With the playoffs just around the corner, things are heating up in the NBL.
Catch up with all the round 16 NBL23 action.
Taipans’ winning streak snapped by JackJumpers
– Jake Garland
The Taipans welcomed back an MVP candidate but it was the visiting JackJumpers’ Jack McVeigh who snapped the Snakes’ six-game winning streak and strengthened Tasmania’s grip on a playoff position.
The JackJumpers hit the basket early, putting pressure on the Taipans who trailed 8-3 before they found their rhythm on a 12-0 run.
Former Taipan Jarrad Weeks answered for Tasmania with a three with two minutes left before Ben Ayre finished the quarter with the final score with the Taipans leading 17-14.
The JackJumpers started the second quarter with a 6-1 run in the first two minutes.
The Taipans struggled through the second quarter as things became heated on the floor between Tahjere McCall and Milton Doyle.
Cairns went into the half trailing 30-34 with Matt Kenyon a game high 11-points shooting at 80 per cent.
The Taipans shot at 34 per cent in the first half turning the ball over 13 times. DJ Hogg led the scoring with seven points.
Tasmania dominated the first five minutes of the third quarter, hitting 14 points, extending a lead to a game high 12 points.
Shannon Scott limped off in the hands of the doctor after a big fall midway through but returned to the court with less than a minute to go.
Jonah Antonio replaced Scott after the injury and hit two big three point shots back-to-back, closing the gap to seven points.
The JackJumpers continued to respond to what the Taipans threw at them, extending the score back to double figures with three minutes to go.
It was a seven-point margin at the end of the third with Kenyon with a game high 14 points.
Cairns started the fourth with an 8-0 run thanks to Bul Kuol and DJ Hogg finding their range.
After both teams struggled to score in the first half it turned into an old fashioned shootout with either team going back and forth.
Kuol lifted in the first half of the final quarter, finding the basket three times plus two free throws to draw the score back to level pegging with five minutes remaining.
Hogg hit a big outside shot to put the Taipans back in front before McVeigh responded with two big three-pointers of his own, swinging momentum back with Tasmania.
Sam Waardenburg went up for an offensive rebound and looks to have rolled his ankle with two minutes left.
With less than a minute to go, the JackJumpers pushed the lead out to six points with a three-pointer from Milton Doyle.
Tasmanian McVeigh finished with 18 points as the JackJumpers finished the game with an 11-0 run to win by eight points, 77-85.
Brisbane put a bullet in Adelaide’s finals hopes
– Greg Davies
BRISBANE all but put a bullet in Adelaide’s slim NBL finals hopes after a clutch performance from US import Tyler Johnson in a dramatic 106-101 overtime victory at Nissan Arena on Thursday night.
Adelaide suffered their fourth-straight loss and slumped to an 11-13 record after the ninth-placed Brisbane (7-17) powered over the top of the visitors in the extra five minutes.
The 36ers have to play Melbourne United twice, Sydney and Cairns in the run home in a diabolically tough fixture that will all but end their bid for the top six.
The silky Johnson was huge for Brisbane with 27 points and found great support from Jason Cadee, DJ Mitchell and Aron Baynes as the Bullets claimed their second-straight win.
The nailbiter went into overtime after the sides were locked at 91-all at the end of regular time after a frenetic final 30 seconds.
Johnson hit two clutch buckets for Brisbane, Adelaide’s Antonius Cleveland knocked down two free throws with 1.9 seconds left to tie the scores while teammate Robert Franks nailed a critical jumpshot after a controversial out-of-bounds call.
With 20.4 seconds left on the clock replays appeared to show the ball going over the baseline off 36ers forward Hyrum Harris. However, the replay centre still decided to hand possession to Adelaide.
Franks knocked down a shot off the next possession to level the scores at 89-all to add to the palpable tension inside Nissan Arena.
Without star point guard Mitch McCarron (family reasons), the 36ers trailed Brisbane for a vast majority of the contest with the Bullets leading by as much as 13 in the second quarter.
Anthony Drmic was the best for the 36ers with 20 points as Adelaide had five players get into double figures.
In his first game back at Nissan Arena since leaving the Bullets, 36ers import Robert Franks had a quiet first half with just the three points and two boards but he came to life after halftime with a seven-point surge in the third quarter to drag Adelaide back into the contest. He was forced to guard Aron Baynes in the last quarter but still had the legs to hit a vital jumpshot in the dying seconds.
Why were Brisbane’s original uniforms red and white? The Bullets adopted the same colour scheme as several Brisbane sporting teams back in the day as it was in keeping with the city’s official floral emblem – the poinsettia. They wore red and white from 1979 to 1984 before switching to blue and gold. A nice touch on the Heritage Round uniforms was that every player who has represented the club had their names printed on the jerseys and shorts. Brice Fitzgerald – the club’s first-ever captain – presented the jerseys to the current players pre-match.
Kai Sotto won’t forget his match-up with Aron Baynes. The Boomers great and NBA championship winner manhandled the giant 36er for most of the night, especially when they went toe-to-toe in the low post and Baynes’ size, strength and big man craft allowed him to get into good position and get to the bucket. To his credit, Sotto kept battling away in the paint to be one of Adelaide’s more significant contributors and he will be wiser – and bruised – for the overall experience.
Guard of honour
A host of past Bullets players, coaches and officials formed a guard of honour pre-match with the likes of Brian Kerle, Cal Bruton, Andre Moore, Rodger Smith and courtside entertainer “The Mushroom” all present. However, a number of club greats were conspicuous by their absence. Two players who have their retired numbers hanging from the rafters – Leroy Loggins and Robert Sibley – were not at Nissan Arena. The Bullets CEO Peter McLennan might be best placed to explain why.
Slow-starting JackJumpers miss golden opportunity
– Jonathon Tuxworth
THE JackJumpers squandered a chance to virtually put one foot through the NBL playoffs draw after a sloppy start cost them dearly in Wednesday night’s 86-75 loss to South-East Melbourne Phoenix at Launceston.
Tasmania (13-11) were hot favourites to secure a third straight win against a previously freefalling South East Melbourne, who had lost their past five matches, at a sold out Silverdome.
But a poor first quarter from the hosts and a big performance from Phoenix’s MVP contender Mitchell Creek, who did most of his damage early, proved too difficult to overcome.
JackJumpers coach Scott Roth labelled their last-start win over Adelaide as their best win of the season, but their performance against the Phoenix was arguably their worst.
Tasmania entered the clash in fourth spot on the table and a win would have seen them edge close to all but securing a second straight post-season campaign.
The Jackies shot 43 per cent from the field to 39. But after giving up 16 offensive rebounds, losing the assist count 19-11 and committing 14 turnovers to seven, they will enter the last four games of the regular season right in the playoff melting pot, with six teams battling for the last four spots.
The JackJumpers were lethargic out of the blocks, giving up an early 24-14 quarter time lead.
Hungry to arrest their slide the Phoenix (13-12) were aggressive from the outset, attacking the rim and forcing the JackJumpers into a number of early fouls.
Aside from the odd burst of JackJumpers momentum in the second half, the Phoenix controlled the contest to keep their playoff hopes alive.
JackJumpers import Milton Doyle (16 points, five assists) found some spark late and forward Jack McVeigh continued his good form with 15 bench points, but the Creek-led Phoenix packed too many punches.
Tasmania was made to pay for a poor first stanza where they lost the turnover count 5-0, gave away too many offensive rebounds and allowed the Phoenix to live on the free throw line.
A 7-0 Jackjumpers run midway through the second term cut the margin to 30-25.
However the Phoenix responded to build the lead out to 12, and extended it to 14 at the main break.
Creek (21 points, 11 rebounds, five assists) was superb for the visitors in the first half in particular, racking up 16 points and seven rebounds before halftime.
His focus on attacking the basket leading to eight free throw attempts after forcing five fouls on the Jackjumpers.
A 9-0 run late in the third quarter got the JackJumpers back in the game after cutting the deficit to 59-56.
But as had been the case throughout the match, the Phoenix found a way to snap Tasmania’s momentum and restored their buffer to 64-56 at the final break.
The hosts never really threatened to bridge the gap in the last quarter as they left their second and final game in Launceston this season empty-handed.
The JackJumpers travel to Cairns to play the Taipans this Friday night.
SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE86 (Mitch Creek 21, Alan Williams 16, Gary Browne 15) defTASMANIA 75 (Milton Doyle 16, Jack McVeigh 15, Rashard Kelly 12) at Launceston on Wednesday night.