Madut’s magnificent showing in second game
DESPITE falling to the Illawarra Hawks to the tune of 13 points on Thursday night, the SEM Phoenix may have uncovered a future National Basketball League (NBL) weapon with the breakout performance of Junior Madut.
In just his second NBL game, Madut top scored for the Phoenix when they took on the Hawks at WIN Entertainment Centre, as South East Melbourne looked to back up its triumph over the JackJumpers in the season opener.
With a number of guns missing from the Phoenix lineup, there was an opportunity for someone else to stand up and take control on the offensive end, especially with last week’s heroes Mitch Creek and Kyle Adnam both dealing with a tough bout of inaccuracy.
Madut was the one to take charge, making over half of his attempts from the field and bringing the Phoenix back into the game after the Hawks took a commanding lead. Although the team’s efforts fell short, Madut certainly announced himself as one to watch this year.
Junior Madut vs. Hawks – 21 points (9/15 FG), seven rebounds
Despite an impressive outing, it took Madut a while to get going in the first quarter, with his first involvement being a shooting foul on Illawarra’s Tyler Harvey, who is a veteran at making his way to the free throw line. However, the Phoenix youngster got his revenge a minute later, swatting Harvey’s transition lay-up, heading down the other end and draining a three, all in the same play. After a short stint on the bench, Madut returned with a few minutes remaining on the clock to break down his defender and nail the pull-up jump shot, wrapping up a solid opening quarter.
Quarter number two saw increased opportunities for the young guard, getting involved around the six minute mark. He cut to the basket at the perfect time and teammate Creek used his veteran IQ to find Madut, who swiftly nailed the lay-up. To top it all off, he fought through contact and was awarded an and-one, although his free throw was wayward. Madut went through a bit of a quiet patch to close out the second period, but got going again in the final 20 seconds, finishing inside once again to cut back the deficit.
Madut’s nifty passing ability made an appearance to start the third quarter, combining well with big man Alan Williams, who drained the lay-up off the guard’s assist. Again it was Madut’s work inside the paint that got him back on the scoreboard, knowing when to cut and rotating his body to finish another lay-up. A well-earned rest followed, before Madut was subbed back in for the final couple of minutes of the term. It took him a while to readjust to the tempo of the match, turning the ball over with a sloppy pass. Hoswever, he nailed a triple on the eve of three quarter time to keep his side within striking distance.
Despite not hitting the scoreboard for the first five minutes of the final term, Madut still found plenty of the ball. Whether it was switch passes at the top of the three-point line or defensive rebounds, the young gun still managed to find ways to get involved. He got some reward for effort with a nice drive inside the paint, where he finished another lay-up. His willingness to attack the paint and the man saw some free throw attempts, albeit he did struggle to convert in this area. Another finish inside brought his side within six points, but it was his final bucket, as the Hawks broke away with the result.
Madut certainly put his name on the list of ones to watch in season 2022/23, making the Phoenix even more dandgerous as another avenue to scoring.