Tag: Reuben Te Rangi

United bounces back from snapped streak loss to post 11-point win over Phoenix

MELBOURNE United has come from a quarter time deficit, and then a late charge from the South East Melbourne Phoenix to post an 11-point win over their cross-state rivals at John Cain Arena yesterday. With five players hitting double-figure points – three off the bench – and led by Jock Landale picking up a massive double-double, United proved too strong off he boards and shot at a higher clip from the field in the 107-96 victory.

The Phoenix burst out of the blocks with a strong opening term, scoring 31-24 to lead by seven at quarter time. United hit back in the second quarter with a dominant 28-16 quarter to take all the momentum away from the home side and hold a five-point lead at half-time. That momentum continued into the second half, with United having an even more dominant third term to win that quarter by 15, 27-12 and open up an unassailable 20-point advantage at the final chance. The Phoenix did spur on a late comeback, but it was always going to be difficult from there, scoring 23-14 in the final term to get within 11 points, but go down 93-82.

Once United hit the front midway through the second term – after not holding the lead at any stage prior – they did not lose it again, running out the far stronger side. From midway through the third term, the lead did not go into single digits showing the level of control the top of the table had. They dominated most areas with a higher field goal accuracy (47 to 41 per cent), and more rebounds (44-34), blocks (6-0) and second chance points (18-9). The teams both had 13 turnovers, with Phoenix scoring 23 points to nine from turnovers, and the losing side also had more steals (7-6).

Landale finished his night with 27 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks to lead the way, while the experienced Chris Goulding had 11 points, two rebounds and two steals to complement him from the starters. Jo Lual-Acuil aided Landale off the boards with seven rebounds and two blocks to go with his 12 points, while Scotty Hopson (15 points, three rebounds and two assists) and Shea Ili (10 points, two rebounds) also knocked down double-figure points. On return to the NBL as a replacement player for Jack White, veteran David Andersen did not score any points, but had an assist in his three minutes on court.

In defeat, Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’Afa led the point-scoring with 19 points, two assists, two rebounds and three steals, teaming up with fellow New Zealander, Reuben Te Rangi (17 points) in the Phoenix’s loss. Mitch Creek had a dirty night of zero points, and only the four rebounds and three assists, taking just six shots from the field in just 29 minutes and not hitting any. Yannick Wetzell had nine points, nine rebounds and three assists to be solid across the board, while Kyle Adnam (14 points, three rebounds and two assists) and Ben Moore (11 points, eight rebounds) were both busy coming off the bench.

Melbourne United will eye off another clash with Perth Wildcats in a top of the table epic event, hoping to reverse the result from last round when they face off on Thursday night before a rematch with the Phoenix next Sunday. Before then, the Phoenix have two prior games – the New Zealand Breakers on Wednesday and the Cairns Taipans on Friday – both at home.

Picture credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Patterson back to old self, Bullets knock over Phoenix

THE Brisbane Bullets are back in the winners column after three straight losses, beating the South East Melbourne Phoenix 94-82 away in Melbourne. Andrej Lemanis’ side earned their eleventh win of the campaign, putting them just two wins off a .500 record and instilling themselves with a glimmer of hope to chase a top four spot in these later stages of the season.

After showing positive signs in his last outing against the Perth Wildcats, Lamar Patterson was instrumental in getting the Bullets out in front early putting up substantial numbers. Meanwhile, Nathan Sobey provided his services in every other aspect of the game during the opening 10 minutes.

Capitalising on the 22-15 quarter-time lead, Brisbane’s bench started to punish the Phoenix as the Bullets were hungry for a win. Things for the Phoenix got slightly more difficult following Ryan Broekhoff’s early departure from the game, after the guard suffered a cut above the eye following a stray elbow from Sobey.

Having reached a double-digit deficit at the midway stages of the second term, a convenient 7-0 run for Simon Mitchell’s side saw the Phoenix severely reduce their disadvantage capped off by a fastbreak Ben Moore dunk.

Shooting over 40 per cent, the Bullets snuck away with a minimal two-point lead at the main break (36-34) as the Phoenix shot a woeful 28 per cent from the field. While South East Melbourne was indeed finding their buckets in various ways, Brisbane’s sheer effort around the rim was the main proponent for the visitors’ lead after two quarters.

Sobey’s slow-scoring first half was quickly forgotten about with the NBL’s second highest scorer adding nine points to his first six in the third quarter alone. Furthermore, winning the third, 33-25, the Bullets held a hard-earned 10-point lead with a period to play, despite Cam Gliddon’s efforts on the offensive end, which saw the Phoenix running out of time to get back into the contest in front of their home fans.

Other Bullets such as Anthony Drmic and Matthew Hodgson started to show glimpses of their terrific form that many have become familiar with this season. This also included a few good moments from key personnel off the bench like Harry Froling and Jason Cadee as Mitchell Creek and Kyle Adnam struggled to take off throughout all four stanzas.

Eventually Brisbane would outlast South East Melbourne’s pursuit, running out of John Cain Arena with the convincing 12-point victory and scoring more than 90 points in a game for the first time in nine outings.

Both teams improved their accuracy in shooting tremendously with the Phoenix concluding their night with a 40 per cent clip and Brisbane improving theirs to an impressive 52 per cent. The Bullets were superior in rebounding (43-37), assists (20-14) and threes made (10-6), while the hosts won out in free throws, turnovers forced and second chance points.

Even though South East Melbourne was proficient in several areas on the floor, their one main flaw in their approach was an inability to stop Patterson. The former All-NBL First Team selectee was huge once again, finishing with 27 points, seven rebounds and two steals. Sobey was back to his usual self in the second half as he compiled a modest 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Drmic was the next highest scorer with 15 points, whereas Hodgson and Froling each produced 11 points in the win.

Gliddon was the Phoenix’s leading scorer for a large part of last night’s matchup before leaving the court with 17 points and five assists. That saw Moore have a strong second half with 18 points and seven rebounds next to his name after 40 minutes, while Reuben Te Rangi and Creek were good for 12 and 11 points respectively.

The loss for the Phoenix provides an opportunity for the Bullets to try and reduce the distance between themselves and the top four, which also applies to Brisbane’s next opponents in the Adelaide 36ers, who they face this Saturday. On the other hand, the Phoenix can enjoy a week-and-a-half long break before facing cross-town rivals in Melbourne United in Round 17 next Saturday.

Phoenix season to reach crossroads over next few weeks; will Broekhoff break out?

OVER at the South East Melbourne Phoenix camp, it has certainly been an eventful last couple of weeks to say the least, with the upcoming months set to be just as interesting because of the consequential effect it will have on their NBL21 campaign.

To rattle off the list of recent events, the Phoenix have acquired an ex-NBA sharpshooter, won their last three games, secured a top-four seed as a result for now, and lost Mitch Creek for an indefinite amount of time after being charged by Victoria Police with alleged assault. All of these moments have led to now and South East Melbourne’s upcoming fixtures. This will be an opportunity for the Melbourne based side to show just how deep they can bat and if they can prevail in adversary.

After news hit that former Dallas Mavericks member Ryan Broekhoff would be signing with the newest side in the National Basketball League (NBL) back in mid-February, many have been eager to see how the Victorian would have an impact on the rest of the competition.

Broekhoff did not make his first NBL appearance until March 12, but that was to follow after the Phoenix began their recent run of form just days earlier, when they shocked both their cross-town rival and league leaders, Melbourne United.

In their Round 9 matchup against United, South East Melbourne had just nine active players ready to suit up as Keifer Sykes, Dane Pineau, Adam Gibson, Kendall Stephens and Broekhoff were out of action for a litany of reasons.

Nevertheless, for Creek, he ran away with 31 points and 10 rebounds next to Kyle Adnam who also had a productive evening with 18 points and eight rebounds. The performances by these two carried a reduced Phoenix squad over the line into overtime, where Reuben Te Rangi shone, assisting the team to a 97-92 victory and a Melbourne Throwdown win to remember.

Creek’s season-high scoring performance on the night was indicative of the forward’s presence on the floor so far this season, which points to how much of a loss his absence will be going forward. The loss will primarily come from behind the arch where he causes so much damage off the dribble and the occasional three when he is in rhythm, not including his diligence on the glass and ability to make his teammates more involved on the floor.

Moving on from their big win against Melbourne, the Phoenix had a lowlier opponent waiting in the distance for their next clash. But this time, the Phoenix had the opportunity to show off their new signing in Broekhoff.

Despite playing just a minor role off the bench in South East Melbourne’s 85-81 win over Cairns, Broekhoff was a wonderful addition on the night. Playing over 13 minutes against the Taipans, he shot the ball just six times but converted on three attempts. Knocking down these three field goals including a trademark triple, Broekhoff finished with a minor contribution of seven points, but it was enough to put the NBL on notice with the Phoenix adding another weapon to their arsenal.

Broekhoff once again exhibited relatively low production numbers in the Phoenix’s next outing against New Zealand to conclude the NBL Cup, finishing with only three points in nine minutes of play. Coach Mitchell limited his new signing’s minutes to help him settle in, meaning the one-two punch of Creek and Adnam was called upon once again, as the pair combined for 42 points with each finding the mark for 21 points apiece and helping South East Melbourne to their third straight win leading up to today, toppling the Breakers comfortably 103-89.

Defeating United, Cairns and then New Zealand in Round 9, the Phoenix did not only place second in the NBL Cup standings meaning a reward of $100,000 for the club, but also helped improve their regular season record to nine wins and seven losses. Due to this, South East Melbourne now sit tentatively in fourth position on the NBL ladder.

With a top-four position to defend from this point on and an abundance of games still yet to be played, the Phoenix need to recognise that they now have a target on their back which they will find out in their upcoming contests.

First up on the docket is the Adelaide 36ers at home, who are currently seeking some good form coming out of the NBL Cup with the second worst record over the three rounds (two wins and six losses). But with the Phoenix to set foot on the court without their leader in Creek, perhaps now is the time to release the long-range damage of Broekhoff, as they now have 21.2 points, 3.7 assists and 7.3 rebounds to replace – a big amount of statistics to fill before facing Melbourne again in Round 11.

Adding to this, Adnam will also need to step up in the backcourt, more so than ever with his captain out of action. The 27-year-old guard has averaged 17 points and six assists during his last three games. Cameron Gliddon (11.2 points per game this season) will also need to be a big producer on the hardwood as too will Yannick Wetzell down low.

Big weeks lie ahead for South East Melbourne, and it is safe to say that it will be the true test of will for this side in NBL21, because firstly, they are severely undermanned at this time and furthermore, the Phoenix have a tough stretch of games heading into postseason action.

Creek inspired Phoenix win in an overtime thriller

MISSING a number of crucial cogs, South East Melbourne Phoenix starred in overtime, taking down top of the table Melbourne United last night stealing a five-point win (97-92). The Melbourne Throwdown lived up to the hype, with the two sides leaving no stone unturned, fighting tooth and nail to edge each other out of the contest. But in the end it was the grit and determination of the Phoenix that secured them the win, while handing Melbourne United their second straight loss.

Undermanned with only six rostered players available, given Keifer Sykes, Dane Pineau, Adam Gibson, Kendall Stephens and new signing Ryan Broekhoff were unavailable, the Phoenix dug deep to lead for majority of the game and withstand everything United threw at them. Both sides came out with a point to prove and that was evident in the opening term of play as they put up a number of shots to keep the scoreboard ticking over. However it was the Phoenix that made United pay, posting 29 points to 24 taking a handy five point lead into the first change. Keeping that momentum flowing in the second term, South East Melbourne added to their tally with Mitch Creek impressing in all facets of the game to shoulder the load and establish a handy eight-point lead.

With a lot to play for in the third quarter, Melbourne started to kick into gear with some of their familiar names such as Jock Landale finding their rhythm while star import Yudai Baba got going. But it was not enough to worry the opposition who relied on the likes of Creek to steer the ship and provide that calming and composed element to the squad. Although United won the quarter 21 to 20 thanks to their increased offensive efforts they still faced a six point deficit heading into the final change.

Playing with more momentum and conviction across the court, United started to take advantage of the Phoenix’s tired legs. Mounting a comeback, United could smell blood, pressuring the Phoenix at every turn both physically and on the scoreboard to eventually take the lead at the three minute mark. Melbourne steadily added to their lead pushing out to as much as four points ahead before the Phoenix fought back through the hands of Creek who was having a game to remember. As the clock ticked down the momentum shifted between the two sides as they wrestled for any form of ascendancy once again drawing level with just over a minute to play before scoring dried up and they were stuck at 84 points apiece.

Cue overtime. Landale landed the first blow but from then on it turned into one way traffic as the Phoenix shifted up a gear determined not to let the win slip through their fingers. Their overall attack and intensity increased with Reuben Te Rangi stepping up to the plate to well and truly deliver while Melbourne simply could not compete falling victim to a Phoenix masterclass. It was an enthralling battle between the two sides, with plenty of heart in your mouth moments and exciting passages of play to keep fans, coaches and players alike guessing which way this match could turn. But in the end it was the Phoenix who walked away with the ‘W’.

Creek dominated in the outing with a season-high 31 points. He also managed 10 rebounds, with eight of them defensive plus three blocks in an all-round stellar performance. Kyle Adnam continued to impress boasting 18 points, two rebounds and eight assists while Te Rangi proved his worth with 12 points, eight rebounds and two assists. New Zealander Izayah Mauriohooho-Le Afa plied his trade in the win posting nine points as Ben Moore also had an influence on the game through his 10 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.

The usual suspects in Landale and Chris Goulding impressed for Melbourne United with the pair registering 22 points apiece. Landale managed seven rebounds, three steals and five blocks to accompany his 22 points while Goulding collected two steals and a rebound. Mitch McCarron provided a handy option producing 12 points, seven rebounds all of which were defensive and five assists. Jo Lual-Acuil just fell short of a double-double with nine rebounds and 10 points to his name as Baba and Shea Ili posted seven points apiece.

Sydney make statement NBL Cup win with victory over Phoenix

IN a battle of two mid-table teams the Sydney Kings reigned supreme after quelling the South East Melbourne Phoenix last night at John Cain Arena, 91-85, edging closer to the top of the NBL Cup standings and silencing the home crowd in the process.

Surprisingly given that these two teams had not faced off with each other yet this season, both sides kept their opponent’s offenses relatively harmless throughout the opening term with neither squad able to score 20 points. But at the end of the first 10 minutes, after a put back Brad Newley dunk to give his side momentum the Kings led 19-14.

Bouncing back from a sluggish first quarter, the Phoenix hit back hard with a 33-24 second term and led at half time 47-43 as a result, while Mitchell Creek found some of his rhythm leading into the main break.

The seesawing trend of one-sided quarters followed the Kings and the Phoenix into the second half with Sydney outscoring South East Melbourne by 12 points and re-establishing the lead for the first time since the start of the second period, leading 73-65 at three-quarter time.

But Simon Mitchell had a few hidden cards up his sleeve and New Zealand would be the common denominator. The production rate of Yanni Wetzell, Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa and Reuben Te Rangi would skyrocket in the second half and it proved to be one of the most important events of the game.

However, with the Phoenix’s supporting cast trying their best to get their side back into the contest in the fourth, Sydney were too well-rounded in the long run and more specifically in the paint as the Kings’ frontcourt were well versed in converting from in close.

Ultimately after 40 minutes capped off by solid second halves from Dejan Vasiljevic and Casper Ware, Sydney emerged triumphant in their first clash against the Phoenix of NBL21 by six points and have now pushed closer to the top of the NBL Cup standings.

Sydney was superior in multiple facets in the game, most noticeably their 52 per cent shooting from the field. It was one of their most accurate nights to date in NBL21 as it dwarfed South East Melbourne’s 41 per cent conversion rate. The Kings’ plus-seven on the boards (41-34 in rebounding) and the 14 assists were also major boosters in their win, despite turning the ball over 18 times. While the Phoenix led in second chance points and points scored from forced turnovers, it was not enough to get themselves over the line in front of the home crowd.

Vasiljevic has on numerous occasions led the Kings in scoring during his rookie NBL season, and last night was no different with the 23-year-old pulling together 19 points and four rebounds in the win. Furthermore, Jordan Hunter was also instrumental, scoring 15 and also securing four rebounds, whereas Ware and Shaun Bruce waltzed away with double digits for scoring putting up 11 and 10 points respectively. Off the bench with 13 points and six rebounds was Newley, who has had nothing short of an eventful season to this point.

South East Melbourne’s leader in Creek had a substantial outing with 22 points, nine rebounds and three assists, while Wetzell finished with 16 points and five rebounds. Te Rangi ended with 13 points and Kyle Adnam amassed 10 points and four assists of his own, as Le’afa had himself a ball with 15 points and five rebounds, including three triples.

The Phoenix will compete in Wednesday’s closer against Melbourne United in the hotly contested Throwdown, whereas Sydney will get five days to recover for their derby game as well against the Illawarra Hawks on Thursday, who still remain a formidable side.

Phoenix flip script on Wildcats to secure win

SOUTH East Melbourne Phoenix reversed the tables in their clash against Perth Wildcats running out victorious in their second matchup in as many days (96-71). Suffering a loss on Thursday to the Wildcats, the Phoenix came out with a point to prove having learnt from their previous encounter and exposing their opponents in every which way to secure a 25-point win and hold onto fourth spot on the ladder.

It was level pegging in the opening term with both sides hitting the scoreboard at a frequent pace to keep the game ticking along. But the game completely changed paces in the second quarter as the Phoenix put their foot down to claim some much needed ascendancy over their opponents. Keeping Perth to a mere total of 14 points in the second term, South East Melbourne showcased their skillset to pepper away at the rim and inflict a wealth of scoreboard pain as demonstrated through their 27 points to hold an 11-point margin at half time.

Phoenix picked up where they left off in the third quarter once again dictating the scoring and nullifying the influence of Perth. They seemed to control the entire tempo of the game, stopping the Wildcats in their tracks and applying a mountain load of attacking pressure themselves to pile on 24 points to 14. The final quarter also followed suit and while Perth managed to hit the scoreboard more effectively sinking 19 points to 24, the damage was already done with the Phoenix comfortably securing their fourth win of the season.

Shooting percentage seemed to be no issue for the Phoenix who made the most of their opportunities sitting at a 57 per cent clip after converting 36 of their 63 attempts from the field. In comparison Perth only managed to sink 30 of their 37 attempts at 41 per cent showcasing the fact they had chances but simply could not capitalise. South East Melbourne also had the upper hand when it came to points in the paint nailing 38 points to 34 while also flexing their muscles from two-point range sitting at 69 per cent as opposed to Perth’s 53 per cent.

Holding the ascendancy when it came to overall scoring the Phoenix also led the charge for rebounds (39-31) and assists (25-17) displaying their control over the game. However, Perth proved to be cleaner with ball in hand registering 13 turnovers to 15 while also recording more blocks and steals than the Phoenix (3-2) and (6-5) respectively.

Keifer Sykes was the main playmaker for the Phoenix topping the table with 24 points in his 38 minutes on court. He also amassed five rebounds all of which were defensive while also picking up six assists. The next closest on the points scoring front was captain Mitch Creek who managed 18 points while shooting at a 70 per cent clip from the field. Reuben Te Rangi also found his rhythm in this game adding 16 points to the winning total while just falling short of a double-double with eight rebounds and an assist. There were a number of other players that stepped up to the plate and while they did not reach double digits, managed to keep the scoreboard effectively ticking over with Yannick Wetzell imposing himself off the boards with nine rebounds and nine points as Ben Moore also chimed in with nine points of his own. Kyle Adnam also proved a handy option with seven points as Cameron Gliddon also contributed thanks to his eight points.

Down on his usual output, Bryce Cotton still managed to produce 15 points and nine assists but it was John Mooney that led the charge for the Wildcats recording a team-high 19 points and 10 rebounds. Mooney was a key lynchpin for Perth reeling in nine defensive rebounds while also collecting a steal and a block. Todd Blanchfield also imposed himself on the contest through his 10 points while captain Jesse Wagstaff managed 11 points in his sides loss.

It does not get any easier for Perth who have to face the undefeated Melbourne United in their next clash while the Phoenix are set to take on Brisbane Bullets.

NBL21 Round 1 preview: Taipans, Hawks and 36ers to double up in opening round

A FIVE-game opening round which features seven of the nine teams was eventually indicative of what became of the 2020 season. Just when it looked like 2021 was going to be a better version on its predecessor, the global pandemic reared its head once again, and the National Basketball League (NBL) was forced to make multiple changes in a week after finalising the first few rounds last month.

The NBL cancelled the all-Melbourne showdown between Melbourne United and South East Melbourne Phoenix, and then created two smaller hubs in Adelaide and Queensland to avoid the New South Wales and Victorian COVID-19 clusters. Whilst Brisbane then fell into a short state of panic with a three-day lockdown, the most recent NBL21 opening round fixture appears set after much conjecture.

The most notable features include three of the nine teams playing two games, and two sides playing no games, with New Zealand Breakers and Perth Wildcats now sitting out the first round which tips off Friday. Instead, Adelaide 36ers will now open the season against Melbourne United, playing a home game before a 40-hour break to welcoming the Phoenix on Sunday afternoon.

Queensland hosts the remaining three games as Brisbane Bullets – who only found out their opponent earlier in the week – take on The Hawks in Brian Goorjian‘s return game, before Cairns Taipans host a double-header in North Queensland. The Taipans take on last year’s grand finalists Sydney Kings on Saturday night, before hosting a standalone game two days later against The Hawks in what should be an entertaining contest.


Friday, January 15:

Adelaide 36ers vs. Melbourne United @ Adelaide Entertainment Centre

Saturday, January 16:

Brisbane Bullets vs. The Hawks @ Nissan Arena
Cairns Taipans vs. Sydney Kings @ Cairns Pop Up Arena

Sunday, January 17:

Adelaide 36ers vs. South East Melbourne Phoenix

Monday, January 18:

Cairns Taipans vs. The Hawks



In terms of preseason form, Adelaide 36ers had two good wins over Brisbane Bullets early in the off-season, before going down to Cairns Taipans in the last match of the season. Melbourne United won its only game against the Taipans on New Years Eve, meaning the Taipans head into the first round with a 1-1 record prior to the season. The Hawks split their games with Perth Wildcats 1-1 over in Western Australia, before losing to Sydney Kings in late December. In the other two games, Brisbane Bullets accounted for South East Melbourne Phoenix on the Gold Coast in thrilling contests, which meant the Bullets went 2-2 throughout the preseason.

Melbourne United are considered title favourites, coming in against one of the up-and-coming outsiders of the competition in Adelaide 36ers. The 36ers have few admirers, but can head into the season underrated with some good young talent – led by Josh Giddey – coming through the ranks. The 36ers will be hoping to score a win against South East Melbourne Phoenix, though both teams will have faith in taking home the points.

Cairns has been installed as second favourite to United, and will hope to establish themselves with games against the New South Wales sides at home. Two wins sets them on the right paths, especially against sides that are considered lower down the order in favouritism. The Hawks and Brisbane Bullets will be the interesting match of the round, with both having points to prove following mixed preseasons.


Adelaide 36ers vs. Melbourne United

The key to Adelaide’s success is hitting the triple-figures, winning all eight matches last season at home where they scored at least 100 points, whilst losing all matches that were in double-digits. Many will hope it is a repeat of the season opener from the 2017-18 season where United got up by just two points, 99-97 which resulted in the sides going all the way to the NBL Grand Final.

Dean Vickerman will coach his 100th game as United coach tonight, which was fitting considering his first match was that season opener, and has since won two NBL Coach of the Year awards and the championship in his debut season. For Adelaide, Donald Sloan celebrates his 33rd birthday on debut tonight, while fellow import Tony Crocker will do so on Sunday when the 36ers take on the Phoenix.

The keys to success for Melbourne lies in big man Jock Landale who has proved hard to stop over the preseason, with he and Jack White being welcome inclusions. Scotty Hopson has a lot more known about his ability having dominated for the Breakers in recent times. The 36ers have had a lot more change outside of their imports and young gun Giddey, with Isaac Humphries and Keanu Pinder returning, Sunday Dech crossing from the Hawks, and Conner Henry stepping to ex-coach Joey Wright‘s shoes.

Brisbane Bullets vs. The Hawks

The first match up in Queensland is as much about the men off the court as the ones on it, with legendary leader Brian Goorjian returning to the league having won more matches in it than any other. He steps up to take The Hawks role, and will face off against a former player of his in Andrej Lemanis. Both coaches are the only ones in history to lead their sides to three-peats, albeit with other teams in the New Zealand Breakers (2011-2013 for Lemanis) and Sydney Kings (2003-2005). As it stands in the head-to-heads, Goorjian leads 10-2 and will be hoping to build on that record that ended 12 years ago.

Brisbane have been hit badly losing their two biggest names in Lamar Patterson and Will Magnay. Whilst the Bullets had a promising season last season, they will be hoping new imports, Orlando Johnson and Vic Law can have an equal impact. Harry Froling and Anthony Drmic had good seasons in the Queensland State League (QSL) since crossing from the 36ers, as did Tanner Krebs a young player with plenty of potential. Nathan Sobey is always a crucial play and will look to team up with Jason Cadee in creating up the court.

By comparison though, The Hawks have overhauled their list as part of the rebrand, looking to get off the bottom of the ladder. Goorjian replaced outgoing coach Matt Flinn, whilst the likes of Next Star Justinian Jessup, and imports Tyler Harvey and Justin Simon lead the list of inclusions. They should provide the depth in the back court, whilst Cameron Bairstow and Deng Adel round out the front court. Sam Froling will lock horns with his brother, and as potentially the only starter who was at The Hawks last season.

Cairns Taipans vs. Sydney Kings

In the battle of two finalists, Cairns Taipans will be keen to go better than their semi-final exit last season, whilst Sydney Kings fell at the final hurdle in an interrupted COVID-19 Grand Final series. These teams faced off last season in Round 1, with the Kings getting up by eight points, in what was the North Queensland’s side’s first ever Round 1 loss at home. The Taipans strength at home was notable though, winning every match there in the 2020 calendar year.

The Taipans have relatively stayed the same with DJ Newbill and Anthony Fisher the key outs, while Next Star Mojave King and New Zealand Breakers talent Jordan Ngatai lead the inclusions. King is the second youngest contracted player in the NBL this year behind Giddey and becomes the second youngest ever to play for the Taipans. With crucial re-signings in Cameron Oliver and Scott Machado working their magic, and having depth like Jarrod Kenny and Nathan Jawai coming off the bench in those spots, the Taipans look to be one of the teams to beat.

The Kings have lost a lot of quality over the offseason, with Jae’Sean Tate and Deshon Taylor out, the former heading to the Houston Rockets. Andrew Bogut called it a day, as did Kevin Lisch, with Lucas Walker also out of the side. They managed to pick up another import in Jarrell Martin, while Tom Vodanovich and Angus Glover joined from other NBL clubs. Martin is the only starting inclusion though, with the Kings picking up depth for roster rotation, and will again look to Casper Ware and Didi Louzada as the creators.

In the remainder of the round, the Taipans will go head-to-head with The Hawks as both sides double up, whilst Adelaide 36ers will take on a fresh South East Melbourne Phoenix in a standalone game on Sunday. Having covered the 36ers above, the Phoenix are a side that is hopeful of moving up the NBL table, having retained the crucial signature of Mitch Creek, and then brought in a number of starters who improve various positions.

Imports Keifer Sykes and Ben Moore will step into the side and provide experience at both ends, with Sykes able to replace the outgoing talent that was John Roberson. Moore can play that five role with great success, while fellow inclusions Cam Gliddon and Reuben Te Rangi have joined the Phoenix from the Bullets. They have more depth and top-end strength than season one, and while Roberson will be a loss – particularly from outside the arc – they seem to have a more balanced and all-round settled outfit.

NBL21 season previews: South East Melbourne Phoenix

THE National Basketball League (NBL)’s newest club, South East Melbourne Phoenix might have had a challenging first season after a strong start – finishing eighth with a 9-19 record – but were able to show at their best they could compete with the top sides. Now a year on, the Phoenix are better prepared as a unit, and aside from some retirements, have effectively kept a large portion of their list together, as well as brought in some exciting developing talents over the off-season.

Amongst some of the earliest retirement announcements, Tai Wesley and Ben Madgen both decided to call it quits at age 34 and 35 respectively, having been a part of the Phoenix’s foundation season. The announcements came following the re-signing of import Kendall Stephens, providing an established option for Madgen’s departure. Almost immediately following the back-to-back retirements, Cameron Gliddon signed on for a fresh start with the Phoenix.

The Brisbane Bullets guard gave the Phoenix an immediate starter in the back court, having been released from his contract with the Bullets a year early after not having the impact he could have late in his career. The 31-year-old has plenty of talent and was a Commonwealth Games gold medallist, so will be hoping to rekindle his form with the Phoenix.

Whilst not much basketball might have been going on in the world during the COVID-19 pandemic, New Zealand took centre stage with the NZNBL taking place. It helped hand Reuben Te Rangi and Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa contracts, the former on a full contract, the latter as a development player. They were joined by another Kiwi in Yannick Wetzell, who signed on then exercised his out clause to play in Germany, only to re-join the Phoenix after passport complications.

A couple of later import recruitments occurred late in the off-season, with Ben Moore and Keifer Sykes signing on. The American duo have plenty of experience across the globe, with Sykes playing in Turkey, Italy, China and Greece, while Moore also played in Turkey alongside a long stint in the G League having had a one-time two-way contract with Indiana Pacers back in 2018. Sykes was once touted by Forbes as the “James Harden of China” following a ridiculous 50-point game and averaging 34.6 points in that league.

Sykes brought the intrigue with his signing, and will replace outgoing scoring machine John Roberson who lit up the league on a number of occasions. American duo Terry Armstrong and Devondrick Walker also departed, while the re-signings were just as big as the signings. Mitch Creek remained on board in search of another chance in the NBA, with the forward one of the most dominant players in the league.

Alongside Creek, Kyle Adnam, Adam Gibson and Dane Pineau also remained at the club, to create a stable core of players from last season. Dan Trist headed to New Zealand to play with the Breakers, but the inclusion of Gliddon along with Te Rangi and Tristan Forsyth as a development player meant the depth in the front court is not a concern.

Overall the Phoenix look stronger than last season, which should equate in a better season and move up the NBL21 ladder.

Picture credit: AAP

NBL21 season previews: Brisbane Bullets

THE Brisbane Bullets were a cat’s whisker away from a second straight postseason back in NBL20, missing out on fourth position by just a handful of points determined on the last day of the season.

Three different sides finished with a home and away record consisting of 15 wins and 13 losses, in what was one of the tightest races to the end of the season in recent NBL history, with Melbourne United edging out the Bullets and the New Zealand Breakers. But coming so close to success, many of Brisbane’s faithful are on unstable ground determining whether their side can replicate the same benchmark of play they displayed last season to crack the finals this time in 2021.

A major talking point that came into the spotlight months ago was the release of last season’s MVP-candidate and member of the 2019-20 All-NBL First Team, Lamar Patterson, who recently committed to the Breakers. Patterson exhibited ridiculous numbers for the Bullets last season, averaging 21.4 points, six rebounds and 4.5 assists in an all-around campaign. The loss of Patterson paired with the secondary loss of star big-man and now member of the New Orleans Pelicans, Will Magnay, means Brisbane will definitely have their work cut out for them.

The club acquired imports Orlando Johnson and Vic Law during the Free Agency period, adding much needed depth to the side’s wing positions with both signings having an abundance of experience at the NBA level. These additions backing up Nathan Sobey and returning sharpshooter Jason Cadee will make Andrej Lemanis’s backcourt a formidable one to say the least.

Following the departure of Magnay, Brisbane needed to fill that void. The club found their solution down in Adelaide in the signing of 211cm tall Harry Froling who will line up next to fellow 211cm center Matthew Hodgson who is fresh off re-signing with the side for another season. The second of the two signatures from the 36ers is 28-year-old Anthony Drmic, who spent three seasons at his old team before heading north for warmer weather and a more primary role.

Listing off the rest of the Bullets’ rosters is a litany of young and promising talents. The list includes 200-plus youngsters Blake Jones, Tyrell Harrison and Callum Dalton (Development Player), with forward Tanner Krebs concluding the list of talls. Meanwhile, NBA Global Academy member of the last three years in Canberra, Tamuri Wigness, will look to make a considerable impact in his rookie professional season at just 18 years of age.

Due to the large number of new faces set to don the blue and gold in just under a week, a few individuals from last season had to leave. Excluding Patterson, the Bullets relinquished New Zealander Reuben Te Rangi and Cameron Gliddon, both of whom have joined the league’s newest side in the South East Melbourne Phoenix.

Uniquely, Brisbane’s ridiculous size across the roster will provide the Bullets with all the tools necessary to combat some of the NBL’s best offences. But, in order to translate good defence into positive results Coach Lemanis will need his offence to perform on a consistent basis in NBL21 with the season just around the corner.

NBL Free Agency Update: Kings, Phoenix and Wildcats

TO wrap up Draft Central’s National Basketball League (NBL) Free Agency updates to this point, we delve into the moves made by the reigning premiers, the Perth Wildcats, and last season’s runners-up Sydney Kings. We also look deeper into how the NBL’s newest team, South East Melbourne Phoenix, is shaping up for their second season in the country’s top basketball competition.


Even though the Kings have made minimal changes to their line-up for NBL21, last season’s minor premiers have still made some noteworthy signings for the upcoming campaign. Firstly, for Sydney, it was their decision to re-sign Craig Moller on the NBL’s newly introduced club option rule. Moller’s re-signing got the Kings going in regard to outlining what their squad would start to look like, currently holding Brad Newley and Jordan Hunter under contract. To help bolster their side with young and exciting faces, the Kings re-acquired one of the biggest surprises of last season, Shaun Bruce, as well as fully recovered Xavier Cooks to the fold.

With the retirement of potential Hall of Famer, Kevin Lisch, and the future of Andrew Bogut unknown, the allowance of new signings for the Kings has also increased. The poaching of another sought after NCAA graduate from the United States took place, as former Miami Hurricane, Dejan Vasiljevic, made his way down-under to continue his successful basketball career. The three-year-deal between the Kings and Vasiljevic embodies the next few years of transition that the purple and gold will undertake, as they start to bring in new talent. Furthermore, 21-year-old Angus Glover will make the hour and a half drive northbound to Sydney, after putting pen to paper on another three-year contact under Will Weaver. Having served as a key part of Matt Flinn’s rotation last season with the Hawks, Glover would average a modest 5.2 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game.


Brad Newley
Jordan Hunter


Shaun Bruce
Xavier Cooks
Craig Moller (Club Option)


Angus Glover (The Hawks)
Dejan Vasiljevic (Miami Hurricanes)



Following the retirement announcements of two of their most senior players and leaders in Tai Wesley and Ben Madgen, head coach Simon Mitchell now has his hands full to try and re-shuffle his squad for the NBL21 season. The additional losses of star shooter John Roberson to Spanish side Estudiantes and Dan Trist to the New Zealand Breakers, as well as promising young prospect Yanni Wetzell due to his European opt-out clause, does not make life easier for the Phoenix.

While the losses to this point have been sizeable, the Phoenix administration have made headway in reconciling this dilemma. The re-signings of Chicago-native Kendall Stephens and pivotal power-forward Dane Pineau, both of whom were members of the Phoenix’s inaugural season, will look to suit up in the green for at least one more fixture.

In terms of new additions, two members of the Brisbane Bullets can now look forward to some less consistent weather, as both Cam Gliddon and Reuben Te Rangi announced their intentions to move South. Gliddon, an Australian Boomer, has represented his country on numerous occasions, having served the green and gold at both the 2017/2018 FIBA Asia and World Cups. Linking back up with teammate Mitchell Creek will be an added bonus to the team’s morale when the season’s preparations start to ramp up. Te Rangi, who was a late inclusion in this year’s NZNBL representing the Canterbury Rams, looks to continue his rapid development in Australia’s top-flight. Te Rangi helped the Rams to an unexpected title run, which saw the team make it all the way to the competition’s semi-finals, despite finishing the regular season with a 4-10 record and finishing at the bottom of the standings.


Adam Gibson
Kyle Adnam
Mitchell Creek


Dane Pineau
Kendall Stephens


Cam Gliddon (Brisbane Bullets)
Reuben Te Rangi (Brisbane Bullets)



After what was a hectic start to their off-season movements, with both Nick Kay and Bryce Cotton opting out of their contracts and then Cotton re-signing for three-years, the defending champion Wildcats have well and truly started to rebuild their squad, as they endeavour on yet another successful NBL season.

The first of many was the Club Option taken on big-man Majok Majok, as the Wildcats look to centre their offseason on obtaining big bodies and after Majok’s contributions last season, one would not argue how valuable he is to Trevor Gleeson’s squad. Next up in the batting order, is fourth-year player Todd Blanchfield, who has transferred to the West Coast after two years with the Hawks, averaging over 13.5 points and 45 per cent shooting from the field during his time in Wollongong.

To help reinforce Perth’s backcourt, 36ers guard Kevin White will help mentor his younger peers in his fourth year of NBL action. The 33-year-old will look to step in where Damian Martin left off after his Hall of Fame career came to a fitting end after winning his sixth NBL Championship and with the re-signing of Taylor Britt and purchase of John Mooney, some fresh legs will look to insert some explosiveness into the depth of Gleeson’s gang.


Clint Steindl
Jesse Wagstaff
Luke Travers
Mitchell Norton
Wani Swaka Lo Buluk


Bryce Cotton
Majok Majok (Club Option)
Taylor Britt


John Mooney (University of Notre Dame)
Kevin White (Adelaide 36ers)
Todd Blanchfield (The Hawks)