AFTER taking a week off for some FIBA matches that were initially planned, the National Basketball League (NBL) has returned to resume the 2023/24 season.
The season is reaching the midway point of the fixture, and although there are sides faring well, the race for a spot in the finals is a tight as ever. A number of sides have put themselves forward as championship contenders, while others are back in the race after some in-season form surges. Either way, the race for the title is wide open with plenty of star power around the league.
Round 9 kicked off last night as the New Zealand Breakers downed the Adelaide 36ers to the tune of 13 points at Wolfbrook Arena. It was the first of a number of intriguing matchups for the round, with seven games taking place from Thursday to Sunday, as there will be no shortage of exhilirating action.
With that in mind, Rookie Me Central will continue its weekly series of highlighting some key players worth keeping an eye on this weekend.
Bobi Klintman – Cairns Taipans
One of the most exciting Next Stars has missed a fair bit of time with injury over the course of the season, but should return for the Taipans as they face the Brisbane Bullets on Friday night, and then Melbourne United a couple of days later. With the ability to look the best player on the court at times, Klintman will be a crucial inclusion for the Taipans. He can impact the game on both ends of the court, and play a key role for Adam Forde either as a starter or off the bench.
Toohey has exploded onto the scene over the past month, cementing his spot in the Kings starting lineup, and emerging as one of Australia’s brightest prospects. His ability to switch and guard all five positions is immensely impressive, having held his own against some of the best guards and bigs in the competition over the first eight weeks. However, he faces his toughest challenge in Bryce Cotton and the Perth Wildcats on Friday night. If Toohey can rotate and help keep Cotton quite offensively, it will be massive in Sydney’s chances of winning the game.
Dejan Vasiljevic – Adelaide 36ers
In Round 8, Vasiljevic exploded for 20 second-half points to lead his side to an impressive comeback win over the SEM Phoenix. It was a clear showcase of the offensive firepower he possesses if let loose, and an example of what happens if the defence fails to keep him in check. However, he was held to just 14 points in the loss to the Breakers on Thursday night, and the team struggled as a result. Vasiljevic gets the chance for redemption on Saturday night, when the 36ers face off against the Tasmania JackJumpers. If the firey guard can replicate his Round 8 heroics, it will be massive for the 36ers.