NBL Standouts – Round 17
THE PENULTIMATE round of the National Basketball League (NBL) came and wet over the weekend, as the season draws to a rapid conclusion.
With finals just around the corner, each game carries even more weight, as sides look to secure a spot in the upcoming postseason. There is no rest for the big guns as some of the competition’s biggest names fired over the weekend in a bid to get their side into contention at the sunset of the fixture.
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 outings.
Bryce Cotton – Perth Wildcats
Cotton was at his absolute best on the weekend, posting the fourth 40+ point performance of the season. Against the Hawks on Friday night, the three-time MVP was just about unstoppable as he produced a much-needed win for the Wildcats. He had a game-high 40 points, a total that was bolstered by shooting 7/11 from behind the arc and 11/11 from the charity stripe. Cotton was a man on a mission as Perth broke away from the opposition late in the game behind their star guard’s outstanding play. Cotton was recently announced as a finalist for the Andrew Gaze MVP award for the 2022/23 season, and his performance on Friday should do those chances no harm.
Xavier Cooks – Sydney Kings
One of the games of the round saw the Kings hold off a rampaging Phoenix side that was desperate to keep their finals chances alive. One of the biggest factors in Sydney securing a memorable win was the performance of leading MVP candidate Cooks, who produced the first triple-double in the NBL since Joshua Giddey in 2021. Against the Phoenix, the star big man had 16 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, doing a bit of everything and making the right plays to get his side over the line in crunch time. Cooks is established as a gun frontcourt player who can do more than the average big man, and furthered those claims with another stirring performance.
Antonius Cleveland – Adelaide 36ers
It has been a tough season for the 36ers, who have dealt with off-court drama and been unable to perform at the expected level many had for them. However, Monday night’s win over the finals-bound Taipans would have been a nice reward for the work that has been put in. Cleveland was at the forefront of the action on both ends of the court in the three-point win, posting 27 points, seven rebounds and a pair of steals as he led from the front to keep his side a nose in front of Cairns.