Wonderful Williams shines in tough loss

DESPITE the SEM Phoenix falling to the New Zealand Breakers by a whopping 26 points at Christchurch Arena on Thursday evening, there was one positive in a tough loss.

Import big man Alan Williams has worked his way into the NBL season over the last month, and produced his strongest performance of the fixture against the Breakers. Coming up against some tough competition in Best Defensive Player candidate Dererk Pardon, Williams was able to shine with a big statline.

Although they lost against a genuine contender in the Breakers on Thursday, the Phoenix have been gathering some momentum over the past few weeks, and Williams has played a big role in the resurgence.

New Zealand Breakers (110) def. SEM Phoenix (84)

Alan Williams – 29 points (12/15 FG), 13 rebounds (four offensive), two assists, two steals

The Phoenix were jumped in the first quarter, as the Breakers stormed out of the gates with a whopping 37-point opening period. However, the signs for Williams were positive, as the big man registered South East Melbourne’s first two baskets of the match.

He kicked off his scoring tab for the match with a nice lay-up inside using his strength to his advantage, before backing it up on the next possession with a deft floater to give his side an early lead. Williams also started to add to his rebounding tally, taking advantage of any missed field goal attempts from the Breakers as he gave his side first use.

The big man’s third basket of the term came halfway through the period, as he cut back inside after a team offensive rebound and finished strongly inside. He was not done there, backing down his opponent a minute later and finishing the turn around jumper through the contact for an and-one, which he converted to give his side a four-point buffer with four minutes to play. However, when Williams headed to the bench, things got out of hand for the Phoenix, and remarkably they trailed by 14 at the first change.

Williams returned to the court to start the second term, and was still South East Melbourne’s most reliable source of scoring, cutting inside and drawing the contact on his side’s first offensive set of the term.

His rebounding numbers continued to rise over the quarter, and although he missed some free throw attempts, his work drawing contact was still a crucial factor in giving the Phoenix a slight bit of hope on the scoreboard as they found themselves on the end of a 24-point deficit at half time, again struggling when Williams was resting on the pine.

The Phoenix continued to find Williams in the paint in the second half, and when the double teams came, he made the right pass to kick out to the likes of Mitch Creek on the perimeter. However, the result got away from the visitors, who could not provide Williams enough support. The big man not only shouldered the scoring load but also the rebounding, finishing the match with team-high totals in both categories in 29 minutes of action.

Although the Phoenix fell short of the opposition, Williams’ performance was still extremely encouraging and if the team can put it together in the coming weeks, expect him to be at the forefront.

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