A history-making game in Illawarra headlined an epic first round of National Basketball League (NBL) for the 2018/19 season. All but one away team walked away with a victory with plenty of fans watching on. The NBL smashed its Round 1 attendance record as 48,820 fans witnessed an exciting taste of what’s to come in the 2018/19 NBL season.
New Zealand Breakers (73) defeated by Brisbane Bullets (86)
The 2018/19 NBL season tipped off Thursday night as the Breakers played host to the Bullets. The Breakers got off to a strong start and built an early lead before the Bullets fought back to keep it tight at halftime. Both teams continued to battle hard until the Bullets were able to take over the game in the fourth quarter to secure their first victory of the season. Corey Webster continued his hot shooting form from the preseason, scoring 23 points and helping the offence function at a high level. Brisbane had a balanced scoring effort across the board led by Cameron Gliddon, who led all scorers with 29 points. Former NBA stars, Alonzo Gee and Cameron Bairstow were also instrumental in the victory, combining for 27 points and 11 rebounds.
Adelaide 36ers (91) defeated by Perth Wildcats (99)
A match-up of two finalists from last season and two potential contenders in the new season provided plenty of excitement, as the Wildcats went into battle on the road against the 36ers. It was a back and forth game throughout as the teams battled out a tight contest, before the Wildcats were able to stamp their authority and register the victory. After a quiet three quarters, Perth’s superstar, Bryce Cotton came alive in the fourth quarter, scoring 14 of his 22 points as he led the Wildcats to an impressive win. Terrico White also impressed in the first half as he carried the scoring load while Cotton was held in check. Despite the loss, the 36ers looked strong and more than held their own against Perth’s impressive lineup. Small forward, Daniel Johnson was the player of the game with a double-double (23 points & 10 rebounds), as he and Nicholas Kay enjoyed an entertaining duel. Both teams appear as though they will be a force to be reckoned with in season 2019.
Illawarra Hawks (122) defeated by Melbourne United (123)
The defending champions, Melbourne United kicked their season off in Illawarra in front of a raucous crowd expecting big things from their Hawks. An early contender for game of the year saw United hold off an impressive Illawarra side in quadruple overtime with plenty of drama down the stretch. Plenty of clutch plays from both teams including Chris Goulding’s game-tying three with 30 seconds remaining in regulation and Brian Conklin’s game-tying lay-up at the buzzer in the first overtime. Finally, Mitch McCarron converted a thee-point play to give United what would ultimately be an opening night victory. There were plenty of impressive performers across the board, headlined by Josh Boone, Chris Goulding and DJ Kennedy for Melbourne United. Todd Blanchfield lit up the scoreboard for the Hawks while teammate, Andrew Ogilvy dominated on the boards, grabbing a career-high 21 rebounds.
Sydney Kings (83) defeated by Adelaide 36ers (94)
Andrew Bogut made his NBL debut as the heavily fancied Sydney Kings hosted the Adelaide 36ers, who were hoping to bounce back from their defeat on opening night. Bogut made his presence felt immediately, grabbing 10 rebounds in the first quarter and distributing the ball around to teammates as well as setting solid screens. Led by Jerome Randle’s 28 points, the Kings looked set to drop the 36ers to 0-2, holding an eight-point lead late in the fourth quarter. Then, the 36ers offence caught fire and the defence held Sydney to just two points over the final five minutes as Adelaide ran out 11-point winners. Nathan Sobey was impressive once again, recording 21 points, which marked the first time he had recorded back to back 20-point games in his career. Daniel Johnson also put on another impressive performance, as he bounced back from being dominated by Andrew Bogut in the first quarter to produce a 21-point, 10-rebound game, his second consecutive double-double to begin the season.
Brisbane Bullets (70) defeated by Cairns Taipans (88)
The Bullets, who were coming off an opening night win over the Breakers, were hoping to become the first team to reach 2-0 as they took on the Taipans at home. It was a tightly contested game throughout the first half as Melo Trimble’s hot start had the Taipans narrowly in front. His strong performance carried over into the second half as he finished with 32 points in a terrific performance. DJ Newbill also played extremely well for Cairns as he filled up every statistical category, finishing with 16 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. After strong performances for Brisbane on Thursday night, Cameron Bairstow and Cameron Gliddon struggled to back up their performance, which ultimately led to the Bullets downfall. However, a huge positive for Brisbane was the play of sharp-shooter, Reuben Te Rangi, who logged extended minutes coming off the bench and provided the spark the Bullets needed with 18 points, including two three-pointers.
Melbourne United (81) defeated by New Zealand Breakers (88)
Melbourne United raised their 2017/18 championship banner in the home opener as they hosted the Breakers. With the home crowd behind them, United came out of the blocks on fire, led by Chris Goulding who was sensational from downtown, hitting two first quarter threes. The Breakers were able to tighten up their defence in the second period as they took a slight lead into halftime. Holding a narrow three-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Breakers got off to a hot start in the final term and never looked back, recording a seven-point victory. Casper Ware struggled again for United, recording his second consecutive poor performance, shooting just two out of 13 from the field and finishing with six points. New Zealand was able to overcome a quiet game from Corey Webster, who shot just three out of 12 from the field, ending up with seven points. On the other hand, Tai Wesley’s 25 points and Tom Abercrombie’s hot shooting were pivotal in securing the Breakers’ first win of the season.
Perth Wildcats (101) defeated Illawarra Hawks (61)
The Wildcats played their home opener against the Hawks, who were just two days removed from their quadruple overtime loss. Fatigue appeared to be an issue for the Hawks as they came out flat from the beginning, down double figures at the end of the first quarter before the lead ballooned to 22 at halftime. Just two nights after his huge performance, Todd Blanchfield struggled to make an impact on the game, being held to just three points. Brian Conklin backed up his strong game with another 17-point performance, helping pace the Hawks’ offence. For the Wildcats, Terrico White recorded his second straight 20-point game, becoming Perth’s top scorer. Bryce Cotton was again solid, adding 15 points. It was a dominant win for the Wildcats, which led to them becoming the first team to improve to 2-0 in the young season. This further establishes them as a hot contender after a solid 2017/18 season.