Tag: Todd Blanchfield

2019/20 NBL weekend preview: Round 10 – Blockbusters galore in huge round of action

FIVE teams play twice in a huge round 10 of the National Basketball League (NBL). We take a look at the seven games across this weekend.

CAIRNS TAIPANS vs. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Friday December 6, 7.30pm
Cairns Convention Centre

The round again opens in Cairns with the Taipans and Breakers both looking to make it two on the trot. The Taipans hosted Melbourne last Friday night and made it two wins in a row against the current third-placed side in the league. Cameron Oliver, Majok Deng and D.J. Newbill led the scoring for the Taipans, with the last win pushing them into sixth place on the ladder – just one win outside the top four. For the Breakers, they registered their third win of the season and lifted themselves off the bottom of the table with a strong 12-point victory over Illawarra. A dominant first quarter set up the triumph, as Sek Henry and Finn Delany led the scorers. Both sides will be eager for success, as they both return for back-up matches later in the round so they will be wanting to start their double-headers off on a good note.

PERTH WILDCATS vs. SYDNEY KINGS
Friday December 6, 9.30pm
RAC Arena

The Wildcats and Kings lock horns in a mouth-watering top-of-the-table Friday night matchup. Both sides have two games this round so the importance of a win in their first game of the round is crucial, especially since the two sides are the current leaders of the league. Perth will be wanting to bounce back on their home floor after they suffered just their fifth loss of the season last round to the 36ers. Bryce Cotton was one of only three players to hit double figures in scoring for the Wildcats, something that will have to change drastically if they are to stand any chance at overcoming the table-topping Kings. Sydney on the other hand continued on their winning ways, notching up win number 11 against Melbourne by 10-points. Casper Ware and Jae-Sean Tate continue to have standout seasons as both were instrumental in the big win.

MELBOURNE UNITED vs. ADELAIDE 36ers
Saturday, December 7, 5.30pm
Melbourne Arena

Melbourne United will be looking to bounce back and start another winning streak when they host Adelaide on Saturday afternoon. United’s winning run came to an end when they lost to the Kings in Sydney last round by 10 points. Not even a 32-point haul from Melo Trimble was enough to pull United over the line, as the Kings exacted their revenge. Chris Goulding and Shawn Long were both kept relatively quiet as well, so both will be looking to bounce back stronger against Adelaide. For the 36ers, they achieved one of the toughest tasks in the NBL – a road win against the Wildcats. Daniel Johnson made up for not being in during crunch time the previous week against the Bullets by scoring 29 points, whilst Jerome Randle continued his impressive season with 20 points. Still, that win was not enough to propel them into the top four, so they’ll be seeking a win this weekend to finally breakthrough into the finals places.

BRISBANE BULLETS vs. ILLAWARRA HAWKS
Saturday, December 7, 8pm
Queensland State Netball Centre

The Bullets will be looking to bounce back and keep in touch with the top four when they host the last-placed Hawks on Saturday night. The Bullets have now lost two matches on the trot after they fell to South East Melbourne for the second time this season. Jason Cadee, Lamar Patterson and Nathan Sobey led the way for the Bullets, but it was not enough as the Bullets lost on their home floor. For the Hawks, a second successive triple-double form LaMelo Ball was not enough to propel them over the line as they fell to New Zealand. The Hawks are now on the bottom of the NBL ladder and will be without Ball for this weekend who is out with a foot concern. The likes of Todd Blanchfield and Andrew Ogilvy will need to step up from disappointing outings against the Breakers if the Hawks hope to overcome Brisbane.

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX vs. PERTH WILDCATS
Sunday, December 8, 3pm
Melbourne Arena

South East Melbourne return home after they bounced back to end their three-game losing streak last weekend against the Bullets. The Phoenix had been close in their three-match losing run, but they finally broke through with a hard-fought 15-point win over the Bullets. Ben Madgen led the way with 23-points, with Mitch Creek and John Roberson also putting up big numbers. For the Wildcats on the other hand, this match will be their second of the round after they host the ladder-leading Kings on Friday night. It is a tough weekend for the Wildcats who take on two of the top-four teams in the competition, and they’ll be hopeful for strong performances from Cotton and Nick Kay to ensure they maximise their results this weekend.

SYDNEY KINGS vs. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Sunday, December 8, 5pm
Qudos Bank Arena

The Kings and Taipans will lock horns to play their second matchup of the weekend on Sunday afternoon in the Harbour City. Sydney travel to take on the Wildcats on Friday night in one of the toughest tasks in the league, but regardless of the result, they still face a tough matchup in taking on the Taipans. Casper Ware and Jae-Sean Tate will need to be on song in both matches if the Kings are to keep up their current winning streak which sits at five wins. For the Taipans, after they knocked off United for the second time this season, they host the Breakers on Friday night and will definitely see both games as winnable as they continue to hunt for a place in the top four.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS vs. BRISBANE BULLETS
Monday, December 9, 3.30pm
Qudos Bank Arena

New Zealand and Brisbane round out a massive round 10 when they go to battle on Monday afternoon. The game will mark both side’s second games of the round, and both will eager for wins as they both sit outside the top four. The Breakers face a tough task on Friday night against the Taipans, but they will have Glen Rice Jr return to the fold which will be a huge boost in both matches as they look to add to their three-win tally. For the Bullets, they will have two chances to bounce back after their disappointing home loss to the Phoenix last round. After their clash with the Hawks on Saturday afternoon, they will be hoping they can get two wins against the two bottom of the table teams in the competition this round.

2019/20 NBL weekend preview: Round 8 – Red hot United look to extend streak

MELBOURNE United will be looking to extend their current winning streak to six games as they go in as the in-form team in round eight. We take a look at the six games across this weekend.

BRISBANE BULLETS vs. ADELAIDE 36ers
Friday November 22, 7.30pm
Queensland State Netball Centre

The round opens with Brisbane hosting the 36ers as both sides look to force their way into the top four. This game marks the first of two games this round for both sides, with the Bullets also travelling to take on Melbourne United in Melbourne on Sunday, but in both games they’ll be hoping for wins after suffering a tough loss to their state rivals Cairns last round. Lamar Patterson was held to a quiet 17 points, while Nathan Sobey led the way with 20 points. Both will be looking to have stronger showings tonight, particularly Patterson who has been having a season to remember so far. The 36ers on the other hand are coming off a huge road win over South East Melbourne. Jerome Randle and Anthony Drmic dominated in the win, with Randle looking more and more comfortable with Adelaide every week.

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX vs. SYDNEY KINGS
Saturday, November 23, 5.30pm
Melbourne Arena

The Phoenix will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak when they host the table-topping Kings on Saturday afternoon. South East Melbourne fell to Melbourne United last Saturday, before hosting the 36ers on Monday night which saw them lose consecutive games for the first time in their history. John Robertson bounced back from a quiet outing against United to post 21 points on Monday night, whilst Mitch Creek led the way on both nights as he is beginning to regain his feet in the NBL. Sydney on the other hand is sitting pretty atop the NBL ladder and continued their winning ways with a hard-fought five-point win over Illawarra last round. Casper Ware and Jae-Sean Tate continue to have strong performances for the Kings, and will look to continue their strong starts to the season.

CAIRNS TAIPANS vs. PERTH WILDCATS
Saturday, November 23, 7.30pm
Cairns Convention Centre

Cairns host the Wildcats on Saturday night where they’ll be hoping to make it two wins in a row against Perth. The Taipans have just the three wins to their name so far in NBL 19/20, which they added to in round 7 with a 9-point win over the Bullets. Their starting five all reached double figures in scoring, with even Majok Deng coming off the bench chiming in with 13 points. Cameron Oliver was quieter than usual, so he will be looking to have stronger outing on Saturday night. For the Wildcats, they are sitting pretty in second place on the ladder, with their eighth win of the season coming against the Breakers last weekend. Bryce Cotton will be looking to back up a dominant 34-point outing this weekend as he continues his stellar season.

MELBOURNE UNITED vs. BRISBANE BULLETS
Sunday, November 24, 3pm
Melbourne Arena

United will be looking to add to their five-game winning streak when they host the Bullets on Sunday afternoon. After a disappointing start to the season, Melbourne is now third on the NBL ladder and is the in-form team of the competition. Last weekend they held on to a one-point win over cross-town rivals South East Melbourne, with Melo Trimble and Chris Goulding again having strong outings. Shea Ili was also a force off the bench, and will be hoping to continue his recent patch of good form. For the Bullets, this game is their second for the weekend, and if they stand any chance against the in-form United, Patterson and Sobey will need to lead the way.

ADELAIDE 36ers vs. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Sunday, November 24, 5pm
Adelaide Entertainment Centre

The 36ers play their second match of the weekend when they host the New Zealand Breakers at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre late Sunday afternoon. They will need to back up a Friday night trip to Brisbane when they host New Zealand, but they sit just one game outside fourth spot which is occupied by the Phoenix, the side they beat last weekend. Randle continues to have a strong start to the season, and the 36ers will be hoping for nothing less on Sunday against the Breakers. New Zealand haven’t had the greatest of seasons to date, and after seven rounds, they have just the two wins to their name. The Breakers suffered a 11-point loss to the Wildcats last weekend, but Corey Webster and Brandon Ashley were the shining lights. Meanwhile, RJ Hampton will be hoping to bounce back this weekend after a quiet four-point outing last round.

ILLAWARRA HAWKS vs. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Monday, November 25, 7:30pm
WIN Entertainment Centre

Illawarra hosts Cairns in the final match of round eight on Monday night and will be desperately looking to lift themselves off the bottom of the NBL ladder. Illawarra have had a lot of tough luck to start their NBL 19/20 campaign, headlined by a season-ending Achilles injury to star import Aaron Brooks who was topscoring for the Hawks. But since his departure, LaMelo Ball has taken his game to new heights, and as such his NBA draft stocks continue to rise. Ball had 16 points against the Kings last weekend, as Todd Blanchfield led the way with 22 points in what was a tough five-point loss to Sydney. For Cairns, this game will be their second for the round after they face off against the Wildcats at home on Saturday. They’ll be hoping for the opportunity to make it two wins in a row, but either way they will fancy themselves against the bottom-placed Hawks.

2019/20 NBL Team of the Week: Round 7

IT was another week of tight games and individual match winning performances making the selection for Draft Central’s National Basketball League (NBL) Round 7 Team of the Week challenging. South East Melbourne Phoenix and state rivals Melbourne United only had one nomination each. With two wins under their belt from the round, reigning premiers Perth Wildcats have the most representatives of any side in the league with three, while the Sydney Kings are hot on their heels with two.

Despite not mustering up a win this round, fan favourite and the ever skilful Mitch Creek earned a spot in the side credit to his dominant performance in both games across the round. Creek was pivotal in the clash against cross-town rivals United with 27 points, seven rebounds and three assists while also securing a double double (22 points, 11 rebounds) in the Phoenix’s loss to the Adelaide 36ers. The other starting forward is Kouat Noi who stood tall in his sides strong win with a double double courtesy of his 20 points and 10 rebounds. Nick Kay was instrumental in the first game of the round for the Perth Wildcats unstoppable up and down the court with 21 points, eight rebounds and four assists but fell off the points radar in the second match only amassing four but still played his rebounding role with eight pushing him to the bench. Todd Blanchfield was a shining light for the Illawarra Hawks despite not winning he plied his trade with a convincing performance against the top of the table Kings sinking a team high 22 points.

Jae’sean Tate was the talk of the town with a strong outing for the Sydney Kings posting a game-high 24 points, seven rebounds and three steals highlighting his ability to switch between offence and defence with ease. The forward secured his spot in the starting five thanks to his efforts edging out by Dario Hunt who found himself on the bench after a solid performance for the Perth Wildcats with a combined 29 points, 11 rebounds and three assists across the two games. Unlucky to not make the cut was Sydney Kings big man Andrew Bogut who once again controlled the airways with nine rebounds and five points along with Shawn Long who was down on his lofty standards.

It is hard to go past the likes of Melo Trimble who showcased his nerves of steel to sink the winner from the free throw line and grant United the win. That match winning point accompanied his 21 other points and five assists to earn him a spot in this rounds Team of the Week. It is hard to go past the efforts of Bryce Cotton who once again turned on the afterburners and showcased his supreme class with a whopping 34 points against New Zealand Breakers to accompany his 18 against Adelaide earlier in the round. Casper Ware impressed in the Kings win weaving his way around the court and finding the net with ease amassing 21 points along with seven rebounds while Adelaide 36ers guard Jerome Randle turned the clock back imposing himself on the court and pushing his side to victory in the second game with 27 points, three rebounds and four assists.

STARTING FIVE:
G: Melo Trimble (MU) – 22 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 41 FG%
G: Bryce Cotton (PW) – 26.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 40 FG%
C: Jae’sean Tate (SK) – 24 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 75 FG%
F: Mitch Creek (SEM) – 24.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.5 steals, 44 FG%
F: Kouat Noi (CT) – 20 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 steals, 64 FG%

BENCH:
G: Casper Ware (SK) – 21 points, 1 rebound, 6 assists, 1 steal, 26 FG%
G: Jerome Randle (AD) – 25.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 43 FG%
C: Dario Hunt (PW) – 14.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 62 FG%
F: Nick Kay (PW) – 12.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 47 FG%
F: Todd Blanchfield (IH) – 22 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 63 FG%

NBL Round 7 review: Largest NBL attendance record broken as top three bridge gap on rest

THE NBL’s Rivalry Round exhibited close results from Friday to Sunday with Melbourne United getting the one-point Throwdown victory over the Phoenix and with LaMelo Ball Illawarra was able to gather the largest attendance record at NBL game in history, travelling to Sydney for the first time against Andrew Bogut and his Kings. We also saw Cairns get the win over Brisbane, while Perth was able to come out victorious from both of their match-ups over the entertaining weekend.

Adelaide 36ers (95) defeated by Perth Wildcats (99)

Rivalry Round kicked off in South Australia where the 36ers came in looking to end a three-game losing streak. In what was a closely contested game throughout, with the point differential never getting to double digits through to the final buzzer. But with Perth’s field goal percentage finishing at 52% compared to Adelaide’s 45%, the Wildcats held their noses in front for the majority of the game and throughout the entire second half, ultimately obtaining their first win of the weekend taking the contest by four points. Despite Daniel Johnson’s double-double (23 points, 12 rebounds) and Jerome Randle’s big numbers on the scoreboard both notching up 23 points and Eric Griffin’s additional 18, five Wildcats finished with double digits. Led by Nicholas Kay who finished the night with 25 points, eight rebounds and five assists, which was further aided by centre Dario Hunt, who recorded 19 points and eight strong rebounds. The loss for the 36ers extends their losing run to four games placing them sixth on the ladder.

DC Medal- 3 N. Kay (PW), 2 D. Johnson (Ad), 1 D. Hunt (PW)

Melbourne United (96) defeated South-East Melbourne Phoenix (95)

The Melbourne Throwdown, the NBL’s newest rivalry, took centre-stage on Saturday and did not disappoint. It was the Phoenix who struck first at Melbourne Arena, as the new kids on the block held a lead as big as 12 points in the opening quarter, but due to two big three-pointers from Chris Goulding, including one on the buzzer, was able to cut the lead to five at the first break. Led by Mitch Creek’s 19 first-half points, the Phoenix possessed a six-point lead at the main break and a set the stage for a good finish. Melbourne United, who are well-known for their sporadic runs showcased this once again, as Mitch McCarron made a case for assist of the week, as his no-look behind the neck pass found its way to Shae Ili for the big-time three giving United a four-point lead. This was short lived however, as the Phoenix were able to take a commanding nine-point lead with five minutes remaining. Big plays by Shawn Long and McCarron sparked another run for United and the lone free-throw made by Melo Trimble was enough to get United over the line by a single point, emerging victorious in the third chapter of The Showdown and capping off their fifth consecutive win. Major contributors for United included Trimble (22 points and three assists) and Ili (16 pts and four assists), whereas Goulding was 3-6 from three-point range. For the Phoenix, Creek was again the high performer finishing with a massive 27 points, along with seven rebounds. In addition, Keith Benson came away with 20 points, eight rebounds and a season-high five blocks. United overtook the Phoenix to claim third spot in the standings dropping the Phoenix to fourth.

DC Medal- 3 M.Trimble (MU), 2 M.Creek (SEM), 1 K.Benson (SEM)

Cairns Taipans (94) defeated Brisbane Bullets (85)

The Taipans exploded out of the blocks to open up their clash against the Bullets leading 14-3 three minutes into the first period setting the tone for the remainder of the game. For all three of the opening quarters the Orange Army would continue to extend its lead over the Bullets leading by a whopping 20 points late in the third quarter. But luckily for Brisbane, their shining guard Nathan Sobey was able to spark a late run in the fourth quarter to make the end result more respectable, as the Bullets outscored the Taipans 28-18. Nevertheless, the damage had been done and the Taipans were able to grab their third win of the season, with the aid of their efficient big men Kouat Noi and Nathan Jawai, finishing with 20 and 14 points respectively. Noi would finish with 10 rebounds, adding a double-double to his season so far and center, Cameron Oliver, would go one rebound shy of his own double-double (13 points and nine rebs). The lone standout for the Bullets would be Sobey, as he would finish with 20 points, six rebounds and seven assists. The loss puts Brisbane at four wins and five losses on the season placing them in a tricky position to work their way up the ladder.

DC Medal- 3 K.Noi (CT), 2 C. Oliver (CT), 1 N.Sobey (BB)

Sydney Kings (92) defeated Illawarra Hawks (87)

With a great amount of participation surrounding the contest that took place at the Qudos Bank Arena prior to the game with the arrival of new rookie LaMelo Ball, tickets sold in abundance. In fact, it was confirmed that the total attendance for the match was the biggest number in history for an NBL match, with the final number of attendees being verified as 17,541. Good ball-movement and shooting would be key reasons why the Hawks would lead by four at quarter time, but the top-ranked Kings responded in-turn with a big second quarter led by MVP candidate Casper Ware. A pretty even second half would ensue with both teams trading blows back and forth, but with Jae’sean Tate taking the front-seat of Sydney’s strong shooting performance, capped off with Ware’s alley-oop dime to Bogut, the Kings would ride-out their home-court advantage to take the contest by five points. Ball did not fail to make his mark on the game finishing with 16 points and six assists supporting Todd Blanchfield’s 22. For the Kings, Tate’s 24 points and seven rebounds provided him with one his best performances this season so far. In addition, Ware’s 21 points and six assists only helped Sydney get their ninth win on the season placing them a game and a half ahead of the Perth Wildcats.

DC Medal- 3 J.Tate (SK), 2 C. Ware (SK), 1 T.Blanchfield (IH)

Perth Wildcats (88) defeated New Zealand Breakers (77)

Perth was hot on their heels after their win against Adelaide on Friday night and were looking at rounding out a successful round seven back in Western Australia. Both teams struggled to find their rhythm in the first quarter with neither team able to crack the 20 point mark. Despite this, the home crowd was able to rile up the Wildcats, particularly Bryce Cotton, who tallied 19 first-half points, helping Perth lead by 12 at the main break. Nevertheless, the Breakers found their stroke in the third quarter to half the deficit with a quarter to play, but the 36ers defence led by Damian Martin was strong enough to hold off the New Zealand charge and secure the double win over the Rivalry Round weekend. Cotton, who managed to put on a scoring showcase, finished with his second-highest points total this season with 34, as well as a return to form from Jessie Wagstaff, who finished with 14. Corey Webster managed to take away 23 points from WA for the Breakers, along with seven rebounds and four assists. But Rj Hampton was missing in action, only mustering four points in his side’s seventh loss on the year. The loss keeps New Zealand in eighth place and has Perth chasing the Sydney Kings at the top of the table.

DC Medal- 3 B.Cotton (PW), 2 C. Webster (NZ), 1 J. Wagstaff (PW)

South East Melbourne Phoenix (91) defeated by Adelaide 36ers (103)

The Adelaide 36ers came to play last night, taking it to the home side and ultimately prevailing in a hard fought contest snapping a four-game losing streak. The 36ers have been up and down to say the least this season, but pulled out all the stops against the highly rated South East Melbourne Phoenix who simply had no answers for their travelling opposition. Randle all but steered the 36ers to victory with an electric opening term downing 15 points and continued that vein of scoring to finish with 27 points for the game. He was ably assisted by forward Anthony Drmic who slotted an impressive 21 points and gobbled up eight rebounds falling two short of a double double. Griffin was another key contributor for Adelaide sinking 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists. However, Phoenix did not go down without a fight rallying in the last quarter to put pressure on the 36ers thanks to superstars Creek and John Roberson. Creek was classy across the court as per usual finishing with another double double with 22 points and 11 rebounds while Roberson had 21 points to his name. Ben Madgen recorded 14 points and Jaye Crockett nailed 13 points but overall the Phoenix seemed unable to find their usual rhythm and explosiveness. The loss sees them only just hang on to fourth spot while the win for Adelaide moves them to sixth just one win outside of the top four.

DC Medal- 3 J. Randle (AD), 2 A. Drmic (AD), 1 M. Creek (SEM)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

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

2019/20 NBL weekend preview: Round 7 – Throwdown III to light up Melbourne

WITH one game down and still plenty of action to come over the weekend, we preview Round 7 of the National Basketball League (NBL), with a wrap-up of these games and preview of the final game of the round on Monday.

MELBOURNE UNITED v. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Saturday, November 16, 5.30pm
Melbourne Arena

In just seven rounds, the third Throwdown will take place with the winner to emerge as the overall series leader given the teams are tied at 1-1 from the first two encounters. In Round 1, the Phoenix got up over their established rivals, before Melbourne United managed to level the head-to-heads with a great win earlier this month. There is plenty on the line for both sides, with Melbourne sitting third and South East Melbourne in fourth, but have two games in hand. United look a completely different side to the one that was 1-4 to open the season, having strung together four consecutive victories to move out of the bottom two and into the top four. They are the most in-form side in the competition, and a win here would give them a much needed breather on their cross-state rivals. The Phoenix on the other hand need a win in order to force their way back into the top three, and will be keen to seek revenge after suffering their first loss to United.

Looking at the statistics so far, Shawn Long has had an absolutely stunning season for his new side since crossing from the Breakers. Long has posted 21.9 points and 10.4 rebounds to be the dominant center of the competition alongside Andrew Bogut. Fellow recruit, Melo Trimble has also been building in recent weeks averaging 21.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. The steadying influence of Chris Goulding (21.0 points) and Mitch McCarron (11.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals) cannot be underestimated either. For the Phoenix, it is no surprise to see Mitch Creek up near the top when it comes to dominant points scorers. The former NBA player has averaged the 21.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.1 steals per game. John Roberson (20.1 points, 5.7 assists) and Ben Madgen (12.1 points, 5.9 rebounds) are a couple of others averaging double-figure points, while Dane Pineau has had an underrated season with 7.3 rebounds to accompany his 8.1 points and 1.6 blocks per game.

Melbourne United’s form is hard to look past, but the Phoenix are a quality side, so this will go down to the wire.

CAIRNS TAIPANS vs. BRISBANE BULLETS
Saturday, November 16, 8pm
Cairns Convention Centre

The Saturday night game might not have the expectations of its Saturday evening counterpart, but there is still plenty on the line for the Queensland sides as they battle it out in a ladder-defining clash. Brisbane is on the verge of a top four berth and is a 22-point differential behind fourth placed South East Melbourne Phoenix. If United get up and the Bullets can win this game, then they could well sneak into the top four. A big win (or big loss to United) could also see them overtake Melbourne instead, if they can manage it. For Cairns, they have struggled to start the season, sitting at 2-6 from eight games with the positive being that the ladder is still very even outside the consistent Kings, and a win would put them right back into contention. Both sides are coming off losses – the Taipans having lost the past two – so they will be keen to bounce back. Cairns is 1-2 at home, while the Bullets are 2-3 on the road, so heading up to Cairns might have some worries for them. These sides have already played once this season, with Brisbane getting the job done back in Round 2.

A man mountain who has been throwing his weight around this season is Cairns Taipans’ forward Cameron Oliver. The 203cm and 102kg forward has put up 17.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game to be the clear standout in a so far underwhelming season for the Far North Queensland side. He, along with Scott Machado (14.0 points, 7.5 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals), Majok Deng (13.5 points. 5.0 rebounds) and Kouat Noi (10.3 points, 6.4 rebounds) have held their own throughout the season thus far. The clash between Oliver and Brisbane star Lamar Patterson will be a fascinating one, with Patterson one of the standout performers this season across the court. He can match Oliver with his 196cm and 102kg frame, sinking 18.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.0 steals from his eight games. Speaking of man mountains, there is not many bigger than 211cm, 115kg center Matt Hodgson who will no doubt cause some problems for the opposition coaching box. He averages 11.3 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, while former 36ers guard, Nathan Sobey has had a solid introduction in the Sunshine State with 15.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists.

Cairns has shown promising signs at times this season, and at home will give it a real shake, but Brisbane’s big two in Patterson and Sobey might have the ultimate say on this contest.

SYDNEY KINGS v. ILLAWARRA HAWKS
Sunday, November 17, 3pm
Qudos Bank Arena

The two sides at opposite ends of the ladder are facing off in the first of two Sunday games. The Sydney Kings are on a hot streak this season, with only a narrow loss to Melbourne United ruining an otherwise perfect start to the season. The Kings are cruising atop the NBL ladder, winning eight of a possible nine games, including an unbeaten streak of four at home and won their past two after six in a row to open the season. They are a massive plus-88 in points differential clear of Perth Wildcats in second, so there is not much chance at slipping down the ladder. The Kings have been well drilled this season and should eye this game as a simple must-win. The Hawks have only just got over the line a couple of times, winning two of a possible nine games, both of which have come against second last placed Cairns. They are just one win from four on the road, which does not bode well against a massive opponent that has struggled to lose even when on the ropes. They have not played so far this season, with Illawarra upsetting the Kings way back in January – not once, but twice – including in Sydney.

There have been no shortage of performers for the Kings this season, with Casper Ware standing up in his new colours, averaging 20.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, working well with fellow American, Jae’Sean Tate who has used his height to advantage on his way to 14.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. NBA Next Generation Academy star, Didi Louzada has been building nicely of late and the Brazilian born big man has complemented the team nicely. Throw in the work of Bogut – who has averaged 8.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game, and it is easy to see why this team is on top of the ladder. They often run the court rather than look for too many assists, but are strong off the boards to deliver second chance points, and deny their opposition up the other end. All the talk this season was about teaming up American NBA and future NBA players Aaron Brooks and LaMelo Ball respectively. While Brooks’ season unfortunately ended early due to injury, he has still had an impact, averaging 17.9 points and 4.1 assists prior to that. It will now place more expectations on the shoulders of the incredibly talented, but lightly built Ball, who at 198cm and 82kg and the grace and agility of a small man, has been sensational at his best, with 14.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.0 steals. Unfortunately for Illawarra, there has not been enough consistency across the board in terms of individual efforts, with Todd Blanchfield and Andrew Ogilvy averaging the next most points with 9.7 and 8.8 respectively.

Sydney should win this one fairly comfortably, and it would take a massive Ball effort for Illawarra to cause an upset.

PERTH WILDCATS v. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Sunday, November 17, 5pm
RAC Arena

Perth will revel being back at home after Friday night’s game, hosting New Zealand Breakers in this contest. The Wildcats will head in as favourites given New Zealand’s inability to win on the road. The Breakers are yet to salute from three attempts, while Perth has won three of its four home games – a loss to Cairns at RAC Arena the only blemish. You do not have to go too far back to see these sides facing off, with Perth heading across to New Zealand in Round 5 and returning home with a five-point win in the bag. A victory would keep the sides chasing the Wildcats at bay, though a win for New Zealand is incredibly important in order to stay in touch with the top six.

The Wildcats will know what to expect from their ‘Big Two’ in Bryce Cotton (22.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.8 steals) and Terrico White (16.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists). Though it could be argued that Nick Kay is providing ample support as a forward, posting 13.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, teaming up well with Dario Hunt (9.6 points, 6.1 rebounds) with both big men standing at a hard to beat 206cm and 104kg. While the Wildcats have their fair share of American talent, the Breakers just keep finding them. With Scotty Hopson‘s injury threatening to derail their season the New Zealand side picked up Glen Rice Jr who in his two games has already had a big say, posting 22.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 steals, which while the Breakers lost both games, showed what he can offer on the court. Corey Webster has been sensational all season, averaging 19.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists for the Breakers, while RJ Hampton is another Next Gen Academy member with some big wraps, averaging 9.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, but more importantly 1.5 steals per match. British forward Brandon Ashley stands at 206cm and has played an underrated role, averaging 13. points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

Perth should get up in this one without too many worries, but it is never a sure thing in this competition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sydney Kings (104) defeated Perth Wildcats (85)

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

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

DC Medal Leaderboard:

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

NBL Round 5 review: Long turns it on for United as they end Kings’ undefeated reign

SHAWN Long and his Melbourne United teammates ended Sydney Kings’ reign as the only undefeated side in the competition, producing a thrilling 107-104 win in the final game of the National Basketball League (NBL) competition on Monday night. Long rocketed to the top of the Draft Central Medal with five votes from his two games, while in other results, Brisbane Bullets picked up a couple of wins, including a classic over Perth Wildcats. Sydney also survived a thrilling contest with an overtime win against Adelaide 36ers.

New Zealand Breakers (93) defeated Cairns Taipans (85)

New Zealand grabbed its second win of the season with an important victory over a determined Cairns’ side to leapfrog the Taipans and move into sixth spot on the table. The Breakers did the bulk of the damage early, piling on 22 points to 11, before managing to maintain the 11-point lead at the main break. Cairns dug deep to cut into the margin by six for a five-point deficit at the final break, but New Zealand took control once again to win the last term and run out eight-point victors. Corey Webster was the dominant scorer on the court for the winners, sinking 23 points, as well as eight assists, three rebounds and two steals, while RJ Hampson added 18 points of his own as well as three steals, two assists and two rebounds. Brandon Ashley was the other double-figure scorer, picking up a double-double on the night containing 14 points and 11 rebounds. For the Taipans, it was Cameron Oliver who was busy once again with 23 points, five rebounds and three blocks, while Scott Machado (11 points, 10 assists and three rebounds) continued his sensational season form. Majok Deng (18 points, seven rebounds), Kouat Noi (16 points, six rebounds) and DJ. Newbill (15 points, seven rebounds) were all strong off the boards, but could not keep control of the ball with the visiting side having 18 turnovers and only having two points off their bench compared to the Breakers’ 22.

DC Medal: 3 – Corey Webster (NZ), 2 – Brandon Ashley (NZ), 1 – Cameron Oliver (CT)

Brisbane Bullets (87) defeated Perth Wildcats (78)

Brisbane grabbed a top four place with an all-important nine-point win over a highly fancied Perth Wildcats outfit on Friday night. The Bullets lead by one point at the first change, but extended their lead at each change, winning every quarter and just doing that bit more to get home. In the end, the 87-78 result was testament to a great four quarter effort, even if there was not a complete domination in any one term. Lamar Patterson was again terrific, sinking 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Jason Cadee had a team-high 17 points, four rebounds and five assists. Taylor Braun (12 points, four rebounds and two assists) and EJ Singler (10 points, two rebounds and two assists) were also busy on the scoring end. For the Wildcats, it was no surprise to see the damaging duo of Terrico White (23 points, five rebounds and two assists) and Bryce Cotton (15 points, four rebounds and two assists) strong but not as dominant as they have been, while Chris Steindl contributed 11 points off the bench.

DC Medal: 3 – Lamar Patterson (BB), 2 – Jason Cadee (BB), 1 – Terrico White (PW)

South East Melbourne Phoenix (98) defeated by Melbourne United (110)

Melbourne United successfully achieve redemption in Throwdown II, defeating their cross-state rivals, South East Melbourne Phoenix by 12 points in a twilight Saturday evening game. In what was one of the individual performances on the year, Long tore the game apart early and delivered a massive 31 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and one block as United won three of the four quarters, including opening up a 13-point advantage at half-time. Long was far from alone on the scoring front though, with Chris Goulding adding 24 points, three rebounds and three assists, while Melo Trimble and Mitch McCarron both had 13 points and four rebounds apiece. For the Phoenix, Mitch Creek was the highest scorer with 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, while John Robertson (16 points, five rebounds and two assists) and Ben Madgen (16 points, four rebounds and two assists) were also consistent. The win meant Melbourne moved out of the bottom two, while the Phoenix slipped two games behind top spot to sit just one win clear in third spot.

DC Medal: 3 – Shawn Long (MU), 2 – Mitch Creek (SEM), 1 – Chris Goulding (MU)

Adelaide 36ers (96) defeated by Sydney Kings (98)

Ware there was a will, there was a way, and Casper found that way with a vital two-point floater in the last minute, helping ease the nerves of the visiting team for his Kings to remain undefeated in season 2019/20. It was a bitter blow to the 36ers, who looked home and hosed having built a mammoth final term comeback after trailing at the final change in a momentum-swinging contest. Remarkably, Sydney scored its lowest quarter score and highest quarter score in back-to-back quarters, and came from 12 points down to lead by nine at three quarter time. A huge effort by a previously quiet Daniel Johnson willed his side back into the contest, sinking 13 points in the final term, but it all came down to a Anthony Drmic lay-up which tragically hit the rim and back out in the last second of regulation for the Kings to breath a sigh of relief. Then in overtime, Johnson – who averaged 91 per cent from the free throw line coming into the game – had the chance to level the scores from the line but missed both, only for Ware to trick Ramone Moore up the other end and instead of shoot for the triple, sidestepped him and put up the successful floater. It turned the tide in overtime gave the Kings enough breathing space to sensibly hold on and get a two-point win. Andrew Bogut was mammoth in the first three quarters, having Johnson’s number with 18 points and 12 rebounds, while Jae’Sean Tate was best on court for his 16 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals. Ware who was virtually unsighted early came to play in overtime, finishing with 14 points, two rebounds and three assists. Brad Newley (15 points, eight rebounds and four assists) and Didi Louzada (17 points, five rebounds and three assists) were the other busy Kings. For the 36ers, Johnson stepped up in that final term to finish with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Jerome Randle (23 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals) and Moore (18 points, six rebounds) were also prominent in what was one of the games of the season.

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

New Zealand Breakers (79) defeated by Perth Wildcats (84)

While both these sides came into this game with differing results from a couple of days prior, it was the visiting side that came away from the win to bounce back from the loss to Brisbane. Perth had to come from six points down at the main break to have an outstanding third term, piling on 31 points to 21 to lead by four at the final break. In a tight final quarter tussle, it was the Wildcats who did enough to secure the win against the Breakers to win, 84-79. Dario Hunt sank 21 points and had 11 rebounds in a big double double effort, while White (18 points, seven rebounds and three assists) was also big with his partner-in-crime, Cotton missing from the side. Nick Kay had 13 points, four rebounds and three assists on the night, while young gun Kyle Bowen became the creator with seven assists – one third of his team’s total. For the Breakers, Ashley stood tall once again with 21 points, five rebounds and two steals, while Webster was the home team’s best with 21 points, six rebounds and six assists. Hampton was busy as per usual with nine points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals, but it was not enough to help his side get the win.

DC Medal: 3 – Corey Webster (NZ), 2 – Terrico White (PW), 1 – Dario Hunt (PW)

Illawarra Hawks (69) defeated by Brisbane Bullets (83)

Brisbane capped off a strong weekend with a second victory, this time over Illawarra Hawks thanks to a fast start. The Bullets fired from the first tip-off, scoring 27 points to 15 in the opening term, then piled on 26-17 in the second to lead 53-32 by half-time. While the Hawks hit back in the second half to win the final two quarters and bridge the gap, it was too little, too late for the home side. Nathan Sobey was prominent on the scoring end with 18 points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal for the Bullets, while Cadee (16 points, three rebounds and three assists) and Matt Hodgson (15 points, nine rebounds and one assist) were also big scorers. It was Patterson’s work on the defensive end and playmaking up the attacking end which stood out however, posting up 11 points, eight rebounds – all defensive – and seven assists in the big win. For the Hawks, LaMelo Ball was a lone hand in terms of scoring, putting up 19 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals, while Todd Blanchfield (10 points, three rebounds) was the other player to reach double figure points. The result meant Brisbane finished the round in third, while Illawarra remain rooted to the bottom of the able after eight games.

DC Medal: 3 – LaMelo Ball (IH), 2- Lamar Patterson (BB), 1 – Nathan Sobey (BB)

Melbourne United (107) defeated Sydney Kings (104)

The home crowd delight was evident in Melbourne United handing Sydney Kings’ their first defeat of the season as United continue their strong form of late, which included knocking over Southside Flyers earlier in the round. For the Kings, it was an unlucky three-point defeat, given the game had started promisingly to lead by four points at quarter time and seven at the main break. It was at this point that Sydney’s coach, Will Weaver was ejected from the game following two technical fouls after he provided some advice to the referees for some untoward behaviour towards Tate. It changed the course of the game somewhat as Melbourne’s stunning third term of 28-21 got United back on track and level with the Kings, then overran them in the final term by three points to win by that exact margin in one of the games of the season. Three United players reached 20 points on the night, with Trimble putting up 27 points, three rebounds and five assists, followed by Goulding (22 points) and Long (20 points, 14 rebounds and three assists), while McCarron (12 points, eight rebounds) and David Barlow (13 points, six rebounds) were also impressive on the court in a strong team effort. It was a bitter sweet homecoming for Ware, who was best on court with a massive 34 points against his old side, also amassing five rebounds and four assists in the defeat. Daniel Kickert (13 points, three rebounds) and Shaun Bruce (13 points, eight assists) and Craig Moller (nine points, seven rebounds) were others who stood tall despite not putting up as many points.

DC Medal: 3 – Casper Ware (SK), 2 – Shawn Long (MU), 1 – Melo Trimble (MU)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

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

NBL 2019/20 Weekend preview: Round 3 – Breakers return to Kings double

THE New Zealand Breakers will make their first appearance in NBL 2019/20 as Round 3 marks the first round all teams will be in action. We take a look at the seven games across the weekend.

SYDNEY KINGS vs. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Friday, October 18, 7.30pm
Qudos Bank Arena

The round opens with the Kings and Breakers going head-to-head in what will be the Breakers’ first NBL 2019/20 match of the season. The Breakers are coming off two games in the United States as part of the NBAxNBL pre-season program, and with the hype surrounding 2020 NBA prospect RJ Hampton, they will be hoping to make a statement against one of the championship favourites. Both the Breakers and Hampton struggled against the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder, but a fresh start against the juggernaut that is Sydney could set them on a path to the championship this season. Sydney meanwhile have lived up to expectations so far this season, accounting for both the Taipans and 36ers to open up their 2019/20 season account in ideal fashion. New recruit Casper Ware’s transition from United to the Kings has been the spark the Kings may have needed all along, while Andrew Bogut, Brad Newley and Kevin Lisch have all been outstanding and are a big reason as to why the Kings will go in as favourites to defend their home court tonight.

PERTH WILDCATS vs. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Friday, October 18, 9.30pm
RAC Arena

The Wildcats are one of the three undefeated sides left in the competition and will be favoured to extend that streak when they host the winless Taipans. Unfortunately for the Taipans, after the two rounds they seem to have come back where they left off from last season, which saw them win just six games. They faced the Bullets and Hawks last round, and despite getting smashed by their state rivals, they bounced back strongly against the Hawks and fell by just one point. D.J. Newbill and Majok Deng starred for their side in the loss to the Hawks, and they will need to repeat their strong performances if their side is any chance to knock off the Wildcats at RAC Arena. Bryce Cotton and Terrico White, along with Nick Kay have been standouts for Perth, and all will be looking to feast on the winless Taipans in the later game tonight.

ADELAIDE 36ers vs. BRISBANE BULLETS
Saturday, October 19, 5.30pm
Adelaide Entertainment Centre

The 36ers made their first appearance in NBL 2019/20 last week and will be looking to breakthrough for their first win when they face off against the Bullets. Adelaide fell convincingly to the Kings last weekend but Daniel Johnson and Jerome Randle proved their worth, with Randle marking his return to the 36ers with a strong outing. Both will need to be at their best against the Bullets, who lost their first game of the season against South East Melbourne last Sunday. Brisbane had beaten the Hawks and Taipans in the Bullets’ first two games, but fell to a three-point happy Phoenix who simply torched them to hand them their first loss. Lamar Patterson was the lone star for the Bullets after his 30-point haul against the unbeaten newcomers, and his season has been exceptional to date which he’ll be undoubtedly looking to extend against the 36ers on Saturday afternoon.

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX vs. ILLAWARA HAWKS
Saturday, October 19, 7.30pm
Melbourne Arena

South East Melbourne will welcome the Hawks for their second home game as the newest NBL side will be looking to extend their unbeaten start to their first season as a club. Thanks to John Roberson’s stellar 30-point outing, which included draining 9-11 from beyond the arc, the Phoenix made light work of the Bullets last weekend to make it two wins from their first two games. Mitch Creek has also been instrumental for the Phoenix, all in the absence of Tai Wesley who’s injury replacement was named early this week as Jeffrey Crockett. The Hawks on the other hand have had a mixed start to their season, losing their first two games before breaking through by a solitary point against the bottom-placed Taipans last Sunday. Todd Blanchfield, Aaron Brooks and AJ Ogilvy all put in big performances to ensure they wouldn’t go into this weekend still without a win, and if they are to upset the unbeaten Phoenix, they will all need to have big outings in Melbourne.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS vs. SYDNEY KINGS
Sunday, October 20, 3pm
Spark Arena

The Breakers and Kings will lock horns for the second time this weekend, with the Kings this time having to play away in Auckland at Spark Arena for what will be New Zealand’s first home game of the season. It will also be the Breakers’ second game of the season, and will be hoping the likes of Hampton, Tom Abercrombie and Corey Webster all have strong outings as they’ll be hoping to come away from this weekend with at least one win. For the Kings, they’ll be hoping for a win on their home court on Friday night and that this matchup will mark the opportunity for them to make it four wins from as many games to kick off their season in the perfect way.

MELBOURNE UNITED vs. PERTH WILDCATS
Sunday, October 20, 5pm
Melbourne Arena

United will be looking for their first win of NBL 2019/20 when they host their Wildcats on Sunday. Melbourne hosted their cross-town rivals South East Melbourne in the season opener in Round 1, but they fell by three points and had to face off against two NBA opponents in the NBAxNBL pre-season program last weekend. They lost to both the LA Clippers and Sacramento Kings, but Chris Goulding, Melo Trimble and Shawn Long all impressed across the two games and will be all hoping to build on that to get United’s NBL campaign back on track. For the Wildcats, it will be their second game of the round and if they are to do what is expected and account for the winless Taipans on Friday night, they’ll be hoping for a win against United to extend their unbeaten start to the season to four games.

ILLAWARA HAWKS vs. ADELAIDE 36ERS
Monday, October 21, 7:30pm
WIN Entertainment Centre

In the final game of the round, the Hawks and 36ers lock horns on Monday night in what will be both sides’ second game of the round. The Hawks will be looking for their second win of the season on Saturday night against South East Melbourne, while the 36ers will be looking for their first against the Bullets who they host on Saturday afternoon. Regardless of the results of their early Round 3 matchups, both will be eagerly hoping for a win when they clash on Monday night, as the result of this match presents a great opportunity for both to kickstart their seasons and chase a place in the top four.

NBL Round 2 review: Three sides remain undefeated

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

Brisbane Bullets (90) defeated Cairns Taipans (74)

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

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

Perth Wildcats (103) defeated Illawarra Hawks (76)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Illawarra Hawks (89) defeated Cairns Taipans (88)

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

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

DC Medal Leaderboard:

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

NBL 2019/20 Weekend preview: Round 1 – Inaugural Throwdown opens season

SEVEN of the National Basketball League (NBL) sides begin their campaign this weekend with Melbourne United having a double-up in Round 1, while Adelaide 36ers and New Zealand Breakers have an extra week of pre-season ahead of their start in Round 2. We take a look at the four games across the weekend with one game on each day to satisfy fans across the country.

MELBOURNE UNITED vs. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Thursday, October 3, 7.30pm
Melbourne Arena

The season opener is the inaugural ‘Throwdown’ between grand finalists, Melbourne United and new team on the block in South East Melbourne Phoenix. United is a proven talent that has lost some serious firepower, but also gained some at the same time which makes them very hard to tip against in the this contest. Melo Trimble made the massive move down south after a dominant season with Cairns, joining the likes of Chris Goulding, Mitch McCarron and the currently injured David Barlow. Shea Ili also crossed from the Breakers, with teammate Shawn Long also making the jump with the pair signing one-year deals. Sam McDaniel earned a full-time roster spot after a good season last year as a development player and continuing that form with the Southern Sabres in the NBL1.

South East Melbourne Phoenix have made it clear they are not in the competition to make up the numbers, with Sydney trio, Dane Pineau, Kyle Adnam and Deng Acuoth all joining the new franchise, with Brisbane’s Adam Gibson and arguably the top signing from the NBL contingent in New Zealand Breakers’ Tai Wesley. Seeing Wesley going head-to-head with Trimble will be great, but the most dangerous player is G-League and Boomers’ star Mitch Creek who tasted National Basketball Association (NBA) action last season and has come home to lead up the new franchise. As already mentioned, it is hard to tip against the established team in United, but with a few question marks over sore players, the Phoenix have more than enough talent to compensate and would love to open their NBL inaugural season with a win.

CAIRNS TAIPANS vs. SYDNEY KINGS
Friday, October 4, 7.30pm
Cairns Convention Centre

The Taipans finished last on the NBL table last season and will be keen to start the new season off on the right foot with an upset win over last year’s finalists, Sydney Kings. Playing in front of a home crowd, the Taipans will be without star Trimble who departed to join Melbourne, while Kuany Kuany will suit up for the opposition in this match. The Taipans managed to pinch Majok Deng from Adelaide, while mostly looking outside the country for new recruits with Los Angeles Lakers’ Scott Machado, G-League talent Cameron Oliver and Mirko Djeric from the European leagues coming into the side. They will need to be at their best and gel quickly if they are to make an impact early in the season, but will be able to rely on the likes of Jarrod Kenny, Nathan Jawai and DJ Newbill still running the court.

Sydney have made massive changes to its roster with just four players contracted that were on the list last season. NBL Most Valuable Player (MVP), Andrew Bogut will again be the centrepiece of the organisation, but this time he will have the talented Casper Ware who caused a stir crossing from rivals United to the Kings. Craig Moller joined him, while Shaun Bruce came from the 36ers with Kuany and Lucas Walker travelling south from Cairns. Brad Newley, Kevin Lisch and Daniel Kickert will look to create some stability in a side with the likes of young stars Brian Bowen (NBA) and Tom Wilson (AFL) both leaving the league completely. Despite the changes, Sydney head into this game as strong favourites, it will just be whether or not the Kings can gel with so many fresh faces in the door.

PERTH WILDCATS vs. MELBOURNE UNITED
Saturday, October 5, 5.30pm
RAC Arena

The match of the round is the Grand Final replay between reigning premiers Perth Wildcats, and unlucky runners-up United. The Wildcats are the most stable side of any team in the competition with eight players re-signed to the list, including crucial duo, Bryce Cotton and Terrico White. The pair will likely renew hostilities with Trimble and Ili who will rep the different colours in 2019/20. The ace in the pace is Dario Hunt who has joined the club from Italy, while Majok Majok transferred from New Zealand Breakers to the Wildcats over the off-season. With such an even team contribution leading to the premiership last season, the Wildcats should be no different in 2019/20 with so many ways to punish the opposition, led by the dominant Cotton.

United will head into this game with a match already in the books having taken on the Phoenix 46 hours prior. They will be keen to make the most of recovery, with the plane trip west likely to bring back some disappointing memories after going down to Perth in the deciding playoff series last year. They could start really strongly as the team that has had the first full game hitout in the round compared to the Wildcats who will undoubtedly celebrate last year’s success in front of the visiting side pre-game. But depending on how the Phoenix game goes, the Wildcats might have the fresher legs to finish the match which means it could be down to the wire. A win against their title nemesis would be crucial in the mental games for the season for Melbourne, while a win for the Wildcats will throw extra salt in the wounds for United. Trimble vs. Cotton is a much-watch battle to see which player can have the most impact for his club.

ILLAWARRA HAWKS vs. BRISBANE BULLETS
Sunday, October 6, 3pm
WIN Entertainment Centre

In the final game of the round, all eyes will be on LaMelo Ball as he makes his NBL debut against Brisbane Bullets at home in Illawarra. The potential 2020 NBA top draft pick will have plenty of exuberance in his first official game on Australian courts, teaming up with the likes of Josh Boone who was a massive recruit from United, while Aaron Brooks has returned after playing with Creek at the Timberwolves in the NBA. David Anderson, Todd Blanchfield, Tim Coenraad and Angus Glover all re-signed for the club that missed out on finals last season, while Sam Froling showed enough during the NBL1 to suggest he will be more than a handful for opposition clubs this season. Kevin White and Brian Conklin are among those who have departed the club, but largely as a whole, the Hawks have brought in far more talent than they have lost.

Brisbane announced a huge signing themselves over the off-season with Nathan Sobey signing on for three years from the 36ers. He will be the man to watch on the court, teaming up with Cam Gliddon and Jason Cadee as the key players within the Bullets’ arsenal. Like the Wildcats, they are a settled side with eight players re-signing from last season, as Adam Gibson and Jeremy Kendle were the key players to depart the club. This might be a tight contest given the relative unknown of the impact that the imports and recruits will have for the Hawks, with the Bullets having more of a known quantity. It got them to finals last season, and Sobey coming in will only strengthen the side. The Hawks should be marginally favourites due to the Triple B impact of Ball, Boone and Brooks, but the Bullets will not lie down in this contest.