NBL | As It Stands – Round 17

THINGS are truly starting to heat up in the National Basketball League (NBL), with just two rounds remaining after another exciting weekend of play.

Round 17 saw some important matchups across the fixture, especially considering every side was still capable of making the finals just two weeks out from the postseason.

Two sides booked a spot in the finals following extended periods of dominance, and 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.


SEM Phoenix (104) def. Sydney Kings (98)

The Phoenix responded to their form slump in emphatic fashion, defeating the reigning champions by six points at State Basketball Centre on Thursday night, kicking off the round in style. Having slumped to the bottom of the standings after 16 rounds, the Phoenix registered 36 points in the first quarter, setting the tone for the remainder of the match and holding on for victory.

Star forward Mitch Creek put his team on his back in the absence of some key teammates, pouring in 25 points in the first half en route to 31 for the match to go with 10 rebounds. He had some strong help from Ben Ayre, who delivered 23 points of his own. Jaylen Adams was Sydney’s best with 24 points and nine assists.

Perth Wildcats (77) def. by Illawarra Hawks (95)

The Illawarra Hawks produced the second upset result of Thursday night, ending Perth’s winning streak by knocking off the Wildcats to the tune of 18 points at RAC Arena. Despite being in enemy territory, the Hawks were extremely restrictive on the defensive end, locking down Perth’s most dangerous weapons and powered themselves to an impressive win.

Import Gary Clark top scored for the winning side in what was a balanced showing from Illawarra, with plenty of players doing their part offensively. Meanwhile, Justin Robinson was terrific in keeping Bryce Cotton to just 13 points, which always goes a long way in holding down Perth.

New Zealand Breakers (94) def. Tasmania JackJumpers (88)

Despite a late charge from the visitors, the Breakers did enough to hold on and claim an important six-point win over the JackJumpers in the first game of Friday night. New Zealand looked in control for much of the contest, with Tasmania experiencing its typical struggles when travelling to New Zealand. Although the JackJumpers got going in the third as expected, the Breakers held off the opposition when it mattered most.

Talented guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright top scored for the Breakers, as he has done on a few occasions this season. He had 25 points and constantly gave Tasmania headaches with his ability to find the bottom of the net. Zylan Cheatham had 20 points of his own as he continues to add to New Zealand’s offence.

Brisbane Bullets (77) def. by Melbourne United (93)

The ladder-leaders bounced back in style with Friday’s second match, defeating the Bullets by 16 points at Nissan Arena. Getting back some key personnel, Melbourne was clinical, winning all four quarters and never really giving Brisbane a sniff, despite the latter having home court advantage. It meant United booked the first spot in the postseason, capping off an impressive campaign to date.

In his first game in a couple of weeks, big man Jo Lual-Acuil stamped his authority on the match with a monstrous double-double. He had 33 points and 13 rebounds in just 23 minutes of court time, showing just how powerful he can be at full health.

Adelaide 36ers (88) def. Cairns Taipans (71)

Adelaide’s impressive in-season turnaround resumed on Saturday afternoon, with the 36ers knocking off the Taipans at Adelaide Entertainment Centre. After seemingly being dead and buried a few weeks ago, the team from South Australia got it done once again to continue to jump into play-in calculations. The 36ers won the first three quarters to jump out to a commanding lead, and cruised home to a 17-point win.

Guard Dejan Vasiljevic was Adelaide’s best on the offensive end, registering 25 points and accounting for over a quarter of his team’s points. It was a good reward for weeks of hard work, which has seen him take a back seat and let others take the spotlight.

SEM Phoenix (91) def. by Perth Wildcats (103)

The Wildcats became the second team of the round to book a spot in the finals after defeating the Phoenix by 12 points at State Basketball Centre on Saturday night. With both sides coming off a loss on Thursday night, it was Perth that bounced back, jumping out to a 12-point lead in the first term, and holding on from there.

Talented tall Keanu Pinder was Perth’s most prolific scorer, with 23 points to go with 11 rebounds, while Bryce Cotton returned to form with 21 points and eight assists of his own. Creek was again damaging and helped keep the Phoenix in the game with 29 points.

Illawarra Hawks (89) def. New Zealand Breakers (85)

The Hawks made it two from two for the round with a four-point win over the Breakers at WIN Entertainment Centre on Sunday afternoon. Illawarra stormed home in the fourth quarter after falling behind in the second term. The Hawks outscored New Zealand 25-17 in the final period, and snatched an important games for both sides.

Clark was again a massive weapon for Illawarra, posting 29 points and eight rebounds in another stat-stuffing showing from the forward. He has been thriving under Justin Tatum, and will likely play a key role in the final two weeks of the season.

Sydney Kings (98) def. Melbourne United (86)

An upset closed the round as well, with the Kings getting back on the winners’ list with a 12-point win over Melbourne United at Qudos Bank Arena on Sunday afternoon. The second quarter was the decisive period of the match, as the Kings outscored United 36-17, and although the ladder-leaders bounced back after half time, the damage was already done, and Sydney claimed an important result.

Forward Makuach Maluach had an impressive performance off the bench, delivering 18 points on 7/11 shooting from the field. Import Denzel Valentine was also crucial to the result of the game, posting 15 points and nine assists in an excellent showing as a playmaker.


1. Melbourne United (17-7)
2. Perth Wildcats (16-8)
3. Tasmania JackJumpers (12-12)
4. Sydney Kings (12-13)
5. Brisbane Bullets (12-13)
6. Illawarra Hawks (11-12)
7. Cairns Taipans (11-14)
8. New Zealand Breakers (10-13)
9. Adelaide 36ers (10-14)
10. SEM Phoenix (10-15)

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