Townsville claim the 2014 NBL Pre-Season Blitz title
|Craig Rayner||Sep 21, 2014|
Photo credit: NBL
The Townsville Crocodiles have taken out this year's NBL Pre-Season Blitz in Brisbane courtesy of their 2-0 record with victories against Melbourne United and the New Zealand Breakers. The Cairns Taipans also managed to go unbeaten through the tournament in their two games. Although points were also awarded for quarters won during the 3-day event, Townsville came out on top by their superior for-against points ratio with both teams having won five out of their eight quarters played.
Townsville also enjoyed some individual success as their forward Mickell Gladness won the Ray Borner Medal for the player of the Blitz as he averaged 16.5 points and 5 rebounds across the weekend.
In the final day of action it was Cairns up first against a Sydney Kings team keen to bounce back after a 38-point drubbing against Melbourne United the day before. With the Kings dominant through the first three quarters, it took a 25-13 last quarter from the Taipans to secure a 93-87 victory. Sydney guard Jason Cadee had an open look from the wing for what would have been a game tying 3-pointer with 50 seconds on the clock but it fell short as Cairns held on.
Cameron Tragardh backed up his solid first match of the Blitz with a team leading 22 points and 12 rebounds. Scottie Wilbekin contributed 21 points and 7 assists while not committing a turnover in the process. For Sydney, who only used two bench players for the whole game, Kendrick Perry led the team with 20 points followed by Cody Ellis with 18 points.
Sydney coach Damian Cotter does not have long to consider the Kings two losses at the Blitz after going 8-0 in previous matches this pre-season as he now flys to Turkey to join the Australian Opals World Championship bid.
With the warmer weather in Brisbane, a giant fan above the court keeps the players cool inside NAB Stadium.
Perth and Wollongong took to the floor for the last match of the Blitz both looking for their first win of the tournament. Perth set the tone early with a 30-point first quarter that included five 3-pointers. The Wildcats were largely unchallenged through the rest of the game with not dropping a quarter on the way to a 19-point victory 79-60.
The Wildcats shared the scoring load across the roster with Greg Hire, Jessie Wagstaff and Damian Martin leading the team with 11 points each. Wollongong's Tim Coenraad was a lone-hand for the Hawks with 21 points.
Overall the event was considered by many a success with quality shown both on and off the court with all hands on deck at the NAB Stadium in Auchenflower to ensure the smooth running of an event critical to expanding the game in the Queensland capital.
The Brisbane basketball community backed the 2014 NBL Blitz across the entire weekend.
NBL CEO Fraser Neill took to the microphone after the match to echo such sentiments before confirming the NBL would be back with a team in Brisbane next season. As Brisbane basketball royalty Leroy Loggins and Cal Bruton presented the Loggins-Bruton trophy to the victorious Townsville Crocodiles, the NBL now leaves Brisbane (albeit temporarily) as the season proper is just around the corner.
The high standard of play on the court, exciting new additions to playing rosters and the incentive of knocking the Perth Wildcats off their current championship pedestal all point to what will surely be an exciting 2014/15 NBL Season. Bring it.
Day 3 - Box Scores and Full-Match Replays
2014 NBL Pre-Season Blitz Final Standings
1. Townsville Crocodiles - 2 wins, 0 losses
2. Cairns Taipans - 2 wins, 0 losses
3. Melbourne United - 1 win, 1 loss
4. Adelaide 36ers - 1 win, 1 loss
5. Perth Wildcats - 1 win, 1 loss
6. NZ Breakers - 1 win, 1 loss
7. Sydney Kings - 0 wins, 2 losses
8. Wollongong Hawks- 0 wins, 2 losses