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NBL 2013/14: Round 23 Wrap
It was the final round of the regular season, which pitted fourth vs fifth to see who claimed the last spot in the playoffs. The game then resulted in the final two games of the season being semi-final previews. All this and more in our Round 23 NBL Wrap!
Cairns prove to be too much for Breakers in Bruton send-off
Behind the one-two punch of Cam Gliddon and Alex Loughton, the Cairns Taipans rallied from a first half deficit to finish the 2013/14 NBL season on a high, knocking off defending champions New Zealand Breakers at Vector Arena 95-83 on Friday night. In doing so, they provided a sour ending to an NBL legend’s emphatic career with CJ Bruton set to depart New Zealand after a long stint which included the past three NBL championships. The match was all set up by the Taipans in a deciding third term in which the visitors had a stranglehold on the Breakers, corrupting their offensive rhythm to just 11 points, while scoring 26 of their own in return. With Gliddon (23 points) and Loughton (24 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists) providing much of the strength on one end of the floor, it was the surprise finish of Matt Burston that gained fans attention when he recorded a double double in his 12 point, 12 rebound performance. For the home side, Gary Wilkinson led the charge with 16 points and eight rebounds of his own, while captain Mika Vukona registered 13 points, 10 rebounds and five assists before being tossed from the game with two technical’s. While CJ Bruton may not have lit up Vector Arena on his final appearance, he certainly chipped in with 11 points and three assists, including two fourth quarter treys willing his team to the finish line, which finished unsuccessful. The Breakers had coughed up a nine point lead from half time in their third quarter meltdown, which happened to continue into the final period. Shooting just 34% from the floor in the second half certainly didn’t help the home side’s chances if they were to take away anything from their final game of the season. While the game got away from the home side, the crowd didn’t move an inch as the loyal Breakers faithful thanked Bruton in what was a very memorable night for the six time NBL champion.
Hawks sweep Kings, claim fourth and final playoff spot
In what was built up as game of the round, the Wollongong Hawks and Sydney Kings certainly didn’t disappoint as both sides put on a show in the NSW grudge match with a spot in the playoffs on the line. The Kings battled away all day, however they could not stop the barrage of three point shooting the Hawks put on display, which led to an enticing 100-87 victory over their rivals. Wollongong made more triples (19) than Sydney could even attempt (17), led by hot shooting Oscar Forman (26 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks) who was 8-12 from deep. Rotnei Clarke wasn’t far behind him with 24 points and four assists including seven long bombs, while Kevin Tiggs (19 points) made all three of his attempts from international waters. Points certainly weren’t hard to come by for either team throughout the course of the contest, therefore it was just a matter of which team was able to lock down their opponent for a small period of the game. Wollongong succeeded in the final quarter, not allowing the Kings to get any sort of run going as they attempted to peg back the deficit. In fact, the Hawks managed to extend the lead after getting crucial stops at the other end.
Credit: Joel Armstrong |
Wollongong Hawks For the Kings, Sam Young (27 points, 7 rebounds) played yet another stand out game, despite not quite being a major influence in the game. Ben Madgen (17 points) and Tom Garlepp (16 points) held up the offensive end while AJ Ogilvy (6 points, 1 rebound, 4 turnovers) was kept relatively quiet for his standards. With Wollongong claiming the game, they not only seal fourth spot on the NBL ladder, they also clinch a season sweep over the Kings which would delight many of their fans. At the conclusion of the game, Kings head coach Shane Heal declared that he will not return next year, with rumours swirling that he has been offered a coaching position with the new Tasmanian team which will enter the competition next season when the NBL expansion occurs. The Wollongong Hawks now travel to Perth to take on the ‘Cats in game 1 of their semi-final series.
Crocs cool off sloppy Kings
The Townsville Crocodiles have ended their sub-par season on a high note, with a dismantling second half performance of the Sydney Kings to give the Crocs a strong 88-79 victory. In what was deemed to be Shane Heal’s last game coaching the Kings, his team certainly came out firing to give him the proper send off he deserved. However, all was quickly lost as Heal must have left his players back in the change rooms for the second half. The Kings plummeted back into their game style which saw them fail to make the playoffs this season, one which incurred too many turnovers and empty trips. Despite leading by as much as 15 early in the third term, the Kings allowed the visitors to find their way back into the game, giving up easy looks and transition baskets. Townsville fed off the mistakes made by the Kings, which in turn, led to a hot shooting Steven Markovic (21 points, 5 assists) who had been disappointing in the first half. Markovic managed 6-6FG in the third term, sparking a 17-1 run which completely turned the momentum of the game. From there it was all Townsville, with the Crocs shooting the lights out. Rusty Hinder finished with 13 points and eight rebounds in his final game in the NBL, including a vintage dunk to cap things off for the men in green. For the home side, AJ Ogilvy (13 points, 6 rebounds) and Sam Young (16 points, 7 rebounds) continued to fight tirelessly, while Jesse Sanders (16 points, 6 assists) was electric in the first half which included five steals.
Adelaide drop Tigers in Semi Preview #1
With the game being declared a dead rubber, it certainly didn’t stop fans checking in to see the warm-up encounter between the Adelaide 36ers and Melbourne Tigers. The Sixers staved off a fiery Tigers outfit in the final quarter to hold on to a five point win, 99-94. The game was an even contest throughout the first half, with stars from both teams showing flashes of brilliance. This included Daniel Johnson’s (25 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks) inside presence, with him and Luke Schensher (18 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks) giving the Tigers big guys lots of issues with foul trouble, while Chris Goulding was a perfect 4-4 from the floor in the first half which included a silky baseline jam. Adelaide piled on the pressure from there and the third period was all about the home side. A 15-0 run thanks to the likes of the above names along with Gary Ervin (16 points, 6 assists, 4 steals) gave the Sixers a massive 22 point lead. From there the Tigers managed to start pegging back the margin, due to mainly the Sixers sitting back and making sure no injuries or negative incidents occurred. A 15 point lead at the end of three however was nowhere near safe. An intense and physical fourth quarter was somewhat surprising with absolutely nothing on the line in this preview for next week. Melbourne sliced the deficit back to just two points, in what was a twenty point turnaround, until Chris Goulding had the chance to tie the game with two minutes remaining. He turned the ball over via a travelling violation and the game broke away again. With Lucas Walker and Gary Ervin given unsportsmanlike fouls for separate incidents, this was followed by Walker and Morrison being disqualified from the game being fouled out. Adelaide then managed to hold on to secure the five point victory thanks to their 39 free throw attempts. Something Melbourne will be looking at improving on come next Thursday when the two teams meet in the same venue for Game 1.
Perth eases past Wollongong in Semi Preview #2
The Perth Wildcats are entering the playoffs next week on a bright note, capping off their already incredible season with a win over their semi-final opponents, the Wollongong Hawks with a twenty-one point drubbing, 86-65 at the Perth Arena on Sunday. As both teams distributed their minutes across their team, making sure that nobody injured themselves or that they gave any of their tactics away for next week’s three game series, it was still the big names that did the damage. As Wollongong started the contest like a house on fire, the end result looked far from likely when the game was just five minutes old, with the Hawks opening up their account on a 10-0 run. From there the ‘Cats broke the shackles and found themselves down just one at quarter time. The second quarter was all but relevant, as the third quarter was where Perth did the damage in typical fashion. Their stinging defence was in full effect, allowing Wollongong just two field goals for a total of six points for the quarter. From there, the game was done and dusted. James Ennis led all scorers with 17 points, while fellow import Jermaine Beal spent most of his night behind the three point line for 15 points. Tom Jervis (8 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks) and Jesse Wagstaff (13 points) were their key back-ups, both providing sparks at key points in the match. For the visitors, it was a tiring night after what was an exciting one just a few days earlier when solidifying their playoff spot. Tim Coenraad had a team high 13 points, while Rotnei Clarke (10 points, 4 assists) and Kevin Tiggs (10 points, 5 assists) were the Hawks main offensive movers. The two teams meet once again inside the Perth Arena this Friday for Game 1.
Round 23 Summary
New Zealand Breakers 83 (Wilkinson 18, Webster 13, Vukona 13) Cairns Taipans 95 (Loughton 24, Gliddon 23, McCamey 18) Attendance 7,947 @ Vector Arena Wollongong Hawks 100 (Forman 26, Clarke 24, Tiggs 19) Sydney Kings 87 (Young 27, Madgen 17, Garlepp 16) Attendance 4,446 @ WIN Entertainment Centre Sydney Kings 79 (Young 16, Sanders 16, Madgen 13) Townsville Crocodiles 88 (Markovic 21, Pace 15, Hinder 13) Attendance: 4,676 @ Qantas Credit Union Arena Adelaide 36ers 99 (Johnson 25, Schensher 18, Ervin 16) Melbourne Tigers 94 (Morrison 15, Farrakhan 13, Goulding 12) Attendance: 5,843 @ Adelaide Arena Perth Wildcats 86 (Ennis 17, Beal 15, Wagstaff 13) Wollongong Hawks 65 (Coenraad 13, Tiggs 10, Clarke 10) Attendance: 11,943 @ Perth Arena