Preseason peek: three observations from Sunday's NBL games
Sunday gave us our the first opportunity to have live streamed games for the NBL preseason, with games across Australia being played. Let’s take a look at some of the takeaways from today’s match ups.
Melbourne United vs Brisbane Bullets
In Melbourne, United were tasked with taking on the Brisbane Bullets at their MSAC training centre.
United came out firing and took the lead in the first quarter, leading 23-19 at the break. But that would be the last time they would see the lead. A strong showing from Brisbane’s imports swung the tide, helping them close out the half with a 49-46 lead.
Lamar Patterson and new boy Taylor Braun led the charge for the Bullets. Braun gave us a snapshot of his ability to space the floor knocking down an impressive 5/5 from beyond the arc.
In the end, the Bullets ran away with the game closing out the last quarter 23-14. Ending the game 22 point victors.
South East Melbourne Phoenix vs Cairns Taipans
For the second time in 7 days, the Phoenix found themselves up against the Cairns Taipans at Kilsyth.
From the outset of the match up, the newest team in the league was taking the opportunity for their players to run their offensive sets. Kendall Stephens came out firing in the first and begun knocking down the three ball. He shot 3/3 from outside the arc.
But it was to be short lived, as Stephens was seen in his tracksuit at quarter’s end and didn’t take any further place in the game. SEM took the lead 45-43, Cairns closing the lead to 2 on the back of strong showings from Kouat Noi and Cameron Oliver. The Taipans went on 7-0 run, with Noi and Oliver both adding 11 points for the quarter.
Yet that ended most of the positives for the remainder of the game for Cairns.
Enter Tai Wesley.
The seasoned pro showcased his array of skills as the Phoenix ran their offence through their big man. Wesley started to make it rain from deep, organised the defence, but also distributed the ball like a guard.
On the back of Wesley’s outburst, the Phoenix ran away with the lead courtesy of a 32-14 quarter. They would quell every inkling of a comeback attempt from the Taipans, coming away with a 93-80 victory.
Perth Wildcats vs Adelaide 36ers
In the last match up of the day, the Perth Wildcats ran around against the Adelaide 36ers for third time in their preseason tour of WA. Both teams took the opportunity for their younger members of the squad to hit the hardwood and experience some continuity.
Adelaide were lead by their young guns Harry Froling and Jack McVeigh. McVeigh led all scorers with 18 and showcased his fantastic outside shot, nailing 5/7 throughout the match up.Despite McVeigh’s hot shooting, both teams struggled to connect from deep, shooting below 40% for the outing.
Rhys Vague and Jesse Wagstaff showcased some fantastic touch around the basket. In limited minutes, the ever steady Wagstaff worked his way to 14 points for the home team. Vague was given an opportunity with extended minutes today, leading Perth with 16 points and filling the stat sheet with 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
By the end of the contest, the 36ers eventually closed out the game, winning 83-77.
Three takeaways from Sunday’s play
1. Jo Lual-Acquil is cementing his place in the rotation
Since signing for the 2019 runner up, centre Jo Lual-Acuil is seemingly solidifying a position in the rotation.
Today’s performance of 16 points, 10 rebounds and a block would only have strengthened his chance to play more minutes during the upcoming Blitz, and indeed the 2019/20 season.
His length and feel around the basket is providing United with a more than capable backup which could create match up nightmares for teams this season.
2. Tai Wesley continues to impress
Putting up numbers has not been something that Tai Wesley has ever shied away from in the NBL. After a season in New Zealand, Wesley has come back to Melbourne and Simon Mitchell is looking to hand the offensive keys to Wesley.
After today’s performance, Wesley showed that he is comfortable with his trademark back to the basket moves, but also happy to look to distribute and get his team mates open.
Today, Wesley took the Phoenix on a game winning run in the 3rd quarter. He basically shot the ball from beyond the arc so well that SEM went on a 32-14 run, handing his team the win.
3. Harry Froling is primed to take over
Earlier this week Harry Froling delivered a monstrous night against Perth. On Friday night, he topped that with a double-double performance with 27 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks in a near game winning performance.
As Froling prepares for a crack at breaking into the NBA for the 2020/21 season, it seems as though he has polished his game and is primed to take steps towards being one of the most dominant big men in the league.