NBL 2013/14: Round 21 Wrap

With three rounds of action left in the NBL season, the top four all seemed to play important games in their race to lock in their spots for playoff contention. Who soured and who falled, find out in this week's wrap:

Tigers’ fourth quarter explosion leave Breakers dumbfounded

Off the back of a 44 point final term, the Melbourne Tigers have outlasted the New Zealand Breakers 97-84 at Vector Arena on Friday night in what was a complete topsy-turvy encounter which surprised nearly every NBL fan after three quarter time.

Chris Goulding was the main man on the offensive end with 25 points to go along with three assists. Mark Worthington (10 points, 13 rebounds) and Lucas Walker (16 points, 11 rebounds) both recorded double doubles, while masked marvel Scott Morrison (19 points, 7 rebounds) nearly had a perfect night from the field shooting 7 from 8.

For the home side it was poor shooting all around, however Corey Webster scored 17 included four triples, while Kerron Johnson provided 12 points.

The game started out as an ugly contest for the home fans with the Breakers starting with 12 empty trips including 11 missed field goals, which turned into free points down the other end that didn’t take long to blow out to double digits.

From there the Breakers managed to pull their way back into the contest, riding buckets from Webster, Reuben Te Rangi (10 points, 5 rebounds) and captain Mika Vukona (11 points, 9 rebounds).

As the Breakers broke the shackles in the third term, the Tigers looked as if they were heading for a fifth straight defeat, while New Zealand could keep their slim finals hope alive with a crucial home victory as they led by 14 points heading into the final ten minutes.

From there the Breakers fell in a ridiculous slump in which the rim not only had a cover on it, there was a sign in front of their basket saying ‘Do Not Enter’.

The Tigers on the other hand just found each other in rhythm, with startling runs left, right and centre.

The opening 15-2 run from the visitors to kick off the final period startled their opponents as the lead squandered back to a solitary point and suddenly there were panic stations.

Chris Goulding found his early season hot hand, to combine with Morrison’s efficient night to score the next 18 points in the game which brought life back into the Tigers’ season.

New Zealand shot the ball 26 more times (80-54) than their opponents, yet managed to make the same number of shots from those attempts. The Breakers basically shot themselves in the foot during periods of the game, which showed on the statsheet.

Thomas Abercrombie was the headline for many Breakers players who were in the doghouse shooting wise, as he went 3 from 16 from the field, while Gary Wilkinson was also much quieter than usual (7 points, 3-8FG).

Melbourne now head home to take on the Kings in a very crucial game which pits their head-to-head record against Sydney which could be extremely important heading into finals. The Breakers on the other hand now play for pride for the final two weeks as they patiently wait for their chance to host the Kings the week after.

Martin delights as Perth secure minor premiership with win over Crocs

The Perth Wildcats delivered the NBL minor premiership to their franchise right on their home floor with an 81-69 win over the Townsville Crocodiles on Friday night.

Along with top spot, brings home court advantage in the playoffs which are exactly what Perth fans were after as their team cruised to their 20th victory of the season.

Damian Martin was the highlight of the contest, with the star guard opening up with a blistering first half, scoring 15 of his 18 points in the first twenty minutes. Martin also had eight rebounds, eight assists and five steals in a near triple double.

His stat-line however, doesn’t even show his massive impact he had on the game, which included intense defensive pressure on one end and slick behind the back passes on the other which led to a huge Jermaine Beal dunk.

James Ennis led all scorers with 20 points, while Shawn Redhage finished with 18 points and four rebounds.

For the visitors the return of Josh Pace was of some assistance; however his 13 points and six rebounds were only countered by his five turnovers, something which his team as a whole struggled with.

Todd Blanchfield continued his good run of form with 10 points, four rebounds and five assists, although he also contributed three of Townsville’s 18 turnovers.

As the ‘Cats jumped out to an eight point half time lead, the game was always far from over as the visitors pestered their opponents just enough to stay in the hunt for an unlikely victory. While the Crocs couldn’t find the lead for the entire forty minutes, they hung around enough to have some worried faces on the home faithful.

Peter Crawford turned back the clock in the third term as he showed NBL fans that he still has a high flying dunk in his repertoire.

With Perth’s lead cut down to six with one period remaining, the ‘Cats put the clamps down on their opponents only allowing them 11 fourth quarter points to seal the well deserved victory.

In unusual Perth fashion, the difference in field goal makes were noticeable, with Martin (8-11FG) and Redhage (7-11FG) shooting the ball well, while guys like Beal (2-9FG) and Matty Knight (2-12FG) were poor on their personal standards.

Perth now faces a top of the table showdown with the Adelaide 36ers next week which is the game of the round after their previous encounter. Townsville host Wollongong as they try to halt the Hawks Cinderella playoff run.

Snakes stun in-form Hawks to dent finals aspirations

Cameron Gliddon and Jamar Wilson have led the Cairns Taipans to an upset 82-79 victory over the previously red-hot Hawks in Wollongong.

Gliddon had 23 points on 8-9 shooting to lead his side to a memorable victory, while Wilson chimed in with 18 points in just 17 minutes of court time.

The Snakes led by 23 early in the final term and held on after a Rotnei Clarke (24 points) barrage had threatened to keep the Hawks on track for a playoffs berth.

Clarke had 13 points and a handful of assists in the final 10 minutes, including three triples in the space of minutes, to get his side within four with a minute on the clock.

Earlier it had been all about the visitors as they extended their lead at each break, with a five-point quarter time lead extending to eight at the long break and 17 at three quarter time as the Hawks seemed to crash back to Earth with a thud after a dream month.

Wilson and Gliddon got plenty of fourth-quarter support from Demetri McCamey (9 points), who nailed two big buckets to seemingly end the game with the margin over 20 and just 7 minutes on the clock.

However Clarke and Tim Coenraad (10 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists) got the home side right back into it and nearly led them to a memorable comeback victory.

Both teams shot well from the field, with the Taipans holding a slight advantage from deep, shooting at 43% to 34%.

The Hawks will now struggle to sneak into the playoffs after the shock loss and will need to win every game and rely on the Tigers and Kings to drop games in the run home if they are to find themselves involved in the post-season.

That will start for the Hawks with a trip to Townsville to take on the Crocs next Friday night, while the Taipans will look to keep their own very slim finals chances alive for at least another week when they host third-placed Melbourne.

Sixers destroy Crocs to shore up second spot

Adelaide have poured on the points in an emphatic blowout victory against an undermanned Townsville side, with the home side running out 102-70 victors on Saturday night.

The Sixers shot at an incredible 56% from the floor compared to Townsville’s 34% in a game that was one-way traffic from the opening tip.

Led by Gary Ervin (20 points, 8-9 FG in just 17 minutes of game time) and Daniel Johnson (14 points, 6 rebounds, 6-8 FG in 18 minutes) the home side was simply irresistible all night as they piled on 92 points through the first three quarter of play before cruising home with a bench full of stars.

The undermanned Crocs, who were missing Brian Conklin, struggled to get any foothold on the contest and were led by Josh Pace, who managed 11 points on the night.

The first quarter was relatively close for the most part before Adelaide broke free to go into quarter time with an eight point advantage.

The onslaught kicked up a gear in the second term, with Adam Gibson (10 points), Rhys Carter (11 points), Luke Schenscher (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Brendan Teys (11 points) all reaching double figures to help support Johnson and Ervin, with the 37-17 quarter effectively ending the game as a contest.

The margin hit 40 on multiple occasions in the third as the Sixers headed into the final term with a 39-point lead before the final term yielded just 10 points to the Crocs’ 17.

The Crocs are seemingly heading towards the NBL wooden spoon and look to be limping towards the season’s finish line, with the last few weeks seeing multiple injuries to their stars as well as the suspension of Pace for a drink-driving offence.

Adelaide will now get into the full swing of finals mode as they host Perth in what is sure to be a fiery clash next Friday night before heading to Sydney to tackle the Kings on Sunday. Townsville will host a desperate Wollongong next Friday night in their penultimate clash for 2013/14.

Tigers stop Kings behind Goulding’s historic game

It was a master class performance for the entire nation to see, when a Chris Goulding led Melbourne Tigers executed their way to a near sewn up finals berth when they made their well awaited first victory inside Hisense Arena on Sunday, defeating the Sydney Kings 92-82.

Goulding absolutely erupted, scoring 50 points on 20/33FG shooting, including nine triples, the highest 40 minute individual score since the competition made the decision to revert back.

The Melbourne guard wasn’t just pulling up and taking quick shots, Goulding worked hard on every possession, fighting over screens sometimes on multiple occasions on the same play, to end up shooting tough fadeaways which dazzled the home crowd.

While Goulding was the man of the moment, he wasn’t alone in contributing to the win; Mark Worthington (15 points, 6 rebounds) and Scott Morrison (7 points, 7 rebounds) provided the inside presence that allowed Goulding to find some space behind the arc.

For the visitors, Sam Young (22 points, 8 rebounds) helped his cause to show the league he’s one to fear in the playoffs if the Kings can hold their fourth position. Ben Madgen (19 points, 4 rebounds) and A.J. Ogilvy (9 points, 2 blocks) were influential early on to give the Kings a small half time advantage.

In a high scoring first half, Goulding was nearly the only Melbourne player that looked to be in for a successful night, single handily keeping his team in the game with an amazing 29 points in the opening twenty minutes.

The Tigers then locked down the defensive end in the third term, which, in typical Melbourne fashion, slowed the game down and found their rhythm to grind out another win down the stretch, taking a 19-9 third quarter and swinging the momentum in favour of the home side.

From there the number 43 in yellow just kept on scoring, having an answer to everything the Kings threw at him, ending his scoring outburst with a tough left hand lay-up to reach the half century and give the Tigers an unassailable lead.

While the Kings were resilient, there were some obvious areas in which they couldn’t slow down the pace of the game. Jesse Sanders had a day to forget, with his ‘pass first’ skills going out the window, shooting 3/11 from the field to go along with just the one assist.

Sydney may have only had the three turnovers for the game, it was at the defensive end which coach Shane Heal was unhappy with, feeling that his team allowed Goulding and other Tigers players too much room to execute.

Melbourne now head to Cairns to take on the Snakes, while Sydney will be fighting to lock in a playoff berth as they take a trip to New Zealand before heading home to face the Sixers in their first of two doubles to end the season.

Round 21 Summary

New Zealand Breakers 84 (Webster 17, Abercrombie 12, Johnson 12) Melbourne Tigers 97 (Goulding 25, Morrison 19, Worthington 16) Attendance: 6,808 @ Vector Arena

Perth Wildcats 81 (Ennis 20, Martin 18, Redhage 18) Townsville Crocodiles 69 (Pace 13, Hinder 13, Blanchfield 10) Attendance: 11,528 @ Perth Arena

Wollongong Hawks 79 (Clarke 24, Demos 13, Forman 11) Cairns Taipans 82 (Wilson 18, Gliddon 18, Weigh 16) Attendance: 3,082 @ WIN Entertainment Centre

Adelaide 36ers 102 (Ervin 20, Johnson 14, Carter 11) Townsville Crocodiles 70 (Pace 11, Hinder 10, Holmes 10) Attendance: 5,722 @ Adelaide Arena

Melbourne Tigers 92 (Goulding 50, Worthington 15, Greer 8) Sydney Kings 82 (Young 22, Madgen 19, Sanders 10) Attendance: 7,532 @ Hisense Arena