IT was an exciting round of basketball across the long weekend, featuring two matches between the Bullets and the 36ers, including a last-second thriller in the second of those meetings. We also saw another impressive outing from the Wildcats and the big game between Melbourne United and the Sydney Kings on Melbourne Cup Eve.
Brisbane Bullets (108) defeated Adelaide 36ers (98)
Two teams whose seasons had been marred by inconsistency met on Thursday night to kick off the Round 4 National Basketball League (NBL) action when the Bullets hosted the 36ers. The two teams put on an offensive show from start to finish, with plenty of great ball movement as well as some exciting one-on-one plays. Heading into the fourth quarter, it was the Bullets with a narrow two-point lead, in a game that had the feel of a last-second decider. To their credit, the Bullets were able to put together a strong fourth quarter and extend their lead, running out 10-point victors and evening their record up at 3-3. Reuben Te Rangi starred for Brisbane with 29 points as well as shooting the lights out from downtown, knocking down six threes. Te Rangi has continued to establish himself as a critical part of the Bullets’ rotation, having struggled to get minutes throughout the first couple of games. Daniel Johnson was the best performer for the 36ers, recording yet another 20-point game. The Bullets’ defence put a lot of time into Nathan Sobey, who was held in check for the second straight game.
Sydney Kings (86) defeated Illawarra Hawks (79)
After dropping their first two games, the Kings are starting to look like every bit the contender we all thought they would be. Their offence appears to have found its stride but it is on the defensive end where they are establishing their identity, led by the big man, Andrew Bogut. Bogut produced his best game in the NBL thus far, dominating inside with 21 points on 9/15 from the field as well as grabbing 15 rebounds, as he was all over the offensive and defensive glass. Kevin Lisch, Brad Newley and Jerome Randle also put together strong outings, all scoring in double figures. The Hawks were again competitive for parts of the game but much like their first five encounters, have lacked the consistency over four quarters to get the job done. Tim Coenraad put his hand up for more minutes moving forward, scoring 16 off the bench in limited action, which tied Todd Blanchfield for the team high.
Perth Wildcats (92) defeated New Zealand Breakers (78)
The Wildcats continued to prove just how impressive a side they can be with a hard-fought win against the Breakers at home. It was a great game through three quarters, and it appeared as though we were headed for a grandstand finish before the Wildcats upped the defensive intensity and continued to execute on offence, recording an eventual 14-point victory. Bryce Cotton turned in his second consecutive strong game, leading the way with 23 points and nine assists to pull the Wildcats over the line. Perth’s starting unit struggled as a whole, but was lucky enough to get big contributions off the bench from Clint Steindl, with 17 points, and Jesse Wagstaff, with 11. The Breakers, after a strong start to the year with a win over United, continued their recent form slump, but have some positives to build on. Corey Webster appeared to have re-discovered his offensive game, despite only shooting 7/18 from the field. Tai Wesley also played well for New Zealand, scoring 22 points to go with his four rebounds and six assists.
Cairns Taipans (85) defeated by Melbourne United (98)
With just one win from their first four games, the Taipans were looking for a statement win when they hosted Melbourne United. United got the jump early, building a double-figure lead, a lead that they would hold onto heading into halftime. The Taipans made a run late in the piece, but United were able to keep their cool and run out 13-point winners. Melo Trimble was a one-man show for the Taipans as he put up 34 points, five rebounds and eight assists in a truly dominant display. His lack of support from his teammates was unfortunate in what could have been a big upset for the Taipans. Casper Ware went toe-to-toe with Trimble, scoring 32 points in his own right, including a season-high eight threes. The loss drops the Taipans to 1-4, and a game clear on the bottom of the ladder. Meanwhile, the win for United puts them up into second place at 3-2, with a big clash looming against the Sydney Kings, later in the round.
Adelaide 36ers (90) defeated by Brisbane Bullets (93)
For the second time in as many days, the Bullets and 36ers went into battle, this time in Adelaide. The 36ers were hoping the change of venue would bring upon a different result than Friday’s contest but it was instead the Bullets proving that Friday was no fluke, as they won their second in a row. Heading into the fourth quarter tied, the Bullets built a nine-point lead in the opening half of the fourth quarter before the 36ers came storming home, even tying the game with 20 seconds remaining. With the ball in his hand and a chance to hit a walk-off game winner, Cameron Gliddon stepped up and hit a dagger three with just two seconds on the clock, giving Brisbane a three-point lead. The 36ers advanced the ball and had a chance to tie, but Daniel Johnson’s last-gasp three attempt fell short, as the Bullets held on for the win. Gliddon starred all game long for the Bullets, scoring 30 points including six threes in what was his best performance of the season to date.
Melbourne United (77) defeated Sydney Kings (70)
In the final game of the round, two championship contenders met in Melbourne, with United hosting the Sydney Kings. After finding their stride of the offensive end of the floor the past few games, it was the defence of the Kings which kept them in the game, as they largely held Melbourne’s explosive offence in check. The Kings did a terrific job on Casper Ware, holding him to just nine points of 3/13 from the field. United were able to get key contributions from DJ Kennedy, who produced a double-double (24 points and 10 rebounds), and Mitch McCarron, who added 14 points and nine rebounds. Sydney’s offence was also stagnant for most of the game, with Jerome Randle and Brad Newley both struggling from the field. Kevin Lisch and Daniel Kickert’s strong offensive games kept them in it but United were ultimately too much for the Kings, who saw their three-game winning streak come to an end.