Three things we learned – NBL Blitz: September 21

THE National Basketball League (NBL) Blitz preseason competition is past the halfway point, with plenty of action as the league’s 10 teams hit the court in Darwin ahead of the fixture commencement next weekend.

Wednesday night saw the reigning champions back at it again, with the Sydney Kings crusing to a 12-point triumph over the SEM Phoenix, while there were a few recruits catching the eye as Melbourne United claimed a thumping win over the Perth Wildcats.

While the results have no say on the regular season directly, there is still a bit to take out of the evening’s action on the eve of next Saturday’s tip-off.

1. Delly who? Tucker shines for United

When Matthew Dellavedova departed Melbourne United for an opportunity in the NBA, it left a massive gap in their backcourt, given how much he provided to the team. So United’s front office went shopping, and found themselves a gem with the addition of Rayjon Tucker, who starred in Wednesday night’s win over the Wildcats. He produced 11 points in the second half alone, with no shortage of character as he flexed big time after nailing shots from inside the paint and behind the arc. He talked a big game earlier in the week, and looks to set to back it up.

2. Melbourne might be without their young gun for a while

While the triumph over the Wildcats may have been extremely promising for Melbourne, the result was soured by the lower leg injury to NBL Next Star Ariel Hukporti. The 20-year-old big man slipped in the third quarter and clutched behind his left foot, clearly in a significant amount of pain before being helped off. He was set to play a crucial role in United’s campaign this season following the departure of Jo Lual Acuil, so Melbourne will be hopeful the diagnosis is not as bad as it looks.

3. Kings of the NBL showcase their depth

Fresh off a title-winning campaign last season, the Sydney Kings looked in extremely good nick when they hit the court on Wednesday. They simply got the job done against an undermanned Phoenix side, and one of the big positives from a Kings standpoint was how impressive their depth looked. Nine players scored seven or more points, which is remarkable considering the amount of star power on the team. However, there was a team-first mentality with the Kings, as the side managed minutes and still got the job done. It will give the team tremendous confidence as they prepare to defend their title.

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