Tag: tony crocker

Taipans stun 36ers with come-from-behind win

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adelaide 36ers

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

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

Brisbane Bullets

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

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

Illawarra Hawks

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

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

Melbourne United

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

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

New Zealand Breakers

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

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

Perth Wildcats

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

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

South East Melbourne Phoenix

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

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

Sydney Kings

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

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

2021 NBL Round 12 preview: Rescheduled games force quick changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NBL21 – Round 10 preview: Melbourne United search for first win in three games

ROUND 10 of the National Basketball League (NBL) commences on Friday night as Melbourne United search for their first win in three games and Perth look to steal top spot. The excitement does not stop there as New Zealand Breakers and Brisbane Bullets go head-to-head after the exit of Lamar Patterson.

Sydney Kings vs. Melbourne United
Friday, March 19 @ 7:30pm

Still clinging to top spot, United will be hoping to get back on the winners list after a disappointing couple of outings. Currently on a three game losing streak Melbourne are in desperate need of a win if they are to retain the mantle and create ladder separation between them and Perth, with the Wildcats quickly closing in. First they will have to overcome Sydney who have a checkered history heading into the clash, winning two of their past five games. Both sides have a lot to play for as the Kings look to make a challenge for top four and United look to solidify their standings.

Melbourne United will be looking to ever-reliable Chris Goulding to lead from the front with the captain able to hit the scoreboard with relative ease and rack up the assists. His average of 17.5 points a game alongside the output of Jock Landale (16.8 points) will be an area the Kings look to stop. Landale is also a force to behold off the boards with 7.93 as teammates Mitch McCarron and Yudai Baba have also effectively chimed in throughout the season and will once again need to have an influence to get their side over the line.

For the Kings it is hard to go past livewire Casper Ware who is a steady stream of points averaging 20.47 per game along with 3.53 rebounds and 4.27 assists. Although Ware is the main facilitator he gets a wealth of support from the likes of Dejan Vasilijevic (17.87 points, 3.47 rebounds and 1.87 assists) and Jarell Martin (17.44 points, 6.33 rebounds and 1.11 assists). The trio will need to be at their damaging best if they are to upset United.

Perth Wildcats vs. Cairns Taipans
Friday, March 19 @ 9:30pm

The Wildcats have enjoyed a recent run of hot form and up against the last placed Cairns Taipans could extend their winning streak to four games straight. Hot on the heels of Melbourne, a win here could see the reigning premiers overtake United and steal top spot if everything falls into place. Perth are playing with a renewed sense of confidence and belief while the Taipans are struggling to build any form of offensive pressure an area the Wildcats will be looking to exploit in their clash.

Led by Bryce Cotton, the Wildcats will look to attack the rim and post a commanding score with the guard averaging a competition high of a 25.23 points. It does not stop there for Cotton with the star accumulating 2.92 rebounds and 6.38 assists a game. John Mooney has had a season to remember boasting averages of 17.54 points, 11.77 rebounds and a steal while captain Todd Blanchfield is a reliable avenue for the side. others to keep an eye out for throughout the clash include Jesse Wagstaff and Mitchell Norton.

The damaging duo of Cameron Oliver and Scott Machado will be the ones the Wildcats will need to stop if they are to topple Cairns. The pair are able to inflict scoreboard pain averaging 17 and 17.88 points respectively while Oliver is strong off the boards with 9.19 rebounds and Machado a menace with ball in hand registering 8.13 assists. Majok Deng and Kouat Noi are also not to be underestimated for the Taipans.

South East Melbourne Phoenix vs. Adelaide 36ers
Saturday, March 20 @ 5:30pm

The battle between South East Melbourne Phoenix and Adelaide 36ers is set to be a tantalising one as they look to keep their respective seasons alive. The Phoenix are currently secure in fourth spot having won three consecutive games while the 36ers have dropped down the ladder since the absence of Isaac Humphries. However the Phoenix are not without injury concerns of their own as a number of key cogs will be missing, meaning Adelaide could be in with a shot to overrun their opponents and kickstart the back-half of their season.

Captain Mitch Creek will not take the court this round meaning South East Melbourne will have to look to others to pave the way in this challenge – cue NBA recruit Ryan Broekhoff who despite only playing limited minutes in his first outing is more than capable of taking the reins and leading the charge. Kyle Adnam has made a name for himself throughout the 2021 season and will need to step up to the plate in this contest averaging 14.5 points, two rebounds and four assists. The influence of Cam Gliddon and Yannik Wetzell will be crucial for the Phoenix to get the win.

Daniel Johnson has been a reliable figure for Adelaide managing 20.35 points, 6.94 rebounds and 3.06 assists a game. Rookie, Josh Giddey has been a revelation, yet to skip a beat and will be a likely candidate to impress given his 10.69 point average which accompanies his 6.44 rebounds and team-high 6.56 assists. Tony Crocker is another one to watch out for thanks to his 10.76 points a game.

Brisbane Bullets vs. New Zealand Breakers
Saturday, March 20 @ 8:00pm

There will be no love lost between these two sides with personnel changes aplenty as Lamar Patterson departed the club and subsequently joined the old firm, Brisbane Bullets for the remainder of the season. That aside, and it has been a challenging season for the Breakers given they only have four wins to their name while Brisbane have doubled their record with eight. Teetering on a top four position the Bullets will be eager to put a stop to the fast starting New Zealand side and claim some early ascendancy to mount a chance to pressure the top four.

The combination of Nathan Sobey and Victor Law will be the one the Breakers will be concerned about with the pair able to shoot with ease and cause all sorts of scoreboard trouble. Sobey leads the team for points scored with 24.33 to his name alongside 3.47 rebounds and 4.33 assists while Law is also prolific thanks to his 19.6 points and 8.27 rebounds. Matthew Hodgson has been a key contributor throughout the season as has Anthony Drmic and Jason Cadee all of which will be aiming to get on the scoreboard again.

Unfortunately Corey Webster will be missing for the Breakers leaving a big hole to fill for the New Zealand outfit with brother Tai Webster likely to further shoulder the load. Tai Webster tops the side for points with 20.08 to his name while also collecting 5.31 rebounds and 5.62 assists. Finn Delany is another focal point for the Breakers producing 13.62 points and 6.32 rebounds.

Other games:

Melbourne United vs. Illawarra Hawks
Sunday, March 21 @ 3:00pm

Sydney Kings vs. Cairns Taipans
Sunday, March 21 @ 5:00pm

Perth Wildcats vs. Adelaide 36ers
Monday, March 22 @ 9:30pm

The Hawks will play their first and only game against Melbourne United in what is set to be a scintillating matchup given the standings of the two sides. An extended break could do Illawarra a wealth of good while United will have to back up having played Friday night. The Hawks will look to Tyler Harvey and Justinian Jessup to lead the charge once again with the star duo proving too hot to handle averaging 20.6 and 14.53 points respectively a game. other contributors such as Cameron Bairstow and Sam Froling will have to bring their a-game if they are to overcome the higher ranked United.

Perth could knock Melbourne off their perch if they register two wins and United do not while the Kings will be eager to assert themselves on the lowly Taipans.

Sixers on the verge of lost season without injured Isaac

IT has been just under two weeks since former NBA player and 23-year-old superstar Isaac Humphries sustained an injury to his left foot back in NBL21 Round 7 against the New Zealand Breakers. But to-date, the Adelaide 36ers have had mixed results since the forced departure of their talented bigman.

Because of these results – which include two losses and a win – many have been left to wonder as to how much damage could potentially be done to Adelaide’s win-loss record and position on the standings, ahead of Humphries’ much-anticipated return to the line-up in a few weeks.

It is obvious that the 36ers’ frontcourt presence will be hindered for the duration of Humphries’ injury, but people sometimes forget just how effective the former Atlanta Hawk really is. Averaging over 15 points per game and a field goal percentage of 60, Humphries ranks amongst the top 20 in the NBL when it comes to scoring and second within the 36ers, trailing behind only Daniel Johnson, who is averaging a mammoth quantity of 20.2 points per contest.

Humphries has kept himself busy on the boards with an exceptional average of eight rebounds – the fourth highest in the league – which has often resulted in the frequent combination of the two statistics as the former Kentucky Wildcat has totalled four double-doubles to this point in the season. Further adding to his defensive output, Humphries also leads the competition in blocks per game, and is the only player averaging three blocks or more across the nine teams in the competition.

After reading his litany of accolades, one can objectively state that not only has Humphries been a valuable asset to Adelaide 36ers Head Coach Conner Henry so far in his returning season since playing for the Kings back in 2017/18, but a consistent one as well. That being said, that value now presents the major problem of filling the void that Humphries has left behind.

In the three games that the 36ers have competed in since the injury, there have been a number of individuals that have attempted to pick up what Humphries had left behind in terms of output, not including the horrendous performance given against the Breakers in Round 7.

Despite losing to the Illawarra Hawks in the first of their two Round 8 clashes, 89-98, there were numerous individual that filled up the box score at the conclusion of 40 minutes. Most noticeably, it was not a forward or center that came into the limelight, but rather import Tony Crocker, who has had a rather dry run of scoring in recent outings. Nevertheless, the American came away with 23 points, while Josh Giddey continued his good run of form with 14 points, nine assists and six rebounds.

In the loss to the Hawks, it was evident that without his running mate, Johnson struggled to finish off his opponents as per usual. While the starting center scored 17 points, Humphries’ replacement Keanu Pinder had a rather absent performance, which ultimately compounded Adelaide’s failures on the night.

The Sixers bounced back two days later to knock over the Cairns Taipans to conclude Round 8, but it required the sizeable 30-point and nine-rebound from Johnson on the night. Surprisingly though, in their win over the Queensland side it marked the second consecutive game where Jack McVeigh showed out for his team with the 24-year-old securing 14 points on the night, off the back of 16 points in their previous loss to Illawarra.

Moving along to last night’s encounter with the Brisbane Bullets, and it seemed as if Adelaide’s new temporary core unit was firing on all cylinders. Nevertheless, it was the Bullets that emerged triumphant by five points in what was one of the best offensive displays between both sides in a game so far this season, toppling the further struggling 36ers side 109-104.

It was again Johnson (29 points and nine rebounds), Giddey (19 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds) and McVeigh (18 points and eight rebounds) doing most of the heavy lifting, with the help of Sunday Dech (20 points and three rebounds). But it seemed that even with a high-performing offence coupled with Johnson’s efforts down low, Adelaide still could not get enough done to get over the line against a high-calibre team like Brisbane.

On a positive note, after some disappointing results as of late, Adelaide still has many chances and an abundance of time to try and reverse their fortunes for the remainder of the 2021 NBL campaign. Having dropped two games below .500 (seven wins, nine losses), the team’s opponents unfortunately will only get more formidable, with their next two meetings to harbour opponents in Perth Wildcats and the South East Melbourne Phoenix.

There is no defined date for Humphries’ return to the hardcourt, as opposed to the four-to-six-week timeline fans were given at the time of ankle injury. But, given their most recent run of games, it seems that Adelaide’s best option while they wait for their forward’s return is damage control and to acquire wins when they need to, rather than when they want to – which will hopefully prepare them well for a late-season charge.

The 36ers can already look past their NBL Cup aspirations due to the current tournament ladder, as they now share the equal worst record with the Taipans (two wins, five losses), but can hope to improve their regular season situation with a possible eighth win on Sunday night against the Wildcats to close out Round 9.

Offensive showcase ends with Bullets sitting atop NBL Cup ladder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NBL21 – Round 9 preview: Broekhoff enters the fray for Phoenix

A MID-TABLE logjam is sure to be somewhat broken up after a blockbuster Round 9 of National Basketball League (NBL) action, when the likes of Brisbane Bullets and Adelaide 36ers go head-to-head, whilst all Victorian and New South Wales battles are set to be matches to watch.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS vs. CAIRNS TAIPANS
Wednesday, March 10 @ 5pm

The opening game of Round 9 sees a reborn New Zealand Breakers taking on the team they leapfrogged on the table last round in Cairns Taipans. It will be the first of three games in the round for the Breakers who begin to make up for lost games. They will lock horns with Perth Wildcats and South East Melbourne Phoenix with 48-hour turnarounds between games, and will hope to come away with some crucial points. The Breakers lost their last start, but had won their previous two games to be 3-7, four games in hand against a Taipans’ side whose season is slowly slipping away at 4-10.

The Webster brothers have been phenomenal this season from the back court, as Tai Webster is averaging 21.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.2 steals, while Corey Webster has managed 18.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.2 steals. Finn Delany has stepped up and progressed with a double-digit average of 11.4 points to accompany 6.5 rebounds, while import Colton Iverson has similar point and rebound averages, with 7.6 and 7.1 respectively.

For the Taipans, five players average double-digit points this year, and Scott Machado is now leading the way with 17.7 points, 8.6 assists and 3.6 rebounds, teaming up with partner-in-crime Cameron Oliver, who is near a double-double of 16.4 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. Kouat Noi, Mirko Djeric and Majok Deng all sit with 10-plus points per game this season and have no issues scoring, but have not been able to get their side over the line often enough.

 

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX vs. MELBOURNE UNITED
Wednesday, March 10 @ 7.30pm

Top of the table Melbourne United will be aware of a hungry South East Melbourne Phoenix as the two Victorian rivals prepare to go head-to-head again. United dropped their last game to Brisbane Bullets in a shock loss, but still remain well clear of the rest of the competition, with 10 wins from 12 games. The Phoenix have played an extra game, but have not managed to gain consistency, with a 6-7 record and three losses from their past four games. They will finally unleash their not-so-secret weapon in this match though, as NBA talent Ryan Broekhoff is out of quarantine and ready to fire. The long-range shooter is one to watch in this contest as he makes his Phoenix debut.

Outside of Broekhoff, the Phoenix still have Mitch Creek as a danger man, averaging 20.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists and he will form a formidable duo with Broekhoff. Keifer Sykes has missed the last few games, but prior to his exit he was putting up 16.7 points, 6.7 assists and 4.7 rebounds, while Kyle Adnam has stepped up in the absence of Sykes, knocking down 13.9 points and 3.5 assists for the 2021 season.

Jock Landale has been difficult to stop this season, one of only two players to start every game in 2021, averaging 16.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.8 blocks. He and Mitch McCarron (11.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.7 steals) are the consistent starters, while the team has really missed Chris Goulding (17.5 points, 2.5 rebounds) of late, but Jack White (9.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.3 blocks) remains a big man to contain.

 

BRISBANE BULLETS vs. ADELAIDE 36ERS
Thursday, March 11 @ 5pm

Two teams either side of the top four will lock horns on Friday evening when Brisbane Bullets go up against Adelaide 36ers. The Bullets are fresh off a win over Melbourne United, and have suddenly clicked into gear with four wins from five games and in red-hot form. The 36ers snapped a three-game losing streak last game, but sit in fifth with a 7-8 record, desperately needing a win her to keep in touch with the top four considering their extra two games played.

The Bullets monster scoring duo of Nathan Sobey and Victor Law have ensured Brisbane remains a contender, with both players averaging more than 19 points per game. Sobey has put up 23.1 points. 4.2 assists and 3.4 rebounds, while Law is averaging 19.2 points. 8.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.6 blocks for the 2021 season. Matt Hodgson has stepped up into the center position coming off the bench with 10.5 points and 5.3 rebounds, teaming up well with Harry Froling (6.0 points, 5.8 rebounds).

Adelaide have struggled since Isaac Humphries went down, and it has seen Daniel Johnson remain as the main man on the scoring front. He has averaged 20.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists this season, while Tony Crocker (11.2 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.0 steals) is the other double-figure scorers. In the back court, Josh Giddey (9.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.4 steals) and Sunday Dech (9.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals) have both held up their own in the contest.

 

SYDNEY KINGS vs. ILLAWARRA HAWKS
Thursday, March 11 @ 7.30pm

In the later Thursday night match, third placed Illawarra Hawks will lock horns with sixth placed Sydney Kings in another all-New South Wales state battle. The Hawks are three places higher than the Kings, but the Kings are only a win behind with a 6-7 record. If Sydney get up in this match, both sides will sit 7-7 from 14 games in what shapes up as an evenly matched contest.

Casper Ware is the only Kings player to start in every match, putting up 21.2 points, 3.9 assists and 3.5 rebounds, sharing a similar scoring combination to the Bullets with fellow guard, Dejan Vasiljevic. The Victorian back court player is averaging 19.0 points and 3.6 rebounds this season, while Jarrell Martin has put up 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds at the other end in his limited matches. Brad Newley is one player that has impacted coming off the pine, putting up nine points and five rebounds per game this season.

Illawarra has been fortune with a consistent line-up throughout the year, as three players have started every game, and eight players have taken the court in every match as well. Tyler Harvey (20.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists) and Justinian Jessup (14.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists) have been a dominant duo in the back court, while big men, Sam Froling (10.0 points, 6.9 rebounds) and Cameron Bairstow (11.2 points, 6.8 rebounds) have been difficult to stop up front.

 

PERTH WILDCATS vs. NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS
Friday, March 12 @ 5pm

While the Breakers will be coming in for their second of three games for the round, Perth Wildcats will enter Round 9 for the first time on Friday evening. The Wildcats will only play the two games in the week, coming up against Adelaide 36ers on Sunday in the other match. They sit 7-4 from 11 games and need to capitalise on these games if they are to catch United at the top of the NBL ladder, but are sitting pretty in the NBL Cup having won five of their past six games and well on top in that regard.

The reigning back-to-back champions have found players to step up and assist Bryce Cotton (24.5 points. 6.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.6 steals), with another import in John Mooney even hitting 30 points, and currently averaging a double-double. The 206cm, 111kg big man is averaging 17.6 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, as well as a complete 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks. Todd Blanchfield (14.9 points, 3.1 rebounds) and Mitch Norton (7.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists) are other Wildcats who are making waves in season 2021.

 

OTHER GAMES:

CAIRNS TAIPANS vs. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Friday, March 12 @ 7.30pm

BRISBANE BULLETS vs. SYDNEY KINGS
Saturday, March 13 @ 5.30pm

ILLAWARRA HAWKS vs. MELBOURNE UNITED
Saturday, March 13 @ 8pm

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS vs. SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX
Sunday, March 14 @ 2pm

PERTH WILDCATS vs. ADELAIDE 36ERS
Sunday, March 14 @ 4.30pm

 

Picture credit: Getty Images

Hawks soar past Adelaide 36ers

ILLAWARRA Hawks got back on the NBL winners list, pushing past Adelaide 36ers who slumped to their third straight loss, 98-89. Walking away with a nine-point win, the Hawks will have plenty to be happy with aafter overcoming an early deficit and putting in the hard yards to assert themselves on the competition.

Adelaide got things started hitting the scoreboard within the first 15 seconds of the match to show that they had come to play. That intensity lingered throughout the opening term as they put up shots to increase their lead and stop the Hawks from getting their signature game play up and running. Facing a six-point deficit at quarter time, the Hawks switched on in the second to break free of Adelaide’s shackles and steal back some of the ascendancy as shown through their 25 to 21 point second quarter effort.

With only two points separating the two sides at half time the Hawks worked in overdrive to power past the 36ers and create a lead of their own. A number of players made their presence felt both in offence and defence as Illawarra established a handy four-point lead. but that was short lived as Adelaide answered the call with some big plays of their own to go into the final change, levelling the score. Controlling the play in the final term it was the likes of Deng Adel that led the charge, showcasing his class and smarts to withstand the pressure and deliver time and time again for the Hawks. Their overall intensity and pressure forced the 36ers into errors while Illawarra capitalised on their chances to run away with the victory.

The Hawks shared the points around with five players reaching double-figure points but it was Tyler Harvey that once again stole the show for Illawarra. Harvey was more than happy to put up shots from beyond the arc and while his accuracy was only at 54 per cent he still managed to sink six triples. Former NBA player Adel had his best game to date posting 19 points while also collecting eight rebounds and five assists to drag his side over the line while the ever-reliable Cameron Bairstow sunk 14 points of his own. Justin Simon was also a handy option for the Hawks producing 13 points and falling just short of a double-double with nine rebounds. The only other player to reach double digits was Justinian Jessup, with the guard nailing 12 points in his 37 minutes on court. He also picked up four rebounds and two assists as Sam Froling chimed in with another eight points and six rebounds to have an influence on the game.

The absence of Isaac Humphries was well and truly felt for the 36ers who missed his presence both on the scoreboard and on the rebound with the bigman a consistent threat. In saying that, a number of other players upped the ante as Tony Crocker topscored for the 36ers posting 23 points at 52 per cent from the field, while Daniel Johnson was the next best when it came to points scored sinking 17. He also managed eight rebounds, seven of which were defensive, and collected four assists. Rookie Josh Giddey continued on his merry way, starring for the 36ers with his playmaking abilities well and truly coming to the fore through his nine assists. It did not stop there for Giddey with the youngster producing 14 points, six rebounds and three steals. Teammate Sunday Dech also had an impact on the game slotting 14 points and four assists, but it was not enough to get his side over the line.