Now that we’re down to the business end of the season, games matter more, rivalries heat up, teams are playing for pride and jockeying for playoff positioning, the intensity meter is turned up and if you’re a fan, it’s what you paid your season membership to see.
Kings to strong for Hawks, 92 – 81
The Hawks have had a tough season this year, something this proud community club is not used to.
Even with all their struggles you can’t deny the lack of heart and effort put out by this team on a weekly basis, this loss, even as heart breaking as it is further showed that spirit that won’t see them down and out for long.
With the return to form of Larry Davidson, albeit in the absence of Kings big man Julian Khazzouh, the Hawks big man showed what all Hawks fans had been hoping was the kind of performance to get on a night in night out basis. Davidson lead the way for the Hawks with his 24pts and 7reb shotting 83% from the field and 100% (3/3) from beyond the 3pt arc, nice work for a big man.
Oscar Forman wasn’t his usual self and did score 12pts but only had a mediocre 1reb, going back to the performance we used to highly criticise him for when he was an absentee on the glass, Tim Coenraad being the other contributor with 11pts and a team high 8reb.
Small contributions from Glen Saville, Matt Campbell and Ayinde Ubaka just weren’t enough to see the Hawks over the line and limited playing time for Joevan Catron have people wondering if he was just being rested or is a goner for next year, either way, we expect a shakeup of the Hawks team for the future to bring them back to prominence.
The Kings however, reinvigorated by new coach and former club legend Shane Heal tried to make up for the loss of probably the league’s beast big man and one of their highest production players Julian Khazzouh.
Khazzouh and his front court running mate Jerai Grant form one of the most formidable front lines in the league, and with Khazzouh sidelined, Grant had a day out and delivered big with a team high 20pts 8reb and 2blk.
Most likely league Rookie of the Year Anatoly Bose continued his rise with a 19pt 6reb game to solidify his position as one of the leagues rising stars, it was also help in the Kings back court that lead them to victory with big games from Ben Madgen and Luke Martin, both players had a 17pt outing with Martin dishing out 6ast and Madgen adding 4reb 3ast and a steal.
The Kings and Hawks will both not make the playoffs this year, but will have high ambitions for next season, the Hawks hoping to rise up from what seems to be like a definite wooden spoon this year and the Kings looking to take the next step into the playoff race, but with 2 rounds still to go, both teams will probably look to put a bit of a hurting on the teams that remain and may be hoping to solidify their playoff spot, neither team will be an easy beat and will ensure they go out fighting.
Breakers defeat 36ers, 91 – 76
The 36ers season is all but done but they wanted to come out and put on a performance to show the league’s leading team they won’t go down without a fight and a good showing, with not much happiness that has gone down in 36er town other than the rise of young big man Daniel Johnson and the great play of import Diamon Simpson, the 36ers hoped to finish the season strong.
Johnson who has to be a shoo in for Most Improved Player put in another big performance to help his cause to be considered one of the best young big men in the league, Johnson had another night out with 21pts 9reb 3ast and a steal, numbers that is becoming an expectation from him and a shining light in the 36ers future.
With his front court running mate Diamon Simpson who had a 19pt 11reb outing, the Johnson + Simpson pairing had 40 pts and 20reb between them, numbers any coach would take from a centre and power forward tandem, saying these 2 will be rivalling Julian Khazzouh and Jerai Grant for league’s best front court duo is a tantalising thought for hoop lovers.
Stevie Weigh and Chris Warren round out the producers on the stat sheet for the 36ers, Weigh with 12pts and Warren with 10pts, the 6 turnovers committed by Warren being the only area of concern, but their supporting contributions being instrumental in keeping the 36ers hoping for a brighter future.
The Breakers have been the team to beat for pretty much the whole season and their spread out production and depth are a matchup nightmare for anyone to deal with.
|CJ wasn’t the only one trying the old flopping routine|
With 4 double figure scorers spreading the load the Breakers can be sure to get production from any player on any night, but this night it was the usual suspects who did what they do lead by Thomas Abercrombie who has become the Breakers go to man this season, Abercrombie had a team high 22pts to go with 4reb.
Gary Wilkinson again produced his expected numbers being outshone only by Abercrombie, Wilkinson having 21pts 6reb to continue his stellar season of consistency, Cedric Jackson had 17pts and 7ast to be the glue in the Breakers offence and one of the breakout imports in the league this season.
The veteran leadership of multiple championship winner CJ Bruton steers the ship and provides a cool head in crunch time for the Breakers and his 12pts off the bench shows why the Breakers are a team with incredible depth.
With this win the Breakers locking up the minor premiership, the question now will be will they put their foot on the throat of other teams in the league and play everybody or rest their stars and wait for the playoff run to a back to back championship, either way the Breakers are the measuring stick this year and will need to be unfortunate in lackadaisical to not be in the NBL Grand Final.
Crocs take out Blaze, 88 – 76
With playoff seeding implications on the line, the battle between the Crocs and Blaze was a huge game for both teams, the Blaze with a win could get closer to the 2nd spot on the ladder to challenge the Perth Wildcats for the spot and the Crocs to put them a game ahead of the Taipans for the all important 4th spot.
The Blaze have been in scorching form lately with the play of import Adris Deleon and needed his game to be top tier in this matchup to have a hope of beating the Crocs.
Deleon didn’t disappoint and had a 17pt 3reb 6ast and 5st game to control the tempo for the Blaze, but it was Adam Gibson who was the main man for the night top scoring with 21pts 4reb 4ast.
The Blaze were in the game all the way, amazingly with mediocre play from usual old faithful and stat sheet filler Mark Worthington, who had a shocker of a game and one which he would soon hope to forget with 1pt 6reb 3ast 2st and not a single field goal to his name, just a small amount of output from the Worthinator could have been the key to the victory.
Anthony Petrie did his duty and provided scoring and rebounding with 12pts and 8reb and had the tough task of defending and in form Luke Schenscher, the Blaze were tested in every way but it was their lack of size that proved to be their ultimate downfall in this loss.
The Crocs did the smart thing and exploited their size matchup advantage and went to bi man Luke Schenscher often, and the big man delivered scoring a team high 25pts, the 3reb would be a concern for any coach out of a 7 foot big man, but with a rebounding black hole like Jacob Holmes on your team it’s something that can be tolerated.
Peter Crawford continues to be the home town hero and the veteran swingman continues to provide reliable scoring and defence that he is renowned for, Crawford had 20pts 4reb to be the secondary scorer and good nights from Eddie Gill with 13pts 5reb 3ast and Michael Cedar with 14pts gave the Crocs enough to get over the line and provide the Blaze with a demoralising loss to see their hope of 2nd spot on the ladder slip away.
With both all but locks for the playoff race, results have to go their way for them to remain in the top 4, complacency now would be unacceptable and you can expect huge efforts from both teams in the last 2 weeks of the regular season.
The Blaze lost out on this one, so we feel sorry for whoever they face next as they will be wanting to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Crocs will also be out for blood to hold onto the 4thspot and keep the Taipans at bay, for the 1st time Crocs players will be supporting the Wildcats who with a win will keep the Crocs in the top 4 and the Taipans a spot below.
Wildcats dominate Taipans, 94-59
Keen to avenge two home court losses the Wildcats took to the Court against a Cairns unit, one that was triumphant at the jungle a fortnight ago, albeit this time without Alex Loughton and Ian Crosswhite.
Shawn Redhage celebrated his return to the starting five with the first points of the game, Cairns, through Dusty Rychart and Jamar Wilson kept largely in the game. Cam Tovey started cold, missing three shots from long range before nailing one only to get subbed out when he got poked in the eye. The Wildcats sorted their defence out and headed into half time with a ten point lead.
That is about where the story ends for the Snakes. The gave up 49 points in the second whilst only going for 24. Andrew Warren headed he downward spiral finishing with 2 points going 1/7 from the field. In a comedy of errors, bad shots and turnovers the highlight for Cairns was Dean Brebner. Whilst some may have scoffed at his signing when Deba George was shown the quickest way to the door, Dean went to work leading by example through bodying up and finished with 11 points, 3 boards, 2 blocks, 2 steals and an assist. Are you ready to join team Brebner? We are. Move over ‘Linsanity’, because here is ‘Breblam’. Remember, you heard it here first ;).
The Wildcats outscored, outshot, outrebounded, outstole, outpassed and outfouled their opponents. The Taipans only won the battle of the turnovers.
Though frustrated by the lockdown defence (7 turnovers), Jamar Wilson finished with 16 points and 6 rebounds and Dusty provided his workman like 10 points and 6 rebound performance. With the Crocs winning this loss catapults the Taipans out of the four. They are going to need to dig deep from here to play ball in the playoffs.
Perth put on the type of performance their loyal fans expect, Kevin Lisch sensational with 14 points and 4 steals, Brad Robbins put in a quiet 16 points, Damian Martin 11 points and 9 rebounds and Jesse Wagstaff, Drew Williamson & Shawn Redhage all scored 10. Sealing a playoffs birth, the Wildcats needed this win to get on track for their charge.
Gimme My Change Award
The award this week is only fitting to go to the New Zealand Breakers who have for the second consecutive year locked up the top spot on the NBL ladder and home court advantage throughout the playoffs.
In years past the Breakers had been pre season sweethearts to only end up playoff failures, it seems that with their first title win last season that they have broken the shackles of obscurity to rise to the benchmark of teams in the league.
Proving that the loss of Kirk Penney was not enough to see them anything less than the favourites to repeat, the Breakers have been on a mission to be the dominant force in the NBL this season and have done so with few to challenge them.
We congratulate the Breakers on their dominant performance for the season and look forward to seeing if they can be one of the few teams who have ever gone down as back to back champions in the NBL.
Can’t Buy a Damn Thing Award
It might be time to pick on our old amigo and CBAB’s number 1 fan Mark Worthington. Wortho didn’t even have a good game by Joe Shipp or Bobby Brannen’s standard. Going 0/7 from the field the one they call Wortho had to rely on hitting a freethrow to bother the scorers. Yep that is one point in 21 minutes of running laps up and down the court.
The looks on the Blaze fans, Wortho’s teammates, Joey Wright and even Wortho himself clearly said two distinct words, “Where’s Wortho”. (Now the shameless self-promotion) Come back on Wednesday for an all new edition of CBAB’s favourite segment ‘Where’s Wortho’. Yes, we are bringing it back. For those who are clueless on this segment, take a look at the last few editions to get you up to speed (here and here).
Mark, we look forward to you having a better… no make that two sensational games next weekend.