Cross-town clash set to hit Melbourne
FOLLOWING an entertaining first round of National Basketball League (NBL) action, the competition’s teams will be gearing up for another weekend of high-quality basketball. Now that the league’s sides are warmed up and have a feel for the opposition, expect the matches to go up a notch. The schedule of round 2 contains a number of exciting matchups, including the resumption of two heated rivalries.
NBL Round 2:
The first match of the round will see the Tasmania JackJumpers chase their second win in two matches when they take on the Adelaide 36ers at the MyState Bank Arena on Thursday night.
The JackJumpers surprised the league when they opened their NBL ledger with an overtime victory against the Brisbane Bullets in the season opener last Friday. It was a clear message that with Scott Roth at the helm and a number of talented players such as Josh Magette and Josh Adams hitting the court on a weekly basis, the competition’s newest side would not be easybeats by any measure. They will be eager to recreate this feeling when they go head-to-head this weekend with a side that is currently considered vulnerable.
The 36ers have not exactly started the season in ideal fashion, losing their first two clashes that took place in Round 1 last weekend. Despite the addition of Mitch McCarron and an NBL Blitz title building up expectations, the 36ers could not conjure a win in the first week of action and will be looking to amend this against the JackJumpers in Round 2. McCarron was still able to have a positive impact in their opening two outings (including a ridiculous touch-pass assist that had to be seen to be believed) and will likely play a key role in this match.
New Zealand Breakers
A rematch of last week’s match, these two sides will once again do battle when the South East Melbourne Phoenix host the New Zealand Breakers at John Cain Arena on Friday night.
The Phoenix were clinical when these two sides faced off last round, dominating this clash from start to finish in an effort they would like to replicate this weekend. Many pundits and experts have tipped the Phoenix to make the next step this season, and their Round 1 performance echoes that this will likely be the case. However, they will need to keep this form rolling throughout the season, and ensure they do not slip up and lose any matches such as the one they are faced with on Friday night. Keep an eye on Xavier Munford, who was terrific last weekend with 27 points, but may receive a bit more attention from the defence in the second chapter of the battle between these two teams.
The Breakers were convincingly beaten by the Phoenix last Saturday night, and will be looking to avoid a repeat of this. They will have the advantage of knowledge in this matchup, given they understand the crucial factors to disrupt in the offense of the Phoenix. However, they will need a large boost in form if they are to turn the result around this week, and they will need a boost from both their younger players and veterans on both ends of the court.
The first grudge match of this round will see the Illawarra Hawks travel to Qudos Bank Arena when they take on the Sydney Kings on Saturday evening.
The Kings have rebranded themselves this season with a new style of play that has fans and analysts around the country excited for what the team has in store. They were able to knock off the reigning champions last weekend with a stirring performance, as they announced themselves to the rest of the competition as the real deal. They have a talented coach in Chase Buford and a number of stars on their list such as Jarell Martin and RJ Hunter. They face another quality team this weekend, but their recent play has demonstrated that they have the capability to match it with the best. If they can clean up the number of turnovers per game, they will take some beating this week.
The Hawks have impressed after a week of action, with a convincing victory seeing the side gain much more faith from fans around the country. Coach Brian Goorjian has managed to get the most out of his side as he does every year, and they look a strong contender for a finals spot come season’s end. They will be entering this clash with a tough task ahead as they face off against the chaotic Kings, but Goorjian will likely have a few tricks up his sleeve and Duop Reath is in red hot form, so they are every chance to claim their second win from two matches.
The final Saturday night game will see the Tasmania JackJumpers travel north as they take on the struggling Cairns Taipans at Cairns Convention Centre. This will be the JackJumpers’ second match of the round.
The Taipans have not enjoyed the most successful start to their NBL22 campaign, losing their first match as they find themselves sliding towards the bottom of the ladder. They will have the opportunity to change their fortunes when they take on the competition’s newest side this weekend. They will have the benefit of experience in this competition, which may come in handy this match. They will be hoping skipper Scott Machado can turn his form around, given his importance to the team. Machado has been ice-cold from the field to start the season, but if he can find the form of his past, it will go a long way in securing the win for his side.
The competition’s two Melbourne-based sides will go head-to-head when the Phoenix take on United at John Cain Arena on Sunday afternoon. This will be South East Melbourne’s second match of the round.
United found themselves on the end of a shock loss in Round 1, beaten by the ‘six seconds or less Kings’ in pretty convincing fashion. Although they were able to mount a late game comeback, they fell just short as they kicked off their season in disappointing fashion. Round 2 offers the opportunity of redemption for last year’s champs, who will be eager to resume their quest for consecutive flags. The loss of skipper Chris Goulding hurt, but the team will be hoping a genuine second option will be raising their hand as the team prepares to take on the team they defeated in the semi-finals last year.
Two struggling teams will be facing off to close out their respective rounds when the Adelaide 36ers take on the New Zealand Breakers at Adelaide Entertainment Centre on Sunday afternoon. This will be both team’s second outing this round.
The final match of the NBL’s second round will see the Perth Wildcats play host to the Brisbane Bullets when the two sides face off at RAC Arena on Sunday evening.
The Wildcats kicked off their season in fine form, winning both of their round 1 clashes and emerging as a serious contender for the championship after last year’s disappointing loss in the grand final series. Reigning NBL Most Valuable Player Bryce Cotton appears back to his best and the team appears to have found themselves another explosive scorer in Victor Law, making them a serious threat to the Bullets this weekend. They will enter this match heavily favoured given last week’s results but there are no certainties, so they will need to bring their best to their home arena.
The Bullets found themselves stunned by the competition’s newest side last Friday night, losing their first match to the JackJumpers in dramatic fashion. They will be eager to amend this as soon as possible, but face a tough challenge against the in-form Wildcats this weekend. They will be looking to return to their NBL Blitz form, which saw them finish as runners-up. If the side can tighten up on the defensive end and continue to run their offence through Nathan Sobey, it may be a recipe to get their season back on track.