NBL 2013/14: Round 1 Wrap

Round 1 has come and gone, with the much anticipated season-opening weekend living up to expectations and throwing out some thrilling and entertaining basketball. Here’s how the round played out.

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Wildcats scrape past determined Sixers

The Perth Wildcats have overcome a slow start and a determined Adelaide side to outlast the 36ers 83-80 in their first hit-out of the season on Friday night.

The Sixers burst out of the blocks to race to a 20-11 lead late in the first quarter, thanks largely to star big man Daniel Johnson (28 points, 9-13 FG, 10-10 FT) and new import Gary Ervin (14 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists). Perth hit back late with a couple of long range buckets to be within three points at the first change.

The second quarter saw Adelaide keep their noses in front as the team traded baskets, before a 10-3 run fuelled by imports James Ennis (25 points, 4-7 3PT) and Jermaine Beal (11 points, 7 rebounds) with a few minutes on the clock saw the Wildcats head into halftime leading 43-41 after an entertaining and high quality first half.

The 36ers managed to grab the lead on the back of six straight Johnson points to start the second half, before the Wildcats got back in it with Ennis and rookie centre Tom Jervis (6 points, 5 rebounds) fuelling an 11-2 run to return fire. Veteran big man Shawn Redhage (11 points, 4 rebounds), who went 0-6 to start the game, came alive late in the quarter to steer his side to a five point three-quarter time lead.

Adelaide came again in the fourth period, with Johnson again the driving force. This time he combined with fellow star big Luke Schenscher (13 points, 6-9 FG) in his return from a back injury to reclaim the lead for the Sixers in the early stages. The teams were neck-and-neck until a moment of brilliance from Ennis put Perth in the driving seat.

With 4:30 to play and the scores tied, Ennis caught the ball off a Redhage pass and nailed a three as he was fouled by Jason Cadee, making the bonus and giving his side a two-possession lead. It proved vital, with the Sixers again rallying thanks to six straight Cadee points separated by a Jesse Wagstaff (15 points, 7 rebounds) three-pointer as the game went down to the wire.

Ervin and Anthony Petrie both missed three-point attempts in the final two Adelaide possessions, with Redhage’s clutch basket off a Damian Martin feed coming in between. Petrie’s attempt to tie at the buzzer was off and the Wildcats clung to victory in front of over 10,000 fans.

Ennis was the star of the show for the home side, while Martin (5 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks) provided plenty of everything despite going scoreless in a typically tireless display. For the visitors, too much was left to Johnson and Ervin with Schenscher’s game time still limited and the likes of Adam Gibson and Jarrid Frye missing through injury.

Frye, at least, is likely to return in time for the 36ers’ home clash against Wollongong on Saturday night, while Perth will host Sydney on Friday night before travelling to Melbourne to complete their double on Sunday.


Breakers crush Hawks in season-opener

The New Zealand Breakers have shaken off their pre-season cobwebs to post an emphatic 92-73 victory over the Wollongong Hawks on Thursday night to open NBL season 2013/14.

The Hawks got off to a fast start on the back of some impressive play from Rotnei Clarke (20 points, 6 rebounds) to lead 19-11 midway through the first before the Breakers took it up a level to get within two points at the first break. From there it was all the home side with the Breakers extending their lead at each break, which included an impressive 48-31 run over the middle two quarters to put the game out of reach.

Darryl Corletto (19 points, 4-5 3PT) led the way for the locals with some hot shooting in the first half, before Tom Abercrombie (19 points, 7-12 FG) took over after halftime, capping off his eye-catching performance with a steal and athletic dunk on the break. New import Kerron Johnson (14 points, 5 assists) was also impressive in his debut, while old head Mika Vukona (14 points, 8 rebounds) and bench livewire Corey Webster (14 points, 5 assists) provided the energy.

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The Hawks, who were down an import following Durrell Summers untimely exit just a week earlier, struggled to get going offensively after quarter time, with too much left to Clarke and not enough contributors across the board. After his hot start, the Breakers gave him very little room to move for the rest of the game as Wollongong lost their offensive spark. Oscar Forman (4 points) continued his poor pre-season form, taking just three field goal attempts and fouling out in just 16 minutes of play.

The Hawks shot at just 38% from the field while going 4-17 from beyond the arc, compared to the Breakers who went at 50% from both the field and downtown, nailing 12 of their 24 attempts from the land of plenty. The assist count favoured the Breakers 18-8 and tells the story of the lack of flow to the Hawks offense in what was the main difference between the two sides.

Wollongong will need to significantly improve if they want to make a run to the playoffs as the season goes on, starting with a trip to Adelaide to visit the 36ers next Saturday night. New Zealand will travel to north Queensland for the Townsville-Cairns road double, beginning on Friday night against the Crocodiles.


Wilson lights up as Taipans claim Reptile Rumble

The Cairns Taipans have displayed a dominant performance over state rivals Townsville Crocodiles on Saturday night, controlling most of the game on their way to a 103-92 victory.

Taipans third year import Jamar Wilson (27 points, 5 rebounds, 11-15 FG) was the man of the moment as he was able to turn all of his disappointment of Cairns’ last campaign into a stellar display on court to kick off their 2013/14 campaign.

In an electric first half display, Wilson was pivotal in any Taipans run. While they were only down a couple late in the first quarter, Wilson stepped up to the plate and nailed two treys to take his first quarter tally to 13 points, giving Cairns a seven point lead at the break.

For the home side it wasn’t a night that went to plan, playing catch up basketball from late in the first quarter. The Crocs were down double digits early in the second and it turned into a dismal night as star imports Josh Pace (15 points) and Brian Conklin (12 points) both fouled out of the game, giving Townsville coach Shawn Dennis headaches as he tried to find players to step up in their absence. Besides Wilson’s 27 points, Alex Loughton (17 points, 6 rebounds) and Cam Tragardh (14 points, 6-8 FG) were both efficient from the floor and it was the team’s ability to convert Townsville fouls into points at the charity stripe, with the Snakes going there 28 times to Townsville’s 16.

Townsville stay at home to face three-time defending champs New Zealand next Friday night in another tough ask for the Crocs, while the Taipans also face the champs the night after The Snake Pit, which they will see as a big chance of causing an upset.


Kings rally late to win nail-biter against Tigers

The Sydney Kings have started their season off on the right foot with a 73-69 win over the Melbourne Tigers at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on Sunday.

The Kings jumped out of the blocks well, pouncing on the Tigers at every opportunity with strong double teams which ended up in turnovers or poor shooting. Brad Hill (13 points, 9 rebounds) and A.J. Ogilvy (14 points, 12 rebounds, 5 blocks) were instrumental for the home side in the first half, with both providing key plays in the opening period.

For the Tigers it was a bit of everything; a below average first half was followed by an outstanding third quarter off the back of Mark Worthington (17 points, 9 rebounds) who put on a show. Nate Tomlinson (14 points, 5 assists) and Scott Morrison (13 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists) also contributed strongly and formed a strong partnership, however couldn’t find each other in the fourth quarter to build any sort of momentum as the Kings stepped it up.

The final period was all Sydney as they fought back from nine points down early in the quarter after a 26-10 third quarter in favour of Melbourne had given them a handy lead. James Harvey (19 points) was the man of the moment down the stretch, hitting long bombs and tough jumpers off solid screens. With his impact in the fourth, the Kings were able to rally and grab the tough win which again was impacted by early foul trouble for both teams.

Both Ben Madgen (2 points, 0-6 FG) and Charles Carmouche (3 points, 1-8 FG) will need to improve for the Kings as they were pretty much shut out of the game, with Carmouche also fouling out. On the Tigers side it was the three point shot that wasn’t dropping throughout the game as they went 3-19 from downtown, ending their chance at victory as they missed four straight treys to finish the game.

Both sides showed their credentials for the season ahead; the Kings look like a strong outfit that will contend for a spot in the finals thanks to the likes of Ogilvy and new import Jesse Sanders who looked controlled out on the floor and gave them balance, while the Tigers will have plenty of upside with all indications saying they have found a gem at centre in Morrison, while returning import Ayinde Ubaka will need some time to settle in.

Both teams face the new star of the NBL next week in James Ennis and the Perth Wildcats, with the Kings making the trip to WA for a Friday Night clash, while the Tigers sit back and wait for the ‘Cats to come to Melbourne on Sunday.


Round 1 Summary

New Zealand Breakers 92 (Abercrombie 19, Corletto 19, Johnson 14) Wollongong Hawks 73 (Clarke 20, Davidson 12, Gruber 12) Attendance: 6,087 @ Vector Arena

Perth Wildcats 83 (Ennis 25, Wagstaff 15, Beal 11) Adelaide 36ers 80 (Johnson 28, Ervin 14, Schenscher 13) Attendance: 10,208 @ Perth Arena

Townsville Crocodiles 92 (Markovic 15, Pace 15, Blanchfield 14) Cairns Taipans 103 (Wilson 27, Loughton 17, Tragardh 14) Attendance: 3,265 @ Townsville Entertainment Centre

Sydney Kings 73 (Harvey 19, Ogilvy 14, Garlepp 13) Melbourne Tigers 69 (Worthington 17, Tomlinson 14, Morrison 13) Attendance: 4,424 @ Sydney Entertainment Centre