Tag: orlando johnson

Patterson to re-join Bullets for remainder of 2021 NBL season

IT has been a whirlwind couple of days in the National Basketball League (NBL) as New Zealand Breakers bidded farewell to Lamar Patterson as the American import joined forces with his former club, Brisbane Bullets.

Patterson left the Bullets at the end of the 2019/20 season taking up the opportunity across the ditch, however he has struggled with a lingering knee injury and finding form to recapture the dominance he had last season. He only managed six games throughout his time with the Breakers, averaging 10.83 points, 3.67 rebounds, 1.83 assists and a steal a game.

His departure from the club has provided Levi Randolph with an opportunity to step up to the plate for the New Zealand side. Randolph brings plenty of x-factor to the Breakers outfit having played in the NBA G-League and averaging 12.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists. His inclusion will aid the likes of Tai and the injured Corey Webster when he returns who have been pillars of consistency for the Breakers throughout the season. the changes do not stop there for the Breakers though with Will McDowell-White also joining the fray with coach Dan Shamir highlighting the influence they could have on the squad.

“It is no secret in basketball you need creators, and losing both major creators in Lamar and Corey requires replacing them,” Shamir said. “Levi is a different player to Lamar, and Will is a different player again, but in terms of being a functional team, it gives us good weapons.”

Patterson was a key cog for the Bullets throughout the 2019/20 leading his side to multiple victories and proving to be a real thorn in the oppositions’ side. The American product managed impressive numbers last year averaging more than double of his current points tally with 21.43 points a game. He also starred off the boards in the previous season, recording 6.04 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.14 steals showcasing the stark difference between this year and last. With Patterson headed back to the Sunshine State it means the Bullets farewelled fellow American Orlando Johnson in the process.

One thing is for sure and that is that the Bullets outfit and head coach Andrej Lemanis is excited to welcome back the forward, given his extensive knowledge of the squad and his bag of tricks.

“We all know what Lamar, at his best, brings to this group and whilst there will still be an integration process because we are a different team to the one he has played with last season, I’m excited about having him here,” he said.

“One advantage of bringing in Lamar is that he understands us and we understand who he is. He’s familiar with our offence, he’s familiar with our defence, who we are as a coaching staff and how we operate as an organisation, so I’m confident that will make his transition into the group a quick and smooth one.

Patterson will be an ideal fit to play alongside the likes of newcomer Victor Law who has shouldered a wealth of the work for the Bullets throughout NBL 2021 while his experience to team up with Nathan Sobey and Jason Cadee will be paramount. However Patterson will not be able to play the next three games meaning Jamaal Robateau will take his place on the roster until he is eligible.

Kings overwhelm unbridled Bullets, now one win out of top four

THE final game of the Brisbane Bullets’ impressive NBL Cup run has ended in disappointment for the Queensland side, after going down 108-119 to the Sydney Kings and relinquishing the mid-season tournament to the Perth Wildcats as a result. A picture-perfect 71-point second half by the Kings and a new franchise record for points in a 40-minute game, was the main proponent for Sydney’s win last night, which now sees their record improve to seven wins and eight losses – a single win from a top four position.

After suffering their biggest loss and lowest points total in the game against the Illawarra Hawks during their last outing, Sydney looked to hit the ground running leading 10-5 in the opening few minutes. Although the Kings were able to initially put their noses in front, Nathan Sobey and Orlando Johnson were integral in kick-starting the Bullets’ night, as they were looking to extend their exemplary form during the NBL Cup.

Sobey and Anthony Drmic would combine for 14 of Brisbane’s 24 points in the first, snagging the minimal 24-23 lead after the first 10 minutes and finishing the period on a 6-0 run, while Brad Newley led the Kings in scoring after one with five points.

Following a quiet opening quarter, Jarell Martin started to have an impact on proceedings with the Kings’ import forward scoring six of the team’s first eight points in the second, but Brisbane would pull away first, pushing out to a seven-point lead as Adam Forde tried to motivate his roster. However, the Kings’ foul trouble facilitated a double-digit lead for the Bullets, but some late pressing and points off of turnovers by Sydney pulled the deficit back to eight points at half time.

Brisbane’s lead was a by-product of their 48 per cent shooting through two terms and the 12 personal fouls they forced from Sydney allowed the team to capitalise on their 10 free throws from 13 attempts, meanwhile the Kings had shot just a single free throw from the line.

Sydney flipped the script in the third with their best single-quarter scoring performance to date this season, as the Kings outscored the Bullets 38-24. Nevertheless, it was Drmic who scored a triple on the buzzer which signalled a possible dash to the finish line in the fourth involving both squads.

As the shots kept falling for both sides up until the conclusion of the game, Sydney did a tremendous job of keeping the Bullets at an arm’s distance. Ultimately, adding five more points to the final margin of victory, leaving Melbourne with an 11-point win and some momentum to utilise for the remainder of the season.

Shooting efficiency increased substantially for Sydney in the latter two quarters, raising their shooting percentage to 54 per cent, whereas Brisbane’s would drop down to 45 per cent. The Kings’ 54 points in the paint was also highly pivotal to the outcome of last night, as was their 14 extra points off the back of turnovers forced.

Bouncing back from an average performance last time out, Casper Ware made amends with 25 points, 10 assists and four rebounds in what was safe to say a complete game. Martin also reminded onlookers what he was capable of with 21 points in 21 minutes, also adding three rebounds despite finding early foul trouble. Four other Kings reached double digits with Craig Moller putting up 15, Jordan Hunter and Thomas Vodanovich contributing 13 points apiece and Shaun Bruce ending with 11.

Both Sobey and Vic Law (23 points and nine rebounds) had good nights overall, but Sobey was phenomenal by a mile leaving the floor with 35 points, six assists and four rebounds off of six three pointers in 35 minutes of action. Matthew Hodgson had a decent night off the bench with 12 points and nine rebounds, while Drmic put up 11 points. Competing in his 200th consecutive game spanning back to his debut 2011/12 season with the Gold Coast Blaze, Jason Cadee accumulated 11 points and six assists.

With both rosters concluding their NBL Cup runs, Sydney will head home to Qudos Bank Arena to host Melbourne United opening up Round 10 in what is always an entertaining matchup. For Brisbane, they will suit up the following night to host the New Zealand Breakers.

Picture credit: AAP

Offensive showcase ends with Bullets sitting atop NBL Cup ladder

ONE of the highest-scoring NBL games this season saw the Brisbane Bullets edge the Adelaide 36ers 109-104 on the back of 30 points from MVP candidate Nathan Sobey. Adelaide played one of their better games through an inconsistent period for them and managed to get out to a double-digit lead twice. Brisbane’s form and class stood tall though as their offensive spread and second-half defensive effort got them over the line.

Adelaide’s first quarters have been troubling in recent matches, only winning one of their last six, but they came out to play as the entertaining offensive display started immediately for both teams. Bullets star Vic Law nailed a triple to open their scoring account, but the outright third most-capped 36er in Daniel Johnson replied with a three of his own as he started his efforts for a huge scoring night.

Sunday Dech was a key contributor on the night, but 12 first-quarter points were instrumental in Adelaide’s early lead and vital to their impressive shooting, with two of those points being a huge poster over the in-form Matt Hodgson.

The 36ers took a four-point lead into the first break, with Josh Giddey’s five dimes also putting him on triple-double watch.

With Brandon Paul’s entry to NBL21 imminent, the departing Jeremy Kendle made the most of what looks to be his last game as a 36er, sinking triples on either side of quarter-time and bringing great energy on the defensive end.

Coach Connor Henry decided to run the offence through Tony Crocker who did not disappoint with some magic in the post and a pull up mid-range jumper. Combined with Johnson’s dominance on the offensive boards, the 36ers made their way to a 10-point lead.

Back and forth action closed out the half but it was all thanks to one man: Sobey. Strong shooting and confidence managed to keep the Bullets within six points at the main break in what was the highest combined half-time score (118 points) this season. The defence was far from ordinary, but the offence was just fantastic.

Both teams were shooting brilliantly, but the key difference was the 12 more shots taken by Adelaide on the back of nine offensive rebounds to one.

After just eight first-half points on four attempts, Law started the second half with an early basket as he imposed himself on the game. He was not alone in this imposition though, as the Bullets raced to score 21 points in the first five minutes of the third quarter to retain the lead and force the game into the back-and-forth slog that would remain.

With the scores tied at the final break, Hodgson fouled out with 8:30 left in the game and looked to be a big blow at the time but Law and Sobey along with valuable contributions from Jason Cadee would help steady proceedings for Brisbane.

Law was fading out of the post and secured three the old-fashioned way, while Sobey and Cadee were dropping bombs from deep.

Johnson and Giddey stepped up for Adelaide as well, but it was Jack McVeigh who kept the 36ers in the game. His effort on both ends stood out, but his efficiency and hustle offensively set him apart.

With just three points in it, Sobey put in a big dive to save a loose ball, and then pulled up for three up the other end to all but ice the game.

It was another monster game for Sobey as he ended with 30 points (11-15), four rebounds, and four assists. Law was just as efficient with 22 points (10-13), four rebounds, and five assists. Cadee (16 points) and Orlando Johnson (13 points, four rebounds, four assists) chipped in with important minutes as the Bullets shot a remarkable 60 per cent from the floor. They also restricted Adelaide to 42 second-half points, 20 less than their first-half concession.

Johnson led the 36ers with 29 points and nine rebounds, as Giddey narrowly missed his triple-double with 19 points, seven rebounds, and 11 assists.

Dech finished with 20 points, while McVeigh had 18 points and eight rebounds to continue his string of four consecutive double figure scoring games.

The Bullets face the Kings on Saturday, as the 36ers take on Perth on Sunday.

Bullets fire to win over Wildcats

BRISBANE Bullets have held on in an exciting National Basketball League (NBL) game over Perth Wildcats, winning by just three points at John Cain Arena last night. The Bullets won 95-92, starting strongly and then holding off a fierce Wildcats effort at different points throughout the match to grab their sixth win of the season and move to fifth on the table.

Coming into the game, the Bullets needed the win to remain in touch with the top four, while Perth sat second with a 6-3 record and needed a victory to not fall too far behind the top of the table Melbourne United. After four consecutive wins, the Wildcats were on fire, but it was the Bullets who stepped up in the opening term, piling on 29 points to 22 and racing out to a seven-point lead.

Perth hit back in the second term with a 26-23 quarter to cut the deficit to four and it was game on at half-time. The Wildcats have been one of the best performers of the NBL Cup thus far, and might have been expected to run over the top of the Bullets in the second half, but it was Brisbane that held firm in the third term to again extend the lead by a point to five with a quarter to play.

The final term was built up to be a beauty and it did not disappoint, with Bryce Cotton levelling the scores two-and-a-half minutes into the quarter at 77-apiece. Brisbane was quick to add back-to-back baskets and gain some breathing space, but again Cotton found a way to haul his side back into it, trading baskets with Victor Law to level the scores twice more, with 4:17 on the clock. Nathan Sobey‘s three-point jumper was an important one a minute later, and then Anthony Drmic followed suit with 2:20 on the clock – after Cotton made two of three free throws.

John Mooney reduced the deficit to two with a layup as the final two minutes were underway, with Law missing a triple attempt, but then driving a layup with 49 seconds on the clock to extend the lead to four. He then backed up with two successful free throws in the final 20 seconds and it was now a two-possession game. Once again Cotton tried his hardest to drag his team back into it with a triple, but back-to-back free-throws to Sobey with four seconds on the clock sealed the deal. A last second layup to Mooney ended the scores at 95-92 in Brisbane’s favour.

Sobey finished with a massive 31 points – shooting at 61 per cent including four of seven triple attempts – four assists, two rebounds and steal. Law aided him well with 23 points, six rebounds and two assists, while Orlando Johnson chimed in with 13 points, five rebounds, three assists and one block. Drmic (eight points, three rebounds) and Matt Hodgson (eight points, nine rebounds) were busy off the bench.

Cotton racked up 29 points, four assists and two rebounds in a huge effort, while it was the duo of Mooney and Todd Blanchfield that stepped up to have an impact. Mooney (20 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals) and Blanchfield (20 points, five rebounds) both racked up the points, while Clint Steindl (seven points, three rebounds) was effective in his 14 minutes on court.

Neither team have to wait long for their next match with Brisbane taking on Melbourne United tomorrow at 2pm, while Perth face off against Illawarra Hawks from 4.30pm.

Picture credit: AAP

NBL21 mid-season summaries: Bottom 5

YESTERDAY Draft Central summarised the seasons of each of the top four teams to this point in the fixture. Today we look at the summaries of the five teams that are aiming to displace them for a postseason finals spot in just over a month’s time.

5th – Sydney Kings
Record: 3 wins, 4 losses, % – 0.429

Sitting less than a game out of the top four, Sydney’s desire to rise up in the rankings will only intensify as Adam Forde’s talented roster will need not dwell on past failures given they share the same record as the Brisbane Bullets.

It was a sombre conclusion for the Kings after their first game ended, going down to Cairns by a single point. Remembering their sorrow from a week prior, Sydney answered back in the return fixture against the Taipans with a 99-91 win to even up their season record.

Two straight losses against the Bullets and the 36ers preceded two consecutive wins against Adelaide again and New Zealand, making up the bulk of their first seven games, before Illawarra edged out an 85-82 win in the battle of the two NSW clubs.

Prepping themselves for an important Round 6 where they will host both the Sixers and the defending champion Perth Wildcats for what will be a rematch of last year’s Grand Final.

Someone who will be an integral part of getting Sydney more positive results going forward will be Casper Ware, as the 31-year-old is averaging 20 points and three rebounds in his second season at the Kings. Import forward Jarell Martin is also proving that he is very valuable to his team averaging 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds, all while maintaining a 53 per cent conversion rate from the field. Last but not least, many punters have 23-year-old Dejan Vasiljevic as the top performing rookie of the year so far due to his 17 points and 3.3 rebounds per game averages – these numbers indicating a promising future for the former NCAA athlete.

 

6th – Brisbane Bullets
Record: 3 wins, 4 losses, % – 0.429

While the Brisbane Bullets only missed out on the finals due to percentage last season, the sense of urgency to chase down a top-four spot has yet to quite kick in, as they sit a win behind a .500 record and half a game behind the Phoenix who sit in fourth.

After being the unexpected first victim of the new and improved Illawarra Hawks side throughout rounds One and Two, the Bullets found themselves shocked and with no wins after two games (both losses were at home). But narrow victories against the Kings (90-87) and the Taipans (105-103) quickly allowed Brisbane to earn themselves a blank check after four games.

Brisbane would then fall to a red-hot Melbourne United in Round 4, which was further compounded at the start of Round Five falling to the Adelaide 36ers. Luckily for the Bullets, they would save face in the reverse fixture at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre toppling Adelaide by a solid 19-point margin, bringing us to today.

In terms of scoring output, it has been a two-man band between captain Nathan Sobey and newly signed import Vic Law, with the pair accounting for a combined 45 points per game as Sobey sports a league-leading average in scoring with 24.3 points, 3.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game with Law boasting 20.7 points and a team-high 9.4 rebounds per game. If the additional efforts of Jason Cadee, Tyrell Harrison and Orlando Johnson can become substantial for the remainder of the campaign, then Andrej Lemanis’s squad will pose a serious problem for the rest of the NBL.

 

7th – Perth Wildcats
Record: 2 wins, 3 losses, % – 0.400

Despite being one of two teams to have only played five game to this point in the fixture, many have been left to wonder how Trevor Gleeson’s side have taken as many defeats as they have so far this early on.

Things looked promising following a win in their first encounter with the South East Melbourne Phoenix (88-76), but after being snubbed the double in the Round Three rematch by one point it slowed the roll of the champions. Round Four was also a week to forget after losing out to the league frontrunners United by four points, but were able to salvage another win over the Phoenix a week after. The Wildcats and the Phoenix most recently faced each other for a fourth time, where South East Melbourne demolished Perth by a mammoth 25 points, deflating the reigning premiers morale prior to their contest this coming week.

It is hardly a surprise that the current league MVP Bryce Cotton is leading the side in putting the ball in the net with 22.6 points per game, while also averaging seven assists and over two steals. Second import John Mooney is also a primary producer with his 16.8-point, 11.4-rebound stat line, whereas former Hawks forward Todd Blanchfield is fitting in well at his new side with 13 points, 3.8 rebounds and two assists per game next to his name.

 

8th – Cairns Taipans
Record: 2 wins, 6 losses, % – 0.250

Perhaps one of the biggest disappointments this season, the Cairns Taipans have been struggling since mid-January ever since they were trounced by Illawarra at the tail end of Round One. Prior to that game, they were in relatively good spirits after a one-point victory over the Kings to begin the season.

Ever since then, the Taipans have run out of form with one of the worst success rates throughout the league after also losing to Sydney, Melbourne, Illawarra for a second time, Brisbane and New Zealand, enduring a streak of losses that would span five games. More importantly, four out of the five losses occurred in front of their home fans.

As of most recently, however, Cairns has since ended their five-game skid after defeating the Breakers in the second of the two teams’ matches, 84-71, and are now looking to continue some good form when they face off with both the Hawks and United in Round Six.

With DJ Newbill no longer a part of the side, both Scott Machado and Cameron Oliver have had to increase their production. Machado is operating at an impressive level averaging 17 points, 9.9 assists (again leading the league in this category) and four rebounds, whereas Oliver continues to do what he does best rebounding at an exorbitant rate, ranking second in the NBL with 10.6 per game and 17.5 points to tag onto that number.

While Mike Kelly has a solid core unit, individuals such as Kouat Noi (12.4 points per game), Majok Deng (11.6 points per game) and Mirko Djeric (11.5 points per game) need the extra support of their bench if they are to pull through with more victories to their name, especially as the number of games remaining continues to dwindle down.

 

9th – New Zealand Breakers
Record: 1 win, 4 losses, % – 0.200

The second of two teams to have only played five games, the New Zealand Breakers have performed the worst out of any team at this point in NBL21. But that could still change if Dan Shamir’s side can find some cohesion in the second half of the season.

Two losses to the 36ers in Rounds 2 and 3 were the first hiccups of the season for the Breakers, but some hope was reignited in the side when they defeated the Taipans away in Queensland to commence Round Four (85-79).

Unfortunately, that would be the extent of the side’s success, as not only would Cairns get the drop on New Zealand in the rematch two days later, but the Sydney Kings also handed the Breakers their fourth loss of the season in Round Five.

The positives have been few and far between to this point for New Zealand, although players like Tai Webster and Finn Delany have been having respectable seasons so far. Leading the team in points, rebounds and assists per game, Webster is having himself a campaign to remember averaging 20 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists.

While Delany is contributing 14.2 points and 6.4 rebounds on a consistent basis, others like Corey Webster (13.3 points) and former Bullet Lamar Patterson (10.4 points and 4.2 rebounds) are also doing their best to make the defence’s job more difficult each encounter. Nevertheless, there needs to major shift in tactics if the New Zealand side is going to climb off the bottom of the standings.

 

Catch the start of the NBL Cup tomorrow night when all nine teams will be competing for $150,000 and more wins to their name, as we kick off coverage for the second half of the NBL21 season.

2021 NBL mash-up teams: State-by-state

FOR something different during the break, we decided to take a look at what mashed up teams would look like in the National Basketball League (NBL) competition, with the Victorian teams combined, as well as New South Wales, Queensland and then the three single teams in their respective states/country. We have looked at a starting five as well as a bench to get an idea about what the teams could look like if they were to join forces. For the purpose of the exercise we have not included Ryan Broekhoff given he only signed this week and is yet to play a game.

VICTORIA (UNITED/PHOENIX):

G: Keifer Sykes (South East Melbourne Phoenix)
G: Chris Goulding (Melbourne United)
F: Mitch Creek (South East Melbourne Phoenix)
F: Jack White (Melbourne United)
C: Jock Landale (Melbourne United)

Bench:

G: Mitch McCarron (Melbourne United)
G: Yudai Baba (Melbourne United)
F: Scotty Hopson (Melbourne United)
F: Yannick Wetzell (South East Melbourne Phoenix)
C: Jo Lual Acuil (Melbourne United)

If you are talking depth, it is hard to look past the Victorian side, which is flushed across the lines. The bench five are good enough to compete against most teams, but the overall experience of the starting five is undeniable. Imagine a team with Creek, Goulding and Sykes letting loose, while the big men in White and Landale make life difficult around the basket. Hopson leads an amazing group off the bench, and keep in mind Broekhoff would walk into the side, remarkably sending Goulding to the bench. What a side.

QUEENSLAND (BULLETS/TAIPANS):

G: Scott Machado (Cairns Taipans)
G: Nathan Sobey (Brisbane Bullets)
F: Kouat Noi (Cairns Taipans)
F: Victor Law (Brisbane Bullets)
C: Cameron Oliver (Cairns Taipans)

Bench:

G: Anthony Drmic (Brisbane Bullets)
G: Mirko Djeric (Cairns Taipans)
F: Orlando Johnson (Brisbane Bullets)
F: Majok Deng (Cairns Taipans)
C: Tyrell Harrison (Brisbane Bullets)

Despite neither Queensland team setting the world on fire thus far this season, the combined Queensland team on paper would be quite impressive. The fact both teams have two elite scorers in Oliver and Machado (Cairns) and Sobey and Law (Brisbane), and they all play different positions make it one awesome line-up. The depth might slip a little, but they have plenty of options in the big men department, with Harry Froling another one unlucky not to nudge out Deng at this stage.

NEW SOUTH WALES (HAWKS/KINGS):

G: Tyler Harvey (Illawarra Hawks)
G: Justinian Jessup (Illawarra Hawks)
F: Justin Simon (Illawarra Hawks)
F: Jarrell Martin (Sydney Kings)
C: Sam Froling (Illawarra Hawks)

Bench:

G: Casper Ware (Sydney Kings)
G: Dejan Vasiljevic (Sydney Kings)
F: Didi Louzada (Sydney Kings)
F: Deng Deng (Illawarra Hawks)
C: Jordan Hunter (Sydney Kings)

It might be a shock to see a shooter such as Ware on the bench, and additionally that last year’s grand finalists make up just one of the starting five compared to the reigning wooden spooners, but on-form it is hard to see it another way. Both Ware and Vasiljevic deserve starting spots, but Harvey and Jessup have been unbelievable in their roles for Illawarra’s back court. Martin has been a standout four with the Kings, but otherwise, Illawarra has been one of the standout teams this season and it shows.

SA/WA/NEW ZEALAND (36ERS/WILDCATS/BREAKERS):

G: Tai Webster (New Zealand Breakers)
G: Bryce Cotton (Perth Wildcats)
F: Todd Blanchfield (Perth Wildcats)
F: Daniel Johnson (Adelaide 36ers)
C: Isaac Humphries (Adelaide 36ers)

Bench:

G: Josh Giddey (Adelaide 36ers)
G: Lamar Patterson (New Zealand Breakers)
F: Tom Abercrombie (New Zealand Breakers)
F: Finn Delany (New Zealand Breakers)
C: John Mooney (Perth Wildcats)

It is no surprise that a team that features three different sides rather than two would be an incredibly strong lineup. Whilst New Zealand Breakers and Perth Wildcats have been inconsistent at times, they still boast elite talents, and if Patterson was at his best, than the starting five would be near-unbeatable. There have been a few tough choices here, with Mooney deserving to start, but hard to crack in against either Humphries or Johnson, and playing him at the three spot would be unrealistic. The back court is unbelievably deep, and the rotation would be hard to match with shooters coming off the bench left, right and centre.

Picture credit: Getty Images

2021 NBL Top Performers to Round 5: Adelaide/Brisbane/Cairns

IN the first of our three-part series looking at the National Basketball League’s (NBL) top performers to Round 5 before the NBL Cup tips off, we focus on Adelaide 36ers, Brisbane Bullets and Cairns Taipans.

ADELAIDE 36ERS:

Wins: 5
Losses: 4
Position: 3rd

Isaac Humphries has been the dominant center in the competition this year, particularly with his ability to work both ends of the court. Averaging a remarkable 17.1 points, as well as 8.8 rebounds, Humphries is best known for his huge blocks. At almost four per game, the 211cm, 116kg man mountain makes life incredibly difficult for any opposition offence to put scores on the board in the paint.

The inclusion of Humphries has allowed star shooter and big man Daniel Johnson to almost play a secondary role, but more so focus on his offence. He is at a team-high 21.1 points per game, whilst averaging 6.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists, ranked third and second at the club respectively. The pair are two 200cm-plus talents who can run both ways and do just about anything, which has helped the 36ers remain well up in contention for the NBL title.

Young gun Josh Giddey (9.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists) burst onto the scene in only his second match to lead the 36ers to a win over South East Melbourne Phoenix. Still a teenager, Giddey remains a threat for his overall game, and is able to dish off dimes and collect rebounds, whilst holding up his end and putting up points. One who seems destined for the NBA in the future.

In terms of others, Sunday Dech (9.1 points, 5.7 rebounds) has been solid across the board, whilst import Tony Crocker has averaged 10 points per game starting every match, though fellow import Donald Sloan already called it quits, heading off to pursue other opportunities after six matches – three off the bench for just nine points and three assists.

BRISBANE BULLETS:

Wins: 3
Losses: 4
Position: 6th

In a season that has been inconsistent thus far, import Victor Law has been a welcome addition in response to the loss of Lamar Patterson over the off-season. The latter has hardly set the world on fire at New Zealand Breakers, meanwhile Law is averaging almost a double-double with the American putting up 20.7 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.0 blocks per game. He has provided teammate Nathan Sobey with great support on the scoring front.

Sobey is putting up great numbers with 24.3 points per game his bread and butter as a back court shooter. Throw in 3.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.0 steals per game, and the former Adelaide 36ers talent has backed up his first season in the Sunshine State with another impressive year, particularly with plenty of highlight-reel plays in 2021.

The issue with the Bullets is finding that third source of consistent scoring, with the next highest scorer being Jason Cadee (8.6 points, 2.9 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals). Law and Sobey have been the only two permanent starters, with Andrej Lemanis rotating Tyrell Harrison (6.3 points, 6.4 rebounds) and Harry Froling (5.0 points, 5.9 rebounds) through the five spot. Orlando Johnson (7.4 points, 4.9 rebounds), Anthony Drmic (6.8 points, 2.8 rebounds) and Tanner Krebs (6.8 points) have all had shots, but the Bullets are still finding the best combination to see them challenge for finals this year.

CAIRNS TAIPANS:

Wins: 2
Losses: 6
Position: 8th

Cairns Taipans’ season has not gone to plan despite looking good on paper from a statistical perspective. The Snakes have five players averaging double-figure points, with dominant big man Cameron Oliver putting up 17.3 points and 10.8 rebounds to lead the way, but they are not getting the results on the board. Oliver has been a source of points and physicality off the boards, and is also averaging almost two blocks per game to do whatever it takes to drag his side across the line.

Similarly, Scott Machado is putting up big numbers with almost a double-double of 17 and 10 from points and assists. He contributes with four boards a game, but even with those numbers, his field goal percentage is right down at just 39.2 per cent. From long-range he is at 37 per cent, but it is his dimes that make him such a valuable player with elite passing and vision across the court.

The other player who has started every match is forward Kouat Noi, who has averaged the 12.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists per match from eight games. Majok Deng (11.9 points. 4.9 rebounds and 1.0 blocks) and Mirko Djeric (11.5 points. 3.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists) are the other two who have reached double-figure points this season in what should see the Taipans battling for a top spot.

Unfortunately Cairns are languishing down in eighth so far with just two wins from six games, and sadly the majority have been at home. Victories over Sydney Kings (one point) and New Zealand Breakers (17) are the sole successes, though the latter came in their most recent game. It is hoped the Taipans can use it as a building block going forward, having suffered a few tight losses as well.

Picture credit: Getty Images

Law guides Bullets to 19-point win over Adelaide

THE final game of Round 5 in the National Basketball League (NBL) ended in the Brisbane Bullets’ favour with the away side posting their fourth win of the season, a 19-point victory over Adelaide 36ers (93-74). The Bullets caused an upset win over their higher ranked opponents as Adelaide failed to get their signature play up and running, left shellshocked by Victor Law who left no stone unturned in the opening half of play to produce 19 points.

Adelaide claimed ascendancy in the first minutes of the quarter pushing out to as much as a five points ahead but were unable to maintain that level of intensity throughout the remainder of the term. The lapse allowed for Brisbane to find their groove and turn the tables to create a handy buffer themselves. Up by three points at the first change the Bullets appeared to have a firm grip on the game at hand and looked to push the buffer out at every turn sneaking out to 10 points at half time thanks to a dominant second term. Brisbane were relentless in attack throughout the second piling on 30 points while suffocating the scoring flow of their opponents to limit them to 23 points.

Their dominance continued into the second half of action as the Bullets could not be denied as some experienced heads stepped up to the plate and delivered. On the other hand the 36ers struggled to combat the offensive pressure the Bullets were applying and could not generate a high enough input to worry their opponents. Although the final term of play was closer with Adelaide managing 19 points and the Bullets adding 20 to their tally, the damage was already done as Brisbane had dominated from go to woe.

Given the scoreline it is no surprise that Brisbane had the upper hand in most shooting statistics boasting a better field goal percentage of 45 compared to 36 per cent. The Bullets also led the charge for three-point accuracy downing 11 of their 28 attempts at 39 per cent as opposed to Adelaide’s eight from 27 at 29 per cent. Accuracy from two-point range also favoured the victors shooting at a 48 per cent clip while the 36ers managed 40 per cent accuracy with their conversion of 18 from 45 attempts.

The Bullets secured more rebounds than their opponents (49-38) displaying their overall strength off the boards while also leading the steals department with five to four. Adelaide impressed with ball in hand to narrowly record more assists, 21-20, while their bigmen played an integral role laying five blocks to two in the clash. When it came to turnovers neither side could be separated, registering eight apiece and highlighting the overall cleanliness of the game.

There were two main contributors for Adelaide throughout the match as Daniel Johnson topped the table for points thanks to his 20 across his 33 minutes on court. He also managed to reel in eight rebounds and four assists. Teammate Isaac Humphries proved to be a handy option posting 15 points along with eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks as youngster Josh Giddey continued his merry way with nine points, eight assists and four rebounds. Although Sunday Dech did not have an influence on the scoreboard the guard collected seven rebounds with five of them defensive.

An inspired performance from Law was what got the Bullets over the line with the star import once again proving his dominance knocking back 27 points and falling just short of a double-double credit to his nine rebounds. Law was a real playmaker for the Bullets impacting the play in every which way but was ably assisted by the likes of Nathan Sobey who sunk 19 points of his own. Sobey did not shy away from the contest amassing five rebounds and six assists as Orlando Johnson also imposed himself on the match with his 15 points and nine-rebound effort. Matthew Hodgson also played a key support role as shown through his eight points, nine rebounds and three assists.

United continue their winning ways despite Bullets best shot

ROUND four action kicked off at the Armoury as an enthralling game saw Melbourne United eventually prevail against a relentless Brisbane Bullets outfit 109-96. With both teams looking to continue their winning streaks, it was an arm-wrestle from the very beginning as Shea Ili rolled his ankle in early proceedings and forced United coach Dean Vickerman to stray from their winning formula.

Star import Vic Law and Brisbane captain Nathan Sobey were vital to their side’s two Round 3 wins, both averaging 28 points per game, and both had to bring that same play to give their side a chance at handing United their first loss for the season.

The opening term immediately provided back and forth action with sharp-shooters Chris Goulding and Jason Cadee trading threes in early stages. After shooting 0/8 in their last matchup, out-of-form recruit Scotty Hopson started the exact opposite of the way he would have liked with two turnovers. Unlike Sunday’s game, however, he maintained a positive body language and let the game come to him as he played a role at both ends of the court.

Melbourne’s defence inside with Jack White and Jock Landale has been a feature through their games thus far, but Tyrell Harrison and the Bullets sought to attack it and make Landale accountable on the defensive rotations.

A strong finish to the quarter saw them hold a 31-26 lead over Melbourne as both teams enjoyed an even spread of scorers. Sobey had three assists from pick and roll actions, drawing the inside defender and lobbing over the top.

Vickerman was unhappy with the United defence early in the second, but it was up the other end where Jo Lual-Acuil was firing, boasting 11 points with much of the first half to play. This play enabled Melbourne to stay within arms-length of Brisbane, as a tighter finish saw the Bullets lead at one point heading into the main break.

A 52-51 score line meant it was the highest combined points total in a first half for NBL21, indicative of the offensive firepower on display. Both teams were shooting better than 50 per cent but it was Melbourne’s 24 bench points and efficiency from deep which was keeping them in the game. Sobey said that if they tightened up on some of those walk-in threes, they would be in a lot better stead.

The third quarter saw United come out firing as Hopson started to gain some confidence and make some shots. A pair of offensive rebounds and a basket capped of a 12-2 United run as Bullets coach Andrej Lemanis called a timeout.

After the lights went out in the Nissan Arena momentarily, Brisbane managed an 11-3 run of their own to end the quarter at a one-point deficit again. Sobey led the fightback as he showed why many thought he was perhaps unlucky to miss out on Olympic Boomers squad selection.

As if the offensive display was not enough through three quarters of play, a three-point contest was sparked to begin the fourth quarter with none other than Goulding kicking it off with a pair of deep makes. Law, Landale, and Orlando Johnson also got in on the action. A 7-0 Brisbane run threatened, before nine consecutive Melbourne points all but iced the game.

Despite a valiant Sobey’s best efforts, another pair of Goulding splashes held the Bullets foray as they came out 13-point victors. Goulding led the United scoring with 27 points including seven threes (7-11), and said they were lucky to give up 52 first-half points and only be one-point down.

“We [knew we] could be so much better, so we wanted to step on it in the third quarter, had to figure their defence out a little bit and be aggressive, that’s why we’re the best,” Goulding said.

With him a big part of their 50 per cent shooting night from deep, the efforts of Landale cannot be discounted as he went 4-8 from three showing no hesitancy to release the deep ball. He also had 20 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists on the night, showing why he is one of the best big men Australia has. Hopson (16 points, four assists) showed glimpses of his best game, while White and Mitch McCarron each had 10 points.

Sobey (27 points, three assists, six rebounds) and Law (20 points, four assists, seven rebounds) again took most of the workload as Lemanis will be looking for more output from senior players Cadee (five points, 2-7, 32 minutes) and Anthony Drmic (four points, 1-6, 23 minutes).

Melbourne United play Perth Wildcats on Sunday February 7, while the Bullets will enjoy a break before they return to play next Saturday February 13 against the Adelaide 36ers.

Picture credit: AAP

The Hawks keep soaring, knock over Bullets 90-82

DESPITE an even first half that saw both the Brisbane Bullets and The Hawks tied at the midway point of last night’s contest, the Illawarra-based unit won out the remaining two quarters to collect their third straight win to start the 2021 season, outlasting Brisbane for a second time, 90-82.

Brisbane knew they had to bestow a strike to the Hawks’ spirit early on with a good opening period, and thanks to import Vic Law as well as the Bullets’ skipper Nathan Sobey, the hosts had themselves a strong 10-point lead after one, leading 23-13.

Furthermore, the Bullets’ ability to convert at the line played a huge part in creating what was a sizeable lead after 10 minutes, knocking down seven attempts from the charity strike during this time.

In what seems to be a reborn Hawks outfit, Brian Goorjian’s side would undo all of Brisbane’s hard work from the opening term tying things up 38-38 heading into the main break thanks to a running floater down the lane by Tyler Harvey, who grabbed his twentieth point of the contest at this stage.

It was the Hawks backcourt that moved the ball and worked hard on the glass in the second quarter, overtaking Brisbane in categories such as rebounding, assists and bench points – ultimately winning the period 25 to 15 and evening things up in the process.

Harvey continued his dominance to kick off the second half, nailing a triple and giving his side the lead. Next to occur, would be a series of baskets from both sides signifying a much more back and forth third term.

Andrew Ogilvy and Justin Simon continued to apply the pressure onto their opponents, extending their lead against Brisbane whenever the deficit became close. The Hawks would maintain a five-point lead for most of the third, as additional actors such as Deng Deng and Sam Froling started to make their mark.

Up 65-62 against Brisbane with 10 minutes to play, the visiting squad knew they needed to focus a little longer and convert on their chances if they were going to start their year with three wins in their opening three outings.

Having been the case for most of the matchup, the Bullets and the Hawks split the opening 14 points evenly amongst themselves, promising those at Nissan Arena a good finish to what had been a terrific game so far.

Willing his team back into the contest having trailed by as much as seven points, Sobey found his points in numerous scenarios as his side could not make up the margin that the Hawks had forced upon them.

Trailing by a single bucket with two minutes remaining, a layup and free throws by Emmett Naar and another floater from Harvey quickly extended the Hawks lead to a game-high eight points and all but polished off the Bullets in front of their home crowd once again.

Taking home yet another victory in what has been a dream start to NBL21 for coach Goorjian’s roster, it is safe to say last year’s wooden spooners are in exemplary form. In excellent form, particularly, was Harvey who concluded his performance with a game-high 31 points along with a pair of steals. Other valuable contributors to the Hawks’ efforts provided an abundance of support, especially Ogilvy (14 points, nine rebounds and four assists), Justinian Jessup (10 points, six rebounds and six assists) and Simon (nine points and nine rebounds).

For a disappointed Bullets side who actually shot a respectable 42 per cent last night, their captain could not bring the team to victory as Sobey finished with 24 points off of 40 per cent from the field. Law added another impressive stat line to his debut season in the NBL, stringing together a 16-point, 12-rebound and six-assist double-double. Meanwhile, Orlando Johnson was effective off the bench with 11 points.

Brisbane returns in Round 3 to try and earn its first win of the season against last year’s runners-ups, the Sydney Kings, who also sit in the same boat looking for their first victory of the 2021 campaign. The Hawks look to extend their unbeaten start to four games with another away contest, this time in Cairns against the Taipans on Thursday night.