NBL Wrap Round 25: Five are dead but four are alive


So here we are, season over, five teams have been swept under the rug or boxed up and put away and forgotten about until next season.  From here four teams tighten up the laces and prepare to climb the climb to the summit of Australian basketball supremacy ruthlessly throwing other teams to the wayside on their playoff journey.
Before we get there though, let us take you through Round 25 of the NBL, or Round 24.5 as we view it, with teams coasting and resting players to get over ‘niggling’ injuries it didn’t really feel much like a warm up to playoff basketball.
New Zealand obliterate Adelaide, 100 – 71
It is easy to forget that Adelaide were right in this game for 30 minutes.  With Gary Wilkinson M.I.A the Breakers were left redless and Alex Pledger got the starting nod and although the Breakers got off to a good start the 36ers managed to keep up and they managed to stay with it for the next two quarters they were competitive against the league leaders in what was an entertaining and competitive game.
Then something must have been slipped into the Gatorade but we aren’t too sure which team though, all we know is that Adelaide finished their season 10 minutes ahead of schedule. New Zealand ran away with the game scoring a frantic 30 points in the final quarter whilst the 36ers could only muster six at a very un-inspirational 2 from 16 from the field.
If you aren’t part of the Breakers brigade you more than likely would have found this one of the most boring passages of play you have seen, as basketball fans we want to watch good basketball and not what we witnessed which were two sides playing on two totally different levels. At the end of the day, the Breakers saw out Paul Henare’s last regular season game in style, with the huge win and some commemorate playing jerseys complete with arm tattoo motifs.  
Thomas Abercrombie cast aside the April Fools days jokes of movie-hood stardom to fire up 26 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists whilst Kirk Penney scored 19 and basketball fill in Benny Anthony scored a career high 13 points but a career low 0 rebound’s, the big fellas really need to hit the boards.
Daniel Johnson put up impressive numbers of 24 points and 14 rebounds but did fall away in the fourth grabbing 2 rebounds, committing one foul, turning the ball over once and missing a stack of shots.  Eddie Shannon scored 12 points and Jeff Dowdell scored 11
Cairns Taipans 80, Townsville Crocs 64
Townsville were another team to rest players with Captain Rusty ‘Captain Lameo’ Hinder sitting this one out, he hardly lived up to his self-proclaimed nickname didn’t he? Townsville spent the latter half of this week letting anyone who listened know that they weren’t going to tank this game. An odd thing to say given no one had really implied that they were, but someone did spot the pink elephant in the room at some point.
From the get go Townsville looked like a team just coasting, looking to see the season out. Win or lose they had secured second position and home court advantage in the semi finals and after dropping to a thirteen point lead the Crocs never looked like getting back in the game, and they didn’t. 
Not to discredit the Taipans on their efforts, for them this was finals basketball, for them it was win and finish third, lose and finish fourth. The Taipans bought the intensity needed to go deep in the finals, passed the ball well and got everyone involved, which is a necessity for Cairns if they want to win then need to play as team. They don’t have the players to go against it one on one. 
Ron Dorsey came out and showed his long range game hitting 5-6 from deep on his way to a game high 19 points. Ayinde Ukbaka helped out with 14 points and 6 assists whilst the men in the middle (Alex Loughton and Ian Crosswhite) scored 10 apiece. 
In a stagnant Crocodile offence peter Crawford and Luke Schenscher both scored 16, Todd Blanchfield and Will Blalock both had 9. If Townsville weren’t tanking (not that we have a real reason to think that they were, oh look, it’s that elephant again) they are going to need to find some fire in their belly next week.
Kings go down to Blaze, 96 – 79
Coming back into the league with about as much publicity as the Royal wedding, the Kings wanted to close out their season with a hint of what’s to come, while the result wasn’t what the Kings had hoped for, the effort was and the signs for the future and next season are looking up.
The core of the Kings resurgence boils down to one man, Julian Khazzouh. Special “K” as we will call him from now on was the shining light in what started out as a dark season and looks to be the linchpin of the Kings efforts in seasons to come.
He had another solid game against the injury riddled Blaze going for 14pts and 9reb, were it not for the Kings abysmal record, he should be the legitimate league MVP.
Trey Gilder started off the season slowly and some Kings faithful were calling for his head, but Gilder has proven he has the ability to play in this league and may be around a while longer, Gilder added 20pts 5reb and 3ast to lead the Kings in scoring, Luke Martin had 13pts and nothing else except, wait for it, a block, no assists and a block from probably the smallest player on court, who would think it?
Ben Madgen finished out a solid rookie season with 13pts 7reb and 5ast, and if he manages to work on his game in the offseason, could turn out to be a crucial player for the Kings in their future.
The Blaze had nothing to lose but also nothing to gain except some stats for the players who took the court.
Once again Ira Clarke proved that he is one of the toughest and hardest working players in the league having 16pts and 7reb, Clarke’s strength around the rim makes him a matchup problem for most teams, his relentless pursuit of the ball and power around the rim would suggest Clarke will be around with the Blaze for some time to come.
The only other players who did work on the score sheet were Adam Gibson with 20pts and 5ast, but it was the return to scoring prominence of James Harvey, albeit too late in the season after injuries caused him to miss a significant period of the season, Harv’s had 29pts 4reb and 4ast.
Best of luck to both teams for next season, but until then, grab some popcorn, a drink and make yourself comfortable on the couch as your seasons are officially over.
Breakers close out Tigers, 87 – 74
The Breakers had the minor premiership wrapped up tighter than a CBAB weekly recap, but that didn’t mean they weren’t going to continue to assert their authority on all comers and get some playoff practice in.
The Tigers wanted to end their dismal season off on a high note, but they had the league’s best team to contend with to pull it off, tough ask for anyone.
The player who shall no longer be named by CBAB was absent for the final game, was there a reason, we’re unsure, but would it have helped the Tigers, maybe in this game, but not for their season.
Cam Tragardh and Daryl Corletto lead the scoring for the Tigers with 15 a piece and not much else, the Tigers only managed an atrocious 21 rebounds for the entire game with Wade Helliwell having the most with 5reb and also putting in 12pts, and for the league’s biggest team, that is just deplorable. 
The Breakers spread their minutes around for this game getting some much needed game time for some of their bench players, Alex Pledger playing the most minutes of all the Beakers with 26 minutes, most other starters were on for about 20 minutes each, Pledger made the most of them and had 16pts and 10reb, some good minutes for him with the playoffs looming and some games against some quality big men on the horizon to come.’
Mika Vukona had his usual workman like game with 14pts and 6reb, Kirk Penney had 12pts off 12 shots, even though he only hit 5 of them, but he did get some well needed rest to go into the post season, Kevin Braswell and Thomas “Superman” Abercrombie both had 11 a piece to steady the ship and lead the Breakers home.
With all said and done, the Breakers are set to play last year’s defending champs the Perth Wildcats in the semi finals, while the Tigers will be joining the Blaze, Kings, 36ers and Hawks on the couch, just make sure you share the popcorn and drinks boys.
Can’t Buy a Damn Thing Award
Chris Cedar should be counting his lucky stars that his team decided to rest Captain Mundane-o because Cedar showed he was made of milk duds and not wood managing 2 fouls and a missed shot in 11 minutes on the court. 
But the decision from both New Zealand and Townsville to rest players heading in to the playoffs wins the award this week. The Breakers sat Gary ‘Redalicious’ Wilkinson out for two games this week whilst the Crocs rested Hinder. Now the debate to rest players with niggling injuries heading to the playoff is never going to have a clear winner and we at CBAB don’t care for it much, especially if that player would be deemed fit enough to play any other week. If they are injured then that is fine, but resting players to get over soreness might just change the team dynamic slightly in an unfavourable way when push comes to shove next week.
Gimme my Change Award
Well we had to give it to someone, and with only 4 games for the round, there wasn’t a great deal to choose from.
This week’s award goes to none other than James Harvey for the best offensive performance of the round, he may wish to share it with team mate Chris Goulding, who he shares the league’s worst handshake with.
Harvey and his 29pts 4reb and 4ast are sure to get him player of the round honours from the league, but were it a longer round with more games he may not have been so lucky, until he manages to stay healthy and productive for the Blaze, he will just be another streak shooter, but for this round, enjoy it Harv’s it could be your last; and enjoy the popcorn too.

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