NBL 2013/14: Round 3 Wrap

Round 3 of the NBL season threw up some trilling finishes and a couple of upsets as all remaining winless teams got themselves into the W column for the first time. Let’s wrap up the round that was.

Wildcats turn tables on Breakers to stay perfect

The Perth Wildcats have continued their strong early season form with a come-from-behind victory against the Breakers in New Zealand on Thursday night.

The defending champions, who beat Perth to the title in 2011/12 and 2012/13, flew out of the blocks thanks to a hot start from big man Alex Pledger (16 points, 9 rebounds) and take a 26-17 lead into quarter time as the ‘Cats struggled to keep pace early.

A 30-19 second quarter blitz, however, saw Perth grab the lead and never relinquish it despite New Zealand never going away until the last minute of the game.

Jesse Wagstaff (17 points, 4-7 3PT), Jermaine Beal (19 points, 5 assists) and James Ennis (29 points, 6 rebounds) were all instrumental in the second quarter blitz, with Wagstaff nailing three three-pointers for the term and Beal catching fire to show the type of form that he’s capable of.

However the star of the show was again Ennis as he completely dominated the game after quarter time to set a new season high points haul for both himself and the league. Shawn Redhage (12 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists) fouled out late in the game, but not before scoring a quick-fire seven points to start the fourth period as Perth extended their lead beyond double digits.

For the Breakers, Kerron Johnson (17 points, 5 assists, 6-8 FG) stole the spotlight once more as Pledger faded significantly in the second half, while CJ Bruton (11 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists) continued to contribute off the bench. Tom Abercrombie (14 points) recovered from two very early fouls and a lot of first half bench time to help the Breakers get back in it before eventually fouling out.

The Wildcats shot 11-19 from long range for 58% compared to 6-19 for 32% for New Zealand in what proved to be a telling statistic, especially in the decisive second quarter.

The Breakers will host high-flying Adelaide next Thursday night before travelling to Wollongong to face the Hawks on Sunday. Perth will travel back to Australia to play the Sydney Kings on Sunday to complete their road double.

Cairns controls contest but Sixers sneak win

The Adelaide 36ers have continued their impressive start to the season, knocking off the Taipans in Cairns 87-84 in what was an exciting and see-sawing game on Friday night.

The hosts were on fire early in the first quarter off the back of Cam Tragardh (16 points) and rallied out to an 18 point lead before the Sixers found a way to silence the crowd throughout the second term.

Jarrid Frye (13 points, 7 rebounds) set Adelaide off on a 15-0 run which sparked a turn of events, with an Adam Gibson (13 points) bucket on the buzzer giving the 36ers the most unlikely of halftime leads with the score line 45-44.

The momentum swung once again in the third as the Taipans came charging out of the blocks thanks to a red-hot Jamar Wilson (17 points, 6 rebounds) who tallied 13 points for the term. Alex Loughton (22 points) also chipped in and was the Taipans’ go to guy throughout the night, stepping up in the absence of Cameron Gliddon through injury.

The final quarter was all Adelaide largely thanks to Mitch Creek (14 points in 13 minutes) who provided great energy off the bench and key plays down the stretch. He got things started with an early and-one, followed it up with a pretty pass which led to a basket and capped his night off with two triples from the corner which ultimately sunk the Taipans.

Stephen Weigh (2 points, 0-10 FG) was irrelevant for the Snakes against his old side in a performance he will want to quickly forget, while for the Sixers star big man Daniel Johnson (10 points, 5 rebounds, 3-10 FG) showed that he is only human as well as he registered his first quiet of the season by his lofty standards.

The Sixers face Melbourne at The Cage to complete their road double on Sunday, while Cairns sit and wait for the Tigers to fly up north for their clash next Saturday night.

Hawks knock off Crocs in historic night

The Wollongong Hawks have notched their first win of the season on Saturday night as the club played their 1,000th game in the NBL; the first club to ever achieve that feat.

As club legends looked on, the Hawks were out to put on a display from the get go as Rotnei Clarke (23 points, 6 assists) was providing the crowd with thrilling glimpses of what they can look forward to for the rest of the year. Kevin Tiggs (20 points, 5 rebounds) was his right hand man, making great hustle plays on both ends of the floor in a showing that suggests the Hawks’ import duo will make some noise.

For the travelling side, bench production was the key to staying in the game. Led by Jacob Holmes (14 points, 9 rebounds), the Crocs bench found a way to stay in it throughout but were just that touch behind all night long.

The celebrations were put on hold during the second and third terms as the visitors got in front on a number of occasions, however the Hawks continually found the answers. A Todd Blanchfield three early in the third put the Crocs in front for the last time as Tiggs stopped the run and the Hawks never looked back, re-establishing their buffer once again.

Townsville’s import duo of Brian Conklin (13 points) and Josh Pace (12 points, 8 rebounds) were well-held by the Hawks defence, as their own two imports ran riot.

The Hawks sealed the game late when new import Kevin Tiggs (20 points, 5 rebounds) piled on seven straight points in under two minutes for the home side that was capped by an amazing alley-oop off a Rhys Martin pass.

The night undoubtedly belonged to the Hawks and they were deserved victors on such an occasion. Before the game, club legend Melvin Thomas had his number 33 jersey retired, while the 1979 and 2001 championship teams were brought out on court to much crowd appreciation.

Wollongong head west to take on James Ennis and the undefeated Perth Wildcats next Friday night, before hosting a struggling New Zealand on Sunday afternoon to complete the round. Townsville will host the Sydney Kings on Friday night at the Swamp.

Goulding, Tigers defeat Adelaide to register first win

The Melbourne Tigers have made their fans proud after a week of media scrutiny and a ‘backs-to-the-wall’ mentality as they scored their first victory for the season, defeating the Adelaide 36ers 93-79 at the Cage on Sunday.

Photo Credit: The Pick and Roll

Melbourne was led by star shooting guard Chris Goulding (29 points, 5-10 3PT) who put on a show in the second half, scoring 22 points after the long break in a sizzling shooting display.

The Tigers had been making headlines in Melbourne after the NBL was declared ‘dead’ on Victorian sports radio station SEN1116, with Tom Greer, Mark Worthington and coach Chris Anstey making numerous appearances in the media to urge fans to get behind basketball and the Tigers.

Worthington (17 points, 7 rebounds) in particular was fired up out of the gates and made it known to the referees that this was no normal game for him and his club, but he found himself sitting on the bench very early with two cheap fouls.

The first quarter was lacklustre and the game was shaping up to be a defensive, foul shooting battle as the Sixers gained a 16-15 lead. However after quarter time the game quickened and the home side started to be much more effective in playing an up-and-down brand of basketball.

Scott Morison (15 points, 9 rebounds) and Lucas Walker (14 points, 10 rebounds) were key players for the Tigers against the much-vaunted Adelaide frontcourt and were major contributors to the victory.

The end of the second quarter belonged to fellow Tigers big man Auryn MacMillan, whose hustle under the rim led to six points of his own and gave the Tigers a seven point lead at the main break.

From then on it seemed like it was all Melbourne as Goulding got hot and he and his teammates built up a head of steam on defence, which included a Worthington block from behind on B.J. Anthony to fuel his club and the home fans.

Adelaide never seemed to be clicking on all cylinders at any time of the game on the offensive end, particular coming off a tough trip to Cairns two nights earlier. While Daniel Johnson (20 points, 6 rebounds) and Anthony Petrie (15 points, 12 rebounds) were dominant, it never seemed the big combination worked as well as it had in the past. Gary Ervin (16 points) was quiet until the game was over, while Luke Schenscher only played five minutes due to foul trouble.

The Tigers lit up The Cage in the final period, dropping a whopping 34 points for the quarter, mostly thanks to the heroics of Goulding and Worthington’s energy, as Melbourne didn’t stop for the entire 40 minutes in a performance that will please Coach Anstey.

Melbourne will look to grab another win next week as they head to Cairns to take on the high-flying Taipans, while the Sixers have another double as they head to New Zealand for a clash with the Breakers on Thursday night before heading back home to face Sydney on Sunday.

‘Cats outlast Kings in entertaining clash

The Perth Wildcats have repeated the dose on the Sydney Kings from a week earlier, pulling away late in the game en route to a hard fought 82-72 victory on Sunday.

The visitors reeled off 14 straight points in the final term in similar fashion to the way they closed out their clash with the Kings last Friday night to ultimately seal the game and the Kings’ fate once more.

The Kings went scoreless for 11 straight possessions and nearly seven minutes during that stretch as the Wildcats put the clamps on.

The first term belonged to James Ennis (18 points, 11 rebounds) as the superstar again stole the show with 11 points on 5-5 shooting, including an athletic put-back and even more impressive alley-oop finish to give the visitors a 23-19 lead at the first break.

Ben Madgen (15 points) showed why he led the league in scoring last season as he caught fire and the Kings rallied, taking the lead in the second before the Wildcats hit back to go into halftime with a single-point advantage on another Ennis put-back which beat the buzzer.

The third term saw the lead continue to change hands, with Jermaine Beal (24 points, 7 assists) catching fire for Perth and AJ Ogilvy (17 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks) and Charles Carmouche (15 points) replying for the Kings.

The final term, however, belonged to the undefeated Wildcats as they once more showed why they will be the team to beat come playoffs time, with the visitors ultimately having too many weapons for the Kings to handle.

Shawn Redhage (18 points, 7-11 FG) was again brilliant for Perth and continued his great start to the campaign, while Damian Martin (6 points, 4 assists, 3 steals) again worked tirelessly at both ends of the floor, forcing a host of Sydney turnovers and nailing two critical long-bombs as well.

Sydney will look to rebound on a tough double next weekend, stopping off in Townsville on Friday night before heading to Adelaide for a second game on Sunday, while Perth will host Wollongong on Friday night.

Round 3 Summary

New Zealand Breakers 89 (Johnson 17, Pledger 16, Abercrombie 14) Perth Wildcats 96 (Ennis 29, Beal 19, Wagstaff 17) Attendance: 3,460 @ North Shore Events Centre

Cairns Taipans 84 (Loughton 22, Wilson 17, Tragardh 16) Adelaide 36ers 87 (Creek 14, Frye 13, Gibson 13) Attendance: @ Cairns Convention Centre

Wollongong Hawks 85 (Clarke 23, Tiggs 20, Coenraad 10) Townsville Crocodiles 81 (Holmes 14, Conklin 13, Pace 12) Attendance: 4,474 @ Wollongong Entertainment Centre

Melbourne Tigers 93 (Goulding 29, Worthington 17, Morrison 15) Adelaide 36ers 79 (Johnson 20, Ervin 16, Petrie 15) Attendance: 3,236 @ State Netball & Hockey Centre

Sydney Kings 72 (Ogilvy 17, Madgen 15, Carmouche 15) Perth Wildcats 82 (Beal 24, Ennis 18, Redhage 18) Attendance: 5,507 @ Sydney Entertainment Centre