Tag: sunday dech

2021 NBL Round 15 preview: Phoenix and Kings open blockbuster round

ROUND 15 of the National Basketball League (NBL) kicks off on Thursday night with the Phoenix and Kings opening the account. Melbourne United will be keen to hold onto top spot on the ladder while Perth is hot on their heels.

South East Melbourne Phoenix vs. Sydney Kings
Thursday, April 22 @7:30pm

The Phoenix and Kings will lock horns for the second time in as many weeks with the Phoenix hoping to reverse their fortunes this time around. The two sides have had a chequered season so far registering three wins from their past five outings. South East Melbourne are coming into the clash on the back of consecutive losses while the Kings have strung together two wins and will be eager to make it three straight.

Mitch Creek is still the go-to man for the Phoenix averaging 20 points a game while also reeling in 7.09 rebounds and 3.27 assists each time he steps out on court. Kyle Adnam has continued his hot run of form boasting an average of 13.04 points while the return of Keifer Sykes has been important with the guard managing 12.93 points, 3.6 rebounds and 5.47 assists. Ben Moore is somewhat of an unsung hero for the Phoenix and will need to be at his damaging best to influence the outcome while the growing confidence of Cameron Gliddon and Yannick Wetzell is starting to come to the fore. Casper Ware was at his dominant best last week with a staggering 40 points and will be wanting to replicate those efforts against a classy Phoenix side. If Ware can get busy and receive support from Jarrell Martin who averages 17.88 points and 6.94 rebounds and Jordan Hunter (7.38 points and 5.83 rebounds) then South East Melbourne could be in real trouble given their capacity to score easily. However they will be without the services of Didi Louzada given his decision to join the New Orlean Pelicans in the NBA.

New Zealand Breakers vs. Cairns Taipans
Friday, April 23 @7:30pm

It will be a battle of the bottom two sides as the Breakers and Taipans go head to head. Despite holding last and second last place on the ladder, expect both sides to come out firing and lay everything on the line to claim a much needed win and restore a little bit of faith in their respective fans. Only one win separates the two sides with the Breakers just marginally ahead and looking to create even further ladder separation with a win here.

Tai Webster remains the Breakers most prominent shooter with an average of 19.35 points and has proven his class to have an influence off the boards with his 5.12 rebounds and six assists. Finn Delany is the other key candidate for New Zealand with his consistency paramount thanks to his average of 15.52 points and 6.29 rebounds. Levi Randolph has made a splash since joining the side coming off a 23-point, four-rebound and four-assist performance and will want to keep the good times rolling. The Taipans however have been landed a heavy blow with Cameron Oliver returning back home to the US and leaving a huge hole to fill. In saying that, they still have the services of Scott Machado with the livewire more than capable of leading the troops thanks to his average of 16.96 points, 3.52 rebounds and 7.26 assists. The Taipans will need support from Majok Deng, Kouat Noi and Mirko Djeric if they are to get over the line.

Perth Wildcats vs. Brisbane Bullets
Friday, April 23 @9:30pm

Perth suffered a shock loss last round at the hands of the Breakers and will be more than desperate to restore their winning ways against the lower placed Brisbane Bullets. Currently sitting a game behind from top of the table Melbourne United, a win here for the Wildcats could help close the gap and keep the pressure on as the backend of the season approaches. Brisbane on the other hand will be hoping to snap their two game losing streak and continue the theme of upsets going against Perth with a solid win here.

League points leader, Bryce Cotton is the one to watch for the Bullets given his ability to explode out of the blocks at any given time. He has proven that he only needs a short amount of time to change the course of the game with his scoring nous undeniable averaging 24.43 points along with 5.78 assists. Teammate John Mooney is another damaging prospect both on the scoring and rebounding from producing 12 rebounds and 17 points each time he steps out on court. Todd Blanchfield and Jesse Wagstaff are the others to keep a watchful eye on. For the Bullets the ever reliable Nathan Sobey is the most damaging prospect with his ability to work his way towards the rim averaging 22.91 points, 4.27 rebounds and 3.95 assists. Support from Lamar Patterson will be necessary if the Bullets are to worry the Wildcats while Matt Hodgson will also have to get busy with his average of 10.67 points, 6.72 rebounds and 1.22 blocks ticking along nicely.

Melbourne United vs. Adelaide 36ers
Saturday, April 24 @5:30pm

Melbourne United are sitting pretty in first place and boast an eight game winning streak, a feat they will be hoping to maintain in their clash against the 36ers. Melbourne have re-found their form in the past couple of weeks meaning Adelaide will have their work cut out for them this round as they look to overrun the in-form side and keep their slim finals chances alive.

United do not have a shortage of players that are able to step up to the plate and command the ball and will once again need that contingent of players to gel to secure the win. Jock Landale is the main player in focus given his 16.35 point average to accompany his 8.35 assists and 2.57 assists with captain Chris Goulding also a consistent figure. Scotty Hospon is unstoppable when given time and space while Mitch McCarron has found his groove and will be eager to maintain that level of intensity as shown through his average of 11.26 points, 5.22 rebounds and 4.96 assists. Daniel Johnson is the main playmaker for the Adelaide producing 20.88 points a game and will need to be on song if he is to worry United. Efforts from Brandon Paul and rookie Josh Giddey will have to be high with the latter proving to be classy with ball in hand averaging 7.29 assists a game. Sunday Dech and Jack McVeigh will be the other two to keep an eye on.

Illawarra Hawks vs. Sydney Kings
Saturday, April 24 @8:00pm

The Hawks have dropped to fifth position on the ladder after two consecutive losses in Round 14 against the top two sides. Their job will not get any easier though, as they prepare to take on the Kings on Saturday but will be hoping that an element of fatigue plays a factor in their clash as Sydney enter their second game in as many days. Sydney could come into the clash on the back of a win and could be brimming with confidence meaning Illawarra will need to be on their a-game and to play with great confidence if they are any chance to not only secure the win but leapfrog back into the top four.

With Ware and Martin at the helm the Kings will need a wealth of support from their next tier of players. On the flipside the Hawks will be hoping that the likes of Justinian Jessup and Tyler Harvey can get busy and keep the scoreboard ticking over. Harvey is the most proficient shooter in the side with 19.83 points while Jessup is also handy thanks to his 14.86 points and 4.16 rebounds a game. Cameron Bairstow has come along in leaps and bounds this season and will be hoping to keep that momentum going as will Sam Froling who has found a level of consistency across the court for the Hawks. Justin Simon cannot be underestimated and if he is able to get off the leash could help get Illawarra over the line.

Other games:

Brisbane Bullets vs. South East Melbourne Phoenix
Sunday, April 25 @3:00pm

Cairns Taipans vs. Perth Wildcats
Sunday, April 25 @5:00pm

New Zealand Breakers vs. Adelaide 36ers
Monday, April 26 @7:30pm

Each of these sides will enter their second game of the round with a bottom four clash between the Breakers and 36ers closing out the round. The Taipans have been dealt a difficult task having to combat the Perth Wildcats, but will have the bonus of a home crowd spurring them on while the Bullets and Phoenix are locked and loaded for Sunday afternoon

DJ and McVeigh power through Phoenix, hold off late charge for tenth win

A FLURRY of three-pointers was not enough to bring the South East Melbourne Phoenix back to life last night at John Cain Arena, going down 81-90 to the Adelaide 36ers as the visitors achieved their tenth win of NBL21 remaining within earshot of the top four.

Early on, the 36ers could hardly buy a bucket making just two shots from their opening 13 attempts from the field. Despite the glacial pace that Adelaide conducted themselves on the offensive end in the first, South East Melbourne failed to capitalise on their end to try and pull away early.

Finding 43 per cent of their shots in the initial term compared to Adelaide’s 18 per cent, the Phoenix would only manage to gain a one-point lead at quarter time, 16-15, led by Ben Moore and Cam Gliddon who each had six and five points respectively meaning that Simon Mitchell’s squad needed to up their intensity on the offensive end throughout the remaining three periods.

A strong start to the second by way of the Phoenix saw them stretch out their lead to seven points, but Adelaide would produce a substantial scoring streak to take the lead at the five-minute mark of the term and set the tone leading into the second half as a result. Winning the first two quarters 40-35 where they raised their shooting percentage all the way up to 41 per cent, Daniel Johnson started to impose his will on the opposing side with 12 points and four rebounds.

Conner Henry’s message to his roster was simple over the half time break, pummel the Phoenix down low and push the ball in transition. With this mindset, Adelaide extended their advantage out to double digits and took a firm grasp of the contest at the eve of the fourth quarter.

The uphill climb went from hard to daunting in the remaining 30 seconds of the third as Adelaide’s Daniel Dillon’s two made free throws and Sunday Dech’s layup at the buzzer slated the score line at 68-54, with South East Melbourne’s comeback window getting smaller and smaller as each minute started passing by.

After Dech’s second triple four minutes into the fourth, it capped off a superb 12-4 start for Adelaide putting the visitors up by 22 points with little to no time left on the game clock. The Phoenix were not willing to go down silently after producing a six-point run to cut the margin to 16, forcing Coach Henry to call for a cautious timeout.

Remarkably, back-to-back-to-back threes twice from Gliddon and once from Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa extended the Phoenix’s scoring run to 15 and cut the distance between the two sides to just seven points, and with 90 seconds left another layup from Le’afa whittled the margin down to five.

The comeback would end there following a Jack McVeigh knock-down three and a layup by Johnson as Adelaide eventually conquered the Phoenix by nine and reignited the 36ers’ late-season charge for the top four.

Starting below a grim 20 per cent in the opening stanza of last night’s opener, Adelaide did tremendously well to improve their efficiency on the floor up to 46 per cent (two per cent higher than the Phoenix’s 44 per cent). While South East Melbourne might have found their points from a wider variety of methods such as points off the bench and from turnovers, the Sixers earned a 41-36 win in rebounding and a 19-16 win in assists statistically. Adding to that, Adelaide’s poise at the free-throw line was also a primary factor in their win going 23 from 26 attempts at the line.

Who else but Johnson to lead the 36ers in points and rebounds as the potential NBL First-Team nominee settled for 22 points and eight boards. McVeigh also had a ball off the bench with 18 points in 26 minutes of play as well as Brandon Paul amassing 13 points, four rebounds and four dimes, while Dech punched his way to 16 points and seven rebounds. Josh Giddey put his footnote on various facets of the game as per usual, with the youngster contributing nine points, nine assists and five rebounds.

Once again, Mitchell Creek came off the bench to score a team-high 17 points and 14 rebounds, while Gliddon’s four triples saw him good for 14 points and six rebounds. Le’afa finished with 14 points too, whereas Yannick Wetzell’s 13 and Moore’s 11 rounded out the Phoenix’s double-digit producers.

Both squads have tough matchups next week when South East Melbourne host the Sydney Kings in a battle of top tier teams with finals positions up in the air to open Round 15. On the flip side, Adelaide will need to dig deep when they look to accomplish the Melbourne double, facing United next Saturday.

Taipans stun 36ers with come-from-behind win

AN inspired and gutsy effort from Cairns Taipans saw them overrun Adelaide 36ers last night to snap a three-game losing streak and steal a narrow three-point victory (91-88). It was a topsy-turvy encounter with the 36ers holding the lead for majority of the game but Cairns working gallantly to change their fortunes.

Both sides were riddled with injuries heading into the clash with a number of key figures sidelined such as Scott Machado for the Taipans and Tony Crocker out for the 36ers. Crocker joined Isaac Humphries on the sideline but that did not seem to faze Adelaide who got off to a hot start, shooting the ball with confidence and relative accuracy to skip out to an early lead. Although scores were level at nine points apiece midway through the term, Adelaide kicked it up a gear to create some much needed separation thanks to the services of Daniel Johnson who well and truly had his radar on. Adelaide capitalised on their opponents inaccuracy as they put down 26 points to 17.

Holding a nine-point margin at the first change the 36ers looked to extend their margin and edge one step closer to a much needed win. Spearheaded by Jack McVeigh the 36ers continued their merry way, with not only the scoreboard increasing but so too McVeigh’s tally with the guard racking up 12 points before half time. However the brakes were quickly put on as the Taipans came out refreshed and raring to go. Hunting down the 16-point lead, Cairns toiled exceptionally hard to quell the offensive play of Adelaide and apply pressure of their own largely due to Cameron Oliver who was proving to be a menace off the boards. Sinking eight points straight the home side ate into the deficit and continued to build momentum with the likes of Mojave King also finding his feet and the basket.

It was a two-point ball-game at half time, with the Taipans sensing a chance to strike and push ahead of their opponents. The intensity lifted a notch with neither side willing to relinquish the ball or the lead as Adelaide put in the hard yards to extend their margin. but Cairns proved to be up to the fight, combatting everything that was thrown at them and rising to the occasion. Producing 21 points to 20, the Snakes managed to dwindle the margin to a mere point at the final change setting up an action packed final stanza.

Having held onto the lead for majority of the game, the 36ers simply ran out of legs in the last quarter while the Taipans found a way to win. Digging deep and heavily undermanned, Cairns showed nothing but grit and determination in the last quarter to not only hold on but to overcome a deficit. It was a frantic finish to the game with the Taipans establishing a seven point lead with a tick under a minute left to play, but the lead disappearing before their eyes as the clock ticked down. Huge plays from Sunday Dech and McVeigh’s ability to convert from the foul line saw Adelaide get back within just one with 13 seconds left and while Josh Giddey had a chance to level things his shot was off, gifting the Taipans a hard fought win.

It was a heart in your mouth finish to the game with a number of key cogs stepping up to the plate and leading the way for their respective sides given the calibre of missing players. Oliver had a game to remember for Cairns producing a scintillating 25 points and 17 rebounds with 16 of them defensive while Jordan Ngatai made his presence felt thanks to his 15 points. King upped the ante this match recording 14 points, five rebounds and one block as teammate Jarrod Kenny got busy on the assist front with seven to his name. Both Nate Jawai and Tad Dufelmeier produced strong performances with 13 points for Jawai and 12 points and eight rebounds for Dufelmeier.

Johnson was once again the go-to man for the 36ers racking up 22 points and four rebounds in his 34 minutes on court. McVeigh had a break out game producing an impressive 22 points at 52 per cent from the field while also racking up four rebounds, all of which were defensive. Brandon Paul was the only other player to reach double-digits thanks to his 18 points as he also collected six rebounds and two assists. Giddey fell short of a double amassing eight points, nine rebounds and seven assists as Dech registered seven points and seven rebounds.

36ers take down Wildcats in four-quarter win

IT was as comprehensive four-quarter performance as it gets, with the Adelaide 36ers playing one of their best games of the season to produce a heavy hit to Perth Wildcats in a 15-point win at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre. The 36ers won 83-68 in front of more than 6000 people last night, winning all four quarters on their way to the impressive 15-point victory which saw four players hit double-figure points, and limit the influence of star Bryce Cotton.

The 36ers started off well to win the first term by four points, and then doubled that lead at the main break to sit 43-35 ahead at half-time. The home team kept pushing despite the Wildcats’ best efforts in a low-scoring third stanza, extending the lead out to double-digits at the final break. A stunning final term saw a reversal with the highest scoring term of the game, and more than double the combined points of the third quarter, to win the quarter 27-22 and secure the 83-68 victory.

Young gun Josh Giddey picked up a double-double of 13 points and 12 assists, as well as six rebounds, shooting at 50 per cent rom the field, including three of six from long-range. Daniel Johnson was unbelievable with his shooting, hardly missing form the field with a 78 per cent shooting efficiency – including seven of eight from two-point and four of six from three-point range – to end the night with 28 points, eight rebounds and two assists. Defensively Keanu Pinder contributed well with a massive four blocks to accompany four rebounds – three defensive – one steal, one assist and 12 points.

Other 36ers starters, Brandon Paul and Sunday Dech also had strong nights out in an even performance. Paul’s 50 per cent efficiency from the field saw him trump both Giddey and Johnson from long-range with five triples, though from 12 attempts, fishing with 20 points for the victors. Dech was not as on target with just one of seven from long-range and two of 13 in total for five points, but picked up 10 rebounds – seven defensive – and two assists. Jack McVeigh had the five points, four rebounds and two assists off the bench.

For the Wildcats, John Mooney was the clear best on court, racking up a massive double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds – five offensive – as well as four assists and two steals in a complete performance. Todd Blanchfield also did some heavy lifting with 15 points, two rebounds and two assists, as Cotton was very un-Cotton like, draining just 10 points – three of 15 from the field and none of seven attempts from long-range – and picking up the two rebounds and two assists.

Jesse Wagstaff was the most prominent Wildcat off the bench with 11 points – three of five from long-range – six rebounds, two assists and two steals – from 21 minutes on court. Clint Steindl also stood tall with four rebounds and three steals to go with five points, though he did only manage two of nine from the field including one of six from three-point range. It was a disappointing night for the Wildcats, but it was bound to happen at some point after such a stunning run of form of late.

Perth Wildcats will now look to bounce back from the loss with a clash against New Zealand Breakers on the Apple Isle on Tuesday in what is as close as the Breakers will get to a home game this season. Adelaide 36ers make the trip north to Cairns for Round 14, when they clash on Wednesday night.

Picture credit: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images

2021 NBL Round 13 preview: Hawks set for three games in six days

ROUND 13 of the National Basketball League sees a number of teams prepare to take the court twice as the backend of the season quickly approaches. After having to reschedule a game last round, the Illawarra Hawks are set to play three games over the course of six days as they look to stay in the hunt for a top four slot.

Adelaide 36ers

Perth Wildcats, Saturday, April 9 @7:30pm

The 36ers only play one game for the round and, having dropped to seventh on the ladder, desperately need a win to keep their slim finals hopes alive. However, it will not be easy, having to combat a firing Perth Wildcats side that are strong in every which way possible. Adelaide have struggled without Isaac Humphries who proved to be a lynchpin across the court. But in his absence the likes of Josh Giddey and Daniel Johnson have stepped up to the plate. Johnson leads the way with 20.33 points, 7.24 rebounds and 2.86 while Giddey boasts a stat line of 11.06 points, 6.86 rebounds and 6.72 assists. Tony Crocker has been a pillar of consistency playing 20 games while Sunday Dech just falls short of double-digits when it comes to points.

Brisbane Bullets

Illawarra Hawks, Wednesday, April 7 @7:30pm
Melbourne United, Monday, April 12 @7:30pm

The Bullets are only one win outside of the top four and if they manage to secure the two wins here could be within a chance to leapfrog up the ladder. The first game sees them take on Illawarra Hawks who have struggled for consistency as of late, while their next clash is against the second placed Melbourne United who have recaptured their dominant ways. Nathan Sobey has been a consistent figure for the Bullets averaging 23.36 points, 4 rebounds and 4.11 assists a game. Victor Law is another one that will be eyeing off a big game against the higher placed opponents producing 18.81 points and 8.25 rebounds a game while Anthony Drmic, Matthew Hodgson and Jason Cadee are instrumental.

Illawarra Hawks

Brisbane Bullets, Wednesday, April 7 @7:30pm
South East Melbourne Phoenix, Friday, April 9 @7:30pm
Cairns Taipans, Sunday, April 11 @5:00pm

It is going to be an exhausting round of basketball for the Hawks, having to play three games over the span of less than a week. The Hawks get things started with Brisbane Bullets on Wednesday night before following it up two days later against the Phoenix. They cap the round off on Sunday against the Taipans who have struggled for form the entire season and will be hoping to capitalise here. They will be hoping that Tyler Harvey is back to his damaging best after suffering back spasms last round and unable to have a huge influence on the game. His presence is undeniable averaging a team-high 19.21 points, 3.42 rebounds and 2.68 assists. Justinian Jessup is another playmaker managing 14.4 points a game while Cameron Bairstow is solid. The Hawks will need support from the likes of Sam Froling, Justin Simon, Deng Adel and Andrew Ogilvy if they are to get over the line in all three games and make a real play for a top four position.

Melbourne United

New Zealand Breakers, Saturday, April 10 @8:00pm
Brisbane Bullets, Monday, April 12 @7:30pm

Getting back to their winning ways, United are currently sitting on a five game winning streak and will be out for blood once more against the lowly Breakers and out of touch Bullets. The Breakers have had a rough run of things and United will be eager to capitalise on that while the Bullets are inconsistent to say the least. Only sitting a game away from top spot expect United to leave no stone unturned. Melbourne look to a number of players to ply their trade with Jock Landale topping the table with 16.25 points, 7.85 rebounds and 1.6 blocks a game. Captain Chris Goulding is influential and will be out for a big couple of games averaging 16.21 points while Mitch McCarron is another livewire for Melbourne United thanks to his 11.95 points, 5.25 rebounds and 4.65 assists. Unfortunately, United will be without Jack White after he ruptured his Achilles meaning Scotty Hopson, Yudai Baba and Shea Ili will have to be on their A-game to notch up the two wins.

New Zealand Breakers

Melbourne United, Saturday, April 10 @8:00pm
Perth Wildcats, Tuesday, April 13 @7:30pm

It is going to be difficult weekend for the New Zealand Breakers who first step out on the court on Saturday and then have to back it up a few days later on Tuesday. Although they will be used to the short turnaround it is their opposition which spells danger up against the top two sides in Melbourne United and Perth Wildcats meaning they will have their work cut out for them. The Wildcats are in ripping form while United have re-found their rhythm and are looking ominous. But the Breakers are not without some key talent of their own such as Tai Webster (19.35 points, 5.12 rebounds and 6 assists), Finn Delany (14 points, 6.29 rebounds and 1.88 assists). Tom Abercrombie and Colton Iverson are others to keep a watchful eye on as they look to claim their sixth win of the season.

Perth Wildcats

Adelaide 36ers, Saturday, April 10 @5:30pm
New Zealand Breakers, Tuesday, April 13 @7:30pm

Perth will be looking to continue their winning ways with another couple of victories across Round 13. They will look to open their account against Adelaide 36ers on Saturday night and then follow it up on Tuesday against the eighth placed Breakers. Bryce Cotton is the go-to man constantly lighting up the court thanks to his impressive 25.83 point average, 2.67 rebounds and six assists. Partner in crime John Mooney is the other playmaker for the reigning champs boasting a double-double of 17.22 points and 12.22 rebounds. Todd Blanchfield cannot be underestimate with the captain a consistent figure thanks to his 14.17 points and 3.28 rebounds.

South East Melbourne Phoenix

Illawarra Hawks, Friday, April 9 @7:30pm
Sydney Kings, Sunday, April 11 @3:00pm

South East Phoenix will lock horns with Illawarra on Friday night before fronting up to play Sydney two days later. The Phoenix have locked down third spot on the ladder, currently sitting two games clear but a couple of wins here could all but solidify their standings. Mitch Creek was back amongst it last round and will be hoping to build on his form boasting a season average of 20.28 points, 6.94 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Keifer Sykes is steadily building back into the thick of things while Ryan Broekhoff’s dominance is starting to come to the fore with 8.83 points to his name. Kyle Adnam has been a revelation and will be keen to keep those good times rolling while Ben Moore and Yannick Wetzell are excitement machines.

Sydney Kings

Perth Wildcats; Thursday, April 8 @7:30pm
South East Melbourne Phoenix, Sunday, April 11 @3:00pm

The Kings will have their work cut out for them facing off against Perth in their first game before locking horns with South East Melbourne Phoenix. It is going to be a top four battle all-round for the Kings and a couple of strong wins here could set them up for the backend of the season. Casper Ware is the in-form player for the Kings with the guard dominating with a 19 point average while import Jarrell Martin has been a revelation. Keep an eye out for Dejan Vasilijevic and Didi Louzada with the latter finding his form last week.

Sixers hold strong after shaky third against Hawks, end five-game skid

MORE than 5,000 South Australians attended last night’s game to see the Adelaide 36ers snap their five-game losing streak winning 84-72, as they staved off an Illawarra Hawks comeback effort in which Brian Goorjian’s men unleashed an unbelievable third quarter performance.

Adelaide’s shooting was lacklustre at best in the first quarter, shooting just 31 per cent from the field. However, the 36ers would lead 21-17 after 10 minutes and they could credit this to their three triples, six free throws and Daniel Johnson’s eight points, as Illawarra was the less aggressive of the two teams and with Tyler Harvey out, the Hawks needed someone else to step up.

Capitalising on turnovers and converting on fastbreak opportunities, the 36ers pushed their lead out to double digits as a quick scoring run in the final few minutes of the first half saw the home side take command of the game. To add to this, after a Daniel Dillon put back layup with two seconds remaining in the second quarter it extended Adelaide’s favourable score line to 46-32 and the raucous crowd at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre proved to be a major contributor to that.

Backing up Johnson in the first half, Josh Giddey was again facilitating Adelaide’s offence with seven points and six assists, while Keanu Pinder had numerous highlights too with six points in the initial two periods. For Illawarra, their first half success flowed primarily through Emmett Naar who had 11 points and an assist, whereas Justinian Jessup had a modest eight points through two.

Bursting out of the gates after the halftime talks, the Hawks began the second half on a 7-0 scoring streak which blossomed into a 17-3 run to try and resolve their less than satisfactory start, tying things up less than four minutes into the third which was helped along by Justin Simon who was absent in the first and second terms.

Illawarra’s ridiculously good start to the third saw them take the lead a few minutes before the final break, but Johnson helped to ignite some fire into the Sixers squad by kicking off a 7-0 run of their own to take back the lead by three quarter time, putting their noses in front 59-56.

A three-pointer by way of Sunday Dech was the first of many promising signs in the fourth quarter for Adelaide. This preceded what would be a 25-16 final quarter for the home side and an air of relief for Adelaide’s fans, ending what has been almost a month of disappointment for their team as the 36ers took home the hard-earned win.

The 36ers were fortunate enough that their field goal percentage rose to an amicable 40 per cent on their way to victory, which would ascend higher than Illawarra’s 38 per cent, as the two sides were in opposite positions in the infancy stages of the contest. Superb free throw shooting from Adelaide was also pivotal (18/20) and 20 second chance points highlighted the Hawks’ troubles when it came to important rebounds that were missed.

Always a workhorse, Johnson concluded Saturday night with 26 points and a monstrous 15 rebounds, as his guard counterpart in Giddey once again put up near-triple-double numbers with 13 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Pinder was as dominant as we have seen him this season with 10 points and three rebounds, as Brandon Paul contributed 10 points also. Jack McVeigh provided 10 points and five rebounds off the bench going three from three from the free throw line.

Jessup left Adelaide with a team-high 17 points and three blocks, as Naar had a less productive second half to round out his night with 16 points, five rebounds and three assists. Simon (13 points, three rebounds and three assists) and Sam Froling each added double digit nights (11 points and 12 rebounds) to round out Illawarra’s individual performances.

Adelaide will be the second of two opponents that the Perth Wildcats will face in Round 13 as the 36ers will need to play exceptionally well if they are to start mounting wins on top of wins, and it will be a true test of mettle against an in-form championship side. Illawarra will kick off Round 13 back at home when they host the Brisbane Bullets in what will be a contest of two teams keen to push for the four-spot in the standings.

Picture credit: Kelly Barnes/Getty Images

2021 NBL Round 12 preview: Rescheduled games force quick changes

THE National Basketball League (NBL) is hotting up heading into Round 12 as the ladder starts to take shape and sides look to keep their season alive with some much needed wins. With a snap lockdown in Queensland the NBL has been forced to make some fixture adjustments with the match between the Brisbane Bullets and South East Melbourne Phoenix set to be rescheduled for some time in the coming weeks.

Illawarra Hawks vs. South East Melbourne Phoenix
Thursday, April 1 @7:30pm

The Hawks and Phoenix kick things off on Thursday night with both sides in relatively good form. South East Melbourne have lost just one of their past five games and will be eager to make amends for their short comings last week against United while the Hawks have managed three wins and losses in recent weeks. It will be a hotly contested match as Illawarra (third) and Phoenix (fourth) look to keep their finals hopes alive and create some much needed security.

With Mitch Creek a chance to play this round for the Phoenix they will be hoping that his influence across the court will be felt and he will be able to pick up where he left off in terms of his points scoring and rebounding ability. Keifer Sykes is easing his way back into the rotation and will be eager to get amongst things as Ryan Broekhoff is building as the season goes on. Kyle Adnam has been a real darkhorse for the Phoenix able to constantly put up the points and hit the scoreboard. Justinian Jessup and Tyler Harvey are the two main facilitators for the Hawks and will be raring to go in this clash in order to provide them with a chance to get over the top of the Phoenix and most importantly continue their rise up the ladder. Cameron Bairstow cannot be underestimated for the Hawks averaging 11.43 points a game while Justin Simon is more than capable of locking down players with his tight one-on-one defence which the Hawks will be hoping to take full advantage of.

Perth Wildcats vs. Sydney Kings
Thursday, April 1 @9:30pm

The Wildcats are in red hot form and the Sydney Kings are the next side in their war path. Currently on a five game winning streak Perth have proven to be relentless and will be hoping to inflict the same level of pain on Sydney as they have every other team. After a shaky start to the season, the Kings now just sit outside of the top four with nine wins to their name and a win here could see them leapfrog up the ladder.

Perth have not skipped a beat in their last few outings with Bryce Cotton proving to be a man on a mission. His scintillating form has been a key factor in the Wildcats’ dominance averaging a competition high 26 points along with six assists. The efforts from John Mooney will spark concern for the Kings as Mooney has proven to be a handful off the boards boasting an average of 12.29 rebounds a game while Todd Blanchfield is more than capable of lending his hand to the scoreboard. The Sydney Kings have livewire Casper Ware who is more than capable of leading the charge topping the table with 19 points a game while also producing 4.33 assists and 3.56 rebounds a game. Jarrell Martin is another one to keep an eye out for as is Dejan Vasilijevic with the two able to regularly hit the scoreboard and influence the play. but they will have to be on their a-game if the Kings are any chance of upsetting the Wildcats.

Melbourne United vs. Cairns Taipans
Friday, April 2 @5:30pm

Melbourne United are back on the winners list having notched up three straight victories and will be aiming to stay there with a win over the flailing Cairns Taipans. The Taipans have failed to live up to the standards of their 2019/20 season currently sitting in last place on the ladder despite showing glimpses of magic but unable to put out a consistent performance. With only five wins under their belts it will not get any better facing off against a slick United side twice in this round who are itching to reclaim top spot.

The ever-reliable Chris Goulding is a lynchpin for United averaging 16.33 points a game while teammate Jock Landale is not far behind thanks to his 16.22 points. The main facet of United’s game however is their ability to share the ball around and not rely on one player to do the heavy lifting with good support coming from bench players such as Yudai Baba (eight points and 1.88 rebounds) and Jo Lual Acuil (7.41 points, 5.41 rebounds) meaning the the Taipans will have to put in a full team effort to slow down and stop United in their tracks. for the Taipans the dominant pairing of Cameron Oliver and Scott Machado will be the ones to watch with the duo able to score with relative ease if given enough time and space. Machado averages an impressive 17.89 points, 3.79 rebounds and 7.63 assists as Oliver produces 16 points and 8.89 rebounds each time he steps out on court.

Adelaide 36ers vs. Illawarra Hawks
Saturday, April 3 @8:00pm

The battle between the Adelaide 36ers and Hawks is set to be an intriguing one with the former on a five game losing streak and desperately needing a win to stay in touch with any chance of playing finals. The Hawks on the other hand, sit inside the top four but having already played a match only two days earlier could suffer from some fatigue against a desperate Adelaide outfit.

The absence of Isaac Humphries has been sorely missed with the 36ers struggling to find their mojo without him. However that is not to say that the 36ers are without star power of their own with Daniel Johnson knocking back an average of 20 points, 6.85 rebounds and shooting at 47 per cent from the field. Rookie Josh Giddey has not skipped a beat managing 10.94 points, 6.65 assists and 6.65 rebounds. Both Tony Crocker and Sunday Dech will need to be on their a-game if they are to worry the Hawks and secure a much needed win. Boasting the likes of Jessup and Harvey support from Sam Froling and Deng Adel will be needed to build some strong scoreboard pressure and keep the good times rolling for the Hawks.

South East Melbourne Phoenix vs. New Zealand Breakers
Sunday, April 4 @3:00pm

In their second game for the round, the Phoenix will have one eye on the win but will have to fight off a spirited Breakers outfit. New Zealand notched up a win last round and will be riding high but the Phoenix have a top four position and will not be keen on relinquishing their spot given the midtable logjam that is happening around them.

Cameron Gliddon, Ben Moore and Yannick Wetzell are all threats for the Phoenix with the trio able to influence the outcome of a game thanks to their drive and strength off the boards. Gliddon averages 11.39 points a game while Moore is a consistent figure off the boards thanks to his 7 rebounds. The Breakers’ Tai Webster is a force to be reckoned with averaging a tick under 20 points with his 19.56 points, 5.31 rebounds and 5.94 assists. Finn Delany will need a big game as will Tom Abercrombie if New Zealand are any chance to get over the line.

Cairns secure win back at home, end five-game losing streak over 36ers

WITHOUT both Kouat Noi and Majok Deng, the Cairns Taipans ran out 79-65 victors over the Adelaide 36ers back at home yesterday in the Cairns Pop-Up Arena, snapping a five-game losing skid in the process as Mike Kelly and his squad look to fight their way off the bottom of the NBL standings.

Adelaide found early success from the three-point line hitting three of their first four attempts from deep, as Cairns looked relatively sluggish to start in front of the home crowd. Following a 10-point run and 57 per cent shooting from the field, the Taipans would fight back to take the 24-18 quarter-time lead. Led by Mirko Djeric, who had eight points in the first 10 minutes, and Mojave King (six points), Adelaide’s early benching of key big-man Daniel Johnson gave Cairns the opportunity to strike with a strong four-minute stretch in the first.

For Cairns, it took until the second quarter commenced that their stars Scott Machado and Cameron Oliver started to make an impact, which as a result saw a more free-flowing brand of basketball being played by the rest of the roster. Momentum kept increasing through the second term for the home side, as the Taipans limited Adelaide’s secondary unit and overall scoring ability, keeping the 36ers to just 16 points before half time.

The Taipans’ good form in the initial two quarters was capped off by Jarrod Kenny hitting a ridiculous shot from half-court which sent the hosts into the main break with a comfortable 46-34 lead. Cairns were impressive from behind the arc with nine triples compared to Adelaide’s five, but the Taipans were not doing themselves any favours having turned the ball over 11 times before the third stanza. However, having a plus-10 on the boards (21-11) certainly offset some of their self-harm due to poor ball security.

Showing promising signs in the third, Adelaide strung together numerous good plays to cut into their deficit before Cairns found some more rhythm. Djeric and Jordan Ngatai combined for two big plays at the midway point of the third quarter to abruptly halt the 36ers’ progress. But “DJ” was not going to concede defeat so easily, inspiring a comeback effort shortly before the final break bringing his points total up to 19, as well as motivating Jack McVeigh and Tony Crocker to some productive efforts at a critical stage in the contest. Adelaide finished the third on a 7-0 run and only trailed 50-58 credit to a 16-12 period.

Once again, Cairns neutralised Adelaide’s efforts to get back into the game after hitting three consecutive shots to put their lead back above 10 points two minutes into the concluding 10-minute stretch.

An important three-pointer and contact-layup from Sunday Dech signalled another possible fightback attempt as Adelaide whittled their deficit to a little as nine points. Nevertheless, Machado and Oliver put the final nails in the coffin over the last couple of minutes to win on home turf by 14 points after 10 straight appearances away from home.

Oliver finished the night with a team-high 19 points and 10 rebounds adding yet another double-double to his impressive NBL21 collection. His running mate in Machado had himself a solid night out too in the “Snagpit” with 17 points and six assists, while Djeric was consistent with 13 points off of 55 per cent shooting.

Despite Johnson finishing with the game-high in scoring (21 points and six rebounds), little impact on the scoreboard was made elsewhere with McVeigh the next highest contributor adding 15 points and a pair of rebounds. Dech was the only other playerr to amass more than 10 points, concluding his efforts with 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Notably, Brandon Paul was again quiet with just six points to his name.

A true challenge awaits the Taipans in Round 12, with Cairns set to face Melbourne United this upcoming Friday down in Victoria. On the other hand, Adelaide has the Illawarra Hawks waiting in the wings with the Sixers to host the contest back in South Australia the following night.

First-half fireworks from Cotton tightens grip on first place for Perth

AN emphatic shooting display from Bryce Cotton kept the Adelaide 36ers at bay to win 92-82 and maintain their stronghold at the top of the National Basketball League (NBL) table after winning nine of their last 10 games. This matchup closed the round’s action out again after one of the more unusual outings saw Cotton explode similarly to propel a miraculous second-half fightback from Perth. Adelaide’s first half in that match proved they could match it with the best, but after losing Next Star Josh Giddey on Saturday with what is suspected to be a minor ankle injury, they were going to be tested for the full 40 minutes.

Playing just seven players more than five minutes in their other Round 10 game against South East Melbourne was not something 36ers coach Connor Henry would have the luxury of this time out, as he played 11 players in just the first quarter alone.

It did not affect his players as an evenly poised and efficient shooting performance saw the game tied at 24 heading into the first break. Perth took two minutes to register their first basket and it was 11 first-quarter points from Cotton that kept them in the game.

He maintained that level of output through the second quarter as his 23 first-half points helped the Wildcats to a 51-45 lead at the main break. Both teams were shooting better than 50 per cent, but it was Adelaide’s three more turnovers and seven more fouls which saw them trailing.

Adelaide’s third quarters have historically not been good, and Cotton looked to exploit that early with a heat check from deep that missed. They were on track to reverse this trend as Tony Crocker and Sunday Dech each knocked down three balls as the lead was cut to three.

More turnovers and efficient capitalisation from the ruthless Wildcats quickly put the lead out to double digits as Perth went into the final break up 73-65.

Brandon Paul had just eight points on four attempts to this point and it would require something special from him for Adelaide to get over the line, but he would miss his only shot for the quarter as he looked to facilitate more.

Dech and Keanu Pinder would foul out in consecutive possessions with more than seven minutes to play as foul trouble continued to plague the 36ers as it had all game. Technical fouls on Henry and Crocker gave up easy baskets from the charity stripe and it was an uphill slog from there.

Perth shot 22 of 27 from the line on the back of 26 fouls on Adelaide. The Wildcats conceded just eight free throw attempts for six makes as they remained much more disciplined defensively. Cotton was also fouled twice on three-point attempts which does happen often, but it was disheartening for the 36ers to give up easy points like that.

Adelaide shot 16 per cent better on the night for two more makes including an impressive 50 per cent from deep. The free throws and seven more committed turnovers contributed to their loss, but they allowed Perth to shoot 17 more shots from the floor with a staggering 23 to five offensive rebounding differential. This led to a 24 to seven second chance points difference.

Cotton ended the night with a sensational 36 points, two more than his last game against Adelaide, to go with six assists and two steals. John Mooney took a while to get going after being starved of opportunity early due to the Cotton show, but he managed to get to his double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds. Mitch Norton (13 points, four assists) enjoyed a solid outing and said their last quarter performance was “pretty special”.

“First half, we wanted to tidy up a few things, I think we really did that in the second,” he said.

Daniel Johnson continued to perform in RAC Arena with 19 points and eight rebounds, as Crocker scored 13 points including three of five from deep. Jack McVeigh (12 points) reached double figures for the sixth straight game and with minutes being thrown around more than usual, Daniel Dillon managed 11 points.

The loss puts the 36ers out of playoffs contention, but they will be hoping to finish strong and reduce their in-game lapses to beat the Taipans on Sunday in their final game for the season.

The Wildcats face the Hawks on Friday for one of their two final-round fixtures and will look to remain in first place as they share the same amount of wins as Melbourne with a game up their sleeve.

A tale of two halves as Cotton’s 34 leads to remarkable 26-point comeback

THE Perth Wildcats have completed the biggest comeback win this season after overcoming a 26-point deficit to beat the Adelaide 36ers 97-88. An incredible second half display left fans stunned as the usual suspect in Bryce Cotton dropped 34 points to lead the way for his side. After being completely outplayed in the first-half, Trevor Gleeson rallied his players into providing that energy and aggression we have known Perth to ooze night in and night out.

It was the final game of the NBL Cup which Perth had already sewn up, but valuable season points were still up for grabs in what was the first meeting of the two sides this season, and the first game in which the highly anticipated Brandon Paul was suited up for.

After an evenly poised start, the Wildcats found themselves in early foul trouble and after gifting five shots from the charity stripe to Paul, the 36ers were on their way to a 12-0 run to close out the quarter.

Adelaide hit 10 free throws in the first quarter alone, and with Josh Giddey facilitating and players knocking down their shots, they would have secured a handy enough lead as it was. The 28-15 quarter time score line, however, was largely due to Perth shooting 5-20 including 2-11 from deep.

A big lift early was what they needed, and after a Cotton four-point play and a John Mooney three for his first field goal of the game, the lead was back to eight. The deep ball then became a weapon for the 36ers as Sunday Dech and Jack McVeigh found success multiple times from deep after Paul knocked one down earlier.

Things started to snowball for Perth from here as Daniel Johnson crashed the offensive glass, Paul caught a lob pass and stuffed, and then knocked down a couple of threes which made it the game-high 26-point margin. Paul had 16 first-half points in 11 minutes, Giddey notched up assist number 10, and the 36ers had 60 points in 20 minutes of play.

They had four players in double digits scoring, they shot 27 per cent better than Perth, had 28 bench points to five, and had a 21-point lead against an in-form Wildcats side. But that was where it stopped.

The energy from Perth at both ends was different from the start of the second half and they had five contributors at both ends. High activity and intent led them to a staggering 17-0 start to the third quarter as Adelaide was turning the ball over unlike the first half and shot 0-6 before a Giddey three stemmed the bleeding.

They finished the quarter outscored 8-25 on the back of 3-13 from the field and seven turnovers as Perth even won back the lead at one point with ease.

The final quarter was the Cotton show as he made his way to 34 points and completed the 30-point second-half turnaround. They still finished the game shooting at 38 per cent, but their 19-5 offensive rebounding advantage gave them 13 more shots. They tidied up their ball use in the second half (six turnovers to 10) and benefited from Adelaide’s misuse with 20 points from turnovers to four.

Perth also conceded just two more free throws after quarter time which came with a minute left in the game, managing to shoot 23-25 from the line themselves.

Cotton had assistance from Mooney (17 points, 15 rebounds) and Todd Blanchfield (20 points, five rebounds) but credited the squad’s mindset and attitude for their turnaround.

“We just played with a lot of heart,” he said. “We got some stuff off our chest in the locker room, coach gave us an earful as well, but we came out and we played Wildcats basketball.”

Adelaide enjoyed a good spread of scorers for particularly the first half but dropped off in the second. Paul put up big numbers on debut with 25 points on 50 per cent shooting, while Giddey had another double-double with 14 points and 13 assists to go with eight boards. Johnson (14 points, seven rebounds, and Dech (12 points) were serviceable, while McVeigh continued to provide that spark off the bench with 12 points.

The Wildcats return home to face the Taipans at RAC Arena on Friday night, while the 36ers stay in Melbourne to play the red-hot Phoenix on Saturday.