An Antonius Cleveland-inspired late surge over the JackJumpers could be a season shaper for the Adelaide 36ers. Catch up with all the round 11 NBL action.
Two of the league’s best teams and two of its biggest stars produced the season’s best game as the South East Melbourne Phoenix stamped their title credibility, while the 36ers finished the round on Monday with an important win over Tasmania.
Catch up with all the Round 11 NBL action here.
– Jason Phelan
Adelaide’s mid-season reset continues to pay dividends, Antonius Cleveland rallying the re-energised 36ers past Tasmania on Monday night to register back-to-back wins at home for the first time this campaign.
The Sixers trailed by six points early in a pulsating final term but showed impressive poise down the stretch to score a 93-82 win at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.
CJ Bruton put his squad through a mini training camp and urged a change in mindset after an inconsistent 6-8 record in the first half of the season and the approach has now resulted in much-improved performances in wins against Brisbane and Tasmania.
Cleveland shot out of the blocks with eight of his side’s first 10 points, but didn’t add to his tally in the second and third terms.
However, the star import caught fire again in the last quarter with three three-pointers to make it a double-double with a game-high 20 points and 10 rebounds.
It was a critical game for both sides who are part of the logjam of teams around the middle of the standings, the Sixers seventh (7-8) heading into the clash and Tasmania fifth (8-7), with both now on eight wins and eight losses.
Daniel Johnson missed Saturday night’s 31-point thrashing of Brisbane with gastro and while he was cleared to play against Tasmania, the star veteran started on the bench with Kai Sotto getting another opportunity in the starting line-up.
The Filipino sensation drained 13 points and pulled down eight boards against the Bullets and followed it up with nine points, three rebounds and two blocks on Monday night.
The change to the starting five has coincided with better starts by the 36ers, which had been a key factor in their previous struggles at home.
The Sixers put up a season-high 28 points against the Bullets and went one better to lead 29-22 against the JackJumpers, with Cleveland pouring in eight points as the home side raced out of the blocks with a 10-2 start.
Tasmania coach Scott Roth also tinkered with his line-up with Clint Steindl into the starting five after an injury-interrupted campaign.
The skipper finished with seven points, Milton Doyle leading his team’s scoring with 18.
The Sixers owed Tasmania one after a rugged introduction to the NBL season.
The 36ers were still on a high from beating the NBA’s Phoenix Suns when they hosted the JackJumpers to open their season and the visitors brought Bruton’s side down to earth with a 25-point beatdown at the Entertainment Centre.
The Sixers were feeling pretty good about themselves after their season-high win against the Bullets and a strong start against the JackJumpers, but Roth’s side burst their bubble again.
Tasmania turned the screws with a physical approach on defence in the second quarter and suddenly the 36ers couldn’t find a way to the bucket.
They shot just 12 points for the term to the JackJumpers’ 22, the visitors going on a 9-0 in a 90-second burst that helped them to a 44-41 lead at the main break.
Tasmania lead the league in three-point shooting with an average of 11 triples a game, with Adelaide ninth overall averaging just over eight three-pointers.
Neither side lit up from outside the arc in the first half, but Adelaide managed just one triple from eight attempts, shooting at 12 per cent, with the JackJumpers slightly better shooting 3-of-13.
Cleveland’s late triples helped Adelaide to a 7-of-22 shooting from three-point range, while Tasmania finished with 7-of-24 shooting.
The 36ers are back in action on Christmas Eve when they host the Phoenix, while the JackJumpers host Illawarra in Hobart on Thursday evening.
A Mason Peatling offensive outburst and a Marcus Lee defensive masterclass has helped Melbourne United pay tribute to milestone duo Chris Goulding and Brad Newley with a grind-it-out 88-77 win over Illawarra Hawks at John Cain Arena on Sunday.
United had to dig deep late in the game after blowing a nine-point halftime lead, coming back from four points down early in the fourth to win with Goulding having a major say late.
A 9-0 run in the middle of the fourth period, which fittingly included a Goulding three-point bomb, got United back on track when it was looking like it could unravel for the home team.
While it was stressful for United, it was the perfect finish to the game for the NBL veterans and great mates Goulding and Newley, who combined for 700 NBL appearances.
Goulding, 34, a three-time NBL champion, became the 50th player in NBL history to play 400 games, with 227 coming in a United uniform.
He finished with 25 points, including six three-pointers.
But it was Goulding‘s leadership and resolute defence on Hawks guard Tyler Harvey that stood out for United coach Dean Vickerman.
When United was staring at a deficit in the fourth, it was Goulding who rallied the troops.
“CG‘s job on Harvey tonight and the way he defended that was exceptional,” Vickerman said.
“I know CG and before that time out the coach‘s comment to me was ’CG was great in that time out’.
“He really just led, this is how we are going to come back [into the game].”
Newley, 37, registered his 300th NBL game, some feat considering he spent a decade of his career playing in Europe.
He got his start with the Townsville Crocodiles in 2004, where he was the NBL rookie of the year.
United improved to 8-11, keeping their top six hopes alive in the process.
A loss would have been disastrous for United‘s playoff hopes.
There are some injury concerns for United though.
Veteran David Barlow was subbed out of the game with concussion after copping an accidental elbow from Hawks forward Sam Froling.
David Okwera had an ankle concern, but returned to the game.
For Peat‘s sake
Mason Peatling had a day out for Melbourne United.
The stretch big was at his efficient best with 19 points on 88% shooting and 11 boards.
Peatling missed the first 10 games of the season in his recovery from knee surgery, but appears to be in full swing now and is a crucial addition to the United front court.
“Just an unbelievable game from him,” Vickerman said.
“He‘s had a really good two or three games in a row and was rewarded with a starting spot tonight.
“The two three balls and the connection with CG with handoffs and rolling to the rim and some of the sprints that he had. We hope that he can be a little bit of Shea Ili at the four spot with all the effort plays that he can come up with and keep being in the right spot.
Michael Frazier II was electrifying for the Hawks with 27 points, while Froling added 18, but shot a woeful 5-15 from the free throw line.
Hawks forward Deng Deng lifted the lid off the arena with a huge dunk in the first quarter.
The visiting big man put his opponent Isaac Humphries on a poster.
It was a dunk of the year nomination to rival those of spring-heeled Sydney Kings star Xavier Cooks.
Hawks centre Mangok Mathiang tried to emulate Deng‘s dunk, but got met at the rim by Marcus Lee, who rejected him.
Lee then showed off his hops with a towering dunk of his own.
Not in my house
Lee was magnificent for United with 11 points and seven rebounds.
The import does so much to aid this United team.
His length and athleticism locks up the paint defensively.
On one play, Lee came out of nowhere to swipe the ball away on a Harvey baseline drive, just one of his three blocks.
His energy and activity on offence was just as much of a concern for the Hawks.
Melbourne United 88 d Illawarra Hawks 77
Chris Goulding 25
Mason Peatling 19
Isaac Humphries 13
Michael Frazier II 27
Sam Froling 18
Mitch Creek flooded the scoresheet and Derrick Walton Jr produced one of the greatest individual performances in years as the Phoenix held off the Kings in a double overtime epic as Gippsland was treated to the NBL match of the season.
The 113-112 thriller featured more storylines and turning points than an HBO season final but it will long be remembered for the shootout between two of the game’s biggest superstars.
Creek played like a video game character on cheat mode on his way to 46 points, the most by any NBL player this season.
He added a team-high 10 rebounds and also reached 4000 points in the NBL after he put back a two-pointer after an offensive rebound from a missed free throw in the second quarter.
He knocked down some massive shots including a clutch three to give his side a 102-99 lead in overtime, but his efforts were matched every step of the way by Walton who carried the Kings with Xavier Cooks off injured.
The American import scored 45 points, had 10 assists and hit game-tying threes in each period of overtime, but couldn’t land a shot from way beyond the arc that would have won the game as time expired.
There’s been a lot of talk about an All Star game featuring Aussies and overseas players, and this was the perfect advertisement.
FOURTH QUARTER MADNESS
Players fouled out, the Kings blew a lead, the officials earned the ire of an NBL legend and Chase Buford lost his cool.
And that was all in the space of a few manic minutes in one of the craziest quarters of the season.
Sydney’s Achilles Heel all year has been their inability to close out games, and yet again the defending champs blew a double-digit lead when they looked set to cruise to victory after they took control with 35 points in the second term.
Owen Foxwell’s three gave the Phoenix the lead midway through the fourth quarter, and that’s where the drama ramped up with the Kings regaining the lead before coach Chase Buford was nearly ejected for a demonstrative reaction to a call he didn’t like.
“I asked you a question. Good job. You’re doing great,” he told the officials as he had to be restrained by assistant coach Kevin Litsch.
The Phoenix missed the technical with 3:38 left but chipped away to level things up, only for another controversial call to go against them which allowed the Kings to go up 93-91.
It should have been a one point margin after Derrick Walton Jr missed a free throw, but he was given a second chance thanks to an Alan Williams lane violation which bemused Andrew Gaze.
“That is just not reading the situation,” he said in commentary.
“That’s not understanding what’s really relevant. That is an expensive decision by the officials which, to me, is unwarranted.”
WAR OF ATTRITION
The Kings will head into their historic Christmas Day clash sweating on the fitness of their most important player.
MVP favourite Xavier Cooks finished scoreless and didn’t return after quarter-time after the Kings captain complained of ankle soreness two days after he limped up the tunnel against the Hawks.
Cooks returned on Friday night and played without pain, but he’s now in massive doubt for Sunday’s game against United with the Kings likely to take a cautious approach with their most important player.
The Phoenix were also dealt a massive blow in the first quarter when star guard Gary Browne came off with a calf injury.
Ryan Broekhoff (groin) and Trey Kell (ankle) also failed to finish the contest, although the latter was able to drain three clutch free throws in the fourth quarter to tie things up.
Kell hurt his ankle when he landed on Tim Soares who was one of three Kings players to foul as their lack of size was exposed late in the game.
The Phoenix also had two players foul out which forced Creek to play nearly 48 minutes, with their fitness to be tested on Wednesday when they play again.
– Jason Phelan
Adelaide has gleefully exorcised its home court demons, with stunning displays by Robert Franks and Antonius Cleveland firing the 36ers to a 31-point demolition of the Brisbane Bullets.
The Sixers have been maddeningly inconsistent at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre where they had a 2-4 record in the first half of the season, but it was showtime on Saturday night in a highlight heavy 108-77 triumph against the hapless Bullets.
It was Adelaide’s highest score and biggest win of the season, Franks finishing with a game-high 25 points and Cleveland draining 20 points and pulling down nine rebounds.
CJ Bruton has highlighted the need for his side to banish the poor starts that were a big part of their struggles at home and his team delivered with an energetic 28-12 opening term that set the tone for the impressive display.
The result snapped a three-game losing skid by Bruton’s side and improved its win-loss record to 7-8, while dropping Brisbane’s to 4-11.
Cleveland threw down a stunning one-handed dunk with such venom that he cut his right hand on the rim early in the second quarter.
The import led all players with 10 points at the time, but needed running repairs during a timeout and played out the match with the hand bandaged.
The break in play sparked a rare bright patch by the Bullets, who went on a 13-5 run to slash the margin to seven points.
Cleveland soon regained his rhythm with another monster jam and high-fives for courtside fans, Franks with seven points in the second quarter as the home side dashed away to a 54-35 lead at the main break.
The Sixers suffered a blow hours before the tip-off when important big man Daniel Johnson was ruled out with gastro.
The home side adjusted well to the star veteran’s absence in the paint, winning the rebound count 47-36.
Kai Sotto slotted into the starting five and the centre responded with 13 points and eight rebounds.
Not much has gone right for the Bullets in a season punctuated by injuries to key players, with Greg Vanderjagt the third coach in 15 games following James Duncan’s firing and Sam Mackinnon’s move back to the front office.
And this was another sorry chapter in their tale of woe.
Brisbane ruled out import Tyler Johnson two hours before the game after he failed to shake off a knee injury, with the American joining Tyrell Harrison and Tanner Krebs on the sidelines.
Brisbane was 14-of-41 from the floor in the half, shot 1-of-10 from three-point range and tempers flared with heated words exchanged between teammates.
Jason Cadee toiled hard for his team-high 18 points, while star centre Aron Baynes had six points and 11 rebounds.
The Sixers are back in action on Monday night when they host Tasmania at the Entertainment Centre, while the Bullets return home to the Nissan Arena where they will take on New Zealand on Wednesday night.
– Jarrod Lawler
The JackJumpers three-game winning streak is over after the Cairns Taipans once again proved too much with a gutsy 91-82 comeback win in Hobart on Saturday night.
After smashing the JJs by 22 points at MyState Bank Arena in the opening round of the season, the Taipans backed it up on Saturday with another impressive win in which they overcame an early 11-point deficit before hitting crucial shots down the stretch for a nine-point win.
After Tasmania led for almost the entire first half to take a 52-45 advantage into the main break, it was a 26-20 third term from the visitors that cut the margin to just one point at the final change before the Jackies stalled as the Taipans slithered away to their 10th win of the season.
With just 30 points scored between the teams in a gritty final term, it was the visitors who hit shots when it mattered most as they held Tasmania to just 10 final-quarter points as they silenced the sold out crowd at MyState Bank Arena.
Entering the contest, JJs coach Scott Roth said Cairns athletic frontcourt was going to present a big challenge and it did just that as Taipans big man Keanu Pinder put in another monster performance to continue his claims as league MVP.
Pinder got the better of his matchup with defensive star Will Magnay and almost single-handedly kept his side in the contest for the first half before a number of teammates stepped up after the main break.
Pinder scored 23 of the Taipans’ 45 first-half points on his way to a game high 34, to go with seven rebounds on 11-17 shooting from the field and a perfect 10-10 from the line.
Pinder was well aided by skipper Tahjere McCall who put in a stellar all-round game with 23 points, six rebounds and five assists.
For the JackJumpers, Jack McVeigh led the way with 17 points while Milton Doyle poured in 15 points but was held to just 6-17 from the field.
Josh Magette (13 points, four assists) also had some big moments in the game, particularly early, while Magnay continued to find his feet since returning with 12 points and three blocks in a mouth-watering matchup with Pinder.
The loss takes the JackJumpers to 8-7 on the season while the Taipans moved to 10-5.
The Jackies won’t have long to lick their wounds from Saturday’s loss as they look to get back on the winners list on Monday against the 36ers in Adelaide.
– Ronny Lerner
A spectacular first half from star import Rayjon Tucker has inspired Melbourne United to an upset 92-76 victory over cross-town rivals South East Melbourne in the fourth and final ‘Throwdown’ of the season on Thursday night.
After Alan Williams scored the Phoenix’s first six points to help catapult them to an early 8-2 lead, Tucker set John Cain Arena alight.
The American recorded 25 first-half points, the biggest tally of any NBL player this season, including a perfect 3-3 from three-point land, to turn the tide dramatically and put United up 42-25 midway through the second quarter.
Tucker finished with an NBL career-high, and a ‘Throwdown’ record, 33 points on 11-15 shooting (4-5 from three) as well as 7-8 from the free-throw line.
The 25-year-old was unstoppable as he attacked the rim with athleticism and gay abandon, but was also deadly from long range.
After slipping 17 points behind in the first half, South East drained the next nine points, including six from Mitch Creek, to get back within eight points late in the second term.
However, United reasserted themselves in the third quarter, with another Tucker triple extending their lead back out to 16 points (66-50).
The Phoenix wouldn’t lay down as Creek, Gary Browne and Williams pulled them back within eight points again with 4:26 remaining, but United would not repeat their second-half capitulation against Perth on Monday and held on for an impressive win.
South East missed a golden opportunity to re-enter the top three as United snapped their three-game winning streak to split their season series 2-2.
But at 7-11, Dean Vickerman’s men still have a lot of work to do if they want to feature in the play-in tournament.
For most of the game, the Phoenix‘s offence struggled badly under the heat of Melbourne’s desperate hustle, pressure and manic defence, and they finished with a horrible 34 per cent from the field (27-78), compared to United’s superb 52 per cent (36-69).
United were also fantastic from downtown, nailing 11-24 (45 per cent) as South East put up a paltry 4-20 (20). United captain Chris Goulding also chipped in with 16 points, including four threes.
Creek was the pick of the South East contributors with 22 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and a block, while Williams registered another double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Tucker fittingly put an exclamation mark on the first half, putting down the final bucket of the second term with a spectacular alley-oop dunk over Creek that was set-up by Xavier Rathan-Mayes. Tucker was so excited, that he celebrated with a fist pump while he was still clinging to the rim.
GOULDING FROM VERY DEEP
Goulding has developed a reputation as one of the deadliest assassins from beyond the perimeter in NBL history, and he showed why early in the second quarter when he hit an audacious 35-footer from near the logo to put united up 33-17.
BROEKHOFF OFF THE BOIL
Phoenix star Ryan Broekhoff had an uncharacteristically off night, finishing with just three points and four field-goal attempts from 28 minutes.
– Matthew McInerney
Keanu Pinder strengthened his MVP case but the night belonged to Bul Kuol as Cairns claimed a sixth straight win in the NBL’s Sunshine Stoush with an 85-76 win against the Bullets.
While the Taipans struggled to hit the target in the opening minutes of the first term and trailed by as much as eight, they soon played their way back into the lead – and never looked back.
Pinder, who seems to thrive in tough match-ups against touch centres, did so again as he came up against Boomers star Aron Baynes, on his way to an eighth double-double of the season.
The Nyigina man produced another typically strong performance in the Taipans’ Indigenous Round clash, stuffing the stat sheet with 12 points, 15 rebounds, two steals and a block.
While he worked in the paint, Bul Kuol’s affinity for big nights against the Bullets continued as he hit a game-high 23 points, which included four threes.
Kuol was immense, and landed big shots despite walking the tightrope with three fouls by the main break.
“We came out a bit low but I think we picked up the energy and created a run for us,” he said at halftime.
“My teammates are doing a good job finding me in transition.”
Tahjere McCall had another big night with 13 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, while DJ Hogg had 15 points.
The Bullets have endured a tough period, with Greg Vanderjagt taking on the interim coaching reins from Sam Mackinnon to become the club’s third coach in a month.
While the Bullets welcomed new import Andrew White II, who only stepped off the plane 48 hours ago and finished with nine points. They were also without Tyler Johnson, who was a late omission due to a knee injury.
Mareeba product Baynes, in his first game in Cairns since before he left for the NBA, started strongly, scoring eight-straight points as Brisbane built an early lead. He finished with 17 points, five rebounds and two assists.
Nathan Sobey finished with 13 points, while Gorjok Gak had 10.
There was considerable concern for Cairns big Sam Waardenburg after he went down early in the third quarter.
As he drove to the bucket for a lay-up, Brisbane’s DJ Mitchell flew across to put on some pressure, but as he jumped his hip collected Waardenburg flush on his face.
He hit the deck hard and play was stopped for several minutes as he received treatment, but managed to walk from the floor under his own power.
He did not return due to concussion, and will be monitored ahead of the Taipans’ clash with the JackJumpers on Saturday.
There’s just something about the Bullets that brings the best out of Bul Kuol.
He was hitting at 70 per cent from the field against the Bullets heading into the contest, a run which includes the eight long-range bombs he dropped at Brisbane in his rookie season.
As Cairns struggled to hit the mark to start, Kuol didn’t miss, dropping three from range to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
SOBEY’S TOUGH NIGHT
It’s not often Nathan Sobey has a night like this, but even when the target isn’t quite locked the Boomers guard is a threat.
Sobey has taken on plenty to help lead the under-fire Bullets through this tough period, but he just couldn’t find his shot on Wednesday night.
He missed his first six field goals, finally scoring a point in the second term, had six misses from beyond the arc before finally landing a blow from range, but still managed to finish with 13 points.
Both teams will be in action again on Saturday, with the Taipans travelling to Tasmania to meet the JackJumpers and the Bullets off to Adelaide for a date with the 36ers.
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