Melbourne United @ New Zealand Breakers
(Friday, Nov. 16th, 5:50pm EST)
New Zealand were one of the biggest winners of the round. Firstly, the smacked the helpless snakes thanks to a dominate 3rd quarter paced by Corey Webster and Patrick Richard. They then went on to win on the buzzer in Brisbane when a broken play allowed Tom Abercrombie to elevate above an out-stretched arm to win it at the death knock.
Melbourne were less than convincing last week. I’ll give them a reprieve for game one as I truly believed they were handed a schedule loss to Illawarra. The travel to Cairns, back home for the blockbuster against Sydney followed by a trip to the Gong all within 5 days, proved to be too much for the defending champs. They did manage to pull out a win against a gallant Taipans team on the Sunday afternoon.
This game really is a flip of the coin as New Zealand showed the league what they’re capable of last week while United have been hampered by injuries and a demanding travel schedule of late. It should be noted this game isn’t in Auckland but in Invercargill, where Breakers player Jarred Weeks and United center Alex Pledger won a championship in the NZBL this season with the Southland Sharks.
Keys to the game
- Keep Corey Cooking
- Make United work for their points (No bail out fouls)
- Don’t let Goulding get a rythem
- Double Tai Wesley in the post
- Get Long in foul trouble
- Get Ware & Goulding great shots
The last visit to NZ was a memorable one for United as it eliminated the Breakers in the Semi-finals after a last second basket by Josh Boone in OT.
This game really is a flip of the coin but I’m going with Melbourne United in this one. After an ugly week last week expect United to come out firing especially with the past 2 coaches of the Breakers now combined on the other side of the court.
Illawarra Hawks @ Adelaide 36ers
(Saturday, Nov 17th. 2:50pm EST)
Adelaide made the most noise during the week by letting go of import Adris DeLeon and signing last seasons runner-up MVP Demetrious Conger. The change in the line-up was brought on by the lack of production from some of Joey Wright’s Australian talent and the injury to other import Ramone Moore. The 36ers have lost their past 4 games and needed a spark. Conger definitely brings that in spades as his style of play couldn’t match head coach Joey Wright’s style of play any better.
Illawarra should be kicking itself. They got the job done against Melbourne United to start the round right but then didn’t show up against the Perth Wildcats that were without 3 of their starters. AT HOME. It was a chance for the Hawks to propel themselves but instead left us wondering “how could that happen?”
If things weren’t bad enough as it is, Cedric Jackson was put under the microscope more and then last season’s MVP for the hawks signs with Adelaide mid-week to face his former team who are desperate for a win.
Keys to the game
- Run, Run, Run
- Take pride in 1 on 1 defense
- Limit Hawks to 1 shot
- Todd Blanchfield & Conklin need majority of the shots
- Transition defense
- Cedric Jackson needs to show up
Statistically, these 2 teams allow the most points with Adelaide giving up 94.3 per game and the Hawks 93.8 per game.
This will be an entertaining event for the non-basketball defensive purists. Expect this game to get up and down the court a lot. If this happens though the Hawks won’t be able to sustain that style with the 36ers. The line-up of Sobey, Drmic/Moore, Conger, DJ & Wiley has me excited to watch what this team is capable of doing for the rest of the season.
Perth Wildcats @ Cairns Taipans
(Saturday, Nov 17th. 7:50pm EST)
Spare a moment for new head coach Mike Kelly. Full of energy and excitement of finally being an NBL head coach only to win your first game followed by 6 consectutive losses with ladder leaders Perth walking into your building. The Taipans failed to show up after half-time in NZ followed by a devastating loss in Melbourne where they failed to execute in the last 2 minutes.
Perth did what Perth does last week. No Damien Martin (Calf), No Terrico White (Hamstring) and losing Angus Brandt (Ankle) in the 1st quarter against Brisbane. That’s okay. Cotton goes for 37 points with a buzzer beating 3 against Brisbane and then they travel across country to Illawarra with an undermanned squad and get the job done against the Hawks.
This is top vs bottom of the NBL ladder but the best thing about the NBL is that anyone can beat anyone on the night and this looms as a danger game for the Wildcats as the Taipans will be desperate.
Keys to the game
- Get a hold of Cotton
- Knock down open looks
- Continue to feed Jawai in the post
- Take ball out of Trimble’s hands
- Double Nate Jawai in post
- Cotton to shoot majority of the shots
Nick Kay has been a star this season with Perth but has never recorded a win in Cairns going 0-6 (2 – Townsville, 4 – Illawarra)
I’m going out on a limb for this one but I truly believe the Taipans can get a win here. They are yet to register a win at home and I believe that the time is right for the Snakes to get an upset and a huge win for their confidence. It won’t come easy but injuries and travel may be just what the snakes need to scrap a close win here.
Brisbane Bullets @ Melbourne United
(Sunday, Nov 18th 2:50pm EST)
Melbourne will be back home after a game against New Zealand on the Friday night and with a tight turn around it’ll be all hands-on deck to take on A Bullets team that will be seething after last week. United have won the past 4 home games by single digits, 3 (vs Adelaide), 6 (vs Hawks), 7 (vs Kings and Taipans).
Brisbane’s last 3 games have all been decided by buzzer beaters. Cam Gliddon knocked down the game winner in Adelaide but were on the wrong end of the last two with Bryce Cotton and Tom Abercrombie knocking it down to sour the Bullets weekend.
This is the first time that these two will go head to head this season and Brisbane will look to stop a 2-game slide. Melbourne start the round in 2nd place with a 6-3 record, while Brisbane currently sit outside of the four in 5th place with a 4-5 record.
Keys to the game
- Take Gliddon out of the game early
- Dominate the boards
- DJ Kennedy to post up more
- Get off to a good start
- Cadee to knock down shots early
- Run the United shooters off the 3-point line
These are the top two 3-point shooting teams with Brisbane leading the league at 11 makes per game while United rank second at 10.3 makes per game.
This will be a high scoring and high pace game. I’m not sure that this tempo suits the Bullets team. I think that United are due for a break-out game where everyone is firing at the same time. That’s why Melbourne will win this one.
New Zealand Breakers @ Sydney Kings
(Sunday, Nov 18th. 5:20pm EST)
The Sydney Kings are starting to look like the contender we all thought they would be after what could only be described as a sluggish start to the season. Brad Newley had another outstanding game as he, Kevin Lisch and Jerome Randle dismantled the Adelaide 36ers. Bogut provides the defensive backbone that they have sorely missed over previous seasons and even though his scoring has been underwhelming it’s been his presence that has propelled the Kings.
New Zealand will be playing their second game of the round and will look for Webster and Wesley to provide the main scoring punch. Webster will have to combat defensive pit bull Kevin Lisch while Wesley should dominate the post against Wear and Kickett. The Breakers will also be looking for Finn Delany to find his form that he displayed against Adelaide back in rd 3. Look for him to be a live wire off the bench.
Sydney got their first win of the season against the Breakers when they blew them out 101-78. Tai Wesley and Shaun Long were the only two to provide any resistance that night. The kings had a well-rounded attack with six players reaching double figures.
Keys to the game
- Defence and run
- Balanced attack from their perimeter players
- Bogut to handle Long on the boards and in the paint
- Webster to knock down shots
- Play through Wesley in the post
- Junk up the defence and make Sydney second guess their offense
Tai Wesley from the Breakers has won his last 6 games in Sydney against the Kings.
The Sydney Kings are clicking at the moment. The Breakers are also starting to look the goods. This is 3rd v 4th on the ladder and form would suggest that this should be a close game. I don’t think it will be. For me the Kings are looking better on the defensive end and Shaun Long has had trouble staying in the game due to foul trouble. Expect Bogut to have the biggest impact on this game.