NBL 2013/14: Round 6 Wrap

Remarkable comeback victories from Adelaide and Melbourne headline the action in round 6. Let’s take a look at how the weekend unfolded.

Perth hold off Cairns, remain unbeaten

The Perth Wildcats returned to the floor the exact same way they last stepped off it following last week’s bye, with a 75-68 victory over the Cairns Taipans on Thursday night.

For the winners it was another team effort led by a handful of players who step up at any given time. This time round it was Jermaine Beal (13 points, 5 assists) who got the game flowing early on, keeping the ‘Cats within a respectable margin while the visitors tried to push out to an early lead.

From then on it was Damian Martin (12 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals) and James Ennis (22 points, 7 rebounds) who controlled the contest which swung in the Wildcats’ favour.

While the game felt like it was always going to be a Perth victory for three quarters after their amazing 15-0 run late in the first, the Taipans had other ideas during the final quarter. Being down seven at the final break, that margin was wiped clean within a minute and a half thanks to seven straight points from Alex Loughton (14 points, 2 steals).

The only undefeated team in the competition then heard the challenge Cairns were providing, as the Taipans players were starting to find their feet in the game as Cameron Gliddon (9 points, 3 assists) also found his range in the last quarter, along with Stephen Weigh (10 points, 8 rebounds, 5-7 FG) continuing his impressive evening guarding Ennis.

Perth were far from comfortable during the final term as both Shawn Redhage (8 points) and Tom Jervis (8 points, 8 rebounds) fouled out, which forced Trevor Gleeson to play returning Matt Knight (18 minutes, 2 points, 3 rebounds) for longer than planned.

Fortunately for the home fans, their team rallied behind them and were able to provide some clutch baskets including a Knight short corner jumper which sealed the win with under a minute remaining.

The Snakes let the game go themselves, coughing the ball up 17 times, including five turnovers each to Jamar Wilson and Demetri McCamey.

Perth find themselves at the top of the table sitting 7-0, their best start to a campaign ever and will look to improve that against Wollongong later this weekend, while Cairns also finish off their double with a trip to Melbourne to face the Tigers.

Ervin magic steals win over Breakers

Gary Ervin has scored four points in the final 4.6 seconds of the match to steal a one-point comeback victory for the 36ers over New Zealand on Friday night.

The Breakers led by as many as nine points early in the final term before the Sixers rallied to lock the game away at 87 with 80 seconds remaining, before a Tom Abercrombie (21 points, 9 rebounds) three-point bomb restored the Breakers’ advantage.

After exchanging foul shots, and with the scores at 94-91, Ervin (26 points, 6 assists, 3 steals) went to the line and made both, including a fortuitous bank on the second to bring the Sixers back within one with less than five seconds on the clock.

However he wasn’t done quite yet. With the Breakers advancing the ball on a timeout and Kerron Johnson (17 points, 4 assists) taking the responsibility to inbound the ball safely, Ervin swooped in front of Johnson’s intended target and sprinted the length of the court to lay the ball in as the buzzer sounded, silencing the massive home crowd and sparking wild celebrations from the visitors.

The game was even throughout the first half and much of the third, before the Beakers put their foot down and got out to a seven-point lead going into the final term, setting the stage for the Sixers’ comeback heroics.

Despite the loss, the struggling Breakers were much improved and must be wondering what they need to do to win games of basketball. Alex Pledger (11 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks) continued his rich vein of form with a strong double-double, while Mika Vukona (17 points, 11 rebounds, 8-10 FG) also managed a double-double despite fouling out once again.

Ervin got plenty of support from big man Daniel Johnson (20 points, 9 rebounds) and Jarrid Frye (12 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals) as the Sixers won the steal count 13-6, including the most crucial with just seconds to play.

New Zealand, who slip to an unfathomable 2-6 record, will try once more to rebound when they take on Townsville next Friday night, while the 6-2 Adelaide side will host Perth in a top-of-the-table clash on the same night.

Ogilvy powers Kings past Crocs

photo credit: MR FOOJI via photopin cc

photo credit: MR FOOJI via photopin cc

Led by emerging Aussie A.J. Ogilvy, the Sydney Kings have issued a statement to the league that they are not a team to dismiss as championship contenders after their 21 point thumping of the Townsville Crocodiles.

Ogilvy was simply outstanding registering 23 points, 14 rebounds, 5 blocks and 3 steals which included multiple highlight plays, ranging from four dunks on the night to a monster block on Steven Markovic in the first quarter.

The star forward wasn’t alone though in contributing to Sydney’s emphatic victory, as Ben Madgen (23 points, 5 assists), Brad Hill (8 points, 8 rebounds), Tom Garlepp (8 points, 9 rebounds) and the departing Jesse Sanders (14 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals) all played their part.

For Sanders, who now leaves the team as he was the unfortunate import to be let loose thanks to the incoming NBA star Sam Young, finished his short tenure with the Kings on a positive note, playing what was possibly his best game in the purple outfit.

Townsville dropped the game during the first half and were never able to find their feet to post a respectable comeback. While the Crocs started the second quarter on the right foot, scoring the opening four points, they could only register four more for the quarter as the Kings jumped on a 21-4 run.

The visitors had multiple opportunities to attempt a fight back as they shot the ball 15 more times from the field, yet could only manage a dismal 32% from the floor compared to Sydney’s 52%.

Josh Pace (14 points, 5 rebounds) could only do so much before the defence started to slow him down, whereas Brian Conklin (9 points, 3/14FG) struggled find any rhythm all night.

With a great Sydney crowd all packed in to send off Sanders the right way, it became a little bit of an emotional game for the home side as head coach Shane Heal even said to his troops before the game “Let’s get this for Jesse”; a great sign of respect for what he brought to the club in his short time there.

The Kings hope to knock off the undefeated Perth Wildcats next week as well as hoping Sam Young is available to stop MVP favourite James Ennis, while the Crocodiles face New Zealand and Townsville on a road double.

Tigers roll on with comeback win over Cairns

The Melbourne Tigers gave home fans mixed emotions on Saturday night as they erased a 16 point half time deficit to clinch a three point win over the Cairns Taipans 88-85.

In what was a game decided by deep three-pointers, it was the league’s leading scorer Chris Goulding who made the decisive triple with half a minute remaining in the contest to put his team up by four points, a margin that was too large for the Snakes.

Goulding (31 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds) made six three-pointers for the match, with the two teams shooting incredibly well from beyond the arc, the Tigers 14 of 29 and the Taipans 12 of 24.

Cairns were clearly the better of the two sides early on, as they were able to quieten the crowd due to their hot first half shooting, an amazing 72% from the field. Jamar Wilson (18 points, 4 rebounds) and Cam Tragardh (10 points, 4 rebounds) were able to set the teams sights on the win early on, grabbing a double digit lead not too far into the second period.

Adam Ballinger (18 points, 4 rebounds) was the shining light for the Tigers during the first half, keeping the margin at a respectable and attainable number which allowed for an intriguing second half.

The three-point contest began here, with Goulding, Nate Tomlinson (16 points, 6 assists, 3 steals) and Alex Loughton (20 points, 5 rebounds, 8-12 FG) all throwing up long bombs for their respective sides, with the scoreboard ticking over at a much faster rate.

As the two teams locked up on the scoreboard for the first time since the beginning of the game, the inside presence started to come back into play as Scott Morrison gave the Tigers the lead with two great baskets down in the post.

Loughton decided to light up again as Cairns needed someone to push their team to the finish line, hitting another two triples down the stretch. However Goulding as cool as ever, did the same thing down the other end which ended the contest in the home sides favour.

The Tigers face the visiting Townsville Crocs next Sunday as they look to improve their spot inside the top 4, while the Taipans will host Wollongong at home as they search for a much needed victory.

Perth stay perfect with win over Hawks

The Perth Wildcats have moved to an 8-0 record after yet another victory on Sunday, defeating a spirited Wollongong outfit 89-76.

Jermaine Beal set the tone early, nailing his first five field goals on his way to 24 points, including 6-9 from downtown. James Ennis (21 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 8-13 FG) was also more than handy and cemented his spot at the top of the NBL food chain with another stellar performance for his club.

After a tight opening the ‘Cats got the jump before the Hawks fought back to get within a single point at quarter time. The second term went much the same way as Perth edged away once more, with the home side unable to go with them on this occasion and finding themselves in an eight point hole at halftime.

Wollongong sprung to life in the third behind Dave Gruber (15 points, 9 rebounds, 7-9 FG), who worked tirelessly on the glass all night, while Rotnei Clarke (20 points) and Oscar Forman (19 points, 5-8 3PT) started hitting shots to bring the crowd to life and their team within a single basket heading into the final term.

Shawn Redhage (16 points, 4 rebounds), who had struggled for most of the night to get going, answered the challenge with a couple of trademark baskets in the clutch to restore the Wildcats’ lead, while Matt Knight (8 points, 4-5 FG in 13 minutes) chipped in with some handy buckets when the game was in the balance.

The stars of the show, however, were Ennis and Beal and they sealed the victory after combining on two straight baskets late to extend the lead to an unreachable 15 points with less than three minutes on the clock.

Perth will face a stern challenge to their undefeated record when they travel to Adelaide to take on the second-placed 36ers on Friday night, while Wollongong will search for their second win of the campaign when they head to Cairns to tackle the Taipans on Saturday night

Round 6 Summary

Perth Wildcats 75 (Ennis 23, Beal 13, Martin 12) Cairns Taipans 68 (Loughton 14, McCamey 13, Weigh 10) Attendance: 10,322 @ Perth Arena

New Zealand Breakers 94 (Abercrombie 21, Vukona 17, Johnson 17) Adelaide 36ers 95 (Ervin 26, Johnson 20, Frye 12) Attendance: 7,470 @ Vector Arena

Sydney Kings 88 (Madgen 23, Ogilvy 15, Sanders 14) Townsville Crocodiles 67 (Pace 14, Hinder 10, Markovic 9) Attendance: 5,163 @ Sydney Entertainment Centre

Melbourne Tigers 88 (Goulding 31, Ballinger 18, Tomlinson 16) Cairns Taipans 85 (Loughton 20, Wilson 18, Steindl 12) Attendance: 3,226 @ State Netball & Hockey Centre

Wollongong Hawks 76 (Clarke 20, Forman 19, Gruber 15) Perth Wildcats 89 (Beal 24, Ennis 21, Redhage 16) Attendance: 2,171 @ Wollongong Entertainment Centre