NBL | As It Stands: Round 5

ROUND 5 of the National Basketball League (NBL) has wrapped for season 2023/24, delivering some of the most exciting action we have seen in the first portion of the fixture.

The fifth round of play was full of upsets, with underdogs claiming some big wins as the state of play takes another unexpected turns. With some surprising results taking place, the ladder looks different once again as only one true contender remains in Melbourne United, while a chunk of the remaining teams that were performing strongly found themselves on the wrong end of their matchups over the weekend.

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

New Zealand Breakers (85) def. by Adelaide 36ers (97)

It appears winning is contagious for the 36ers, who claimed their second win in a row and now appear back on track in season 2023/24 after defeating the Breakers at home on Thursday night. It was the most emphatic way to kick off the round for Adelaide, who handed New Zealand a second shock loss at Spark Arena for the season. The 36ers dominated the final quarter, cruising home to a 12-point win to emphatically announce their in-season turnaround.

Fresh recruit Dejan Vasiljevic showcased how important of an addition he was for the 36ers, leading the team on the scoring front with 24 points, while Jacob Wiley (12 points, 13 rebounds) and Isaac Humphries (17 points, 11 rebounds) both added double-doubles. New Zealand’s recent addition in Anthony Lamb was his side’s best with a game-high 25 points.

Illawarra Hawks (84) def. Cairns Taipans (83)

The second upset of the night was just as impressive from the Hawks, who bounced back from a slow start to the season to defeat the Taipans by a point at WIN Entertainment Centre on Thursday night. In one of the most exciting games of the season, proceedings went down to the wire, and the match was decided in the final seconds. With the game on the line, Hawks guard Tyler Harvey took it upon himself and knocked down a three-pointer that proved to be match-winning.

Harvey was the star of the show for the Hawks, with the match-winning shot getting him to 20 points for the match. He was assisted by forward Sam Froling, who registered 16 points and 13 rebounds in a big performance. For the Taipans, import gun Patrick Miller was immense with 24 points in an outing that nearly got his side over the line.

Tasmania JackJumpers (82) def. by Melbourne United (90)

Melbourne United remained in their status as title favourites after travelling down to MyState Bank Arena on Friday night and taking down the JackJumpers. Tasmania started the game on fire, jumping out to an early lead and looking in red-hot form. However, Melbourne clawed its way back into the game and outclassed the JackJumpers, showcasing the defensive work that has helped the team to top spot in the standings. In the end, Tasmania’s cold patches on the offensive end proved costly as United snagged an eight-point win.

Import guard Ian Clark was on fire for United and finished the game with 19 points, including some big baskets in the fourth quarter from behind the arc, while Jo Lual Acuil was a force to be reckoned with inside the paint. Jack McVeigh was Tasmania’s best with a game-high 20 points, picking up the slack after some of the bigger names had a quiet night.

Perth Wildcats (79) def. Brisbane Bullets (84)

Kicking off an excellent weekend for the team as a whole, the Bullets headed to RAC Arena and knocked off the Wildcats to the tune of seven points on Friday night. Perth has been calling for patience after a slow start to the season for one of the most successful clubs in the NBL, but Brisbane had all the answers in a magnificent performance, storming out to an early lead and holding off a late comeback from the home side.

It was a terrific team showing from the Bullets, who had the likes of Nathan Sobey (17 points), Josh Bannan (16 points) and Chris Smith (16 points) all producing excellent offensive performances. Big man Keanu Pinder was the standout for the Wildcats with 22 points of his own.

SEM Phoenix (103) def. New Zealand Breakers (100)

The Phoenix continued their remarkable resurgence with a three-point win over the Breakers at John Cain Arena on Saturday night. After falling to 2-3 earlier in the season, South East Melbourne showcased its title credentials with a high-scoring triumph over a Breakers side that has lost four in a row. Meanwhile, it is the Phoenix’s fourth consecutive win, and one that signals their intentions for the 2023/24 season.

Since returning to the team last weekend, Alan Williams has been the man of the moment for the Phoenix, and continued that with 21 points and 13 rebounds against the Breakers. Although his side did not get the win, Parker Jackson-Cartwright was immense for New Zealand with 33 points and eight assists.

Cairns Taipans (87) def. Sydney Kings (80)

The Cairns Taipans bounced back from their loss earlier in the round to knock off the reigning champions to the tune of seven points in the final game of Saturday. The Taipans had a vocal Cairns Convention Centre on their side and did plenty of damaging work out on the fast break to stun Sydney, who could not keep up in the first half and was unable to conjure a comeback late in the piece.

For the winning side, Bul Kuol was a key figure, posting a whopping 24 points, while rising youngster Sam Waardenberg was not far behind with 22 points of his own, as the pair drove their side to victory. For the Kings, Kouat Noi stood out with a team-high 18 points.

Melbourne United (96) def. Illawarra Hawks (84)

In the first of Sunday’s games, United kept their winning streak rolling by defeating the Hawks by 12 points at John Cain Arena. Although Illawarra had a hot start to the game and showed it was here to play, Melbourne ultimately proved a class above for the remainder of the game, closing out strongly in the fourth quarter to seal a second win for the round.

United captain and veteran sharpshooter Chris Goulding was the driving force behind his side’s victory, posting a personal season-high figure of 33 points, with 21 of those coming in the first half when Melbourne snatched momentum back. Gary Clark (24 points) and Justin Robinson (20 points, nine assists) were Illawarra’s best.

Brisbane Bullets (90) def. Tasmania JackJumpers (87)

The round would not have been complete without another upset, as the Bullets held on for a three-point win at Nissan Arena against the JackJumpers on Sunday afternoon. The game went down to the wire, but Brisbane managed to hit big shots when it counted, while Tasmania could not contain the opposition on the defensive end.

Sobey was the star of the show, delivering another excellent scoring performance (28 points) to show that he may remarkable in the midst of a season-best campaign. For the JackJumpers, McVeigh fought bravely again with 18 points.


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

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