Round 1 action rolls on with Friday double-header

THE National Basketball League (NBL) kicked off the 2023/24 season with a Throwdown match on Thursday night, and it all continues on Friday night with two games.

Melbourne United was the first side to get on the winners’ list with a 15-point victory over the Phoenix at John Cain Arena in an entertaining start to the fixture, and four sides will be looking to add their name to that list.

The night’s action kicks off at Nissan Arena, as the Brisbane Bullets play host to the Adelaide 36ers on Friday evening. Both sides endured tough campaigns last time around, and will be eager to get things off to a strong start for the 23/24 season.

The Bullets came into last season as one of the title favourites, but finished second last in a disappointing display given the talent they acquired. However, Brisbane has a new man at the helm in Justin Schueller, and a renewed confidence in its abilities, and the quest for redemption begins tonight.

Star big man Aron Baynes appears at his damaging best, as demonstrated by his 20-point, 20-rebound performance in the Blitz over the past couple of weeks, so he will be one to watch if he can get off the chain.

The 36ers lost some key talent over the offseason, with a trio of talented imports departing the team and leaving some pretty significant holes on the playing list. There are still concerns over whether or not Adelaide has addressed these concerns, especially given the 36ers struggled to put a winning score on the board in the Blitz, but a matchup against the Bullets will be a key indicator.

There has been plenty of buzz around NBL Next Star Trentyn Flowers after a short-lived experiment at the point guard position. However, the talented youngster will be back in his preferred position as a wing and should be able to impact the game more consistently.

The second match of the night will take place over in the west, as the Tasmania JackJumpers head to RAC Arena to take on the Perth Wildcats in a clash of potential contenders.

The JackJumpers come into the season in blistering form, having cruised through the Blitz preseason competition unbeaten, having firmed as one of the stronger sides heading into the fixture. They will have a tough test against the Wildcats on their home court, but this Tasmania side has shown resillience in the past and could get it done here.

The JackJumpers made a point guard change over the off-season as well, acquiring the services of Jordon Crawford. Although he is not the tallest player on the court by any means, Crawford can take over the match with terrific scoring bursts, and could be the difference tonight.

The Wildcats fell out of the finals race for the second season in a row, which is unknown territory for a side with a rich history of success. 2023/24 could be the season Perth returns to the postseason, especially after acquiring some big free agents over the off-season. With RAC Arena likely to be loud, the Wildcats will have their fans on their side and could get things rolling with a win to start the season.

After ending its season earlier than expected last year, Perth went out and snagged the signature of star big man Keanu Pinder, making it a contender once again. Pinder has already established himself as a star of the game, and will play a key role with his scoring, rebounding and physical presence.

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