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‘Had a serious chat’: Hot NBA debate settled despite twist; arch rival turns No.1 hero – NBL Talking Pts – Fox Sports

Round 10 in the NBL finished up on Monday night with the most remarkable finishes in Perth where the Wildcats snatched one from Melbourne United on the back of an incredible comeback from the Tasmania JackJumpers in the Grand Final rematch on Sunday.
It proved a fascinating round with the top two teams the Sydney Kings and New Zealand Breakers suffering a loss and the chasing teams the South East Melbourne Phoenix, Cairns Taipans, Tasmania JackJumpers and Perth Wildcats all scoring wins.
With the Wildcats getting more help for Bryce Cotton, United finally having everyone available, the JackJumpers dominating a fourth quarter over the Kings and the Phoenix winning twice by a combined 57 points, and suddenly the top two teams are no longer a clear cut above.
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Add in the fact that the Adelaide 36ers and Brisbane Bullets continued to lose while still waiting for their new imports, and the Illawarra Hawks lost for a second time this season in double overtime, and it was a weekend full of drama.
The way the round finished was just spectacular though. Melbourne United looked well on track for an eighth straight win at RAC Arena up eight with 45 seconds to go, and five with 10 to go.

However, Todd Blanchfield hit a three, then grabbed an offensive rebound on his missed free-throw and Corey Webster stepped up for the game-winner in the most incredible finish to his 250th NBL game.
Before that, Round 10 began back on Thursday night with the Sydney Kings too good again in Auckland for the New Zealand Breakers, winning 88-81 to retain top spot before the South East Melbourne Phoenix hammered the Illawarra Hawks 111-72.
The Perth Wildcats beat the Adelaide 36ers 98-90 on Friday night in Mitch Norton‘s 300th game to spoil the 400-game milestone of Daniel Johnson.
Then on Saturday night, the Cairns Taipans pulled one out in double overtime with some stunning late shooting from DJ Hogg to hold out the Illawarra Hawks 102-101 before Melbourne United defeated the Brisbane Bullets 104-88.
Finally on Sunday, the South East Melbourne Phoenix beat the Adelaide 36ers 102-84 before the Tasmania JackJumpers finished with a 26-4 run in the last eight minutes to beat the Sydney Kings 84-76 in the first Grand Final rematch of NBL23.
Corey Webster was one of the Perth Wildcats’ arch rivals for years, but now he’s public hero No. 1 after Monday night’s game winner and he feels it’s all about shutting out those initial self doubts.
Webster played the first 236 games of his NBL career at the New Zealand Breakers where he was part of three championships during a period where the Breakers-Wildcats rivalry dominated the league.
He had plenty of big moments putting the dagger through the hearts of the Wildcats during that time, including in RAC Arena, but on Monday night he ensured the Red Army will have his back forever.
Webster is in his first season at the Wildcats had a bit of a shaky start, up until last Saturday when he played his first game against the Breakers. He turned it on with 26 points in a matchwinning performance back home in Auckland.
He backed that up with 22 points again in Friday night‘s win in Adelaide and then on Monday night, it was time for him to show that he’s one of the best shot makers over the last decade in the NBL.
The irony was not lost on anybody that his opportunity came on the back of an offensive rebound after a missed Todd Blanchfield free-throw, who had just hit a triple to give the Wildcats a chance with 8.2 seconds to go after Perth were down five to Melbourne United.
Blanchfield grabbed the o-board even though the Wildcats were once again hammered on the glass by Melbourne all night, he dished it out to Webster and his three ball never looked like missing.
Showing ice in his veins, Webster drained the shot, the Wildcats went up 90-89 and won the game in the most remarkable fashion and he couldn’t have written the script better for his 250th NBL appearance.

Afterwards, the 34-year-old talked about how much it meant to him.
“It means everything. I’m blessed to still be playing this game to make it to 250 games in the NBL. I wake up every day and I don’t take it for granted,” Webster said.
“A lot of people I know and who I grew up with didn’t make it this far in basketball, so to still be doing this I‘m just grateful and blessed. For the Perth fans to embrace me feels amazing. It’s something special with this stadium packed out and it couldn’t have been a better night for real.”
In the bigger picture, Webster talked about the troubles he had to start the season adjusting to playing for a team other than the Breakers for the first time.
“I think I was worrying about things too much at the beginning of the season and now I‘m settled in to play the game that I know how to play, and am not second guessing myself,” Webster said.
“To be honest I don’t know why I was second guessing myself, maybe it was the new environment, new coach, new system, new everything which I haven’t experienced too much in this league.
“But now I‘m back to myself and I’m happy to be playing well and hopefully we can keep playing like that as a team, and keep getting wins.”
You couldn’t wipe the smile off Dean Vickerman‘s face after seeing his team win while at full strength on Saturday nor his snarl after how they lost on Monday, but his Melbourne United team are going to be tough the rest of NBL23.
On the back of losing Matthew Dellavedova, Jack White and Ariel Hukporti before the season, and then being without Shea Ili for most of it so far and having a change in import, it wasn’t until Saturday night when United had everyone who will be available, right to go.
The end result was a commanding victory at home to the Brisbane Bullets with so much to like including the big men combination of Isaac Humphries and Marcus Lee, and then the back-court led by Ili and Xavier Rathan-Mayes.
That was once again the case for most of Monday night‘s game in Perth where United were in control and on target for an eighth consecutive win inside RAC Arena.
Rathan-Mayes and Ili were outstanding teaming together in the guard spots. Ili showed just why Melbourne has missed him so much this season with his intensity, defensive, hustle, leadership and then poise and aggressiveness on offence a difference-maker.
As a result he finished with 12 points, three assists and two blocked shots including hitting a monster three with just over a minute to play to keep his team on top by six.

Rathan-Mayes had been asked to play more of the point guard role in Ili‘s absence and had done a terrific job for the most part. However, originally he was signed to be that scoring punch alongside Ili and that’s exactly what he provided in Perth on Monday.
He caught fire spectacularly in the fourth quarter scoring 11 straight Melbourne points including three huge long balls. He then dished off a beautiful pass down low to Humphries to put United up eight with 45 seconds to play.
Rathan-Mayes finished with 22 points on the back of that and then upfront, the combination of two genuine centres in Humphries and Lee is giving Vickerman plenty to work with.
Both can be strong finishes inside, are defensive intimidators with their shot blocking ability and on Monday night, Humphries had 12 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, and Lee seven points and eight boards.
The way things unfolded in the last 45 seconds with Melbourne conceding that eight-point lead to lose in the most heartbreaking of fashions will be tough to get over, especially with United now 6-11 as a result.
However, at full strength the signs are good of what Melbourne can be the rest of the season. It all starts with Rathan-Mayes and Ili in the guard spots, and Lee and Humphries upfront.
“X is what we hoped in coming in to be a real punch off the bench for us. He won‘t like having six turnovers but he made some incredible shots and kept that lead out there for us so both those combinations are performing well,” Vickerman said.
“Everyone‘s still establishing roles a little bit and Marcus and ’Ice’ are going to be guys who both are going to help us, and we’re going to pick different guys in different games to close it out for their skill sets.
“Tonight ‘Ice’ had a really good first half and we started him after half-time, and closed him out. Some nights that’s going to be Marcus so those two are great.”
There‘s been plenty of debate in both the NBA and NBL this week over the sportsmanship around playing the game out to the final buzzer, and South East Melbourne Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell has made it clear what he expects of his players.
The NBL has had its own drama over the past week over the age old debate over whether or not teams should play to the final whistle or dribble at the clock in the dying stages of the game when decided.
It’s largely been agreed upon in the NBA to not shoot in the final 24 seconds if the game is decided, but at the same time, percentages don’t come into determining anything in regards to where a team finishes.
That’s not the case in the NBL where if teams finish on the same record who finishes higher is decided by who has the best percentage so scoring those extra points at the end of a game could determine plenty.
Tyler Johnson is someone new to the NBL playing his first season at the Brisbane Bullets after 376 games in the NBA. He took exception last week when Tasmania‘s Jack McVeigh shot a three at the end of a 15-point JackJumpers win.
That’s opened up the debate again over what should happen at the end of games and it’s something Phoenix coach Mitchell has discussed with his team. He’s made it clear his thoughts on the matter.
“We actually had a chat about it seriously during the week,” Mitchell said after his Phoenix team completed a Round 10 where they beat Illawarra and Adelaide by a combined 57 points.

“There’s this issue right now where you have some players who want to make a beef at the end of the game when it’s over, now they want to fight after having 40 minutes to make your point. Make your point when it matters, we’re playing at the end.”
It became a discussion again at the end of Sunday‘s game against Adelaide for South East Melbourne where Junior Madut drained a three at the death and turned it into a five-point play when he was fouled.
It made the local fans happy because it pushed the Phoenix over 100 points to earn them some free donuts, but for Mitchell it’s about much more than that.
“If feeding the people donuts is something we have to do then we‘ll have to do it, but that’s not the reason why,” Mitchell said.
“It‘s not about donuts, percentage is going to come into it and I don’t want to be in that traffic jam where you lose an important position on the ladder because of percentage.
“It could cost you finishing in the top two, top four or missing the top six, I don‘t want that being part of who we are. I think it’s Aussie culture also to play the game out and respect it to the end. I know it’s very cool to dribble out a clock but I’d rather be unfashionably playing playoffs.”
Cairns Taipans forward DJ Hogg proved once again that the bigger the moment or the tougher the shot he attempts, the better he is after another matchwinning display for the Snakes against the Illawarra Hawks.
Hogg built a reputation in his college career at Texas A&M of being a player made for the big moments who could come up with huge plays and make massive shots, and that‘s continued in the start to his time in the NBL.
The 26-year-old is having a significant impact in an impressive start to the season from the Taipans who are 8-5 in fourth position, and he again showed his penchant for the big moments on Saturday.
With the Taipans trailing the Hawks by 16 during the second quarter, Hogg caught fire with 10 quick points to close the first half. Then in overtime, he showed his ability to step up when it matters most.
He knocked down an incredible three-pointer in the first overtime period and then in the second lot of extra time, he opened up with two huge three-point bombs that ultimately were instrumental in Cairns escaping with the 102-101 win.

He finished the night 23 points and is averaging 16.8 a game, but his impact is more significant than just the numbers.
Seemingly the harder the shot and more pressure he‘s put under, and the bigger the moment in the game, the more likely Hogg is to deliver for the Snakes.
Hogg certainly thrives on those moments and for him, it‘s been a lifetime of getting himself to deliver when it matters most on the biggest of stages that started with his dad in the backyard.
“As a kid when you‘re always shooting in the backyard or at the gym you’re always counting down those last couple of shots,” Hogg said.
“When me and my dad used to workout, we used to put the last second shots in scenarios as a fun way to end a workout and add a little extra pressure.
“Definitely as a kid you always dream about stuff like that and it‘s always great to embrace the moments in games now as a professional and look forward to it. That’s what I’m trying to do.”


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