A boilover win by the Bullets could have huge ramifications for the Phoenix’s season. Catch up with all the round 15 NBL23 action from Sunday.
The South East Melbourne Phoenix were dealt a huge playoff hope blow when they were upset by the Brisbane Bullets to round off Round 15 of the NBL.
Catch up with all the round 15 NBL23 action.
Bullets joy and Phoenix disaster in shock result
Jason Cadee caught fire for the Brisbane Bullets to orchestrate a stunning 84-79 win over South East Melbourne Phoenix in the NBL at the State Basketball Centre on Monday night.
The Bullets were hot and cold but were hot for long enough to produce a boilover.
It was just the Bullets sixth win of the season and it comes after losing 10 of their previous 11 games.
Harry Froling, who took over big man duties from a foul troubled Aron Baynes, and an aggressive Nathan Sobey were huge for the Bullets late, but it was Cadee‘s night in the spotlight.
Cadee produced a season-high 28 points, including three three pointers, four rebounds and three assists.
He led all scorers with 18 in the first half.
The Phoenix have dropped out of the top six with their fifth consecutive loss, replaced by cross-town rivals Melbourne United.
It was all the Phoenix in the opening period.
Even with starting centre Alan Williams forced to the bench early after picking up two fouls, the Phoenix settled the better, racing to a 24-18 quarter time lead.
Trey Kell started the game like a house on fire with seven first period points, showing no signs of the knee injury that had grounded him recently.
Gary Browne, back from a calf setback, set the tone with his energy from the back court, and Mitch Creek, who had an eye concern from his previous game, had his silky floater working.
The Phoenix maintained the rage early in the second period, going on a 6-0 run with Bullets centre Aron Baynes forced to sit out for a period after picking up a third foul.
But it was when Baynes went to the bench that Bullets coach Greg Vandejagt said to his team enough is enough.
Vanderjagt called a time-out and from that point on the Bullets dominated the remainder of the quarter.
Bullets huge quarter
The Bullets produced their biggest scoring quarter of the season – firing in 30 points to take a 48-41 lead into half time – a catalyst for their big win.
When DJ Mitchell drained a long range two, the Bullets were suddenly in the lead.
Cadee was instrumental in the comeback – launching an incredible 18 first half points, including a massive three on the halftime buzzer.
The game was there for the taking for the Bullets with the Phoenix seemingly struggling at both ends of the court.
The Phoenix clearly needed a spark at the start of the third.
Ryan Broekhoff, who had limped to the bench in the second quarter after banging knees with Tyler Johnson, provided that for the Phoenix with a big three-pointer.
While the Phoenix got back on track, the Bullets gave them a helping hand with some errant offensive play and a fourth foul to Baynes.
Browne made the Bullets pay for leaving him wide open, swishing a three to take the Phoenix lead out to five.
With the Phoenix pulling away, Tyler Johnson answered back for the Bullets.
The Bullets held sway for most of the fourth – leading by as much as seven – but with his team trailing by three, Browne had a chance to tie the game in the dying seconds but was called for a travel.
The potential shot came from Browne missing two of his own free throws and getting the offensive rebound.
It was a memorable win for the Bullets, but it was a dagger in the Phoenix‘s play-in hopes.
Big man woes
The big man battle was almost a non-event.
Both the Phoenix‘s Alan Williams and Bullets’ Aron Baynes ran into foul trouble early.
It limited the minutes and impact of the highly anticipated match up.
Williams was huge for the Phoenix in the fourth, leading the way with 19 points, but it was to no avail.
South East Melbourne Phoenix 79 (Williams 19, Creek 17) def by Brisbane Bullets 84 (Cadee 28, Sobey 15)
Crowd: 3200 at the State Basketball Centre, Melbourne
‘Mismatch’ turns into major scare for Kings
It was dubbed one of the biggest mismatches in NBL history, but a Kings team that has grown accustomed to blowing teams off the court was made to fight until the end to survive a spirited showing from the battling Hawks.
The Hawks entered Sunday’s game with just two wins but played like the side that faced the Kings in last season’s playoffs as they roared home in the fourth quarter to lead 79-78 in the final minute thanks to Lachlan Dent jumper.
But four clutch free throws from Derrick Walton Jr at the other end gave the defending champions the lead as they held on 84-79 to move one step closer to the minor premiership.
“They’re not all going to be 49 point games,” Kings coach Chase Buford said.
“That’s a huge testament to how the Hawks have been playing and how competitive they are.
“At the end of the day, we have to be better.”
Whether they were rusty or maybe even a little complacent, this was nothing like the Kings side that thrashed the Bullets by 49 points on Wednesday.
That win capped a five-game stretch that saw them smash opponents by 21, 20, 16, 21 and 49 points in the most dominant stretch in franchise history.
But there was no fluency in their performance at home on Sunday, with MVP favourite Xavier Cooks having more turnovers than field goals in an uncharacteristically sloppy day at the office.
“I don’t want to discredit Illawarra on this one, but I think ‘Xav’ got in his own way a lot tonight,” Buford said.
“For whatever reason, he seemed to second guess himself a lot. I thought tonight would have been a great matchup for him to go for 30, but he didn’t seem to have that aggression in him.”
The Kings only shot 41 per cent from the field in the first half, but the defending champs knew when to push the go button with a couple of clutch baskets that stalled Illawarra’s momentum when it mattered most.
A disappointing first quarter ended in style when Jaylin Galloway splashed a three with two seconds remaining to trim the visitors’ lead to just five points at the break.
The Hawks didn’t learn their lesson and blew the chance to head into the halftime break with a handy advantage when Kouat Noi got free to beat the buzzer to make it 37-37 at the main interval.
That shot brought the heaving crowd of 12986 to its feet as the Kings kicked clear in the second half, and the roof at Qudos Bank Arena almost came off at three-quarter time when a fan hit the rim with a half-court shot that would have netted him $10,000.
SIGNS OF LIFE
The Hawks look set to finish with the wooden spoon which is hard to believe when you consider how much grief they’ve given the Kings this season.
They may have lost all four matches to their noisy neighbours but they’ve challenged them every time, almost pulling off the upset of the season a few months ago when the Kings needed a buzzer-beating three to win by a point.
Illawarra showed again on Sunday that they have the game to frustrate the Kings and jumped out to a 22-10 lead before the champs eventually clicked into gear.
Seeing them perform so well against the best team in the league must be hugely frustrating for their fans who have seen them win just two games all season on the back of a number of injuries to key players.
They are three wins behind the Bullets with five matches to go, and they’ll fancy their chances of getting off the bottom of the table if Tyler Harvey (24 points and seven threes) can keep us his hot form from beyond the arc.
“For us to survive, I have to teach and I have to support,” coach Jacob Jackomas said.
“We have to focus on winning.”
Crucial road win for Taipans in battle for second
Star Taipans import Tahjere McCall has underlined his importance to his team’s championship aspirations after coming up with enormous plays in Cairns’ heart-stopping 85-83 win against the Breakers.
The third time was the charm as the Taipans finally beat the Breakers and took a big step towards securing a home semi final series.
Twice before – and on their home floor, no less – the Taipans led the Breakers by double figures only for New Zealand to fight back into the contest and come out on top.
But this time, in their only regular season clash across the Tasman, the Taipans finally conquered the Breakers for a crucial win – their sixth straight without star forward Keanu Pinder.
McCall, as ever, was amongst everything despite battling foul trouble for the second game in three days.
He came up with three big steals as the Breakers mounted their fightback, while hitting 18 points (40 per cent from the field) and grabbing five rebounds to keep his side in front.
McCall has been immense since his return from injury, with his energy and leadership crucial as Cairns navigated the absence of MVP candidate Keanu Pinder – for six wins from as many games.
Fellow import star DJ Hogg had 18 points and six rebounds, while Bul Kuol had 18 points as well.
Will McDowell-White was almost the hero for the Breakers, landing several enormous threes under pressure in the final term to put the home side in touching distance.
He finished with a game-high 29 points, which included seven-from-10 from three, with five assists, five rebounds and three steals.
The Breakers did themselves no favours, giving up 15 turnovers while shooting at 40 per cent from the field, but the joint efforts of McDowell-White and Jarell Brantley almost led the club to an unforgettable victory.
Brantley dropped a 25-point, 14-rebound double-double, with five steals and a block rounding out his massive afternoon.
USF almost bites
An unsportsmanlike foul called against Cairns import DJ Hogg almost came back to haunt the Snakes.
With the Taipans up by six points with less than 80 seconds left on the clock, Brantley came up with a steal on Hogg, with the falling Taipan grabbing at the forward’s shorts and bringing him to the floor.
Officials called it an unsportsmanlike foul, with Brantley hitting both free throws before Derek Pardon jammed it home to close the deficit to two points.
It was a necessary stop, but it made for a nervous final minute of this blockbuster.
The coach clash
A crucial top two position on the NBL ladder wasn’t the only thing up for grabs here, with two men who feature deep in the conversation for the NBL Coach of the Year facing off.
Breakers boss Mody Maor and Taipans coach Adam Forde have taken their respective teams from the bottom of the ladder in NBL to the top six, with both expected to appear at least in the play-in tournament.
Maor has the wood on Forde head-to-head, with the Breakers winning two of their three contests, but the Taipans are in the box seat to finish above the New Zealanders with three weeks to go in the season.
They will both be up against Kings boss Chase Buford for the gong, who has defending champions Sydney humming as the clear league leaders – and looking tough to beat as the business end approaches.
Injury has already robbed the Breakers of their spark plug, Bobby Brown, but they were forced to battle without three key men in periods of this crucial one.
Izayah Le’afa had a back injury and Tom Abercrombie carried a noticeable limp at times in the start of the third quarter, then there was concern for point guard Will McDowell-White after he and Taipans Bul Kuol tangled for possession.
All three battled on as the Breakers fought from behind and almost clinched a miracle win.
But with Brown already missing and finals around the corner, seeing the trio go down made for a nervous time in the Land of the Long White Cloud.
The Breakers will host the Hawks on Thursday, with Taipans returning home on Friday when they host the JackJumpers in another crucial NBL clash.
Foot off the gas in final quarter as Perth cruise
– Brad Elborough
The Perth Wildcats unleashed their full scoring potential on the Adelaide 36ers at RAC Arena on Saturday afternoon.
It’s a good thing the roof was open, because the Wildcats shot the lights out, recording a dominant 112-97 win.
Forget the final scoreline, it flatters Adelaide.
The 36ers won the final quarter by 14 points, but Perth’s starters spent the majority of the final 10 minutes on the bench. They’d done their job.
The Wildcats had 67 points on the board at halftime and 92 points recorded before the final term started.
Bryce Cotton shrugged off a pre-game fitness test to add 23 points, but there were plenty of other scoring threats from the home side.
Brady Manek was outstanding with a double-double that also included 23 points and 10 rebounds.
Adelaide coach CJ Bruton remembers well Manek’s break out game in round six when he dropped 25 points in a Wildcats win.
“We went toe to toe from the start, but the second five minutes (of the first term) was a 20 to four run for Perth,” he said.
“We weren‘t able to keep the scoreboard pressure at the other end of the floor.
“Manek has done that to us a couple of times now.
“He‘s a guy that can catch and shoot the ball very well in our league.”
The Wildcats have certainly found some form. Since falling to seventh spot at the end of round nine, they have gone 7-3 and are now in the mix for a top four finish.
Robert Franks provided the most resistance for Adelaide, but could only do so much.
He had 25 points, five rebounds and three assists next to his name when he fouled out of the game early in the final term.
The result represents the fifth consecutive away loss for the 36ers to take their record away from Adelaide to 4-7 for the season.
Adelaide are deep in the battle for a spot in the top six, along with Perth and the two Melbourne sides. But they need to find some form away from home, considering three of their final games are in Brisbane, Cairns and Melbourne.
EARLY WOES CONTINUE
They trailed Perth by a massive 67-46 at the main break.
The 36ers have won only two first-half quarters in their past five games; that’s two of 10 terms.
Perth really enjoyed having the roof open, leading at quarter time by 15 points.
The 32 points they scored for the term was their best start for the season.
The 36ers Kai Sotto dropped two early baskets to get his side off to a quick start, but also picked up two early fouls.
The big man went to the bench and the Cats went to work.
Perth hit four of five long range shots for the term; Adelaide’s record was zero made from nine attempts.
Robert Franks, the only Adelaide player to reach double figures in their lost to the JackJumpers last week, did not score in the first term.
Cotton knocked down 12 points for the opening term.
LET’S BE FRANK
Perth’s halftime score of 67 points is the biggest of any side this season, beating the 65 New Zealand recorded against Brisbane in Round 8.
Perth hit a ridiculous nine three-pointers from 13 attempts for the half at 69 per cent. Manek owned five of those and led all scorers with 18 points at the long break.
If it wasn’t for Franks, the 36ers would have trailed by more than 21 points.
Franks recovered from a slow offensive start, where he was kept without score in the first term, to have 17 points at halftime, along with three rebounds and three assists.
He knocked down Adelaide’s first three-pointer almost half-way through the second term and then dropped another three before the halftime buzzer went.
However, at the same time, four Wildcats players were already in double figures on the scoreboard.
Half-way through the third quarter Tai Webster became the last of the Cats starters to reach at least 10 points.
Coach John Rillie enjoyed what he saw.
“When our defence is locked in on a good level, it allows us to play good offense,” he said.
“They scored 46 in the first half, but the flow of the game was in our favour.
“We shared the ball and played with great pace on offense.
“Everyone got to share it. It was beautiful to watch.”
United continue to surge
– Dylan Bolch
The Melbourne United machine is humming, and their finals flame still flickering after a gritty 10-point victory over the Brisbane Bullets, 101-91.
It was another comprehensive performance by Dean Vickerman’s troops, who have now won seven of their last eight matches.
The dynamic duo of veteran Chris Goulding and American import Rayjon Tucker led from the front for United yet again, causing havoc for the Bullets defence. Tucker recorded 30 points for the third time this season, whilst sharpshooter Goulding hit five triples on his way to a 21-point outing.
Misery continued for the Brisbane Bullets as they sunk to their tenth loss in eleven matches.
They were unable to bounce back after their 49-point loss to the Sydney Kings earlier this week, the biggest loss in the 40-minute era.
Bullets coach Greg Vanderjagt said the team were aiming to focus on “getting back to normality” ahead of the United clash and had drawn on the positives early against the Kings.
“Trying to get the group back level emotionally, there were a lot of positives out of the first quarter against Sydney,” said Vanderjagt pre-game.
Despite trailing by 17 points at half time, Vanderjagt summoned his troops beautifully as the Bullets scored eleven unanswered points to narrow the margin to eleven points with just over six minutes left in the third term.
A barnstorming run saw the deficit slashed to just two points in the third quarter, as the Bullets had all the momentum.
Controversy ensued shortly after as Goulding drained a three-pointer late in the third term, yet it appeared as though Vanderjagt called a time-out prior.
The three-pointer counted and United were able to wrestle some momentum back through some clutch shooting from Goulding and Xavier Rathan-Mayes (20 points, five rebounds, five assists).
Guard Shea Ili chimed in with eleven points, five rebounds and seven assists whilst Nathan Sobey (18 points, four rebounds, six assists) and DJ Mitchell (15 points) were also solid for the Bullets.
The Bullets would not go away however and kept United on their toes in the final stanza, but the in-form team from Melbourne were not to be denied.
VANDERJAGT ON CONTROVERSY
Brisbane Bullets coach Greg Vanderjagt says he will be seeking clarity from the League over an officiation call that resulted in an abrupt halt to his side‘s momentum in their clash against Melbourne United.
The Bullets had slashed the margin to just two points when controversy ensued.
“I need to get clarity on it is the first thing,” said Vanderjagt.
“My process is, I call a timeout; I went to the bench… I indicated that I wanted to challenge the call.
“I was told by the officials that I couldn’t challenge the call because there was actually no call made, it was a jump ball call and you can’t challenge a jump ball, which I was unaware of.
“At no point did I cancel my timeout.”
Vanderjagt said that he wanted to call the timeout to try and settle the group, who were buzzing from the home crowd at Nissan Arena.
BAYNES GOES BANG
With Isaac Humphries missing with a knee injury and David Barlow with concussion, United forward Mason Peatling has seen more minutes and the Brisbane Australian Boomer made sure he made the most of a juicy matchup.
Baynes dominated the paint, recording a double-double that included a new NBL career-high 21 points and eleven rebounds.
When Marcus Lee was fouled out with 5:43 left in the contest, it looked as though Baynes might put the Bullets on his back and carry them to a famous win, but the cohesion of United shone through as they were able to wear the Bullets onslaught once again.
STRAIGHT OUT OF THE GATES
Melbourne United are on a tear at the moment. And it’s going to take a lot to stop them.
Vickerman’s men are playing tough and selflessly and churned out a 34-point opening term to establish a 14-point margin at the first break.
Tucker was on fire in the opening term scoring 13 points but the way United are playing is truly a sight to behold of late.
The entire team seem to be on the same page, and everyone is contributing on both ends of the floor.
Cairns hold off Illawarra to cement second
Cairns have cemented second spot on the NBL ladder but not before they had to overcome a tough Illawarra who simply refused to lose.
All eyes were on star import Tahjere McCall, who dropped 42 points in the corresponding fixture last season and has been one of the key men to lead this Taipans outfit in the absence of Pinder.
And No.22 delivered, racking up a 24-point, 10-rebound double-double, four assists and four steals despite carrying four fouls for the entire last term of the close 89-84 win.
DJ Hogg (15pts, 8reb), Shannon Scott (15pts, 6assists), Majok Deng (12pts) and Sam Waardenburg (10pts, 6rebs) all hit double figures for Cairns, who were forced to hold off a plucky Hawks outfit.
It’s been a tough season for Illawarra, who have routinely played far better than their 2-19 record would indicate.
The Hawks have lost nine games by single digits, including two against the Taipans – one of which went to double overtime – and three against league leaders Sydney.
And on Friday, they made it 10, as the Taipans escaped with an 89-84 win at Cairns Convention Centre to improve to 15-7.
The Taipans knew this was a danger game coming into it, and that’s the way they played as they rocketed to a 10-2 lead within two minutes and a 10-point advantage less than 60 seconds later.
After romping to an 18-4 lead the Taipans subbed off four of their starters and the Hawks hit hard, responding with a 20-5 run to lead 24-23 at the first break.
Cairns fought back in the second, as coach Adam Forde reinjected his starters into the action, though the Hawks didn’t allow the second-placed Snakes to slip away despite being outscored by six points.
As Taipans star McCall walked the tightrope with four fouls midway through the third Hawks centre Mangok Mathiang burst to life, giving the visitors the boost they needed as they went toe-to-toe with Cairns and threatened to take control.
While they trailed by six at the final break, the Hawks rode a wave of momentum to threaten the home side’s hold on the outcome, but they couldn’t close it out.
Tyler Harvey led the visitors on the scoresheet with 25 points, landing some big shots from three in the fourth to put his team on top, while Will Hickey played his way to a career-high 16 points.
ANSWER THE CALL
There’s been plenty of criticism about the Hawks and their lack of success this season but this performance is a reward for their persistence.
Coach Jacob Jakomas called a timeout at 16-4 down just four minutes into the contest and delivered a simple message: it’s time to play.
“This will be the hardest thing to do all season, to get this margin back,” courtside reporter Jenna O’Hea said, relaying Jakomas’ message.
“It’s the easiest thing to quit, but the hardest thing to fight, and it all starts on the defensive end.”
The passionate call to arms was answered by his troops, who not only overcame the margin but led late.
The Snakes face arguably the worst turnaround in the league this weekend when they follow up Friday night’s clash with the Hawks with a trip to New Zealand.
A full day of travel awaits, with Taipans players and staff to arrive at their Auckland accommodation well after midnight local time – much to the private frustration of some on the club.
The Breakers faced a similar turnaround earlier in the season, and were similarly dismayed at the travel demands.
MANGOK MAKES SURE THEY KNOW
Mangok Mathiang was an absolute menace as he sought to drag the Hawks back into the contest.
He was the second Hawk to hit double figures, finishing with a career-high 14 points, and came up with eight rebounds and three massive blocks.
But it was the manner in which he grabbed those stops, the 2.08m centre letting his lips fly as he came up big on Bul Kuol and DJ Hogg.
FIVE TO GET IT RIGHT
The Taipans will have five games to reintegrate star forward Keanu Pinder into the lineup ahead of a likely tilt at the NBL postseason.
Pinder suffered a left ankle injury in the December 23 loss to Melbourne United, and while he completed a training session during the week he remains on ice for the club’s crucial double header.
It means his absence has stretched to six games and almost one month.
The Snakes went 5-0 without him ahead of Sunday’s crunch clash with the Breakers, and have just five games left to reintegrate the dynamic, double-double averaging forward into the lineup.
United dominate Breakers
– Lance Jenkinson
Xavier Rathan-Mayes was spectacular for Melbourne United in a crucial all-the-way 77-65 win over a tired New Zealand Breakers in the NBL at Christchurch Arena on Thursday night.
United travelled across the ditch for a game centre Marcus Lee dubbed as “do or die” and returned with a third consecutive win and sixth win from their past seven.
Teams are looking over their shoulders as Dean Vickerman’s United build up a head of steam in their playoff push.
Rathan-Mayes was the cornerstone for United with 20 points, six rebounds and three assists off the bench.
The Canadian was the only player with double-figure scoring in a physical first half and set the tone for his team.
“Big win for us – we’re playing good basketball right now,” Rathan-Mayes said post-game.
“We’re trending in the right direction and hopefully we can keep it rolling.
“Next man up mentality for us, we’ve battled all year, injuries, different things, it shows the character of our group tonight to be able to come out, down [injured players David] Barlow, down ’Ice [Isaac Humphries], to be able to come out and play basketball like this, we’re pleased with it.”
United raced out to a 6-0 lead on the back of threes to Mason Peatling and Rayjon Tucker and were never headed.
Rathan-Mayes drained two big threes in the second period to silence the home fans as part of his 13-point first half, ensuring United built a sizeable halftime advantage.
United was good for its 43-30 lead at halftime with its defence rock solid, ultimately keeping the Breakers to their lowest total of the season.
Rathan-Mayes’ was also a facilitator, forming a strong connection with big man Lee, who licked his lips on the pick-and-roll.
Lee was busier than usual, forced to take on the bulk of the big man duties with Isaac Humphries out with a sprained knee.
Lee, who scored six points with nine boards, got involved in the flow of the offence with five assists.
Peatling set the tone early for United, opening the game with a three in the corner and producing a block in the opening minutes.
The Breakers sprung to life in the third period.
Izayah Le‘afa was laser-like from downtown with three triples as part of an 11-point quarter before finishing with 13.
Coupled with sterner defence, the Breakers had a chance going into the fourth nine points down.
United‘s NZ guard Shea Ili landed a dagger three-point shot that appeared to come after the shot clock had expired.
Any hope for the Breakers evaporated as Ili‘s shot took a lucky bounce off the rim and went through.
The highlight of the game came when Tucker lost a shoe and produced a superb behind-the-back pass to Peatling under the rim.
Need a break
Can you blame the Breakers for lacking spark?
Forced to back up just two days after playing Perth on the road, it was always going to be a tough task for the Breakers, particularly without leading scorer Barry Brown Jr, who is out with a groin injury.
The Breakers committed a number of concentration fouls, twice falling foul of the referees on United three-point shots.
Jarrell Brantley tried his utmost to get the Breakers into the contest with 17 points.
Dererk Pardon was his energetic self with seven points and six boards, but he showed his frustration at one point, throwing the ball away in anger as a call went against him.
Half of the stadium lights at Christchurch Arena went down during the second quarter.
The lighting at one end of the court was impacted.
Play continued as neither team complained about the situation.
New Zealand Breakers 65 (Brantley 17, Le‘afa 13, Gliddon 8) lt Melbourne United 77 (Rathan-Mayes 20, Newley 14, Goulding 14).
Merciless Sydney stun Brisbane with second quarter siege
A sizzling second quarter set-up Sydney’s merciless 116-67 shellacking of basket case Brisbane as the Kings continued to extend their reign at the top of the NBL ladder at Nissan Arena on Thursday night.
Sydney outscored the home side by 35-19 in the second term to put the contest on ice by halftime and move to a league-best 16-5 record with their fifth-straight win.
The Kings have won all five of those games by double figures and have averaged over 100 points with the Bullets the latest team to succumb to Sydney’s run, gun and stun offence that helped five of the visitors reach double figures with Xavier Cooks and Tim Soares topscoring with 20 points each.
After being on the end of a 26-point flogging from Cairns in the Queensland derby last week, Brisbane fired blanks again with a dysfunctional offence, disinterested defence and poor discipline. It was embarrassing for the home side with fans leaving the stadium in the fourth quarter.
The Bullets slumped to fourth-straight loss and a 5-16 record as the gaping chasm between the NBL’s best and one of the worst teams in the competition was brutally showcased as the Kings enjoyed a 29-15 third quarter romp to open up a 33-point lead at the last change.
With NBL owner Larry Kestelman, Australian basketball great and Kings part-owner Andrew Bogut, Brisbane Broncos stars Adam Reynolds and Corey Oates and beloved former Bullets entertainer “Dancin’ Duncan” sitting courtside, Sydney blew the game wide open in the second term, scoring the first eight points in a 14-2 run.
They showed no signs of slowing down as they extended their lead to 21 points just before halftime before Brisbane hit a shot on the buzzer to leave the lopsided score at 59-40 at the main break.
The Kings should have had more than a three-point cushion at quarter-time after they shot poorly in the first term (nine of 21 from the field) with Brisbane’s poor defence giving them far too many wide-open looks.
SOBEY BACK TO AGGRESSIVE BEST
Brisbane star Nathan Sobey was uncharacteristically quiet in last week’s ‘Sunshine Stoush’ with just the two points after being a game day decision to play due to injuries. He showed more of his trademark aggression and intent and had six points to his name after just four minutes as the Bullets went with the Kings early. He finished with 14 points as the Kings wept all before them after quarter-time.
HUNTER THUNDERS THROUGH HOT TEMPERED BULLETS
Kings bigman Jordan Hunter did not shirk the tough stuff. He produced a thunderous alley-oop from a DJ Vasiljevic pass late in the first quarter when he had to leap, catch and dunk in heavy traffic. He then had some argy-bargy with Bullets centre Aron Baynes throughout the second term when the big units traded fouls in the paint as tempers began to flare.
150 FOR FROLING
Bullets forward Harry Froling brought up his 150th NBL game on Thursday night but he is clearly out of favour at Brisbane. He has been out of the rotation for a number of weeks and saw no court time in the first half of his milestone match. Froling was considered – by some – as a potential NBA prospect when he was at the Adelaide 36ers. He is barely an NBL prospect at the moment with another disappointing stint in blue and gold.
The Sydney bench did not have the same points explosion that it produced against Perth but the Kings juggernaut maintains its ominous momentum when they hit the court. Behind Tasmania, Sydney has the second most used bench in the league and the trust that head coach Chase Buford shows in his second unit is consistently rewarded. Jordan Hunter was the pick of the bench players for Sydney whose depth is unmatched across the NBL.
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