The good and the bad of NBL Blitz - Day 1
Yesterday we saw the NBL's pre-season competition kick off. The "NBL Blitz" takes the eight NBL franchises on a road trip from Bendigo to Ballarat, giving each team an opportunity to showcase their newest additions. In a first for the NBL, all games are being streamed live on Twitter, giving the NBL faithful the chance to watch the days play.
In a quest for the Loggins-Bruton Cup, each win is worth 3 points and each quarter won is worth 1.
The best bits of Day 1
The Illawarra Hawks squashed a lot of fears for their outside shooting, knocking down a hugely impressive 57% from beyond the arc.
The Hawks were lead by Jordair Jett, who impressed with his slashing and play making ability. He accounted for 17 points on 6-8 shooting.
Being without AJ Ogilvy, Rob Beveridge had to get creative and Illawarra showed off a small ball line up. When David Andersen or Brian Conklin were sitting, they slid Tim Coenraad or Todd Blanchfield to the five with great effect. They stormed home in the final three quarters helping the Hawks take 6 out of the 7 points available.
Perth vs. New Zealand
Bryce Cotton took the first quarter by storm, knocking down 12 points as he went on to with with 17 for the game.
He was overshadowed by Corey Webster's return to the NBL. In an impressive turnout Webster lead all scoring for Day 1, knocking down 60% of his shots, whilst helping himself to 24 points.
One to watch.
There is a lot of excitement surrounding the NBL Import class for the upcoming season. Today we got to see some fantastic performances across the board, but one player hustled and bustled his way to the front of the list.
Jacob Wiley and his Adelaide 36ers caused a stir by out running and gunning Melbourne United.
Wiley came to Australia with the reputation for being an "A Grade" athlete. Today he showed that he is going to be a handful for defences across the league.
The versatile forward showed the ability to beat his man on the dribble, get to the rim in transition and drag down a huge 15 rebounds.
Adelaide have found a fit for their run and gun offence, which put United's defensive front on the back foot. Wiley looked comfortable and at times unstoppable as he got out in front of his teammates, making for a scary looking proposition for the NBL.
Cairns came up against the Bogut led Sydney Kings in the last match up for the day. An undermanned Taipans outfit were always going to struggle as Nate Jawai, Dexter Kernich-Drew and Lucas Walker all sat out their first game.
The Kings were the only team to take out maximum points on Day 1 winning all four quarters and running away with the win 75-60.
In a professional and quality performance Andrew Gaze made the most of his deep roster. Each player saw double digit minutes with only Kevin Lisch staying out on the floor for over 25 minutes.
Whilst all eyes may have been on Andrew Bogut, he showed his presence alone will help take the Kings a long way this season. His stats won't jump off the page, he amassed a measly 3 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks. But his presence in the paint changed shots early as he helped the Kings get out a 22-19 early first quarter lead.
There were no standout performances for the Kings, everyone played their part. What was exciting was to see the likes of Sydney's young brigade in Kyle Adnam, Tom Wilson and Brian Bowen showcase their huge potential.
Should we be concerned?
Melbourne United and Adelaide went head to head in a Grand Final replay. A highly anticipated fixture, which we are sure numerous people have been waiting for, ended up fizzling out as the 36ers ran away 97-87.
A staple of United's play last season was their staunch defending and ability keep their opposition off the glass. Last night though they keep up short.
United opened the game with a small lineup, with David Barlow starting as an undersized centre before Alex Pledger entered the game to try and fix the tilted rebounding numbers.
Whilst United were without starting centre Josh Boone, there were several missed assignments and a lack of overall chemistry on the defensive end.
United were out rebounded for the game 49-43, but a glaring stat was the 20 offensive rebounds the 36ers were able to amass throughout the contest.
At times during the second half the 36ers dominated play. They had 6 players who scored double digits and were lead by new import Jacob Wiley, who posted 12 points and dragged down 15 rebounds for his first double-double of the tournament.
It wasn't all bad news for United with new import DJ Kennedy starting strongly. He chipped in with 12 points before fouling out and showed some fantastic promise. Casper Ware Jr. led United with 16 points whilst Craig Moller and Mitch McCarron added 15 points each.
Looking forward to Day 2
The NBL Blitz is on the move. Day 2 will take place at the Mars Minerdome in Ballarat on Saturday.
With two days of basketball to take place over the weekend, there's plenty of exciting basketball to come.
The Day 2 matches include:
1pm: Cairns Taipans vs Perth Wildcats
3pm: Sydney Kings vs Adelaide 36ers
5:30pm: Illawarra Hawks vs NZ Skycity Breakers
7:30pm: Melbourne United vs Brisbane Bullets