AFTER a great opening week of the 2018/19 NBL season, Round 2 featured a number of exciting match-ups. Another thriller between Adelaide and Sydney, another dominant performance from the Perth Wildcats and a Grand Final rematch all headlined a big round.
Adelaide 36ers (106) defeated Sydney Kings (101)
After a thriller between the two teams last week in Sydney, the 36ers returned home to this time play host to the Kings. In an equally exciting game, the teams fought out an intense battle from start to finish, with both sides struggling to create any separation throughout the contest. The 36ers held small leads at each break and were able to make enough plays down the stretch to escape with another victory. Nathan Sobey continued what has been a very impressive start to the season, scoring 18 points and adding seven assists, while his teammates, Adris De Leon and Brendan Teys provided a huge spark off the bench, combining for 35 points. The Kings once again looked strong despite the loss and have given their fans plenty to be excited about. Sydney’s offence was firing on all cylinders in this game, with five players scoring in double figures in Andrew Bogut, Kevin Lisch, Brad Newley, Jerome Randle and Daniel Kickert. The scoring balance will be key for the Kings in support of reigning scoring champion, Jerome Randle, who at time was a one-man show last season.
Perth Wildcats (88) defeated Brisbane Bullets (73)
The Wildcats produced another impressive performance to remain the only unbeaten team through the first two weeks of the season. Strong starts have been a key for the Wildcats in the early going and this game was no different as Perth led by nine points at the first break before extending its lead to 15 heading into halftime. The Bullets were able to contain the Wildcats in the second half however it was too little, too late, as the Wildcats secured a 15-point victory. Bryce Cotton shook off a poor shooting start to the season last week with 28 points on 10 from 18 from the field to lead the game in scoring, with Nicholas Kay also adding a double-double. For the Bullets, they got impressive contributions off the bench after their starters put them in an early deficit, highlighted by Reuben Te Rangi’s 11 points in just 18 minutes.
New Zealand Breakers (78) defeated by Sydney Kings (101)
After two close losses to begin the season, the Kings were looking to put together a full four-quarter effort and put themselves on the winners list for the first time. The New Zealand crowd were happy to see their Breakers back home after their big win over Melbourne United last week, to spoil their championship celebration. The Kings exploded out of the blocks and kept the crowd from becoming a factor, building an 11-point lead after the first quarter. The Breakers were able to remain within striking distance for the majority of the contest, even reducing the margin to single figures in the early stages of the fourth quarter, before the Kings put the game out of reach and ran out 23-point winners. Corey Webster’s shooting continues to be of concern as the guard scored just six points sinking two from 11 shots, his second consecutive poor outing. Sydney once again got a great balance on offence with six players scoring in double figures, led by Kevin Lisch’s 19. The addition of Andrew Bogut has been a huge part of the Kings’ early season resurgence, with his rebounding prowess and overall leadership inspiring the team. He will have Kings fan excited for what could be a huge season!
Melbourne United (75) defeated Adelaide 36ers (72)
The Grand Final rematch took centre stage on Sunday afternoon with the reigning champions, Melbourne United hosting Adelaide. After two poor defensive performances to begin the season, it had to be encouraging for United fans to see their team lock down Adelaide’s offence, holding them to just 72 points. A close game from start to finish featured a number of clutch plays down the stretch with Melbourne doing just enough to walk away with a win and deny the 36ers any chance of revenge. Down two points with a little under two minutes to go, after struggling all afternoon, Casper Ware tied the game for United, before David Barlow’s go-ahead three-pointer with 1:12 to play gave United a three-point lead, one they would not surrender. Barlow stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, six rebounds and six assists, while Josh Boone was all over the offensive and defensive glass en route to a double-double with 15 points and 16 rebounds. Adelaide drop to 2-2 with the loss but have to be encouraged with their early season output.
Cairns Taipans (93) defeated by Illawarra Hawks (104)
The Hawks couldn’t wait to get back on the court, looking to bounce back from their poor performance against the Wildcats just one week ago. Illawarra showed similar fight to their contest against Melbourne United in the season opener, hustling for loose balls, playing ferocious defence and moving the ball around on offence but just couldn’t quite break free from Cairns who fought hard to stay in the ball game. Eventually the Hawks were able to full away in the fourth quarter, running out 11-point winners and registering their first win of the season. Todd Blanchfield backed up his big game against Melbourne last week with a game-high 32 points including seven threes. Teammates, Brian Conklin and Jordair Jett were also impressive with 21 and 22 points respectively. The Taipans had 28 points from Melo Trimble who increased his early season average to 30 points per game, with DJ Newbill also adding 22 points, however other contributions were few and far between.