AFTER a shortened week of play last week, the National Basketball League (NBL) has returned for the eighth round of the 2023/24 season.
Round 7 saw just five games of NBL action take place over three days, but Round 8 has much more to offer, with seven games stretching from Thursday to Sunday. The competition continues to even up, and that was evidenced by last night’s play.
Kicking things off, the New Zealand Breakers conjured a season-defining victory on the road against the Tasmania JackJumpers at the Silverdome, before the Perth Wildcats continued their resurgence and made it four in a row with a win over the Cairns Taipans.
The action continues tonight, with five more games set to take place between now and Sunday afternoon. With that in mind, Rookie Me Central will continue its weekly series of highlighting some key players worth keeping an eye on this weekend.
ONES TO WATCH
Travers returns to Melbourne’s lineup after missing a portion of time with concussion. In the final game of Round 6, the young gun’s head collided with teammate Ariel Hukporti, resulting in some time on the sidelines. The team was cautious with Travers, especially given the concussion trouble suffered by players such as Shea Ili and Matthew Dellavedova in the past, but will welcome the NBA Draftee back into the lineup. His return could not have come at a better time, with United set to take on the in-form Sydney Kings, so his playmaking, rebounding and occasional scoring will certainly come in handy.
The JackJumpers were outworked by a hungrier Breakers side on Thursday night, but one positive for Tasmania was the performance of Magnay. After a stint with the JackJumpers that has been interrupted by injury for the most part, he finally put it all together with one of the performances of the season given his limited court time. In just 16 minutes of play, Magnay produced 20 points (6/8), 13 rebounds and four blocks, living up to his ‘two-way Magnay’ nickname. The JackJumpers are back in action again on Saturday evening, and expect Magnay get more minutes.
Last week’s calf injury to Tyrell Harrison made things quite interesting on the Brisbane big man front. The Bullets usually split the responsibility between Harrison and Baynes, with an even distribution of minutes spread between the pair. However, Harrison is under an injury cloud as it stands, and even if he does play, could be hampered by his calf. This will mean Baynes could be injected into the starting lineup for the team’s matchup against the Wildcats. If Brisbane is to knock off an in-form Wildcats side, Baynes will need to impact the game as both a scorer and rebounder.