NBL 2013/14: Round 13 Wrap

Round 13 in the NBL brought about a feisty double header between Perth and Townsville which really showed how tight the competition is, plus a feature of upsets. Let’s find out which team’s brought home the chocolates.

Vukona, Breakers topple in-form Tigers

A monster game from Mika Vukona has helped the New Zealand Breakers end the Melbourne Tigers’ six-game winning streak at the Cage on Friday night.

The Breakers ran out 93-87 victors on the back of a monster game from Vukona (17 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assist, 2 steals, 2 blocks) to keep in touch with the top four.

After a tight first term which saw the Breakers lead by a single point, the Tigers got out to a double figure lead in the second term and looked things looked ominous for the visitors, with Mark Worthington (23 points, 10-14 FG) leading the way with a sizzling shooting display while Mustapha Farrakhan (18 points, 4 rebounds) provided plenty of backup.

However the Breakers responded through Kerron Johnson (14 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists) and Casey Frank (9 points, 4-5 FG), who was signed mid-week after years out of the league to replace injured centre Alex Pledger, to cut the margin to just four at the long break.

The third term was again a tight tussle as the teams traded baskets once more, with Vukona doing his part for the Breakers as they went into the final term just two points behind the home side.

Consecutive threes from Daryl Corletto (15 points) and Tom Abercrombie (21 points) fuelled a 9-0 run to start the term as the Breakers led it by seven, before Worthington and Scott Morrison (10 points, 6 rebounds) responded to tighten the game up once more with just over five minutes remaining.

Abercrombie and Corletto continued to hit tough shots and make plays in the final few minutes, stepping up as Johnson and Frank both fouled out with time on the clock.

Corletto’s corner three against his former club was followed by another dagger from Abercrombie a short time later, with the duo bettering Morrison’s best efforts to get his side back in the game, as the lead became six with under a minute remaining.

Two triples from Chris Goulding (23 points) came far too late for the Tigers as they tasted defeat for the first time in over a month and fell to 10-7 on the season.

They will look to regroup against the Kings in Sydney next Sunday, while the 6-10 Breakers face the toughest road trip in the game when they travel to Perth for a Friday night clash.

Ennis rolls on as Perth trample Crocs

Another solid James Ennis performance has led his Perth Wildcats to a bounce back victory over the bottom of table Townsville Crocodiles 102-87 on Friday night.

The Wildcats changed things up before the game had even tipped off with Shawn Redhage (8 points, 4 assists) and Jermaine Beal (20 points) replaced in the starting line-up by Greg Hire and Jesse Wagstaff (16 points).

The new implementation certainly worked as the ‘Cats jumped out firing and were certainly not letting the Crocs any chance at an upset victory on the road.

In the high scoring first half, it was the shots from downtown that was gathering all the attention, with both teams lighting it up from beyond the arc. Perth finished the game shooting 59% from deep netting a massive 16 triples, while the Crocs weren’t too far behind with 12 triples on 50%.

Drake U’u (13 points) set the crowd and his team alight throughout the second quarter, which ultimately controlled the contest, as he nailed all four of his attempts from the three point line on Perth’s way to 39 second quarter points.

James Ennis took over from there bullying his way to a game high 29 points and picking 4 pockets as he had another MVP performance.

For the visitors, Peter Crawford (16 points) started well but fizzled out in the second half, while Brian Conklin (15 points) energised the offence, but couldn’t quite get his shot to consistently drop to challenge the league leaders.

Both teams face each other in the rematch later this round, as they now fly to Townsville for the Crocs to attempt to repay the favour.

Hawks stun Taipans in thriller

The Wollongong Hawks have fought back from a double-digit halftime deficit to snatch a thrilling road win in Cairns on Saturday night.

The 82-79 victory came on the back of a blistering 27-10 third term which saw the visitors open up a lead after trailing at the long break.

Cairns were by far the better side in the first time, with Demetri McCamey (18 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) continuing his brilliant run of form and Clint Steindl (14 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists) lighting it up from the outside.

However the Hawks hit back after halftime in a relentless third quarter, led by import Kevin Tiggs (20 points, 4 rebounds), captain Oscar Forman (16 points, 8 rebounds) and Rhys Martin (11 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists).

Credit: Joel Armstrong | Wollongong Hawks

The final term was a see-sawing affair, with both sides trading baskets and the lead before a pair of three-pointers from Forman broke the deadlock with five minutes remaining to give the Hawks the lead for good.

Six points from Stephen Weigh (14 points, 3 rebounds) got the Snakes back within striking distance, before a big three from Alex Loughton (5 points, 3 rebounds), despite a night of foul-trouble and frustration, cut the margin to just two with a minute to play.

Both sides missed shots before Rotnei Clarke (18 points, 3 assists, 8-10 FT) made both at the line with 10 seconds remaining to make it hard for the home side.

Another bomb from Steindl made it interesting again, however after Clarke made another two at the line and with four seconds remaining, Weigh turned it over to end the Snakes’ hopes of forcing overtime.

The Hawks managed 24 attempts at the line too just 10 for Cairns, giving them a decisive 11-point advantage from the charity stripe.

The Snakes will look to rebound with a home matchup against Sydney on Friday night, before both sides will face off again in Wollongong on Sunday to round out the weekend.

Sydney upstages the Sixers in first home defeat

With their undefeated home record in the 2013/14 NBL season, the Adelaide 36’s have taken a stinging defeat at the hands of the Sydney Kings 102-89.

Big games from out of form A.J. Ogilvy (18 points, 14 rebounds, 3 blocks) and a physical Sam Young (24 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) guided the visitors to a much needed, morale boosting victory.

The Kings showed their intentions from the opening tip with a high field goal percentage and less mental errors than previous games. Ogilvy worked hard on the glass, while Young’s presence finally became a sense of leadership out on the floor.

With the deficit only three points at half time for the Sixers, it was their horrendous three point shooting (5 from 26) that brought about empty trips up the court, which allowed the Kings to penetrate the basket on the fast break.

Ben Madgen (19 points) found the hot hand during the third, to break the game apart and open up a 16 buffer.

It was however not an easy task for the visitors to cruise to the finish line, as Adelaide, behind their loud support cast rallied back with big plays from Adam Gibson (21 points, 6 rebounds) and Daniel Johnson (21 points, 5 rebounds) to pull the margin to four points with minutes remaining.

Madgen was again the man to silence the crowd, hitting his third triple of the game which ultimately sealed their fate.

Turnovers were certainly not a problem for the Sixers, who coughed up the ball only eight times (to Sydney’s 15), but were simply outclassed in the shooting department as the Kings lit up Adelaide Arena shooting at 55%.

The Kings will need to take this win on board and move forward if their hope for another finals berth is to be successful. They travel to Cairns for a game against the Taipans next week, before heading home to face the Tigers to end their double. The second placed Sixers will take on Townsville in what will need to be a win.

Perth pull away early, hold on after late scare from Crocs

For the second straight time, the Perth Wildcats have defeated the Townsville Crocodiles this week. This time however, it was in the Crocs’ own backyard, once again thanks to a barrage of three point shots from an array of team members.

Off the back of their double digit win the other night, the Cats’ broke the gates open early and took some of that momentum off the plane to stifle the home side to a 13 point margin at the opening break.

James Ennis (27 points, 6 rebounds) was again very active on both ends of the floor and was helped by the all round team effort from the likes of Jermaine Beal (19 points), Damian Martin (10 points, 3 steals) and Jesse Wagstaff (9 points, 4 assists, 2 steals).

Their three point shooting was impeccable, 58% from beyond the arc, higher than what they shot from the entire field. Ennis nailed five of the team’s 14, while Beal was just as impressive with four of his own.

At the half, the game looked to be out of reach for the struggling Crocs already. Brian Conklin (22 points, 7 rebounds) seemed to be one of the very few shining lights.

The second half panned out to be a little different, one in which the home side showed signs of light, which included Josh Pace’s (18 points) return to form (post-injury) and Jacob Holmes’ (19 points) hot shooting.

During the final quarter, the score read that the Crocs were down by just five, until Conklin was tied up in an altercation with Redhage after a whistle had already been blown, which resulted in an unsportsmanlike foul on the big man.

Redhage made sure he made the most of the freebies and knocked down the next four free throws and iced the game.

Perth look to be back on track after their mid-season dip and will host the New Zealand Breakers next week which will be a crucial game for the visitors trying to scamper up the NBL ladder. Townsville have a much more difficult task, trying to tame a distraught Adelaide side on the road that dropped their first home game this week.

Round 13 Summary

Melbourne Tigers 87 (Goulding 23, Worthington 23, Farrakhan 18) New Zealand Breakers 93 (Abercrombie 21, Vukona 17, Corletto 15) Attendance: 3,500 @ State Netball & Hockey Centre

Perth Wildcats 102 (Ennis 29, Beal 20, Wagstaff 16) Townsville Crocodiles 87 (Crawford 16, Conklin 15, Markovic 10) Attendance: 12,050 @ Perth Arena

Cairns Taipans 79 (McCamey 18, Steindl 14, Weigh 14) Wollongong Hawks 82 (Tiggs 20, Clarke 18, Forman 16) Attendance: 3,922 @ Cairns Convention Centre

Adelaide 36ers 89 (Johnson 21, Gibson 21, Cadee 12) Sydney Kings 102 (Young 24, Madgen 21, Ogilvy 18) Attendance: 6,314 @ Adelaide Arena

Townsville Crocodiles 97 (Conklin 22, Holmes 19, Pace 18) Perth Wildcats 103 (Ennis 27, Beal 19, Redhage 15) Attendance: 3,140 @ Townsville Entertainment Centre