THE National Basketball League (NBL) preseason hitouts continued on Thursday night, with a pair of clashes taking place as sides continue to ramp up their preparations for the 2022/23 season.
With the fixture set to kick off in just over three weeks, preseason matches are the perfect opportunity for sides to see how their new rosters and systems match up against their peers. With the Blitz competition set to begin in a week’s time, there is not much time left for clubs to truly prepare, so the exhibition games over the last few days have seen some exciting action.
The first game of the night saw the Tasmania JackJumpers claim a four-point triumph over the SEM Phoenix at Elphin Sports Centre, as the sides did battle for the second time in three days. It was an eventful clash, especially given the fact that the building had to be evacuated on the eve of half time as the fire alarm sounded. The teams eventually returned to the building, with the JackJumpers grabbing the lead in the fourth term and sneaking home to an 84-80 win.
Match number two saw the Brisbane Bullets produce a bit of a warning to the rest of the competition, storming past Melbourne United on their way to a 28-point blowout win. The Bullets have been widely tipped to be well among the contenders this season after some remarkable recruiting in the offseason, and if Thursday is anything to go off, they will be a transformed side this year.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the key points we took out of the night’s action.
Doyle looks the real deal
The JackJumpers made some quietly impressive additions to their side over the offseason, adding a pair of imports in Milton Doyle and Rashard Kelly. Kelly was the star of the show on Tuesday night, but it was Doyle that caught the eye in the second outing. He was remarkably aggressive against the Phoenix, attacking the hole in ferocity and often either finishing his work or drawing contact as the defence shuffled to get in his way. He appeared to combine well with Josh Magette in the backcourt, and the duo will likely prove a damaging tandem throughout their 2022/23 campaign.
Brisbane supporting cast steps up
As discussed above, there has been a lot of attention on Brisbane’s recruiting of Aron Baynes and Tyler Johnson, both of whom bring plenty of NBA experience. While the duo will be massive for the team’s title hopes, the Bullets will be extremely encouraged by the performance of their lower-profile players, many of whom stepped up against United. With Baynes, Johnson and Nathan Sobey all missing the clash against Melbourne, it was the likes of Harry Froling (17 points, nine rebounds), Tanner Krebs (12 points), Ky Stattmann (11 points) and Jason Cadee (11 points) that got the ball rolling for Brisbane. If they can continue to contribute when Brisbane gets its big guns back, it will be hard to stop this team.
New signings impress in debut
The Bullets-United clash had a number of big names floating about, including a pair of new signings, one for either side. The Bullets recently added Devondrick Walker, who is fresh off winning an NBL1 West title with the Rockingham Flames, and he could not have done much more in his first outing. Coming off the bench, Walker got things going with a quick 10-point burst, on his way to 18 for the match, and just may prove a secret weapon for Brisbane. For United, the 2020/21 champs will be encouraged by the impact of Rayjon Tucker, who finished with 20 points and eight boards. What impressed the most was his aggressiveness in driving to the hoop, which saw him draw plenty of contact and attempt 10 free throws. Tucker will be key in United’s title hopes.