NBL Wrap Round 20: From Breakers to Fakers?


Gold Coast steals one against New Zealand, 94 -91

Just three days after the epic double overtime thriller the Blaze and the Breakers took to the battlefield again, this time on the North Shore. The Breakers got off to their patented fast start however the Blaze ran out of the gate quicker jumping to a five point lead by the quarter end.  Both teams were tenacious on the offensive boards early with eleven of twenty rebounds being offensive, the Breakers hauling in 6 first quarter offensive boards whilst the Blaze grabbed five. 
Not to be outdone the Blaze failed to ease up, making it count in the only category that matters. Led by Ira ‘Bruiser’ Clark and James Harvey the Blaze continued to pile on the points whilst the Breakers began to show signs of tiredness playing their fourth game in eleven days. 
To say the Breakers fell asleep in the third quarter may be an understatement,  shooting 0-6 from outside and 25% from the floor for a paltry 12 points, their lowest in a quarter since January 30th. 
When the Blaze’s lead blew out to 21 points the Breakers finally woke up from their nightmare and sprang back to life and came charging home, virtually stopping the Blaze in their tracks. With the home crowd sensing the ultimate comeback the Breaker squared the ledger with 11 seconds to go. The Blaze hit their free throws and Gary Wilkinson and CJ Bruton missed their three pointers as the Blaze held on for a three point win.
This loss shouldn’t rattle the Breakers too much, the Blaze have been hot lately and New Zealand still sit comfortably on top with a four game buffer. Although Kirk Penney (again) lead the way with 21 points he was frustrated by the Blaze’s guards and offered little else, CJ Bruton reached for the stars three times in his 17 points and Gary Wilkinson pulled his patented celebration face six times in this 17 points also and Mika Vukona kept his fouls under four, scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. 
Have the Breakers become the Fakers?
Gold Coast has now won four of their last five thanks largely to Ira Clark. Clark scored a game high 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds before fouling out and Chris Goulding scored an efficient 21 points and watched his step brother in James Harvey fire away 17 points.
Kings edge Taipans, 76 – 75
Cairns have totally forgotten how to win, weird considering they had been pretty much one of the more consistent teams in the first half of the season, could it be the more road game this half of their schedule?  After building a decent enough lead and playing at home the Taipans finished the game as terrible as the bottom of the ladder team started it. 
Cairns generally get looked after at home and somehow did not commit a foul in the second period. From there on the Taipans gradually grew clumsier on both ends of the floor as the game progressed and found baskets tough, especially in the fourth. If the Taipans are after some clarity on this loss then here it is. Cairns scored more points in the final two seconds of the game than they did the four minutes before that.
It appears the penny may have finally dropped for the Kings who are finally looking like royalty instead of the NBL’s jesters. Julian Khazzouh was instrumental in the Sydney fight back and scored a game high 23 points and grabbed ten rebounds and Patrick “Colonel” Sanders although cold down the stretch, played a tasty side dish and finished with 17 points. 
For a team that looked comfortable in second a few weeks back the fall for the Taipans has come hard and fast. Now the threat of missing out on the playoffs is a serious threat. There a few good signs for Cairns though, apart from a terrible game against the Tigers, Ron “Air Force” Dorsey has increased his output, Ron Ron was impressive and efficient with his team high 20 points and also grabbed 7 rebounds. Alex Loughton who has largely been Mr Consistent finished with 16 and 7. Other Taipans put up good performances every now and then but they are few and far between. 
What is worse than losing to the bottom team? Losing to them twice in a week, that’s what.
Crocs thump Kings, 96 – 78
The second game of the Sunshine Swing is always a doozey and the Crocs love to welcome a team to the swamp on the second night of a double-header; and by “welcome” we mean “give them a good seeing to” and that they did. The Crocs were shooting the lights out shooting 48% from the field and 51% from outside. In fact, all dressed Crocs scored points, except Ben Allen (& Todd Blanchfield) who has been alternating sharply between mediocre, ordinary and humdrum all season. The transition from college to the NBL has been a sobering experience for Benny Boy. 
Townsville are beginning to rate themselves as serious contenders. With a two game buffer at second spot on the ladder the Crocs are getting set for playoff ball but have a tough final stretch with all six remaining games against teams who if not in the top four are battling to make the top four. This part of the season is going to be interesting for Croc nation. Peter Crawford produced a vintage PC performance firing away 31 points and not a single sign was seen of the PC sulk face in this game, Michael Cedar shot 16 points whist Will Blalock returned to the team and scored 13 and dropped 5 dimes. 
For the Kings, Ben Knight was the pick of the bunch, Knight who was relatively fresh off a mundane effort the ‘Knight’ before finished with 19 points whilst imports Patrick Sanders and Trey Gilder scored 13 and 12 respectively, all other Kings had games they would rather forget.
Hawks demolish Breakers, 104 – 81
When you’re leading the league with an 18-4 record, the last thing you should do with a team trying to keep their playoffs alive is come into a game with a blasé attitude; to go onto the Hawks home court with that attitude is asking for trouble.
As people say, sometimes you get what you ask for, and the Breakers got what they asked for in spades.
The Hawks came out of the blocks like a bullet from a gun and shot out to a quick lead taking the Breakers by surprise, Coach Lemanis not happy with his players early in the first quarter expecting more from the team meant to be the favourites for the title and letting them know about it quite loudly during timeouts.
This seemed to wake the Breakers up somewhat and they started to play Breakers basketball, taking control of the glass lead by Mika Vukona who had 8 offensive rebounds in the 13 he pulled down for the game.
Kirk Penney gained momentum as the game went on, as did Gary Wilkinson. Penney unleashing his full offensive arsenal on the Hawks with step back 3’s, cutting for easy scores under the rim off great passes from Dillon Boucher or creating space by coming off well set screens by Wilkinson, Vukona or Benny “BJ” Anthony, who mind you sets a screen like a concrete pylon, just ask Drew Williamson from the Wildcats. 
Penney finished with a game high 25pts, Wilkinson was again workmanlike with 16pts 5reb, Vukona had 10pts to go with his 13reb and Kevin Braswell was the last double digit scorer with 10pts and 6ast.
Boucher controlled the game’s tempo by taking some of the ball handling duties in the half court offence, setting up Penny and Wilkinson many times or dishing out great passes that lead to openings in the Hawks defensive spacing and easy buckets.
The Hawks came out with the intention to win; and they put in the effort to match, Gary Ervin returning to his earlier season MVP talk type form with a team high of 25pts and 10ast was helped by team mate Oscar Forman, who really should be in the conversation for most improved player this year. The Big O dropped 22pts 4reb and even a block to help out his team mates when they needed him the most.
Matt Campbell seems to be willing himself to compete, knowing he isn’t as young or as quick as he used to be, the veteran just seems to use his great basketball IQ to get into good position to get off good shots, and he’s making them too, most of the time anyway. Glen Saville, the other veteran of the team may not be as potent offensively as he used to be and suffering from the same affliction of age as Campbell still manages to pad the stat sheet in other ways, grabbing 9reb and dishing 6ast and a steal to go with his 7 points, Larry Davidson also adding 9rebounds of his own and Dave “Uber” Gruber also had an impact with a point per minute production in his 10 minutes of court time.
Can’t Buy a Damn thing award
There were some pretty damning performances this week but after sifting through the sludge that was Round 20 of the NBL there was one clear winner. 
Sydney King Jarrod Scoines isn’t one who usually troubles the statisticians and in the blowout against the Townsville Crocs Jarrod didn’t play like someone who deserved their second highest minutes played for the season. In a little over 11 minutes of action young Scoiney as we like to call him registered 2 fouls, one missed shot and a whole load of 0’s. Yes, that’s no rebounds, no assists, no steals and to his credit no turnovers.  Joel Wagner was on his way to equalling Scoines impressive tally registering a blank sheet all the way through in four minutes of running around with a singlet on.
Honourable mention to this category for this round was Tim Behrendorff who joined Scoines in the Krispy Kreme category, Big Timmy registering the same statistical numbers as Scoiney with 0’s all the way through his stat line in his 4 minutes of court time, Scoiney doing it in 11 minutes though was enough to push him over the edge for the award.
Gimme My Change Award
In a shallow field this week there was one person who stood more than head and shoulders above the rest of the pack and we would go as far to say this was arguably the best shooting performance of the whole season.
There was nothing ‘PC’ about Peter Crawford’s decimation of the Sydney Kings last Saturday night. The man known as ‘the guy with the sigh or the tear in his eye’ unleashed a barrage of utter pwnage scoring 31 points.
Though what is impressive here isn’t the volume of points scored, it was the efficiency that came with it. Shooting 10 from 13 (77%) from the field is impressive let alone 7-9 (78%) from the land of plenty. Crawford topped it off with 4-4 from the charity stripe.
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