NBL Standouts – Play-in and Finals Week One

THE POSTSEASON is officially underway in the NBL, with the play-in wrapped and the first semi-final match taking place on Sunday afternoon.

Fittingly, it was the top four sides that qualified for a spot in the finals after the Tasmania JackJumpers and the Cairns Taipans both claimed wins to earn a place in the penultimate fixture of the season. The remaining sides make up the four best defences in the competition, which has been a recurring theme over recent years. However, some of the competition’s elite scorers still broke through for some crucial performances, standing up in the portion of the season that sees names etched into folklore.

As is the case every week, Rookie Me Central will be highlighting the three strongest individual outings, with plenty making quite the impact in their respective matches.

DJ Hogg – Cairns Taipans

After falling to the JackJumpers in their first play-in match, the Taipans found themselves matched up against the dangerous Perth Wildcats, who were riding a serious wave of momentum. With the likes of Keanu Pinder and Tahjere McCall missing through injuries, the Taipans needed someone to lift on the scoring front, and it was Hogg who boosted his offensive output in a big way.

He had set a franchise record with 32 points in the win over Perth, the highest points total by any Taipans in a finals match. He burst out of the gates with 21 points in the first half, seemingly knocking down any shot he put up to give his side a boost at the main break.

Although the Wildcats gave it their all in the final quarter, Hogg and the Taipans held on behind his mammoth performance. He also had nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks next to his name on 11/19 shooting from the field and 5/12 from behind the arc.

DJ Hogg was excellent in the absence of big name teammates. Photo: Steve Bell/Getty Images

Bryce Cotton – Perth Wildcats

In Thursday’s elimination match against the SEM Phoenix, Cotton and the Wildcats fought back to advance to the second stage of the play-in. The three-time MVP was back at his best after a quiet performance to close out the regular season, standing up when Perth needed some buckets in a do-or-die game.

Cotton had a game-high 26 points at John Cain Arena, along with eight rebounds, four assists and four steals to have a huge say on the result of the match. The best players never struggle two games in a row, and that was the case for one of the competition’s biggest names of the last 10 years. He connected on four three-pointers, keeping Perth in the match when the Phoenix were pushing, and drained some clutch free throws in crunch time.

Bryce Cotton led Perth to a win over the Phoenix. Photo: Steve Bell/Getty Images

Isaac White – Tasmania JackJumpers

When star guard Josh Magette was ruled out through a facial injury, there was the need for a JackJumpers player to stand up in his absence. Although it was Jarrad Weeks who got the start, talented youngster Isaac White that proved to be the difference.

Despite getting limited action throughout the year, White had a massive impact against the Taipans as Tassie caused an upset in the play-in match. The 24-year-old had 18 points, four rebounds and two assists off the bench, shooting 7/10 from the field. His ferocity driving the ball inside the paint was vital in the JackJumpers holding off the opposition and advancing to the semi-final.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments