NBL 2014/15 Round 13 Preview: Adam Gibson celebrates milestone against Breakers

Adelaide 36ers vs. New Zealand Breakers

Sunday 4th January, 2015- 2.00pm (local time)

Adelaide Arena

Tickets: click here

Odds: Adelaide $2.60, New Zealand $1.50

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With a 3-10 record, the Adelaide 36ers were all but gone from this season’s playoff race but they have found new life on the back of four straight victories. They finally look settled after the addition of Brock Motum and can move into fifth place with a win today. However, they are in the middle of a stretch which should decide their fate. Including their 84-77 overtime win against Cairns earlier this round, the Sixers have a four game run in which they play every current finalist. Following today’s match-up against New Zealand, they visit Melbourne and Perth in the next two rounds while they only have four home games remaining in the year. The odds are not in Adelaide’s favour but a victory against the ladder leaders will show just how far this team has come since that poor start.

Aside from a slip-up against Cairns in Round 11 when they scored just 59 points, New Zealand have been impressive since taking top spot on the ladder, winning four of their past five games. They have had a nine day break since defeating Sydney 97-85 on Boxing Day, giving them ample time to make the trip to Adelaide. However, they must overcome the memories of their Round 4 visit to the City of Churches when the Sixers won by 7 points even without Mitch Creek and Jamar Wilson. In their other meeting this season, the Breakers were comfortable 21 point winners when their bench out-scored Adelaide’s 44-19 in Round 2.

Key Player

Adam Gibson

The Sixers most consistent player, Adam Gibson, sits first in the league for assists (5.7 per game) and fourth for steals (1.8) while shooting 40% from the field for 12.6 points per game. Twice this season he has scored 30+ and one of those times was against the Breakers in Round 4. At the corresponding position for New Zealand, Corey Webster is having an outstanding season himself but he has been unable to stop Gibson in either of their clashes. The Adelaide guard is averaging 23 points at 62%, 6.5 rebounds, 8 assists and 4 steals across their two encounters, excelling in all areas on the floor. Celebrating his 300th game today, the Breakers have even more reason to expect a fired up Gibson to once again prey on their side.

What to Watch For

The Battle in the Paint

It has taken a little while for Brock Motum to dominate the court as many expected he would but the centre has starred in his past three games. After a 17 point, 10 rebound double-double against Cairns, he shot 16-25 for an average of 26 points in Round 12. His battle in the paint with Ekene Ibekwe will go a long way to determining the outcome of the match as the Breakers centre has shone in these sides previous clashes without Motum present. In Round 2, he recorded 11 points and 11 boards before coming off the bench for 7 and 5 with 6 blocks in Round 4 but matching-up against the stronger body of Motum is a difficult task.

The victor of both meetings has controlled the boards, with New Zealand recording 17 more rebounds in their win while Adelaide finished +11 in their victory. Motum and Ibekwe are the stalwarts in the paint but it will be up to role players such as Anthony Petrie and BJ Anthony for Adelaide and Mika Vukona and Tai Wesley for New Zealand to aid with the gang rebounding that both teams require.

Final Word

New Zealand has a league-best road record of 6-4 but there is no doubt they are far better on their home court where their defence surrenders 6.3 points less per game. Adelaide are in their best form of the season and were initial favourites when the betting for this game was first announced. A victory keeps them within striking distance of the playoffs but if New Zealand can contain the milestone man in Gibson, their relentless spread of scorers should be able to eventually break down the defences of Adelaide.

New Zealand by 5