Ej Singler (BB)

2019/20 NBL weekend preview: Round 14 – Third and fourth up for grabs in race to the Finals

WITH every team playing two games the previous round, it did nothing to separate sides from each other in the standings. Rather, it did the opposite as top teams fell victim to those at the other end of the ladder. With Melbourne United’s third spot now up for grabs in the mid-table race, a win away against Illawarra would be crucial to their season aspirations. Other matchups that are set to have an impact on the standings will be the round-opener, where the fourth-placed Taipans host the eighth-placed Bullets. Then we need to wait until Sunday afternoon for the battling Phoenix to tackle perhaps the NBL’s hottest team as of now, in Scotty Hopson‘s New Zealand Breakers side. Lastly, the pressure building for a postseason spot is immense at the moment and no team is feeling it as much as perhaps the Adelaide 36ers, who with two wins over the weekend could make a serious statement towards the end of the season. These two games involve taking on the Kings on Saturday night, then closing out the round on Monday night at home against the Hawks.

Cairns Taipans vs Brisbane Bullets
Friday January 3, 7:30pm
Cairns Convention Centre

Cairns’ two victories against both Melbourne sides in Round 13 have put them in good stead leading into their clash against the fellow Queensland side. Despite the Taipans sitting pretty in fourth position in the standings, the Bullets win last week against Melbourne United has created considerable momentum for the side and you can expect them to roar out of the blocks early to try and stun a home crowd that the Taipans are 7-3 when playing in front of them. While Cairns earns a six-day break following Friday night’s matchup, a victory for the Bullets would be crucial, as they host title contenders, the Perth Wildcats two days later at the Armory. Given the contest will be scrappy, for the Bullets it will be a matter of how dominant their frontcourt performs. The main facilitator of this so far this season is Lamar Patterson, who leads his side in all major categories with 20.22 points per game, 5.83 rebounds per game as well as 4.83 assists per game. While Patterson’s performances have been outstanding so far this season, it is the added efforts of guards like Nathan Sobey (16.61 points and 3.22 assists) and Jason Cadee (11.5 points) that have proved to be the difference makers in tight games. It is obvious that the Taipans are serious postseason candidates this season, as they once again are looking for a fourth consecutive win. Whilst Scott Machado continues his MVP-calibre season (16.11 points and 8.53 assists), fellow guard Dj Newbill has come into his own averaging 18.89 points per game and three assists. It will be a battle of frontcourts and backcourts Friday night as both sides look to make the first move in the Round.

Illawarra Hawks vs Melbourne United
Saturday January 4, 5:30pm
WIN Entertainment Arena

Both teams go into their clash with two very different runs of forms as of late. The Hawks who are on a high, coming off their shock win against the Sydney Kings battle it out against a United squad that lost both of its game last weekend at home and is out for redemption in a bid to regain a handle back on their third position in the standings. With the Hawks without LaMelo Ball presently, responsibilities will fall down to replacement Emmett Narr who has been playing at an elite level since his call-up, averaging 16 points a game against both the Phoenix and the Kings. Again, carrying the majority of the offensive load in points and rebounds are Todd Blanchfield and Anthony Ogilvy. Blanchfield, who has been averaging 11.83 points per game has to be smart down low with United big-man Shawn Long (19.74 points and 9.74 rebounds) patrolling the ring. But, given his wide array of scoring abilities he may well find a way to exploit Melbourne’s sometimes disorganised defence. While Ogilvy is averaging close to a double-double (9.89 points and 7.17 rebounds), communication will be a key factor in how this game pans out and with the help of Josh Boone (5.14 rebounds) it will fall to the backcourt for Illawarra to rise up to the occasion. The emerging trend for United lately has been getting out of the blocks early and a major factor in this has been the performances of Chris Goulding (17.0 points). While he showcased outings in the previous round that suggested shades of the ‘old Goulding’ had returned, but whether he maintains his newfound deadeye consistency from the arc remains to be seen. With Ball still out due to his foot injury, Melo Trimble has the opportunity to wreak havoc on the Hawks. The import has been to say the least, effective so far this season averaging 21 points per game as well as 4.84 assists. If he was to put up numbers consistent with these totals so far this season on Saturday, then United’s chances of a bounce-back win would be very promising.

Sydney Kings vs Adelaide 36ers
Saturday January 4, 8:00pm
Qudos Bank Arena

For the Sydney Kings once again, they will be fighting to hold on to that top-spot that they have held the entire season as they host a determined 36ers side who are hot off the back of a spectacular home win against the Wildcats, whom the Kings lost to in that same round. But the matchup that everyone is eager to see is the battle between two of the League’s best point-guards in Casper Ware (20.79 points and 3.84 assists) and Jerome Randle (20.21 points and 4.42 assists). Due to these two influencers of the game, responsibilities do trickle down to the rest of the squads as more space is created from dribble penetration. A man who is in need of a good game is Kings’ Centre Andrew Bogut who was limited to just four points in his side’s loss to bottom-of-the-table side, the Illawarra Hawks. A recent run of good form by Brad Newley (11.26 points) and the continued play from Jae’Sean Tate (15.32 points and 5.74 rebounds) should be enough to aid Bogut and his frontcourt. However, it would be wise not to underestimate this 36ers side, who could be on the brink of another successful string of performances in the lead up to finals. This is as a result of the bigs that Randle commands in Daniel Johnson (16.74 points and 8.11 rebounds) and Eric Griffin (15.42 points and 6.68 rebounds), who was instrumental in the win against Perth and may well be the same against the Kings.

South-East Melbourne Phoenix vs New Zealand Breakers
Sunday January 5, 3:00pm
Melbourne Arena

When it comes to summarising these teams at this point in the season, it can be phrased as, “the most inconsistent team in the NBL and the hottest team in the NBL at the moment.” The Phoenix who are still finding their rhythm in their inaugural season struggle to find maintain results, whether it be back-to-back wins or losses. Time is running out for Simon Mitchell and his squad, which makes Sunday’s clash even more pivotal on this season’s outcome. While Mitchell Creek (22.17 points and 7.28 rebounds) shows up for business on a weekly basis, he awaits his biggest challenge yet of the season in Scotty Hopson (18.82 points and 6.27 rebounds) who scored 24 points in their last encounter where the Breakers came out victorious. The Phoenix must aim to limit Breakers’ Guard Sek Henry (14.22 points) who was lethal in the previous round against the Bullets and the 36ers. This could be achieved if John Roberson (20.56 points and 5.44 assists) and Ben Madgen (12.22 points and 5.44 rebounds) can put the clamps on him, while isolating Hopson from the equation. Nevertheless, Dane Pineau (7.28 rebounds) has his work cut out for him as he needs to prevent Breakers’ defensive anchor Brandon Ashley (7.33 rebounds) from racking up the second chance points if they are to take out this mid-table collision.

Brisbane Bullets vs Perth Wildcats
Sunday January 5, 5:00pm
Nissan Arena

With Perth missing out on claiming top spot last week following their loss to Adelaide, Trevor Gleeson’s side will be keen to make amends, especially if the kings fail to topple the 36ers the day before. What was missing from the Wildcats’ performance in their previous loss was Bryce Cotton’s inability to heat-up from the field, failing to make shots late in the game ultimately costing his side a frustrating defeat. It is important to remember however that the defending champions are 7-4 away from home and the Bullets should brace themselves for a barrage of offense. Should Brisbane emerge victorious from the round-opening clash against the Taipans, then this game’s significance shall increase three-fold and good performances by Sobey, Patterson and Cadee become imperative if they are to upstage the Wildcats. For the Wildcats, Terrico White has the opportunity to really make his mark not only on Sunday, but throughout the rest of the season. Provided the Guard averages 17.05 points and four rebounds, White has the ability to shape the outcome of the game and neutralise Sobey’s output in the process. Additionally, Nicholas Kay (13.35 points and 7.45 rebounds) and Dario Hunt (6.1 rebounds) have the task of hindering Patterson’s impact on the game, in what could be the deciding matchup of the game.

Adelaide 36ers vs Illawarra Hawks
Monday January 6, 7:30pm
Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Monday’s joust takes place in South Australia where both sides are looking to round out successful double-header weekends. Should the Hawks come away with a home-win against United two days prior, then Illawarra would have the opportunity to put together three wins in a row for the first time this season. While on the other hand, Adelaide could threaten to steal a top four spot should they rout the Kings in their first game. This coinciding with the possible return of LaMelo Ball for the round-closer, an elevated anticipation for this game is highly likely. It can be assumed that if Ball plays, he would play limited minutes, leaving Emmett Naar the monumental task of defending Jerome Randle. While that might separate the contest, the battle of the bigs would appear to be more even, with Todd Blanchfield matching up on Daniel Johnson and Eric Griffin most likely standing next to Josh Boone (7.50 points and 5.14 rebounds). The result of this game may very well re-shuffle the standings once again, however this is a trend avid NBL supporters have become well-accustomed to in this intense 2020 season.

NBL Round 13 review: NBL breaks attendance record over upset-heavy holiday period

DUE to the extended round, the schedule hosted nine matches over the course of the holiday period, which saw the largest total attendance throughout a single round in NBL history. A total of 67,201 people bought tickets to see out the end of the decade in their NBL memorabilia and cheer their sides on. The round saw massive upsets, as the Illawarra Hawks upstaged the Sydney Kings, as well as the Adelaide 36ers toppling the Perth Wildcats in South Australia. Round 13 also saw the mid-table race become even tighter as key losses to Melbourne United have allowed third position in the standings to be up for grabs. A total of one and a half games now separates the third and eighth positions, the first time to have happened in the history of the league this late in the season.

Melbourne United (75) defeated by Cairns Taipans (77)

The round kicked off on Boxing Day with the annual ‘open-air’ matchup at Melbourne Arena, as the Taipans, who were in hot form, took on United. With Cairns racing out of the blocks, scoring seven of the first eight points of the game, it was Melbourne who had the task of playing catch-up throughout the game. The strong first quarter would produce an eleven-point double-digit advantage for the visiting side, while keeping United to just nine points. The scoring woes for United however would extend into the second quarter, with the side managing 11 points as a squad, taking their halftime tally to a mere 30 points, breaking the record for lowest points in a first half so far this season. It would not be until the final period that the home side started to grind their way back into the game with big plays made by guards Chris Goulding and Shea Ili levelling the game with just over a minute to play. But, further proving that Dj Newbill is currently one of the best finishers in National Basketball League, the Cairns’ guard made the game winning layup to steal the away win for the Taipans as he finished with 20 points. Once again it was Scott Machado that led the charge for the Taipans, as he summarised his game with 20 points, six rebounds and five assists. It was also a big night for Marco Djeric, as he walked away from the contest with a humble 14 points, as well as four three-pointers under his belt. Despite the loss, it was United’s big-man in Shawn Long that did his job on the boards, collecting another double-double on the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds, whereas Goulding pulled out his old party tricks going five of seven from the three-point arc, finishing with 15 points.

DC Medal: 3 – Scott Machado (CT), 2 – D.J. Newbill (CT), 1 – Melo Trimble (MU)

Brisbane Bullets (96) defeated by New Zealand Breakers (99)

It was heartbreak at the Armory on Friday night, as Scotty Hopson’s buzzer-beating three-pointer crushed the hearts of the Queensland faithful, allowing the Breakers to nab a three-point win against Brisbane. In a game where the Bullets managed to keep New Zealand at an arm’s distance, it looked as if the home side’s potential victory might start to move them up the NBL ladder, but in the last second those aspirations were once again thwarted, despite leading the game in all categories. Brisbane’s goal of limiting Hopson’s damage was safe to say, unsuccessful, as he racked up 27 points, six rebounds and four assists. He was further aided by Finn Delaney, who gathered 18 points and seven rebounds. Falling one rebound short of another double-double, Brisbane’s Lamar Patterson made a case for a potential NBL First-Team nomination with his performance, amounting 21 points and nine rebounds in addition to his eight assists. Nathan Sobey again took home big numbers, finishing with 29 points. In this hotly contested battle, it was very visible that these sides made cases for a postseason opportunity come late-February, and in doing so have put the rest of the league on notice.

DC Medal: 3 – Scotty Hopson (NZ), 2 – Nathan Sobey (BB), 1 – Lamar Patterson (BB)

Sydney Kings (85) defeated by Perth Wildcats (98)

The Wildcats continued their race to the postseason with another away victory over their top-of-the-table adversary, the Sydney Kings, as well as well as tightening their view on the top spot of the ladder. In a game between the two top teams in the NBL, it fell down to one man to run the show and be the deciding factor in the Perth side’s win. Bryce Cotton shot the lights out at Qudos Bank Arena knocking down 39 points, four rebounds and three assists along with putting on one of his best performances from behind the arc, going 8-13 from deep. While Cotton took man of the match honours, Sydney’s man in the same position Casper Ware was not absent in the slightest as he managed six three-pointers in his side’s loss, ultimately adding up to 33 points by the final whistle. The main difference maker that could be dissected in the stateliness for both sides, was Perth’s ability to capitalise on second chance points. The Wildcats finished with a plus-six in total rebounds which converted to 19 second chance points, while the Kings only managed to gather eight. However, it was Sydney’s big men that came out on top against Perth’s, capitalising on 40 points in the paint compared to the Wildcats’ 26. Outstanding performances for Perth fell to Cotton’s fellow guard Terrico White who tallied 24 points and big-man Nicholas Kay who rounded up another double-double with a quiet 10 points and 10 rebounds. Andrew Bogut’s 15 points and 12 rebounds was Sydney’s lone notable showing besides Ware’s.

DC Medal: 3 – Bryce Cotton (PW), 2 – Casper Ware (SK), 1 – Andrew Bogut (SK)

South East Melbourne Phoenix (112) defeated Illawarra Hawks (102)

Coming off two away losses the previous round, the Phoenix were looking to bounce back into the playoff conversation and the new kids would deliver. It was evident early on that the Phoenix were feeling their stroke and it would continue throughout the game. Despite the Hawks staying with South East Melbourne for the majority of the game, they could not keep up with the 56 percent shooting of the home side and went down to the Melbourne side 102-112. The Phoenix took out all the shooting categories on the night leading in field goal percentage, three pointers made and free throws. As a result of the Phoenix’s shooting efficiency numbers came in bunches for many of their players. While guard John Roberson led the team with 28 points, Tai Wesley showed signs of being back to his old form with 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Mitch Creek also contributed 25 points to the victory and Kyle Adnam produced 15 points off the bench. For the Hawks, it was Todd Blanchfield and Sunday Dech that led the way with both men scoring 22 and 20 points respectively.

DC Medal: 3 – Tai Wesley (SEM), 2 – John Roberson (SEM), 1 – Mitch Creek (SEM)

Adelaide 36ers (87) defeated by New Zealand Breakers (96)

The Breakers, who were seen by most as a team that would be lucky to get off the bottom of the standings, strung together their fourth consecutive victory with their triumph over the 36ers. It was a successful round for the Breakers walking away with two wins over the weekend. The result was hard-won by the Breakers as they needed to lead in all categories to squeeze out the nine-point victory. To round this out, the Breakers went to the free-throw line for a season-high 42 times, converting 30 of these attempts. New Zealand’s decisive factor came down to the two-man play from guards Hopson and Sek Henry. Hopson, who’s recent play has elevated his team into postseason contention pulled away with 28 points, seven rebounds and four assists, whereas Henry snagged 20 points and nine assists. While 36ers Guard Jerome Randle has proven to lead his side to victory on numerous occasions this season, his 28 points, six rebounds and four assists. Big-man Daniel Johnson notched a 19 point and 10 rebound double-double on top of Randle’s efforts. With the two victories over the weekend, the Breakers jumped into seventh position repositioning the Bullets to eighth.

DC Medal: 3 – Scotty Hopson (NZ), 2 – Jerome Randle (AD), 1 – Sek Henry (NZ)

Melbourne United (96) defeated by Brisbane Bullets (102)

Following their heartbreaking loss against the Breakers earlier in the round and United’s narrow defeat to the Taipans, both teams knew the significance of their game on Sunday night. However, it was performances from Jason Cadee, Patterson and Sobey that brought home the victory for Brisbane and as a result, made the race for third and fourth place on the ladder even more intense. Cadee who brought the biggest improvement for the Bullets, made his first five attempts from three-point range and finished the night with 21 points. In addition, Patterson continued his stellar season with a huge 35 points and six rebounds, while Sobey’s 24 points rounded out the majority of the Bullet’s scoring load. Despite Long’s 25 points and eight rebounds leading the way for Melbourne United, it was Brisbane who made more of their shots. The Bullets shot at a 48 percent  clip compared to United’s 41 percent and the visiting side managed six more three pointers than the hosts (16 to 10 in favour of Brisbane). The two losses from United over the weekend lengthens their distance from the Kings and the Wildcats, therefore putting their postseason hopes in jeopardy. While the hard-fought win by the Bullets keeps them in eighth position.

DC Medal: 3 – Lamar Patterson (BB), 2 – Shawn Long (MU), 1 – Nathan Sobey (BB)

Illawarra Hawks (85) defeated Sydney Kings (80)

Not many people went into Tuesday night’s game expecting the worst team in the NBL to oust the best team, especially given the Kings’ performance in the first period. The Kings exhibited a shooting clinic to open the match, leading by 10 points after 10 minutes, showing perhaps a routine victory for the ladder-leaders was to come. Illawarra started to fight back through decisive ball movement and advantageous mismatches cutting the lead in half by halftime. Despite the Kings leading by eight with the final quarter still to play, Illawarra’s newfound chemistry came out once again in the most unlikely of turns. The Hawks outscored Sydney 25 to 12 and took home the upset of the round toppling the title favourites by five. Whilst rebounding and assists were relatively even across both sides, Illawarra’s shooting was second to none on the night shooting close to 50 percent (48 percent). Kings’ big man Bogut was almost non-existent in the outcome, managing to only score four points in 21 minutes. Jae’Sean Tate made honourable contributions on the night with 23 points and six rebounds, as veteran Daniel Kickert made his shots count going four from five from downtown (12 points). The 300-gamer in Tim Coenraad made his 11-point difference on the game, which in turn spurred his side on to their fifth win on the season. Marquee performances for the Hawks came off the bench, seeing Josh Boone compile 21 points and nine rebounds, as well as 16 points and eight assists from Emmett Naar. Sydney’s two losses over the weekend have closed the gap even more for defending champions, the Perth Wildcats, who sit half a game behind them.

DC Medal: 3 – Josh Boone (IH), 2 – Jae’Sean Tate (SK), 1 – Emmett Naar (IH)

Cairns Taipans (92) defeated South East Melbourne Phoenix (84)

The Cairns Convention Centre was the stage of this decade’s final NBL game and those who attended were eager to see two of the league’s top shooting teams go at it. For the Taipans it was a slow start, struggling to make shots in close and failing to capitalise on the fast break. Nevertheless, on the stroke of halftime Cameron Oliver found Newbill on the three-point line as he drilled it on the buzzer, cutting the deficit to six. Newbill’s three-pointer sparked a flurry of seven straight three-pointers to start the second half from both sides, but a strong third-quarter by the Taipans was enough to set the tone for the rest of the match taking home their third win in a row going a game clear of the 36ers who trail in the fifth position. The loss for the Phoenix puts their season record at eight wins and ten losses as well as Breakers and the Bullets. Machado (29 points and eight assists) and  Oliver (25 points and 10 rebounds) both had routine nights for the Taipans, while no Phoenix players failed to crack the 20 points mark. Roberson managed four three-pointers to accompany his 19 points, as Creek snagged 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists in his side’s loss.

DC Medal: 3 – Cameron Oliver (CT), 2 – Scott Machado (CT), 1 – Mitch Creek (SEM)

Adelaide 36ers (100) defeated Perth Wildcats (97)

Both sides had large aspirations heading into the first game of 2020. The Adelaide 36ers who had lost three consecutive matches, had found themselves sitting in eighth position on the ladder for the first time this season. But a win against the Wildcats would remedy that and propel them into fifth. For the Wildcats, a win away would see them regain that top spot on the ladder that the Kings had held all season. The contest was neck and neck throughout the first half which was capped off by a three-quarter court heave on the buzzer by Wildcats guard Mitchell Norton to wrap up an enticing 20 minutes of play. Throughout the third quarter it was the play of 36ers big men Daniel Johnson and Harry Froling that helped build the home side’s 12-point lead leading into the last quarter. Despite the offensive onslaught from Perth in the last quarter, Adelaide would manage to hang on by a miniscule three points, therefore sliding into fifth in the standings. Eric Griffin finished his game with 24 points and six rebounds as just one of the six 36ers players to reaches double digits. Anthony Drmic was also a major contributor in the win collecting 18 points and six rebounds, whereas Johnson was influential from start to finish (12 points, seven rebounds and six assists). Wildcats guard Cotton alongside White made up most of the scoring load gathering 22 and 21 points respectively, while Majok Majok squeezed out a double-double (10 points and 10 rebounds).

DC Medal: 3 – Eric Griffin (AD), 2 – Anthony Drmic (AD), 1 – Bryce Cotton (PW)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

31 – Bryce Cotton (PW)
30 –
29 – Lamar Patterson (BB)
28 – Mitch Creek (SEM)
27 – Shawn Long (MU)
26 –
25 –
24 –
23 – Melo Trimble (MU), Casper Ware (SK)
22 – Scott Machado (CT)
21 – Cameron Oliver (CT)
20 – LaMelo Ball (IH), Jae’Sean Tate (SK),
19 –
18 –
17 – Scotty Hopson (NZ), John Roberson (SEM), Jerome Randle (AD)
16 –
15 – Daniel Johnson (AD)
14 –
13 – Nick Kay (PW), Eric Griffin (AD)
12 – Andrew Bogut (SK),
11 – Corey Webster (NZ)
10 – DJ. Newbill (CT)
9 – Terrico White (PW), Nathan Sobey (BB)
8 – AJ Ogilvy (IL)
7 –
6 – Kouat Noi (CT), Sek Henry (NZ),
5 – Aaron Brooks (IL), Brad Newley (SK), Brandon Ashley (NZ), Anthony Drmic (AD),
4 – Chris Goulding (MU), Dario Hunt (PW), Ben Madgen (SEM), Mitch McCarron (MU)
3 –Dane Pineau (SEM), Didi Louzada (SK), Glen Rice Jr (NZ), Finn Delany (NZ), Sunday Dech (IH),  Will Magnay (BB), Daniel Kickert (SK), Tai Wesley (SEM), Johs Boone (IH), Emmett Naar (IH),
2 – Matt Hodgson (BB), Jason Cadee (BB), David Barlow (MU), Tim Coenraad (IH), Tom Abercrombie (NZ), Kyle Adnam (SEM)
1 – Majok Deng (CT), Craig Moller (SK), Jesse Wagstaff (PW), Todd Blanchfield (IH), Keith Benson (SEM), Tohi Smith-Milner (MU), RJ Hampton (NZ), Angus Glover (IH)

2019/20 NBL Team of the Week: Round 6

IN the hardest week thus far to try and pick just four guards for our Draft Central National Basketball League (NBL) Team of the Week for Round 6, it was cellar dwellers, Illawarra Hawks who had an impressive three players in the team. The Hawks won their second game of the season in impressive fashion, and were the only side this round to have three, with Melbourne United (two) the only other side to have multiple nominations. Five of the remaining seven clubs had a single nomination, while Adelaide 36ers and Cairns Taipans – who both went down in single game losses on the weekend – did not have a nominee this week.

Illawarra excitement machine, LaMelo Ball had his best game of the season, putting up 24 points, six rebounds, eight assists, three steals and one block, named alongside teammate and center Josh Boone, who finished with 15 points, nine rebounds, one assists, one steal and two blocks. Sunday Dech‘s best game of the season also saw him rewarded with selection on the bench. Boone’s former side, Melbourne United had Melo Trimble and Shawn Long both land on the bench, with the pair only narrowly missing out on starting spots due to the strength in the positions from the round.

Team of the Week regular, Bryce Cotton was named in the other starting guard position following his massive game on Sunday posting up 36 points, five rebounds, four assists and one steal for the Wildcats. The two other players that have been staples in the Team of the Week thus far are Lamar Patterson and Mitch Creek, both of whom fill out the starting five in the forward positions. Creek had 21 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in the Phoenix’s win over the New Zealand Breakers, while Patterson also helped himself to a double double with 22 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and one block in the Bullets loss to Sydney.

Looking at the remaining two bench spots in that forward position, New Zealand Breakers’ Brandon Ashley and Sydney’s Didi Louzada both squeeze into the team for this round after strong performances. Ashley averaged a double double, the third forward to do so, which saw him only land on the bench. There was no shortage of contenders for the team this week with New Zealand regular Corey Webster and debutant Glen Rice Jr both thereabout, as was Melbourne United’s Chris Goulding, Sydney’s Casper Ware and Brad Newley, South East Melbourne’s Dane Pineau and Jaye Crockett, Perth Wildcats’ Nick Kay and Cairns Taipans’ Cameron Oliver.

STARTING FIVE:

G: Bryce Cotton (PW) – 36 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 56.0 FG%
G: LaMelo Ball (IH) – 24 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, 42.9 FG%
C: Josh Boone (IH) – 15 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 63.6 FG%
F: Lamar Patterson (BB) – 20 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 31.6 FG%
F: Mitch Creek (SEM) – 21 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, 66.7 FG%

BENCH:

G: Sunday Dech (IH) – 21 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 70.0 FG%
G: Melo Trimble (MU) – 24.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.0 blocks, 65.4 FG%
C: Shawn Long (MU) – 19.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.5 blocks, 48.4 FG%
F: Brandon Ashley (NZ) – 13.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.0 steals, 1.0 blocks, 55.5 FG%
F: Didi Louzada (SK) – 19.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 2.5 steals, 0.5 blocks, 56.0 FG%

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sydney Kings (104) defeated Perth Wildcats (85)

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

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

DC Medal Leaderboard:

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

NBL Round 2 review: Three sides remain undefeated

NEWCOMERS South East Melbourne Phoenix have joined three of last year’s National Basketball League (NBL) finalists in the top four following two rounds of action. While New Zealand Breakers are yet to play a game due to their NBAxNBL pre-season games in America and Adelaide 36ers have played just the one match so far, it is just the three teams that remain undefeated with the Phoenix joining reigning premiers Perth Wildcats, and finalists Sydney Kings in the top three spots. In the standalone Monday night game, Illawarra got its season going with a late free throw to win in a one-point thriller over Cairns.

Brisbane Bullets (90) defeated Cairns Taipans (74)

Brisbane started its weekend with a second consecutive victory to temporarily take top spot, coming from four points down at the main break to run away with a 16-point win at home over Cairns Taipans. The all-Queensland battle saw the Taipans take the early lead by three at the first change and extend that to four by half-time. Brisbane then showed what it was capable of in the third quarter, piling on 31 points to 14 in the third quarter, before finishing off the game strongly, 14-11 in the final term. It was the second half defensive effort that restricted the Taipans to just 25 points for the entire half – after 24 and 25 in the first and second quarters respectively – that won the Bullets the game. Nathan Sobey was back to his best with a game-high 21 points, five assists, two rebounds and a block for Brisbane, well aided by Matt Hodgson who backed up his Round 1 effort with 14 points, four rebounds, two steals and three blocks, shooting at 100 per cent from the floor. EJ Singler was handy off the bench with 10 points, two rebounds and a game-high four steals. Lamar Patterson did not have as much impact on the scoreboard as in Round 1 with just seven points, but he still contributed with six rebounds, four assists and a steal. For the Taipans, Scott Machado picked up 16 points, 10 assists and two rebounds in a double-double effort, while Cameron Oliver (16 points, seven rebounds but seven turnovers), Majok Deng (14 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Mirko Djeric (14 points, five assists) also were strong offensively.

DC Medal: 3 – Nathan Sobey (BB), 2 – Scott Machado (CT), 1 – Matt Hodgson (BB)

Perth Wildcats (103) defeated Illawarra Hawks (76)

Perth Wildcats retook top spot on the table with a 27-point victory over Illawarra Hawks, handing the Hawks their second straight loss to start the season. The Wildcats looked completely dominant across the first three quarters, showing why they are the team to beat in season 2019/20, sinking 84 points to the Hawks’ 56 to end the game with a quarter to play. The Hawks managed to win the final term by a point, but it was too little, too late with Perth establishing itself as even more damaging at RAC Arena. While all the talk pre-game was about LaMelo Ball, Perth star Bryce Cotton reminded everyone what he was capable of, sinking 28 points, having seven assists and four steals, while partner-in-crime Terrico White helped himself to 19 points, six rebounds and three assists. Dario Hunt had 16 points and nine rebounds, while Nick Kay (nine points, seven rebounds) and Majok Majok (eight points, eight rebounds) were prolific off the boards. Ball still stood out with 15 points, eight assists, three rebounds and three steals as arguably the best for his side, along with David Anderson (14 points, four rebounds and two blocks) and Josh Boone (10 points, 12 rebounds and two steals).

DC Medal: 3 – Bryce Cotton (PW), 2 – Dario Hunt (PW), 1 – Terrico White (PW)

Sydney Kings (102) defeated Adelaide 36ers (80)

For the third time in two days, the NBL had a different ladder leader, with Sydney Kings taking up the top spot on the table after defeating Adelaide 36ers at home. It was Adelaide’s first game for the season after playing in the United States, and the start looked like jet lag might have got to them with the red-hot Kings sinking 30 points to 14 to take a very handy 16-point lead into quarter time. They extended the lead in each break to 17, 21 and finally 22 points in a four-quarter effort to send a message to the rest of the competition in the 102-80 victory. Brad Newley was the top shooter for the Kings with 18 points, six rebounds and three assists, while Jae’Sean Tate was again prominent with 16 points, six rebounds and four assists, while Daniel Kickert also had 16 points accompanying two rebounds and two assists. Casper Ware (10 points, five rebounds) contributed despite shooting at just 25 per cent, while Andrew Bogut was relatively quiet with eight points, four rebounds and three assists. Shaun Bruce had a team-high seven assists to go with four rebounds, while Craig Moller had 12 points and four rebounds off the bench. For the 36ers, Daniel Johnson was the clear standout player with 26 points and seven rebounds, while Jerome Randall returned to face his former side and helped himself with 16 points, three rebounds and five assists. Ramone Moore (10 points, four rebounds and two assists) and Anthony Drmic (10 points, four rebounds and three steals) were the other two 36ers’ to reach double-figure points.

DC Medal: 3 – Brad Newley (SK), 2- Jae’Sean Tate (SK), 1 – Daniel Johnson (AD)

South East Melbourne Phoenix (113) defeated Brisbane Bullets (93)

In the battle of two undefeated sides, South East Melbourne Phoenix got the chocolates in their first ever home game, defeating Brisbane Bullets by 20 points to leapfrog the Bullets. The visitors took a two-point lead into quarter time, before the Phoenix regained control in the next term courtesy of a 32-25 quarter. They extended the lead by a further seven points with a 31-24 term, before finishing off the game with another dominant quarter, scoring 27-19 on their way to a comfortable 20-point win. John Robertson powered to 30 points, two rebounds and six assists with a remarkable 71.4 per cent from the field, including an eye-opening nine from 11 from three-point range. Kendall Stephens was even more accurate, sinking 17 points at 75 per cent from the floor, while making five of seven from three-point range. Mitch Creek was still remarkable overall, sinking 25 points and having seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals to be best on the court for the second straight week, while Ben Madgen had a strong game with 13 points, nine rebounds and four assists. For the Bullers, Patterson backed up his Round 1 effort with 30 points, four rebounds and three assists, while Sobey was strong again with 15 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Off the bench, Will Magnay (13 points, five rebounds and one block) and Singler (10 points, five rebounds, two assists and one steal) were prominent despite the loss.

DC Medal: 3 – Mitch Creek (SEM), 2 – John Robertson (SEM), Lamar Patterson (BB)

Illawarra Hawks (89) defeated Cairns Taipans (88)

In a battle of two sides with a couple of losses already to their names, it was the Illawarra Hawks who claimed the narrowest of victories over Cairns Taipans at WIN Entertainment Centre. The home side narrowly escaped the game going into overtime courtesy of an AJ Ogilvy free throw with 1.1 seconds left on the clock in the fourth. Cairns started strongly to lead the Hawks by five at quarter time and half-time, before the home team hit back with a 28-17 third term to regain the advantage by six heading into the final term. Cairns again regained control to win the term by five in the last quarter, and the game looked set for overtime, before Ogilvy delivered from the free throw line. The point moved Ogilvy to 19 for the game, as well as six rebounds, five steals and two assists in a massive effort. Aaron Brooks (19 points, five rebounds and seven assists) and Todd Blanchfield (20 points, three rebounds and two assists) were also prominent, while Ball showed his talent in spurts with nine points, five assists and five rebounds. For the Taipans, Deng battled hard on his way to 17 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals, but it was the return of D.J. Newbill who played his first game of the season, posting up a game-high 26 points, as well as three rebounds, four assists and a steal. Cameron Oliver (14 points, seven rebounds) and Machado (14 points, three rebounds, six assists and two steals) were the other players who tried hard throughout the contest.

DC Medal: 3 – AJ Ogilvy (IL), Aaron Brooks (IL), D.J. Newbill (IL)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

6 – Mitch Creek (SEP)
5 – Jae’sean Tate (SK)
4 – Lamar Patterson (BB), Bryce Cotton (PW)
3 – Scott Machado (CT), Melo Trimble (MU), Nick Kay (PW), Nathan Sobey (BB), Brad Newley (SK), AJ Ogilvy (IL)
2 – Shawn Long (MU), Casper Ware (SK), LaMelo Ball (IH), John Robertson (SEM), Matt Hodgson (BB), Dario Hunt (PW), Aaron Brooks (IL)
1 – Terrico White (PW), Daniel Johnson (AD), D.J. Newbill (IL)

NBL Round 1 review: Phoenix reign supreme and Ball sends tongues wagging

ROUND 1 of the National Basketball League kicked off with a bang with new franchise South East Melbourne Phoenix snatching the win from cross town rivals, while highly praised NBA prospect LaMelo Ball injected himself into the competition for the Illawarra Hawks.

Melbourne United (88) defeated by South East Melbourne Phoenix (91)

The Phoenix got the fairytale start to their inaugural season with a narrow three point win over grand finalist Melbourne United. It was a relatively tight contest with neither side able to run out to a massive lead credit to the intensity and ferocity of each team. In the end, it was the field goal percentage that cost United the game only converting a mere nine points from a possible 32 at 28 per cent compared to Phoenix’s 12 from 23 at 52 per cent. The new look United side took some time to adjust but it did not stop the likes of Chris Goulding and new recruit Melo Trimble from having an impact on the game. Goulding notched up a team high 27 points for the game, taking complete ownership up the court while Trimble was also impressive in his first game for United with 16 points and eight rebounds. His efforts were equally matched by Shawn Long who ran rampant while on court amassing a whopping 26 points and 13 rebounds. But it was the Phoenix that got the last laugh with Mitch Creek owning the court with 28 points, 11 rebounds and four assists highlighting his value in the side. John Robertson was also influential on the scoreboard registering 20 points while Ben Madgen highlighted his strength off the boards collecting nine rebounds for the game.

DC Medal: 3 – Mitch Creek (SEP), 2 – Shawn Long (MU), 1 – Melo Trimble (MU)

Cairns Taipans (71) defeated by Sydney Kings (79)

In the second game of the round, the Kings got over the line after a gallant effort by the new and improved Taipans. Cairns came out firing in the opening quarter, establishing a handy seven point buffer before a last quarter fade away ultimately cost them the game. The Kings came out with a point to prove in the fourth term piling on 22 while the Taipans simply had no answers only managing eight points for the quarter gifting Sydney an eight goal victory. The shooting load was evenly spread for Cairns with the likes of Kouat Noi (14 points), Scott Machado (13 points) and Cameron Oliver (13 points) all within a couple of points of each other. Noi also starred off the boards with a team high 12 rebounds to accompany his 14 points while Machado played his part racking up eight assists. The Kings made the most of their opportunities capitalising on turnovers notching up 16 points compared to the Taipans 11 while also highlighting their speed with 13 fast break points. New recruit Casper Ware led the way for Sydney with a game high 23 points along with five assists and two rebounds. Captain Kevin Lisch did not let Ware have all the fun amassing 18 points of his own while fan favourite Andrew Bogut went to work with a huge 12 rebounds showcasing his sheer strength and physicality under the rim.

DC Medal: 3 – Jae’sean Tate (SK), 2 – Casper Ware (SK), 1 – Scott Machado (CT)

Perth Wildcats (94) defeated Melbourne United (93)

The grand final rematch oozed nothing but intensity and drama with the Wildcats snatching bragging rights once again and leaving United wanting for more. Although it was a tight turnaround for Melbourne having only played two days ago they took it to the reigning premiers contesting everything but a last quarter surge was their ultimate undoing. Trimble was vital for United putting up 25 points while also showing his general basketball know how with seven rebounds and five assists, Mitch McCarron was the next closest with 17 points and five rebounds. Perth dynamic duo Bryce Cotton and Terrico White picked up where they left off wreaking havoc and scoring 41 points between them. White picked up the play of the day showcasing his composure and skill to nail a three-point shot in the dying seconds to gift Perth a one point victory. Nicholas Kay flexed his muscles playing his role up and down the court, proving to be handful with 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in his sides narrow win.

DC Medal: 3 – Nick Kay (PW), 2 – Melo Trimble (MU), 1 – Bryce Cotton (PW)

Illawarra Hawks (81) defeated by Brisbane Bullets (90)

The highly anticipated match lived up to the hype with both sides fighting hard to kick their year off in style. It was an even first half before the Bullets fired the first shot in the third term with 22 points to 14 and maintained that momentum to run out with a nine point win. LaMelo Ball proved that he was nothing but class, displaying his elite ball handling skills, impeccable movement up and down the court and ability to attack the rim. Ball was crucial throughout the Hawks match with 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists in his first NBL game. He was ably assisted by Josh Boone, who showcased his experience getting into damaging positions to open up the court while Aaron Brooks was electric with a team high 23 points. Andrew Ogilvy also made his presence felt on court with 13 points and five rebounds. For the Bullets the likes of Lamar Patterson (25 points) and Nathan Sobey (17 points) were highly influential on the scoreboard with both players backing themselves from range and in close. Cameron Gliddon plied his trade up both ends of the court with 10 point and eight rebounds. Jason Cadee was handy in and around the court unleashing passes and notching up four assists Taylor Braun also played his part with six assists.

DC Medal: 3 – Lamar Patterson (BB), 2 – LaMelo Ball (IH), 1 – Matt Hodgson (BB)

Bye: Adelaide 36ers and New Zealand Breakers

DC Medal:

3 – Melo Trimble (MU), Lamar Patterson (BB), Nick Kay (PW), Jae’sean Tate (SK), Mitch Creek (SEP)
2 – Shawn Long (MU), Casper Ware (SK), LaMelo Ball (IH)
1 – Scott Machado (CT), Bryce Cotton (PW), Matt Hodgson (BB)

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.