IN one of the most memorable National Basketball League (NBL) rounds of the last few years, there were plenty of clashes to keep fans on the edge of their seats. In an action-packed Sunday, there were three matches in a remarkably entertaining day of basketball. None more so than the game between the Brisbane Bullets and the Perth Wildcats, which was one of the best matches the competition has produced this year. The clash went into double overtime for the first time this season, with the two teams producing some of their best work in front of the 11,295 strong crowd at RAC Arena.
The first quarter went about as expected to open the match, with the Wildcats taking control of the contest early on. Perth had entered this clash with two wins from their two clashes, while the Bullets were yet to find a win after losing to the JackJumpers in the season opener. However, to start the match they went on a 9-0 run, before the Wildcats were able to gain a grip on the contest themselves. There were no individual standouts this term due to a terrific team performance from Perth, as they entered quarter time with a five-point lead, and all punters were predicting this lead would only be extended in the second term.
These predictions were safe, but only to be proven wrong by a determined Brisbane side who were looking to cause a major upset. Led by forward Robert Franks, the Bullets were able to pull themselves back into the contest with some excellent work on both ends of the floor. Franks was a man on a mission, with the Perth big men seemingly having no answer for his work inside the paint. Combining this with some handy buckets from star Nathan Sobey, the Bullets had found a way to not only stop the lead from growing, but take their own four-point advantage into the main break, much to the surprise of many.
The third term saw scoring slow up to a certain degree, particularly around the midway point of the period. After a hot start to the quarter for both sides, the points total began to dry up with defence becoming a major focus for the two teams coming out of timeouts. The drought was broken when Perth’s Majok Majok scored a couple of crucial baskets late in the term to make their deficit just one point heading into the fourth quarter.
The final term saw both sides find slightly more mojo on the offensive end of the court, with scoring picking up in comparison to the previous period. In a see-sawing affair, the sides traded both buckets and the lead, with neither side able to break away with a match-winning advantage. The Wildcats appeared to have defied this when they took a six-point lead with just a minute to play. There were clutch baskets galore in the closing stages, and when Brisbane’s Lamar Patterson tied things up with a bomb from behind the arc with just 20 seconds to play, the NBL world erupted as the match headed to extra time.
The bonus periods were just as exciting as the four before them, keeping the nation glued to the court. Once again, the lead changed back and forth with both sides hoping and failing to cling on to the slight scoreboard advantage they could conjure. With things still tied up after the first overtime, things were finally decided in the second extra period. The game-winner came from the hands of Franks, who delivered the biggest shot of the game with his three-pointer and sealed the result for his side to the tune of just three points.
For the Wildcats, there were none more impressive than the trio of Franks, Patterson and Sobey, who combined for 67 of their side’s 97 points in the match. They could not be stopped as they continued to sink clutch shots for their sides and ultimately drove their side to their first win of the season. For the Wildcats, fresh recruit Victor Law was exceptional in just his third game for the club, finishing with 29 points in a near match-winning outing for the big man.