NBL Blitz Sunday wrap: 36ers rally to complete comeback

OVER the last week, the National Basketball League (NBL) held its preseason ‘Blitz’ competition, with sides able to get some run into their players heading into the season opener next month. The competition is being played across three states, with Tasmania, New South Wales and Victoria all hosting some action over the coming weeks. This weekend kicked off the first batch of the 22-game fixture, with plenty of close contests keeping fans around the country entertained for the week thus far. Two games took place on Sunday night, with Tasmanian crowds treated to one of the biggest comebacks we have seen this year.

Perth Wildcats (96) def. Cairns Taipans (87)

The Perth Wildcats have continued to stake their claim as one of the form sides of the competition, claiming their third win from three games with a triumph over the Cairns Taipans at the Ulverstone Sports and Leisure Centre on Sunday afternoon. The match was closely contested for the first three quarters of action, but the Wildcats made sure the last quarter owned to them, as they stormed home to claim their third consecutive win as they build some serious momentum heading into the regular season.

The two sides delivered a back-and-forth first half, with neither side producing a barnstorming effort to break away from their opponents. Each side was shooting reasonably well from the field, and both teams scored around 25 points for each quarter, which is considered strong for the league. The Wildcats entered half-time with the narrowest of leads, finding themselves up on the Taipans by just one point, with an exciting second half in store for fans.

The third term was more of the same see-sawing action, but this time it was the Taipans who were able to claim the advantage, even if it wasn’t by much. Cairns outscored their opponents by two in the quarter to take a one point lead into the final term. However, the Wildcats put the foot down in the final term, dominating the quarter 24-14 to turn the three quarter time deficit into a nine point win as they look to keep their form rolling with the season tip off approaching by the day.

For the Wildcats, big man Victor Law produced a massive outing, dominating on the inside and pulling down some crucial rebounds for his side. He finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds (including five offensive) in what was his finest performance of the NBL Blitz tournament so far. Taipans centre Nathan Jawai was also impressive in the loss, pouring in 20 points on efficient shooting as he stamped his authority on the contest, particularly early in the match when it was up for grabs.

Adelaide 36ers (82) def. Tasmania JackJumpers (80)

The Adelaide 36ers produced the biggest comeback of this year’s NBL Blitz, rallying from a massive margin to come back and defeat the Tasmania JackJumpers by two points in a thrilling contest on Sunday afternoon at Ulverstone Sports and Leisure Centre. The 36ers trailed by as much as 21 early in the match, but were able to slowly chip away at the lead across the final three quarters as they shocked the Apple Isle to claim a victory in stirring circumstances.

The JackJumpers opened the game in red-hot form, making nearly all of their shots from the field in front of a fired up Tasmanian crowd. The team welcomed 2019/20 NBL Most Improved Player Will Magnay onto the court for the first time, and the big man did not disappoint. He was doing it all for the JackJumpers as they burst out to a 33-12 lead at the first break, with plenty of work ahead for the 36ers.

Adelaide were able to stop the bleeding and over the next three quarters, were able to slowly but surely trim down this margin as the JackJumpers seemingly ran out of gas. It looked to also be a case of experience, with the 36ers using their knowledge and IQ to take the lead late in the final term. The final minutes of the contest went back-and-forth as both teams lost and regained the lead. Tasmania had a chance to steal the win through Josh Adams who launched a three-pointer at the final buzzer, but it was offline as Adelaide took the unlikely win.

The 36ers would be impressed with the match of youngster Mojave King, who was impactful off the bench against the JackJumpers. The NBL Next Star finished with an eye-catching 13 points off the bench in what was his best performance of the NBL Blitz series. With this year likely being his last in the NBL as he pursues greener pastures, these performances are sure to boost his stocks around the world.

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