1. You can’t load manage in the NBL
You can’t lapse in any league, but the NBL even more so due to its limited number of teams and a jam-packed schedule. Sitting pretty at 5-2, the Phoenix entered Round 7 in a great position. However, after two losses they now have a 5-4 record and are just a few defeats away from potentially slipping to seventh.
They have plenty of veteran players who will know all about this, and it shows that you can’t take any night in the NBL easy or worse, attempt the infamous load management Kawhi Leonard’s got the NBA is buzzing on about.
2. Million-dollar game, five-cent finish
South East Melbourne and Melbourne United played out a thrilling game on Saturday night, with the latter eventually taking home a 96-95 victory. It was a rollercoaster of a battle that deserved a fitting finish, but fans didn’t get it.
Instead, the game was decided at the free throw line, after Melo Trimble was granted two freebies off a very soft call. With scores tied he nailed one and missed the other intentionally, which wasn’t the hype everyone wanted.
3. The curious case of Keith Benson
On Saturday night against United, Keith Benson was finally unleashed. He finished with 20 points, eight rebounds, and five blocks playing just 18 and a half minutes against the best centre in the league, Shawn Long.
For most outsiders, it appeared as though that was the breakout game Benson needed to unleash. But the big man played just 14:36 against Adelaide, finishing with four points and a single rebound. Keep an eye on how this one plays out.
4. Getting a handle on Randle
There is one clear major difference between Phoenix’s win over Adelaide earlier in the season and their loss against them on Monday night, Jerome Randle. The dynamic point guard had just 11 points against South East Melbourne back in late October, however went off for 27 points against them this week.
You have to be able to shut down or limit the opposition’s best player, and on this occasion, the Phoenix didn’t and it made a mountain of difference.
5. Mitch Creek is a cut above
It seems like we say something great about Mitch Creek every week, but to be honest, it’s hard not to. The 27 year old once again proved he is an elite player in this competition, putting in great performances despite his team dropping two games.
Against Melbourne he had 27 points, seven rebounds, and three assists, and on Monday night he finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, and three steals. MVP here he comes?
6. Jaye Crockett can FLY
We’ve seen him get upstairs before, but Jaye Crockett’s 2nd quarter dunk against Adelaide has to be the best he has had so far in the NBL.
The 28-year-old blew past Eric Griffin and exploded at the ring, with Anthony Drimic making the smart play of not trying to challenge Crockett at the rim.
7. Zach Randolph is a legend
Part owner of the South East Melbourne Phoenix, Zach Randolph, was in town to watch his team this weekend and came across as genuinely good bloke.
Randolph was more than happy to chat to the media and signed plenty of autographs for fans. It adds another layer to Phoenix’s push to win fans over, because as well as Randolph, they had every single player signing after the game.