NBL 2013/14: Round 19 Wrap

Round 19 in the NBL saw Perth and Adelaide just about lock away a home semi final, while the Tigers and Kings both missed chances to consolidate their own spot in the top four as the chasing pack stumbled. Wollongong march on, dispose of Breakers The red-hot Wollongong Hawks have made ends meat of their playoff chasing counter-parts New Zealand on Friday night with a desperate display in their 88-68 victory. Wollongong served up an exhilarating third term for their home fans, led by none other than current competition superstar Rotnei Clarke who poured in a game high 28 points on 10 for 20 shooting. Although the task in front of the Hawks seemed confronting, hosting the three time defending champs without one of their most influential players in Kevin Tiggs, the home side never let up in what was a true four quarter performance. They were helped out by the physical nature of the New Zealand defence, with the referees altering Breakers starters Kerron Johnson, Thomas Abercrombie and Mika Vukona who all fouled out of the ball game. It was Johnson however who suffered most, only managing to register ten and a half minutes of game time before being disqualified. Vukona was the standout Breaker, finishing with 13 points and 11 rebounds, as no other player really found themselves in the contest which was an unusual sight for the champs. New Zealand’s 11 assists were accompanied by 14 turnovers, allowing the Hawks to take an extra eight shots. However it was the Breakers’ inability to rebound the basketball that was costly, giving up 15 offensive rebounds for 25 second chance points. While many of those boards were spread across the Hawks side, key components such as Dave Gruber (10 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals) and Rhys Martin (7 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists) were pivotal during big moments. As the game turned into a cat and mouse chase throughout the second half, New Zealand could never quite peg the deficit back to a margin where they could pounce. Wollongong had the jump to spring out of half time thanks to a three point barrage, however Corey Webster got going mid-third term and Vukona’s nifty drive had the Breakers within eight. It was around that five to eight point margin that the Breakers could come back at every time, yet it wasn’t enough to really have a crack at the home side, as Clarke, Martin and Oscar Forman all dropped bombs from deep to extend the lead to 13 mid-way through the final term. From there it was all she wrote, with Abercrombie and Vukona being fouled out of the game and the margin kept growing, Forman’s final triple nearly being the dagger to New Zealand’s playoff hopes. The Hawks, who are still alive in the playoff hunt, will host the Sixers next week, while the Breakers face Adelaide on their second game of this weekend’s double.

Read →

Comments on this post are for paying subscribers