NBL | As It Stands – Round 16

THE time remaining in the 2023/24 season of the National Basketball League (NBL) is dwindling by the day, and having passed the three-quarter mark of the fixture, the games are becoming more and more important.

Round 16 of the season saw some important matchups take place, with the race for a spot in the finals still wide open as it stands. With the play-in now opening up the race to six spots, essentially every side is in the running to make an appearance past the final round.

It meant that there were some cracking contests that took place over the weekend, and yet again the ladder was given a serious shake. With four rounds to play, every side gave it their all in an enthralling weekend of basketball.

With that in mind, Rookie Me Central will continue its As It Stands series, unpacking all the action from the round and what it means moving forward.

As It Stands

SEM Phoenix (85) def. by Adelaide 36ers (110)

Things went from bad to worse for the Phoenix at State Basketball Centre on Wednesday night, with the 36ers completely outplaying South East Melbourne en route to a 25-point win on the road. The Phoenix have been unable to break their losing streak of late, while Adelaide’s resurgence continued, adding another twist to an unpredictable season.

Over the past few weeks, Isaac Humphries has established himself as the form big man of the competition, and took advantage of an undersized Phoenix frontcourt with 25 points in his team’s big win, while Kyrin Galloway added 23 points of his own in a career-best performance.

Illawarra Hawks (92) def. Cairns Taipans (93)

It was one of the games of the season as the Taipans defeated the Hawks at the buzzer at WIN Entertainment Centre on Thursday night. In a match that had plenty of momentum swings, the Hawks took the lead in the dying stages of the contest, with Cairns given one more possession to steal victory. After Patrick Miller missed on his drive, he got the offensive rebound and kicked out to Lat Mayen on the perimeter, and the forward made no mistake, with his three-pointer finding the bottom of the net as the buzzer sounded.

Mayen finished the match with 11 points and the most important bucket of the game, showing composure and a level head despite the pressure. Tahjere McCall was his side’s best in the win, making some big plays down the stretch and finishing with 28 points, seven rebounds and six assists. For the Hawks, Gary Clark was a force to be reckoned with, posting 36 points in a near match-winning performance.

Tasmania JackJumpers (107) def. Melbourne United (86)

The JackJumpers have bounced back after consecutive close losses to hand the ladder-leaders a 19-point loss at MyState Bank Arena on Friday night. Tasmania rallied behind the fired-up crowd in Hobart to jump out to a double-digit lead by halftime. The game was essentially sealed just after halftime, with United outscored 14-25 in the third term, as the JackJumpers climbed back up to third spot with an important victory.

The duo of Jordan Crawford and Jack McVeigh was a massive part in the result of the game, with both players heavily involved on the offensive end. Crawford posted a game-high 25 points on 9/18 shooting from the field, while McVeight had 23 points of his own on 8/16 shooting in a powerful display from the star pair.

Perth Wildcats (118) def. Brisbane Bullets (86)

The Wildcats have kept their strong form rolling, snapping Brisbane’s winning streak and claiming a 32-point win at RAC Arena on Friday night. Perth looks as good as anyone at the moment, and despite Brisbane’s momentum coming into the game, the Wildcats wasted no time with a 31-13 lead at the first break and only kept going from there.

The MVP trophy is all but in Bryce Cotton‘s hands after 15 rounds, with the star guard cooking the Bullets once again and by far the form player of the competition. Against Brisbane, he had 28 points and seven assists, and is on one of the best individual stretches in recent memory. He has driven his side up the standings and is priming for a big finals series.

New Zealand Breakers (106) def. SEM Phoenix (75)

The woes continued for the Phoenix as the weekend rolled on, with the Breakers convincingly getting the job done over South East Melbourne at Spark Arena on Saturday evening. With a 25-10 opening period, New Zealand looked in control of the match from the get-go, cruising home to a 21-point triumph and sending the Phoenix to the bottom of the ladder.

Mid-season import Anthony Lamb was immense with a 31-point performance in the win over the Phoenix. Since joining the Breakers, Lamb has been one of the best scorers in the league, and kept that trend rolling, thanks to a marvellous level of accuracy, with 11 of his 14 attempts from the field finding the bottom of the net.

Illawarra Hawks (89) def. by Adelaide 36ers (96)

The dream run may be over for the Hawks, after being handed their third consecutive loss, with the most recent coming at the hands of the 36ers on Saturday night. A hot start from the 36ers once again proved the difference, and despite the Hawks having some solid moments in front of their home crowd, they could not produce enough offence down the stretch as Adelaide held on for a seven-point road win to stay in contention for a spot in the finals.

Delivering his second impressive performance of the round, Trey Kell III was ultra important for the 36ers in the win. At WIN Entertainment Centre, he posted 26 points and six rebounds, courtesy of a 10/14 record at the free throw line. Hyunjung Lee was Illawarra’s best with 23 points off the bench.

Sydney Kings (98) def. by Perth Wildcats (104)

In a highly anticipated clash between two championship hopefuls, it was the Wildcats who took the chocolates and extended their winning streak when they bested the Kings by six points at Qudos Bank Arena on Sunday afternoon. In a familiar theme for the round, the Wildcats stormed out of the gates with an extremely productive opening term, leading by 14 points at quarter time. The Kings did well to fight back and make things interesting, but the class of the Wildcats got them over the line as they push for championship favouritism.

We mentioned him before, but Cotton is just about unstoppable at the moment. In a fascinating duel with Jaylen Adams, Cotton won the battle, not only snagging the win but also finishing the game with 29 points, two rebounds and three assists. His teammate in Jordan Usher was also impressive with 23 points of his own. Adams had 29 points, one rebound and two assists in a valiant display.

Cairns Taipans (84) def. by Brisbane Bullets (102)

The round finished with an all-Queensland clash, and it was the Bullets that emerged victorious by 18 points at the Cairns Convention Centre on Sunday afternoon. After sustaining a big loss earlier in the round, Brisbane bounced back well with an important triumph, essentially having the game sewn up with a 21-point lead at the main break, and cruising home to victory in the second half.

Star guard Nathan Sobey was a big influence on the offensive end, posting a team-high 18 points to go with five assists in a classic showing from the team’s best scorer and passer. Emerging big man Tyrell Harrison was also strong with a big double-double of 16 points and 13 rebounds, with seven coming on the offensive end.


1. Melbourne United (16-6)
2. Perth Wildcats (15-7)
3. Tasmania JackJumpers (12-11)
4. Brisbane Bullets (12-12)
5. Sydney Kings (11-12)
6. Cairns Taipans (11-12)
7. New Zealand Breakers (9-12)
8. Illawarra Hawks (9-12)
9. Adelaide 36ers (9-14)
10. SEM Phoenix (9-14)

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