Tag: sunday dech

Adelaide 36ers Season Review

WITH the National Basketball League (NBL) season done and dusted we take a look at the performance of each team and how they fared in season 2021. The next team under the microscope is Adelaide 36ers who had an inconsistent season to say the least.

Season Summary:

Conner Henry took over the reigns as the new head coach of the Adelaide 36ers and with a new man in charge, along with a new squad, the 36ers just could not perform consistently enough to feature in the post season.

An early departure of new signing Donald Sloan and a key injury to inform big man Isaac Humphries interrupted the team’s momentum after they had started well, winning five of their first eight games.

With Humphries missing a chunk of games through the middle of the season, the team was forced to play smaller and missed the defensive presence of their big man (who had averaged three blocks a game).

The 36ers remained in the finals hunt for most of the season thanks to the efforts of NBA bound Josh Giddey, and club champion Daniel Johnson, but a seven-game losing streak to finish the season only saw them reach 13 wins and 23 losses as they ended in seventh spot, making it their third straight season without finals action. 

How It Unfolded:

As was a theme a lot during the season, the 36ers lacked consistency and the ability to play four quarters. They showed that their best could match it with the top teams, but when they did not fire, they coughed up leads and allowed their opposition to run over the top of them. The Sixers’ season was off to an average start reaching a 6-7 record before losing Humphries when he suffered a left foot injury in a nightmare 44-point loss to the Breakers.

A 10-14 record when Humphries returned had the team still in the mix for finals, but an early finish to the season for Giddey (so he could prepare for the upcoming NBA draft), was a blow as the 36ers’ season spiralled out of control with seven losses to close the campaign.

What Worked Well:

Josh Giddey. The young star had a super season after turning down college offers in favour of playing in the NBL under the ‘Next Stars’ program. Giddey completed three triple-doubles on his way to the Rookie of the Year award and proved himself as one to watch leading into the upcoming NBA draft.

On a team note, despite ranking average across the league for field goals and three pointers made per game, the 36ers did shoot it well when they took their shots, making 44.6 per cent of field goal attempts (ranked fourth) and 35.5 per cent of their three pointers (ranked third).

Their top four averaging shooters, Johnson, Giddey, Humphries and Brandon Paul, each shot above 40 per cent from the field, with Humphries shooting an impressive 56 per cent throughout the season. They were also equal third for assists, largely thanks to the playmaking skills of Giddey (who alone averaged 7.6 across the season), and third for blocks with Humphries finishing as the league’s best rim protector, averaging 2.8 blocks per game. 

What Went Wrong:

The 36ers struggled to score enough points often enough to win games, with an average score of 82.9 points not meeting the competition mean of 85. This was compounded by their defensive instability, conceding an average of 87.7 points per match which was third worst league wide.

As mentioned, when they shot the ball, the Sixers shot it well, but they did not get enough shots off, as they were ranked last in three pointers made (8.8 per game), and sixth for field goals made (30.5 per game). The Sixers were not great on the glass, sitting eighth for offensive boards (8.7 per game), while they were only sixth in rebounds overall (35.8 per game). Unfortunately for coach Henry, they also led the league in turnovers (12.9 per game).

The 36ers obviously were not helped by the injury to Humphries at an important point of the season, leaving them with a smaller rotation, relying on Johnson and Keanu Pinder (who started in place of Humphries) to defend the opposition big men. Sloan’s early departure also interrupted the season, as they awaited the arrival of his replacement, Paul. Sunday Dech and Tony Crocker did not have huge impacts on the season as experienced campaigners.

MVP Conversation:

Adelaide announced joint MVP winners for the season with Giddey and Johnson taking out the honour, both having strong seasons for the club.

Giddey as we know is headed straight for the NBA, with most experts projecting him inside the top 15 picks. He led the team in both assists (7.6 per game) and rebounds (7.3 per game), while also averaging 10.9 points per game, and 1.1 steals per game. It was a great season for the 18-year-old, although his 28 per cent three-point shooting will be something he will want to work on heading into the world’s top league.

For Johnson, it was a record sixth MVP for the club, and his third straight. He had a massive workload this season playing all 36 games and was the team’s rock as others were injured and missed games. Johnson led the team in points per game with 19.5, shooting 47 per cent from the field, and 39 percent from beyond the arc. He averaged above seven rebounds and once again showed why he has been a great asset to this club.

Roster News:

For Conner Henry, the obvious big loss is Giddey heading to the NBA. Finding a good scoring and playmaking point guard will be his number one priority.

Once again, the 36ers may have a big roster reshuffle, as only Johnson, Dech and Humphries (as a club option) remain under contract for the 2021/22 season. The two American imports Paul and Crocker are both out of contract and could be moved on. Alex Mudronja has been released from the final year of his contract after starting at the club as a development player and earning a full contract for this season.

Expect the 36ers to be busy during free agency, as they will look to add some experience and players with good basketball IQ.

Looking Towards Next Season:

The changes are already happening for next season after the Sixers announced new CEO, Nic Barbato, would be joining the club from A-League club Perth Glory.

A fresh start at the top could be a good move for the 36ers, as the club will now prioritise some aggressive moves in free agency to add to the experience of Daniel Johnson, and 23-year-old Humphries, who could have a massive season next year, if he remains fit.

With only three guys contracted for next season it is hard to determine where the Sixers will end up, but with the dominant big duo of Johnson and Humphries anything remains possible. One thing for sure is that coach Henry will certainly want to avoid a repeat of this year, both consistency wise and on the injury front.

Photo credit: NBL

2021 NBL1 Central wrap: Round 11

ROUND 11 of the National Basketball League (NBL1) saw plenty of excitement and big wins as the top of the table Sturt Sabres dominated in their clash against Central District Lions in the women’s while in the men’s it was a much closer round.

Men’s:

Forestville Eagles (89) defeated Norwood Flames (84)

The Eagles just snuck over the line against Norwood by a mere five points to notch up their eighth win of the season. Forestville opened up the lead at quarter time and they steadily grew that margin as the game went on. By half-time the home side was up by six points and kept the foot on the pedal in the third with a 21 to 18 point term. But Norwood rallied in the final term but left their run too late. Brandon Brine had a hot hand for the victors producing 33 points and 11 rebounds while Gregory Mays also chimed in with a handy 20 points and 11 rebounds of his own. Michael Harris also got busy with his 18 points while Jake Rios added 10 points to the winning total. Moses Nuangki was the topscorer for Norwood draining 23 points while CJ Turnage also found his groove with a triple-double thanks to his 19 points, 11 rebounds and 12 rebounds.

Women’s:

Forestville Eagles (56) defeated by Norwood Flames (64)

Norwood Flames overpowered Forestville Eagles in the second term setting them up for their fifth win of the season. it was a hard fought battle between the two sides as they went in hard for everything but in the end it was the Flames that found a winning formula. Brooke Basham was a lady on a mission thanks to her 27 points and six rebounds while Cara Annetts also impressed with her strength off the boards with 10 rebounds. Samantha Simons also got busy with her 12 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Alex Wilson inspired her side to victory thanks to her 26 points and 15 rebounds as Genna Anderson drained 18 points and 10 rebounds in the win.

Men’s:

South Adelaide Panthers (109) defeated Eastern Mavericks (84)

South Adelaide claimed the win over the last placed Eastern Mavericks to improve their standings on the ladder. The Panthers had a commanding lead by the halftime swung around largely in part because of their 24 point to 15 point second term. But it did not stop there as they lifted another level in the third to pile on a whopping 34 points and although the Mavericks mounted a comeback in the final quarter, the game was all but over. Todd Davies had the ball on a string sinking 27 points at 59 per cent from the field while also picking up seven rebounds and four assists. Alex Mudronja made a lasting imprint with his 23 points in 31 minutes as Jarryd Hoppo also came to life with 21 points. Adam Brown was the only other player to reach double digits producing 19 points and six rebounds. William Wise was key for the Mavericks with is 23 points while Tom Cromarty also got involved thanks to his 19 points and eight rebounds.

Women’s:

South Adelaide Panthers (79) defeated Eastern Mavericks (66)

The Panthers collected a 13-point win over the Mavericks leading from start to finish. South Adelaide controlled proceedings and did not let the Mavericks gain any momentum despite going into halftime tied at 40 points apiece. The points were shared around for the Panthers with five players reaching double digits but it was Ashley Spencer that led the charge with 19 in her 36 minutes out on court. Jordan Hunter and Teresa McGreehan managed 13 points apiece in the win while Olivia Thompson registered a double-double with her 11 points and 17 rebounds. Mollie McKendrick was the topscorer for the Mavericks with her 20 points and 11 rebounds while Rachel Hines and Taylor Moffat found their groove with 17 points each.

Men’s:

West Adelaide Bearcats (61) defeated by Southern Tigers (69)

It was a tight tussle between the Bearcats and Tigers with the latter just getting over the line in what was a seesawing affair. Both sides started the game off evenly before West Adelaide created some much needed scoreboard separation to forge ahead. But a huge final term of action from the Southern Tigers stunned the Bearcats as they were kept to a mere five points as the Tigers poured on 24 of their own to steal the win. Earnest Ross impressed with his 16 points and 12 rebounds as Bryan Michaels chimed in with a handy 15 points. Fabian Johnson and Lachie Hunter had no issues off the boards with 12 and 10 rebounds respectively in the loss. Cameron Coleman was amongst the thick of things with his 21 points, six rebounds and four steals while both Koop McCalop and Nick Wurm managed 15 points apiece in the win. Machar Machar hit the scoreboard with eight points but did some of his best work off the boards with 11 rebounds.

Women’s:

West Adelaide Bearcats (64) defeated Southern Tigers (79)

Despite an even first half of basketball the Southern Tigers put the footdown in the second half to seal the deal. West Adelaide held the lead at halftime albeit by two points but that was quickly turned around as the Tigers upped the ante to shift the momentum and steal the game. Jennie Rintala was a real livewire with her 19 points and seven rebounds for the Bearcats while teammate Jasmin Fejo wasted no time slotting 17 points in her 27 minutes to keep her side within striking distance. Teige Morrell continued to be a thorn in the side of the opposition sinking 28 points and eight rebounds as Morgan Yaeger chimed in on the action with 18 points at 43 per cent from the field. Jemma Thacker was the only other player to leave single digits thanks to her 13 points.

Men’s:

Sturt Sabres (96) defeated Central District Lions (89)

Top of the table Sturt Sabres powered past Central District Lions surviving a final quarter fightback. The Lions got the jump start in the first term before the Sabres controlled the second and third quarters with a 27 point to 11 stanza all but setting up the win. Sam Daly and Joel Spear got the ball rolling for Sturt with 25 and 23 points apiece with the latter also dominating off the boards with a huge 16 rebounds. Keanu Rasmussen also imposed himself with his 14 points and five rebounds to get his side over the line. Lual Diing was one of the best on the court for Central Districts with his 18 points at 40 per cent from the field while Shaquille Maharaj was hot on his heels with 17 points and three assists. Brodie Nathan worked in overdrive to keep his side in it with 13 points but it was not enough.

Women’s:

Sturt Sabres (105) defeated Central District Lions (35)

It was a complete demolition job by the Sabres as they walked over the top of Central District Lions by 70 points. The Lions only managed to reach double digits in a quarter once credit to the immense defensive pressure from the Sabres. Central Districts only recorded 16 points in the second half compared to Sturt who poured on 53. Every single player on the Sturt roster hit the scoreboard with Jade Johnson the most prolific of the lot with 30 points, four rebounds, four assists and five steals. Jasmine Rigoni and Kayla Matthews were the next best with 16 points each while Soriah Moon imposed herself off the boards with a whopping 17 rebounds, 12 of which were offensive. April Rummery-Lamb was the main target for the Lions with her 13 points at 83 per cent from the field while Jessica Puvogel slotted 10 points.

Men’s:

Woodville Warriors (96) defeated North Adelaide Rockets (103)

The final game of the round saw North Adelaide Rockets prevail over Woodville Warriors in a close encounter. It was a high scoring affair as a dominant second quarter of action gifted North Adelaide the win. Unable to be separated for majority of the match, the Rockets rallied to grind out the game and keep the Warriors at bay. Julian Jacobs played a full 40 minutes and made his presence felt with his 26 points and 11 rebounds. Joe Jackson nailed 20 points and 11 rebounds as James Boonstoppel also kept the scoreboard ticking over with his 18 points. Jack McVeigh ran riot with his 33 points as Sunday Dech showed his class producing 26 points and 12 rebounds in the win.

Women’s:

Woodville Warriors (70) defeated North Adelaide Rockets (96)

There was plenty to like about the contest between Woodville Warriors and North Adelaide Rockets with the latter pulling away in the second and third term to secure the ascendancy. Although the Warriors showed glimpses of fight they simply could not maintain that level of intensity throughout the match. Emily Winter was dynamic and influential with her 25 points, 10 rebounds and four assists while Serena Waters also chipped in with 13 points. Sam Defrancesco was imperative for the Rockets draining 25 points as Jess Good plied her trade with 17 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists to fall just short of a triple-double.

Photo credit: Kelly Barnes/Allstar photos

NBL1 Central wrap: Round 10

ROUND 10 of NBL1 Central saw a mixed bag of results with a couple of close encounters in both the men’s and women’s league along with some blowout performances.

Men’s:

Norwood Flames (87) defeated Woodville Warriors (84)

It was a close encounter between Norwood Flames and Woodville Warriors with the former securing a narrow three point win. Woodville came out with a real pep in their step in the first quarter before the Flames pegged them back in the second term. Things evened up in the third quarter with Norwood romping it home in the final stanza thanks to a 24 points to 18 term. CJ Turnage was the most prolific scorer for Norwood draining 20 points while also picking up five rebounds, three assists and four steals. Teammate Moses Nuangki was also amongst the action thanks to his 1 points as Anthony Green and Cameron Huefner collected 16 and 12 points respectively. Green and Huefner also had an impact off the boards combining for 19 rebounds. Luke Stanbridge was an imposing force for the Warriors topscoring with 18 points. The efforts of Joe Jackson did not go unnoticed as he recorded a double-double walking away with 16 points and 11 rebounds in the loss as James Booonstoppel also worked in overdrive for his 16 points shooting at 40 per cent from the field. Julian Jacobs just fell short of a double-double draining 17 points but registering nine rebounds and seven assists.

Women’s:

Norwood Flames (89) defeated Woodville Warriors (67)

The Flames made light work of Woodville Warriors claiming a strong 22 point win. They outscored their opponents in every quarter as they steadily edged ahead in the contest with their most dominant term the third thanks to a 26 to 16 point quarter. Alex Wilson was the go to girl for Norwood draining 36 points at 67 per cent from the field while also collecting six rebounds all of which were defensive plus, six assists and five steals. Sophie Kerridge showcased her range with 15 points while Genna Anderson also added 15 to the winning score. Serena Waters had a hot hand shooting 23 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals as teammate Molly Whitmore also played a helping hand with 20 points at 71 per cent from the field.

Men’s:

Sturt Sabres (64) defeated by Southern Tigers (93)

The Southern Tigers put out a comprehensive performance against Sturt Sabres to claim a convincing 29-point win. It was all the Tigers from the opening buzzer as they burst out of the gates piling on 29 points to 16. Although scoring dried up in the second term they re-found their mojo in the third to really put the foot down and claim the ascendancy with the final quarter the icing on the cake. It was a tough day at the office for Sturt despite Tom Goodall and Joel Spear working gallantly. Goodall collected 13 points at 60 per cent from the field as Spear managed 12 at 40 per cent. Keanu Rasmussen was the next closest adding 10 points to the total along with four rebounds as Daniel Nash sunk nine points in his 20 minutes on court. Five players reached double figures for the Tigers as Christian Artacho led the charge with 19 points to his name with teammate, Cameron Coleman hot on his heels with 18 points. Together they also managed 11 rebounds with Coleman also amassing six assists in the win. Nick Wurm and Koop McCalop finished with 15 points apiece as Machar Machar found his rhythm walking away with 13 points, converting at 63 per cent from the field.

Women’s:

Sturt Sabres (68) defeated by Southern Tigers (92)

After an even first term, the Southern Tigers put the foot down in the second and third term piling on 50 points to a mere 18. Although the Sabres won the final quarter it was too little, too late as the damage had been done in the midpart of the game as the Tigers ran rampant. Tayla Brazel and Kylee Smith were the leading points scorers for the Sabres sinking 18 points apiece with Brazel having the upper hand on the rebound front thanks to her seven. There was no shortage of stars for the Tigers as Teige Morrell impressed credit to her 26 points in 31 minutes out on court. She also racked up 14 rebounds, four assists and two blocks in all-round comprehensive performance. Morgan Yaeger was handy chiming in with 20 points as Jemma Thacker and Denelle Fawcett made their presence felt out on court with 13 and 12 points respectively.

Men’s:

Eastern Mavericks (71) defeated by Forestville Eagles (106)

The Eagles came out with a real sense of intensity and purpose and it showed out on court as they stunned the Mavericks trouncing the home side by 35 points. A blistering first term of basketball set the tone nice and early as the Eagles raced out to an 18 point lead and did not relent scoring 60 points in the opening half compared to the Mavericks’ 31. The third quarter was an even better showing as Forestville reeled off 32 points to 18 and while the Mavericks outscored their opponents in the last it was already game over. William Wise tried hard sinking 24 points for the losers while also collecting an impressive 16 rebounds. Callan Prider got involved thanks to his 11 points in his 30 minutes on court as Owen Raneberg drained nine points and picked up seven rebounds. It was a different story for the Eagles as Brandon Brine and Gregory Mays slotted 17 points each. Brine also walked away with a double-double credit to his 14 rebound effort with 11 of them defensive. Jake Rios impressed with his 15 points, two rebounds and three assists as Michael Harris and Isaac Atuer produced 11 and 10 points respectively.

Women’s:

Eastern Mavericks (68) defeated by Forestville Eagles (69)

The battle between the Mavericks and Eagles went right down to the wire as only one point separated the two sides. In the end it was the Eagles that prevailed in a topsy turvy contest. Forestville escaped to a three-point lead early and extended that to five at half time before the Mavericks threw caution to the wind to give themselves a fighting chance in the second half. Rachel Hines was dominant thanks to her 27 points and nine rebounds for the Mavericks as was Mollie McKendrick and Kedeisha Kartinyeri who both recorded 13 points. For the Eagles it was the work of Samantha Simons that charged them home as she walked away with a game-high 35 points, 11 points and four rebounds. Brooke Basham was the only other Eagles player to make it to double-digits recording 16 for the match.

Men’s:

Central District Lions (88) defeated West Adelaide Bearcats (76)

Central District Lions got on top of the West Adelaide Bearcats with a thrilling 12point victory. They blew the Bearcats away in the first term sinking a staggering 27 points while keeping West Adelaide to a mere five. The visitors steadily fought their way back into the game and really upped the ante in the third draining 32 points to 17. But in the end the dominant first quarter was too much for West Adelaide to comeback from as the Lions reigned supreme. David Humphries showcased his class with a game-high 31 points plus nine rebounds, two assists and four steals for the Lions. Magok Manyang and Shaquille Maharaj made their presence felt thanks to their 16 points each and 14 rebounds. Earnest Ross had an impact for the Bearcats sinking 19 points at 50 per cent from the field while Fabian Johnson lent a helping hand with 16 points and six rebounds. Luke Cadzow plied his trade producing 13 points in the loss.

Women’s:

Central District Lions (50) defeated by West Adelaide Bearcats (102)

It was a blowout match between the Central District Lions and West Adelaide Bearcats as the latter run rampant by 52 points. It was all one way traffic from the opening quarter as the Bearcats had no trouble finding the basket and the Lions struggled to combat the offensive heat. Meaza Otto was the biggest contributor for the Lions sinking 17 points and eight rebounds as April Rummery-Lamb slotted 14 points of her own. Jennie Rintala was unstoppable with her 23 points at a staggering 90 per cent from the field while Sky Langenbrinck showed her skillset to register 18 points in the win. Both Jasmin Fejo and Michaela Lappin got busy with their 12 points.

Men’s:

North Adelaide Rockets (85) defeated South Adelaide Panthers (62)

North Adelaide Rockets toppled the South Adelaide Panthers registering a 23 point win. The Rockets sent an early warning sign doubling their opponents score before doubling down in the second term with a dominant 31 to 13 point term. South Adelaide hit back in the third quarter to eat into the margin but a last quarter hoorah from the Rockets sealed the deal. Jack McVeigh made his presence felt with 21 points at 44 per cent from the field while also securing 11 rebounds. Verle Williams also effectively plied his trade registering 19 points as teammate Jimma Dau slotted 15 in his 22 minutes of action. Sunday Dech also chimed in with a handy 14 points and seven rebounds. For the Panthers the efforts of Alex Mudronja stood out as he topscored with 19 points as Todd Davies drilled home 13 points, six rebounds and eight assists. Alex Starling was the sole other Panther to reach double figures with 10 points to his name.

Women’s:

North Adelaide Rockets (79) defeated South Adelaide Panthers (57)

The final game of the round saw North Adelaide Rockets claim victory over South Adelaide Panthers by 22 points. The Rockets imposed themselves early on the contest piling on 22 points to 13 and kept that momentum throughout the second quarter. The momentum shifted in the third and fourth term but the game was already won given the dominant first half of basketball from North Adelaide. Taylor Ortlepp sunk 21 points, six rebounds and five assists as Abigayle Mader, Jess Good and Courtney Hansen all hit the scoreboard with great ease. Olivia Thompson was the strike shooter for the Panthers recording 25 points as Jordan Hunter was the only other to make it out of single digits with 10 points to her name.

Hawks swoop in on third with impressive win over 36ers

ILLAWARRA Hawks have swooped in on third spot on the National Basketball League (NBL) ladder after a 14-point victory over Adelaide 36ers at WIN Entertainment Centre yesterday. In front of more than 3000 people, the Hawks took control from late in the first term and led by as much as 19 points at the final break, to eventually salute 97-83, and rise above the South East Melbourne Phoenix on the 2021 NBL table.

The first quarter was fairly even, with the 36ers actually having their fair share of control to lead by up to five points at one stage. Having more time in front, they looked to be on their way to a good performance on the road, but a late surged from the Hawks saw an 11-point turnaround and the home team to head into quarter time with a six-point advantage. The second term went all the way of the Hawks, as they piled on 21 points to 13 and cross the half century threshold to go out to a 52-38 lead by half-time.

Needing to keep that momentum flowing, the Hawks held the 36ers at bay in the third quarter, and even extended the margin to beyond 20 points, before the final break advantage stood at 19. The teams traded blows for the majority of the final term, with the Hawks extending the lead out to 25 points midway through the term, before a late surge with rotations coming into play saw the 36ers eventually get the deficit back to 14 at the final buzzer, 97-83.

While the 36ers were the more efficient side from the field thanks to their 59 to 52 per cent two-point accuracy, the Hawks nailed 15 triples to 10 to help add to the cause. Otherwise all the key statistics went the way of Illawarra, as the Hawks won the rebounds (42-38), assists (23-18), steals (12-4), blocks (3-2), points in the paint (38-36), second chance points (16-10) and bench points (42-38). They also had six less turnovers (10-16), which made the fact the 36ers had more points from turnovers (18-17) all the more impressive.

In what was a real even team performance, Tyler Harvey topped the points scorers with 23, hitting three of eight from long-range, and picking up six rebounds and five assists at the same time. Also joining him in the long-range shooting was Tim Coenraad who scored all of his points from three-point range (12, four of six from long-range). Sam Froling (14 points, five rebounds and three assists) was the other double-figure scorer from the starting five, while Daniel Grida managed the 10 points in 10 minutes off the bench. AJ Ogilvy (nine points, six rebounds, there blocks and two steals) was also valuably in the win.

Sunday Dech top-scored for the 36ers coming off the bench for 22 minutes, knocking down 15 points in that time. Brandon Paul (13 points, five assists and four rebounds) and Tony Crocker (10 points, three rebounds) were also impressive, whilst Keanu Pinder proved the most valuable player for the visitors with 11 points and 11 rebounds – all defensive – in a double-double performance. Daniel Johnson (nine points, eight rebounds) also tried hard throughout.

Illawarra Hawks tip-off the final round of the regular season with a potential finals preview clash against Perth Wildcats at home, before another home fixture up against Sydney Kings. Adelaide 36ers will close out the season by visiting John Cain Arena (to be confirmed) on June 6 to take on Melbourne United.

Picture credit: Brett Hemmings/Getty Images

2021 NBL Round 20 preview: Race for finals heats up

WITH the National Basketball League (NBL) season slowly coming to a close, Round 20 is set to bring some enticing clashes as the top sides vie for prime position on the ladder. The race for fourth spot will heat up as the Sydney Kings and Brisbane Bullets sit just outside eager to poke their way through to finals contention.

Cairns Taipans vs. Brisbane Bullets
Wednesday, May 26 @7:30pm

The Brisbane Bullets will be looking to bounce back and get a potential win over Cairns Taipans tonight to keep their slim hopes alive. It has been a trying couple of weeks for the Bullets who have been close but fallen short in consecutive weeks to Melbourne-based sides but could be in with a chance against the lowly Taipans.

Lamar Patterson has well and truly found his groove and will be hoping to be at his damaging best against Cairns to notch up another win for his side. he averages 13.75 points and 4.58 rebounds making him a dominant force for the Bullets alongside Nathan Sobey who tops the side with 21.35 points. Matthew Hodgson is the other to keep an eye out for in this clash while Harry Froling and Jason Cadee are capable of stepping up to the plate averaging 7.45 and 9.58 points respectively with the former also strong off the boards thanks to his average of five rebounds. When looking at the Cairns line-up and it is hard to go past Scott Machado who was back to his damaging best last game producing 17 points, nine assists and four rebounds. Majok Deng is also handy on the scoreboard boasting an average of 11.38 points and 4.88 rebounds while Mirko Djeric is quite capable of applying the heat both in offence and defence. Veteran Nate Jawai will need to step up to the plate as will Mojave King who has shown glimpses of magic but is yet to find consistency.

Perth Wildcats vs. Sydney Kings
Thursday, May 27 @9:30pm

It is set to be a blockbuster game as the second placed Wildcats host the fifth placed Sydney Kings who are looking for their way into the top four. They have a rich history having competed in the grand final last year and Perth will be hoping to once again reign supreme and build some strong momentum heading into the upcoming finals.

It will be a battle of the two guards as Bryce Cotton and Casper Ware go into bat for their respective sides. Cotton is unstoppable when given time and space to impact the play credit to his average of 23.47 points and 5.69 assists while Ware is equally as important for the Kings often acting as the barometer for his side thanks to his 18.59 points and 4.44 rebounds. John Mooney has been a reliable source of both points and rebounds for the Wildcats throughout season 2021 draining 17.7 points and accumulating 11.52 rebounds and will need to be at that high level of production if they are to knock off the Kings. Another handy option is Todd Blanchfield alongside Mitchell Norton with the former averaging 14.69 points each time he steps out on court. Jarell Martin continues to be a key cog for the Kings averaging 17.46 points and 6.92 rebounds while the likes of Xavier Cooks and Jordan Hunter will have to up the ante in order to compete with the second placed Wildcats.

New Zealand Breakers vs. Illawarra Hawks
Friday, May 28 @5:30pm

Ever since they returned home to New Zealand, the Breakers have been a new and improved side playing with confidence and although they have only notched up one win in their past five outings they are capable of ruffling some feathers. The Hawks on the other hand have the reverse with one loss in their past five outings, showcasing the stark difference in form between the two sides.

The combination of Tyler Harvey and Justinian Jessup will be the one the Breakers look to crack straight away given their ability to score quickly and freely. Harvey leads the side with 19.84 points while Jessup boasts an average of 13.94 points and a marginally higher rebound average of  3.84. Cameron Bairstow is not to be underestimated, able to get in and ply his trade while Sam Froling, Justin Simon and Andrew Ogilvy a couple of handy figures when it comes to mounting scoreboard pressure. For the Breakers the likes of Tai Webster and Finn Delany will have to be on their A-game if they are any chance of worrying the Hawks. Webster is capable of making great things happen as shown by his average of 17.29 points, 4.92 rebounds and 5.38 assists while Delany is also a pocket rocket credit to his 6.74 rebounds. Since joining the side, Levi Randolph has not skipped a beat producing an average of 14.6 points each time he steps out on court.

Other games:

South East Melbourne Phoenix vs. Cairns Taipans
Saturday, May 29 @5:30pm

South East Melbourne play their first game of the round against Cairns Taipans who are set to play their second in as many days. Travelling down to Melbourne, expect fatigue to be somewhat of a factor when the Taipans take on the Phoenix who will be raring to go and eager to solidify their standings on the ladder.

Taking a look at the Phoenix side and it is fair to say they are littered with talent but are searching for that level of consistency. Boasting the likes of Mitch Creek, Ryan Broekhoff, Keifer Sykes and the new and improved Kyle Adnam there is no shortage of shooting options. But it just comes down to what level of output each player is having given, Creek can star both in and attack as shown by his 18.23 points and 6.5 rebounds. Throw in the likes of Cameron Gliddon, Yannick Wetzell and Ben Moore and the Phoenix have a pretty complete list that should be able to get over the top of the Taipans.

Sydney Kings vs. Melbourne United
Saturday, May 29 @8:00pm

Melbourne United will be hoping to keep the good times rolling and register another win when they take on Sydney. It will be the Kings second game in three days, meaning that United will be looking to capitalise on their tired opponents and exploit them with their level of depth. Sitting on top of the ladder Melbourne will stop at nothing to secure a win and lock down the prime position.

Melbourne United will be hoping that Chris Goulding picks up where he left off, with his hot hand from down town last match doing a world of damage. Goulding has been in scintillating form of late, spurring his side on but will need support from the likes of Jock Landale who is no slouch himself (16.1 points, 7.84 rebounds) and Scotty Hopson (11.58 points and 3.79 rebounds) if they are to get over the line. United have a wealth of depth as Mitch McCarron and Jo Lual-Acuil have stepped up to the plate with their drive to the rim. In recent weeks, Shea Ili and Yudai Baba have chimed in for some handy points and will need to be at that level once again here against the highly competitive Kings.

Illawarra Hawks vs. Adelaide 36ers
Sunday, May 30 @3:00pm

Adelaide will enjoy an extended break before taking the court for the first time on Sunday. But they will have their work cut out for them up against the Illawarra Hawks who are fighting to keep their spot inside the top four. Although the Hawks will be gearing up for their second game of the round and the 36ers first expect a tough battle with neither side wanting to drop a game so close to finals.

Daniel Johnson has been the main man in focus for Adelaide given his capacity to find the scoreboard averaging 19.88 points and 6.94 rebounds. The return of Isaac Humphries has been beneficial for Adelaide given his proficiency on the scoreboard with an average of 13.32 points and 7.11 rebounds. Tony Crocker has been a real livewire for the 36ers while Sunday Dech has played a strong support role and will need to once again be that figure against the Hawks.

New Zealand Breakers vs. Brisbane Bullets
Sunday, May 30 @ 5:00pm

The battle between the Breakers and Bullets is set to be an enthralling one given New Zealand are quite capable of causing an upset. Although the Bullets are ahead on the ladder they have to make the trek across the trans-Tasman to play their second game of the round meaning fatigue could become a factor. The Breakers will be hoping to give their home crowd something to cheer about with a win over the Bullets, while Brisbane will be wanting to keep that glimmer of finals hopes alive.

Melbourne United vs. Cairns Taipans
Monday, May 31 @7:30pm

Cairns will front up for their third game of the round and the challenge is monumental as they take on the current ladder leaders, Melbourne United who have been in scintillating form for much of 2021. United will be hoping to use their bench depth to expose the Taipans who are somewhat undermanned and lacking in terms of form given they are planted firmly to the bottom of the ladder.

Photo credit: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

2021 NBL Round 18 preview

ROUND 18 of the National Basketball League (NBL) kicks off tonight with Illawarra and Adelaide getting things underway. The ladder is starting to well and truly shape up as Melbourne United sit two games clear at the top while South East Melbourne Phoenix will have plenty of opportunities to retain their hunting position on the ladder with three games for the round.

Illawarra Hawks vs. Adelaide 36ers
Tuesday, May 11 @7:30pm

Illawarra sit one game outside of the top four and will be knocking at the door if they are able to get a win here and defeat Adelaide. On the other hand the 36ers will be hoping to throw everything they have at Hawks in hope to keep their slim finals chances alive.

The 36ers have returned to full strength with Daniel Johnson and Isaac Humphries both putting in the hard yards and able to score with relative ease averaging 20.62 and 13.61 points a game. The influence of Brandon Paul and youngster Josh Giddey will be important throughout their clash with the Hawks if they are to get over the top while Sunday Dech is a helping hand off the boards. The issue however for the 36ers lies with the power duo in Tyler Harvey and Justinian Jessup. Their ability to score rapidly and create something out of nothing is second to none with Harvey boasting an average of 19.92 points and Jessup with 14.42. They are not alone with Cameron Bairstow, Sam Froling and Justin Simon more than capable of worrying opposition teams with their capacity to hit the scoreboard and get busy in defence to reel in the rebounds.

South East Melbourne Phoenix vs. New Zealand Breakers
Wednesday, May 12 @7:30pm

Holding onto fourth spot on the ladder, the Phoenix need a win here to solidify their standings in the competition and generate some momentum heading into the back half of the season. It has been a tricky season for the Breakers who have shown glimpses of magic but have been plagued by inconsistency and injuries to key players, something the Phoenix will be hoping to capitalise on this game.

Expect Tai Webster to lead the troops for the Breakers while Finn Delany is the other player that can turn the game on its head with his explosiveness. New Zealand will be hoping that new recruit Levi Randolph will be able to take the court once more given his ability to find the basket credit to his 13.5 point average across his eight games. They will likely be without captain Tom Abercrombie which will be a huge blow meaning the likes of William McDowell-White and Lamar Patterson will have to shoulder the load. The Phoenix will be eager to bounce back from their loss, in particular Mitch Creek who had a poor showing by his lofty standards last round. South East Melbourne have no shortage of playmakers with Ryan Broekhoff able to light the court up as can Keifer Sykes while Kyle Adnam has come into his own this season making for an enthralling battle.

Brisbane Bullets vs. Sydney Kings
Thursday, May 13 @7:30pm

It is going to be an intriguing battle when the Bullets play host to the Kings as Brisbane look to keep their season alive. Sydney are in good stead with 14 wins under their belts but are on the prowl for their 15th, while if the Bullets can notch up a victory it will go a long way to putting them in a competitive position to make finals.

The Bullets will be hoping that their reliable players such as Nathan Sobey and Jason Cadee are able to once again step up to the plate and deliver the goods. Sobey leads all-comers with 20.42 points a game and is not afraid to pass the ball around as shown through his 4.38 dimes. Matthew Hodgson will be in need of a big game as will Harry Froling with the pair more than capable of imposing themselves off the boards. Boasting the likes of Casper Ware who averages 19.41 points, 3.48 rebounds and 4.22 assists and teammate Jarell Martin who has proven to be a revelation in season 2021, the Kings will be hoping they have an added edge in attack. Brad Newley is a consistent figure for Sydney while Jordan Hunter is capable of getting his hands dirty.

Perth Wildcats vs. Melbourne United
Thursday, May 13 @9:30pm

Arguably the game of the round, as the top of the table United travel to take on the second placed Perth Wildcats. It is set to be a thriller as the two sides prepare for the finals series with United eager to exact their revenge and claim a win against their old foe. Both teams are in ripping form and have a plethora of stars across the court that can change the course of a game in a heartbeat meaning it will be high calibre and high intensity match.

With Jock Landale back in full swing and Chris Goulding continuing his merry way United are poised nicely to challenge the Wildcats who are hot on their heels. Landale leads the side in points with 16.04 and is a commanding presence off the boards thanks to his 8.04 average. He will need support from Scotty Hopson, Mitch McCarron and Jo Lual-Acuil if United are to generate enough scoring momentum and pile on the defensive pressure to nullify the fast scoring Wildcats. There is no denying that the combination of John Mooney and Bryce Cotton is the one that sparks concern for United because if the two are let off the leash early then it will be hard to come back from. Todd Blanchfield, Jesse Wagstaff and Mitch Norton are all capable of hitting the scoreboard and running amuck meaning that Perth have a wealth of options if one of their two main scorers is shut down.

South East Melbourne Phoenix vs. Cairns Taipans
Friday, May 14 @7:30pm

The Taipans will take the court for the first time on Friday while the Phoenix will be gearing up for their second of the round. Cairns have struggled for form this season and now without the services of Cameron Oliver rely heavily on Scott Machado to be the driving force. Machado can impact the contest himself as shown through his production levels of 15.74 points and 7.11 assists but will need support from the likes of Kouat Noi, Jordan Ngatai and veteran Nate Jawai if they are to mount any sort of pressure on their higher placed opponents. If they are able to capitalise on their fresh legs, now would be the time.

Other games:

Sydney Kings vs. Adelaide 36ers
Sunday, May 16 @5:00pm

Brisbane Bullets vs. Perth Wildcats
Saturday, May 15 @5:30pm

Illawarra Hawks vs. New Zealand Breakers
Saturday, May 15 @8:00pm

Melbourne United vs. South East Melbourne Phoenix
Sunday, May 16 @3:00pm

Cairns Taipans vs. Perth Wildcats
Monday, May 17 @7:30pm

DJ spoils Kings party with stunning overtime effort

DANIEL ‘DJ’ Johnson single-handedly ripped the game away from Sydney Kings and helped his Adelaide 36ers to a memorable overtime victory in a stunning National Basketball League (NBL) overtime thriller last night. The teams were evenly poised at 81-apiece after four quarters, and that was when Johnson came to play, nailing 13 of his side’s 16 points to leave the home side in his wake and keep his team in the hunt for finals with the 97-88 victory.

The teams were delicately matched as Sydney headed into the contest with a 14-13 record compared to Adelaide’s 13-15 ratio, and the latter was in more desperate need of a win. The 36ers were coming off back-to-back wins, whilst the Kings lost their last outing, making the visitors the more in-form side of the pairing. However it was Sydney that stormed to the early lead, scoring 19-16 in the first term, and then 28-18 in the second to open up a 13-point advantage at the main break. Sensing the importance of getting back in the contest quickly, the 36ers hit back in the third with 24-11 to draw level heading into the last quarter.

Symbolic of most of the game, the teams were evenly poised throughout the final term with multiple lead changes, and the Kings holding as much as a five-point advantage with 2:40 on the clock once Tom Vodanovich nailed a three-point jump shot. Young gun Josh Giddey quickly drove through the lane to cut the deficit to a single possession and then the multi-faceted Isaac Humphries made no mistake from beyond the arc to tie the game with 1:39 remaining. The teams had a combined five misses in the final 90 seconds, with Daniel Kickert‘s last second jump shot not able to hit the mark.

Jordan Hunter scored the first points 12 seconds into the overtime period, but it was all Johnson and his side from there, with a turnaround jumper followed by Sunday Dech making a three-pointer to hand his side the lead by that margin. With the game on the line, Johnson came to play, nailing both free throws off a foul then back-to-back three pointers and the margin had blown out to 11 points with 1:24 on the timer. Vodanovich desperately clawed back two points, but a third consecutive triple from Johnson for his side secured the win with a heavy 12-point advantage, the 36ers’ largest of the game. Vodanovich scored a consolation triple to cut the final deficit to nine points, but it would not be enough to get over the line.

The 36ers topped the field goal percentage marginally, with a higher volume of long-range successes, whilst absolutely dominating the rebounds (57-40), and winning the assists (26-24), blocks (10-5) and second chance points (33-8). The Kings were admirable with more steals (4-2), far less turnovers (5-10) and therefore had more points from turnovers (14-7).

Johnson won the Player of the Match for his clutch effort, scoring the only three triples of the night in overtime to finish with 20 points, nine rebounds and two assists. Across four quarters, it was hard to look past young gun Giddey who racked up his third triple-double of the season, collecting 11 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists. Brandon Paul (19 points, six rebounds, two assists and two blocks), Humphries (11 points, eight rebounds and six blocks), Tony Crocker (12 points) and Keanu Pinder (11 points, four rebounds) were all double-digit scorers.

Sydney Kings had plenty of contributors too, led by Jarrell Martin (25 points, seven rebounds), with Casper Ware (17 points, nine assists and four rebounds) leading the transitional offence. Also hitting big numbers were Hunter (13 points, eight rebounds, four blocks and two assists), Shaun Bruce (12 points, five assists and three rebounds), and Vodanovich off the bench (13 points, five rebounds).

The 36ers take on Illawarra Hawks tomorrow night on the road in a quick turnaround, whilst the Kings travel up to Brisbane to face the Bullets at Nissan Arena on Thursday.

Picture credit: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

2021 NBL Round 17 preview: Illawarra only side not to take the court this round

IN a shorter round of National Basketball League (NBL) action than we are used to seeing, only four games will take place in Round 17. Each team bar the Illawarra Hawks will take the court once as sides prepare for the tail-end of the season as finals approach.

South East Melbourne Phoenix vs. Melbourne United
Saturday, May 8 @5:30pm

Another day, another Melbourne derby with Melbourne United the in-form side. Despite losing their first game in 12 outings, United still boast the upper hand especially with Jock Landale back out on court. United still hold top spot on the ladder and will be eager to create even further separation with a win over the Phoenix on Saturday afternoon, but the Phoenix are just inside the top four and will need a win to keep the Hawks at bay making for an enthralling battle.

There is no denying that both sides boast a plethora of talent that are all able to score with great freedom when afforded both time and space. Veteran and captain Chris Goulding is the real barometer for United putting up numbers of 15.86 points, 2.52 rebounds and 2.24 assists to lead his side. Landale is hot on his heels and will be keen to get back to his damaging best while Scotty Hopson is another one to keep an eye on thanks to his 11.84 points and 3.84 rebounds. Mitch McCarron and Jo Lual-Acuil have also hit their straps as of late for Melbourne with the latter an imposing force off the boards thanks to his 6.15 rebounds a game. The Phoenix will be hoping that Mitch Creek can run amuck given he averages 19.64 points and 6.88 rebounds a game while Keifer Sykes is just as explosive. Kyle Adnam has had a season to remember while Cameron Gliddon is also reliable. With Ryan Broekhoff also at their disposal the Phoenix have a well-rounded team but will need to be on their A-game if they are to trouble United who will be out for revenge.

Cairns Taipans vs. Brisbane Bullets
Saturday, May 8 @8:00pm

Stuck to the bottom of the ladder with just seven wins to their name, the Cairns Taipans will have an uphill battle against the Brisbane Bullets. The Bullets are fighting to keep their slim finals chance alive and will need to put out a full four quarter performance if they are to remain within touching distance of the top of the table.

Still adapting to life without key cog Cameron Oliver, the Taipans will be hoping that their other lynchpin Scott Machado can deliver the goods. Averaging 16.04 points, 3.5 rebounds and 7.12 assists, Machado is the main man in focus but will need support from the likes of Majok Deng and Kouat Noi if they are to worry the Bullets. Jordan Ngatai had a strong showing last round and will be eager to replicate those highs in this performance. The Bullets have a number of stars at their disposal with the ever-reliable Nathan Sobey leading the charge with his 22.32 point average and has also proven to be handy on the rebounding front with 4.52 a game. Since crossing over from New Zealand Lamar Patterson has been a game changer notching up 12.83 points while Matthew Hodgson is able to consistently chime in with 10.71 points and 6.76 rebounds. Jason Cadee’s contribution cannot be underestimated along with Harry Froling as the pair are able to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Sydney Kings vs. Adelaide 36ers
Sunday, May 9 @3:0pm

The Kings are plodding along nicely after a sluggish start to the season, and sitting on level pegging with the Phoenix on 14 wins apiece, Sydney will be chomping at the bit to secure another victory and ensure they do not drop down the race. On the other hand, Adelaide are rekindling their hot start to the season with their key playmakers returning to the fold and looking to fight their way back into finals contention.

Adelaide are chock-full with talent as Daniel Johnson leads the contingent with an average of 20.64 points and 7.18 rebounds a game. He is the driving force of the side while Brandon Paul has well and truly stepped up to the plate with 14.67 points and 4.08 rebounds. Returning from injury, Isaac Humphries is still finding his groove but has the skillset to blow opposition teams out of the water while Josh Giddey is in hot form notching up two triple-doubles in his past three outings. Keep an eye out for Tony Crocker and Sunday Dech who are both capable candidates of causing scoreboard pain. For the Kings all eyes will turn to Casper Ware to lead the troops with the playmaker able to change the course of a game in an instant thanks to his basketball nous and scoring prowess as shown through his 19.41 point average and 4.22 assists. Jarrell Martin has been a revelation and will be hoping to keep his strong form going but will need support from Jordan Hunter and Brad Newley to mount scoreboard pressure.

Perth Wildcats vs. New Zealand Breakers
Sunday, May 9 @5:00pm

The final game of the round sees two teams at opposite ends of the ladder, Perth in second and the Breakers second last. But ladder position means nothing with both sides more than capable of putting up strong showings. However the Wildcats will be riding a wave of success having just knocked off top of the table United and eager to close the gap between them and first place with a win here.

Scoring has been hard to come by for the Breakers however Tai Webster has been a steady stream thanks to his 18.68 points a game and craft with ball in hand to average 5.89 dimes. Finn Delany is the other game changer for New Zealand thanks to his 6.5 rebounds and 15.23 points while Corey Webster is no easy beat producing 15.11 points a game. since joining the fray William McDowell-White has been reliable as has Levi Randolph and the two will be eager to keep that momentum going. Tom Abercrombie is the other focal point for New Zealand with the seasoned campaigner registering 10.5 points and 3.46 rebounds in each outing. Although the Breakers have a number of avenues in attack the Wildcats have just as many and possess the leading points scorer in Bryce Cotton. Boasting 23.77 points, 5.85 assists and 1.5 steals a game Cotton is a real game changer alongside partner in crime John Mooney who averages a double-double of 12 rebounds and 17.77 points. Todd Blanchfield and Jesse Wagstaff both boast consistency while Mitch Norton is another one able to chime in with a handy 7.5 point average to his name.

Adelaide keep slim finals chances alive with win over Bullets

ADELAIDE 36ers left their mark on the Brisbane Bullets notching up a 22-point win 101-79, in a game that was filled with milestones. The win enabled the 36ers’slim finals hopes to remain intact as the end of the season edges closer, taking their win-loss ratio to 11-16.

It was an even first term of play with both the Adelaide 36ers and Brisbane Bullets feeling each other out and trying to get a read of the tempo. Lamar Patterson got involved in the action early for the Brisbane side, while Daniel Johnson proved he was there to play in his 350th game. There was no easy passage of play as both sides competed hard but simply could not create any separation with a mere point the difference at quarter time.

Heading into the second, a switch flicked for the 36ers and they started to run hot. Their ability to find the basket became more obvious while the Bullets simply could not keep up. Adelaide piled on 33 points to 24 in the term to take a commanding lead inspired by the likes of emerging talent Josh Giddey who had a night to remember. Sunday Dech started to find his rhythm in the second term pipping up with a couple of handy jump shots while Isaac Humphries continued to work his way back into his damaging form after returning from injury.

The milestone man in Adelaide’s Johnson made his presence felt in the second half, posting up an impressive 20 points to all but seal the deal for his side. But it was far from a one man show with teammate Keanu Pinder also thriving off Johnson’s energy and getting busy himself. Pinder helped to break the game open in the second half with an incredibly strong showing as he finished with 19 points for the match.

Accuracy proved to be an issue for the Bullets who could not replicate the highs of only days earlier with their commanding win over the Phoenix. They converted at a lowly 39 per cent from the field and 20 per cent from beyond the arc with the side struggling to capitalise on their chances to stay in the game. it was a disappointing third term for the Bullets who only managed to add 12 points to their tally while their opponents piled on another 20 to take their lead to 16 at three quarter time.

With it all to play for in the final term the 36ers banded together to keep the pressure on with a trio of players in Johnson, Giddey and surprise packet Pinder all asserting themselves. Adelaide had full control of the game from the opening minutes and did not look like relenting that pressure despite the best efforts of Nathan Sobey as the home side picked up their third win in as many games.

When looking at top performers it is hard to go past the services of Johnson who starred in his milestone game to lead all-comers with his 26 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Pinder found his groove with 19 points, seven rebounds and two assists while Giddey took the competition by storm once more with his consecutive triple double. The rookie played with great poise and smarts to notch up 15 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists to lead his side to victory. Dech played a strong support role thanks to his 13 points at 71 per cent from the field as both Humphries and Brandon Paul combined for 24 points between them in the win.

For the Bullets it is no surprise that Sobey led the charge draining 20 points, though he could have had more had he been more accurate from the field. Sobey also managed six rebounds and eight assists in the loss. Teammate Matthew Hodgson was up to his usual tricks nailing 19 points at 69 per cent from the field while also amassing nine rebounds. Harry Froling was the next best with nine points and eight rebounds as Anthony Drmic also plied his trade with nine points and three rebounds.

Photo credit: Kelly Barnes

United keep the good times rolling with ninth straight win

MELBOURNE United kept their winning streak going, notching up their ninth straight victory after defeating the Adelaide 36ers in style last night (92-78). It was a comprehensive performance by the ladder leaders who got the jump on their opponents early but really dazzled in the final term to pile on the scoreboard pain.

The Adelaide 36ers welcomed back the services of injured star Isaac Humphries who had been out of action for two months. However it took a while for Humphries to get back into the groove of things. He was not the only one welcomed back after injury with Tony Crocker also finding his way back into the side.

The first term was dictated by United as their offensive nous came to the fore, able to consistently open up the 36ers’ defence and pile on the pressure. Chris Goulding was proving to be crafty with ball in hand providing opportunities for Mason Peatling to attack the basket and give their side the competitive edge heading into the break. The 36ers however did not lie down, showcasing their strength on the rebound while Brandon Paul flexed his muscles delivering eight points in the opening term alone. In saying that, United still held a handy six point buffer at the first break despite the efforts of Adelaide.

There was a change in intensity in the second term, as the 36ers knuckled down and got busy. Adelaide came out with a point to prove steadily eating into the margin, posting 25 points to 20 in the term inspired once again by the services of Paul. Jock Landale looked to keep United in front with teammate Jo Lual-Acuil also displaying his class out on court with some big defensive plays. At half time only one point separated the two sides, testament to the increased pressure from Adelaide.

Scoring somewhat dried up in the third with both sides remaining in the teens when it came to points scored. Melbourne recaptured some of their earlier dominance, nullifying the speed and transition of Adelaide to create some much needed scoreboard separation. The star power of Landale and Paul was on full display throughout the third as the pair impressed for their respective sides with their shooting prowess.

It all came down to the final term and that is where Melbourne United pulled out the big guns. Their level of depth and all-round confidence was paramount as they out worked and outmuscled Adelaide to edge ahead bit by bit. The introduction of David Barlow proved to be the exact spark the side needed as the 37-year-old showed that age is just a number worrying the scoreboard knocking back consecutive threes and an impressive dunk to wow fans. He exploded out of the blocks as his energy filtered through to his teammates with Mitch McCarron also coming up big as the scoreboard ticked down. Melbourne had complete and utter control of the final term once again proving why they sit atop of the ladder with their ability to grind out games and win in tricky situations.

It was a night to remember for McCarron who collected a season high 21 points. But it did not stop there as he also reeled in two rebounds, five assists and five steals in a comprehensive performance by the guard. in fact the points were well shared amongst a number of players with four others reaching double digits. The next best was Landale who produced 19 points in his 30 minutes on court while also amassing 10 rebounds. Both Goulding and Lual-Acuil managed 13 points apiece with the latte feasting off the boards thanks to his 10 rebounds. Peatling was the other to reach double-digits with 11 points to his name but also got busy in offence with five rebounds.

Paul was the leading points scorer for the 36ers, sinking 20 for the game at 53 per cent from the field. In his 300th game, Daniel Johnson had another strong outing draining 16 points while also providing a helping hand off the boards with nine rebounds. Youngster Josh Giddey continued to ply his trade thanks to his 14 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists just falling short of a triple double while Sunday Dech made his presence felt thanks to his 12 points. In his return from injury, Humphries slotted two points and managed five rebounds as Crocker also produced five points.