Christmas is a funny time of year and if your eye isn’t on the prize upsets can happen.
Round 13 threw up a bundle of upsets while a couple of the more well funded teams weren’t so great.
The Taipans said, “What Melbourne traffic?” as they dissected United on Boxing Day and the Phoenix on NYE. The Breakers continued their rich vein of form with wins against Brisbane and Adelaide.
Brisbane, Perth, South East Melbourne, Adelaide and Illawarra all split their round while Melbourne United and the Sydney Kings went 0-2 to round out the round.
Stock Up: Cairns Taipans
The Taipans are the hottest team in the competition again. Having to travel on Christmas day to play United in the open air game on Boxing Day they made the most of their opportunity and hung on for an impressive win against the team just above them on the ladder.
They then rocked out the Cairns Convention Centre on NYE against a team on their the heels in the Phoenix. A third quarter explosion after a lack-luster second period set the win up for the Taipans who were able to keep the high octane offence of the Phoenix to just 84 points.
Taipans floor general Machado was the star of the round for the Snakes as he led his team with a big offensive output. He compiled 20 points, six rebounds and five assists vs. United, then amassed 29 points and eight assists against the Phoenix
Stock Up: New Zealand Breakers
Speaking of hot form… the New Zealand Breakers are on a four-game win streak. The Breakers won the unwinnable game. Down by two with six seconds to go against Brisbane they were able to get a steal, draw an unsportsmanlike foul, regain possession after draining two free-throws and hit a walk-off three courtesy of Scotty Hopson (again) to steal it in Brisbane.
They followed that up by out-working the Adelaide 36ers on their home floor to win by nine.
The Breakers, who looked like a traveling shit show just a few weeks, ago have found a way to galvanise and become tougher as one against all odds.
The main reason for their turn around is the play of star import Scotty Hopson. Over the course of the weekend he was able to average 29 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists, but more importantly showed why he is also one of the best closers in the game thanks to back-to-back walk off game winners. Hopson is the truth.
Stock Up: Marquee Player Performances
We have already spoken about Machado and Hopson and the work that they did for their team on the weekend but they weren’t alone as multiple marquee players had standout performances over the festive season.
Lamar Patterson went to work! Having been ridiculed about how in shape he is this season, he let his game do the talking over the weekend. Averaging 28 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists — not to mention he was 9-for-17 from deep as well — and the Lamar Patterson that we’ve been expecting was back.
How about Bryce Cotton’s performance against the Kings. With 39 points going 8-for-13 from three, he put on a show in the Harbour City then backed it up with 22 points, five rebounds and four assists against Adelaide.
Stock Even: Melbourne United and Sydney Kings
Two of the higher profile clubs at the top of the ladder struggled going 0-2 over the weekend. Melbourne suffered losses to the Taipans and Brisbane Bullets at home which saw them stay at 10 wins on the season, equal with the Cairns Taipans.
The Kings also suffered two losses to the Perth Wildcats, then little brother Illawarra. The Kings have only won two of their last seven games and have the critics asking if they have the right mix.
Firstly, United have been hampered by injuries and national commitments from the get-go. They are yet to have a full team out on the court together and Stanton Kidd looks like he is more than just a suitable replacement for Casey Prather. Give them time to gel and they’ll be fine.
The Kings look like they’re playing the long game. They’re afforded the luxury of dropping a few games but remember they currently have three guys from their regular rotation not playing at the moment in Lisch, Moller and Louzada.
The fact that they can manage minutes at this stage of the season I expect them to be peachy come the business end of the season.
My Bet: I expect both teams to bounce back this weekend. Melbourne 1-10 vs Illawarra, Sydney 1-10 vs Adelaide.
Stock Down: Video Replays
Wouldn’t be a segment or column of mine without the gripe of the officiating. Stop with the video replays every two minutes. It ruins the flow of the game. If we aren’t sure if it’s a two-pointer or a three-pointer then wait until a timeout or one of the breaks to check it.
Similar to when the video ref was brought in with cricket, the umpires were too afraid to make a mistake.
Now we have to go to the monitor to check everything. I propose something similar to the NBA that the coaches get one official challenge for the game and if it’s not inside the last two minutes of the game or a potential flagrant/unsportsmanlike foul they aren’t allowed to the monitor.
Too much ‘me time’ on the camera for the men and women and it has to stop.