ANOTHER weekend has wrapped, which means another round of the National Basketball League (NBL) has come to a close, with the eighth week of play bringing some enthralling matches.
After a shorter round last weekend, the NBL returned to regular programming, with seven games taking place from Thursday to Friday. Over the course of that time, there were big individual performances, blockbuster matchups and even a game-winner as the league delivered once again. The competition is now taking a week off, with no games set to be played until November 30. However, there was more than enough action over the weekend to keep fans entertained, with the landscape of the competition changing once again.
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
Tasmania JackJumpers (92) def. by New Zealand Breakers (97)
The Breakers kicked off Round 7 with a season-defining win over the JackJumpers at the Silverdome on Thursday night. New Zealand controlled the game for majority of the match, with Tasmania’s offensive droughts proving costly late in the game. With their season hanging in the balance, the Breakers secured a much-needed win, making things difficult for Tasmania’s current top-two hopes in the process.
The work of Anthony Lamb cannot be understated in the context of the match, with the injury replacement player delivering 20 points in the first half to get the Breakers on top. He finished the game with 24 points and 11 rebounds in a game-breaking showing. Despite the loss, Will Magnay was tremendous for Tasmania with 20 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks in just 16 minutes.
Perth Wildcats (88) def. Cairns Taipans (80)
The Wildcats continued their remarkable resurgence with an eight-point win over the Taipans in the second match of Thursday night. Perth hosted Cairns at RAC Arena, and produced its fourth win in a row following a four-game losing streak earlier in the season. The Taipans were at full strength for the first time this season, but the Wildcats jumped out to an early lead and never looked back to keep things rolling.
Superstar point guard Bryce Cotton continued to reflect the form of his side, delivering 25 points, four rebounds and four assists, while Next Star Alexandre Sarr was strong off the bench on both sides of the floor, with 12 points, three rebounds, two steals and two blocks, firming his chances as a top pick in the NBA draft.
Adelaide 36ers (96) def. SEM Phoenix (93)
The 36ers pulled off an impressive upset at Adelaide Entertainment Centre in Friday’s sole game, handing the Phoenix a shocking three-point loss. South East Melbourne was in the box seat for the first half of the match, and led by a whopping 18 points at the main break. However, Adelaide went on a 10-2 run in the third quarter to get back in the contest, before an 11-0 run later in the term saw the margin reduced to one point heading into the fourth. Down the stretch, the 36ers delivered when it mattered most, breaking out to eight points, and while the Phoenix didn’t give up, Adelaide held on in the dying stages.
The story of the match was the performance of Dejan Vasiljevic, who scored 20 of his 29 points in the second half to put the 36ers on his back and drive his side to victory. It was a heroic performance and played a massive part in the result of the game.
Cairns Taipans (87) def. by Tasmania JackJumpers (90)
Saturday evening’s game at Cairns Convention Centre saw the most dramatic finish of the round, as the JackJumpers defeated the Taipans by three points in overtime. The two sides could not be separated by the end of the fourth quarter, and it looked as if the match was heading into a second extra period, before Jack McVeigh nailed a buzzer-beating three-pointer to break Taipans hearts.
McVeigh capped off a tremendous night with a game-winner, finishing the match with 24 points and five rebounds, stepping up offensively after Milton Doyle fouled out. Also impressive was Jordan Crawford, who had 20 points, five rebounds and four assists of his own.
Brisbane Bullets (76) def. by Perth Wildcats (79)
The Wildcats extended their unbeaten streak once again, defeating the Bullets to the tune of three-points at Nissan Arena on Saturday night. Once again, Brisbane’s inability to perform in late-game scenarios proved costly, dropping its third game in a row in heartbreaking circumstances. On the other hand, Perth has made it five on the trot and is one of, if not the form side of the competition.
Cotton was again at the forefront of Perth’s success, backing up his work earlier in the round with yet another eye-catching outing. He finished with 25 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals, including the game-sealing free throws in the dying minutes of the match.
New Zealand Breakers (65) def. by Illawarra Hawks (69)
Justin Tatum is officially a winning NBL coach, after the Hawks handed the Breakers a four-point loss at Spark Arena to kick off Sunday’s action. Tatum took over from the departing Jacob Jackomas last week, and his side lifted in his first match at the helm. The Hawks played with intensity on both ends of the court, as a depleted New Zealand struggled to keep up and couldn’t produce a match-winning surge late in the game.
Illawarra co-captain Sam Froling was his side’s best player, posting a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds as he used his size to tower over an undersized opposition. For the Breakers, Parker Jackson-Cartwright never stopped trying with 20 points and six assists.
Melbourne United (105) def. Sydney Kings (93)
The best game was saved to last during Round 8, with United delivering an excellent comeback win over the Kings in front of a sold out John Cain Arena crowd on Sunday afternoon. The Kings looked well and truly in control after a 20-5 run in the second term saw them hold a 19-point lead in the third term. However, some familiar names sparked United in the final quarter and a half of the game, as Melbourne completely overwhelmed Sydney to claim a 12-point lead.
There was no one more influential for United than MVP candidate Chris Goulding in Sunday’s comeback win. The sharpshooting wing brought up his 6000th NBL point in the second term and finished the match with 35 for the game in a blistering offensive performance. Returning young gun Luke Travers was also excellent with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
1. Melbourne United (10-2)
2. Sydney Kings (7-4)
3. Tasmania JackJumpers (7-5)
4. Perth Wildcats (7-5)
5. SEM Phoenix (6-6)
6. Brisbane Bullets (5-7)
7. Cairns Taipans (4-7)
8. Adelaide 36ers (4-7)
9. New Zealand Breakers (3-7)
10. Illawarra Hawks (3-7)