A-League

JT’s Sporting Review: 7th-10th November

In Australia we usually celebrate by drinking out of shoes.

In Britain, they usually celebrate by drinking out of bottles.

In America, they still drink out of those primitive things called trophies.


Tennis: The ATP Next Gen Finals

Alex de Minaur loses to Jannik Sinner (Ita) 4-2 4-1 4-2 in the Final

Otherwise known as the other major tennis finals event that an Australian appeared in and lost this past weekend.

The first thing I noticed was that it was a clash of The Demon versus The Sinner, quite fittingly in the same mass of land as The Vatican, but the Sinner didn’t need the help of the Heavenly Father or The Pontiff to repent and win this match.

The 18-year-old Sinner, who received the Italian wildcard for the tournament, is actually the highest ranked teenager on the ATP Tour at No.93, but despite the gap in the rankings, he was pretty dominant in front of his home crowd, holding ADM to 0/9 on break points, and a mere 23% on his 2nd Serve (3/13), and from 2-2 in the 1st Set (With the shortened Fast4 format), Sinner won 5 consecutive games.

Not one to make excuses, The Demon admitted that the Italian was one soul he couldn’t claim.

So in his 2 visits to the Milan tournament, de Minaur has a record of 8-2, which is very good by any measure- The downside, those 2 losses are the last 2 Finals, after last year’s loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Despite the ending, it was another year of solid progress for ADM, who was No.31 in January, and will finish inside the Top 20, at No.18.

And that was despite missing two months with groin problems after the AO.

Hopefully though, by some divine miracle, he’ll be appearing in the ATP Tour Finals next year instead.


NBL: Round 6

Melbourne United 104 defeated New Zealand Breakers 101 @ Auckland Arena

Just to showcase how incredibly weird the game was, United led by 21 points with 7:49 to play.

They still almost lost.

With 26 seconds left, the Breakers cut the lead to 100-98, then fouled Melo Trimble, but the American import had ice water in place of blood, nailing both free throws, RJ Hampton was fouled, but missed his second free throw, which will surely see him slip down to the 20th pick in the draft.

Casey Prather nailed both of his free throws with 5 seconds to go, and United moved on to a .500 record for the first time in NBL 20, as their early season problems look to have been resolved.

Friday

Sydney Kings 95 defeated Brisbane Bullets 85 @ QSNC

Just four days after their first defeat of 2019-20, the Kings were in a really big hole against a very determined Brisbane team.

They then turned it around by producing one of the more dominant Quarters we’ll see all season.

After a hail of Bullets, led by Lamar Patterson, the Kings were down 60-47 at the half, and then turned the game on it’s head with a 28-8 3rd Quarter, holding the Bullets without a field goal for the opening 3:48, and to just 2 field goals for the 10 minute period (A pair of 3 pointers and 2 free throws).

In fact, the Bullets committed as many offensive fouls in that 3rd quarter as they made field goals, as their hopes of committing regicide against the Kings for the first time in 9 attempts came to a spectacular end.

Saturday

SEM Phoenix 103 defeated NZ Breakers 78 @ Melbourne Arena

The Breakers were pretty much finished halfway into the 1st Quarter, when RJ Hampton, who I’d wager quite a few people were watching the game just to see, surprised everyone by earning himself an ejection.

With the home team controlling the ball, Hampton made contact with Phoenix forward Ben Madgen, who absolutely flopped to the floor like a chopped tree.

During a remonstration with John Roberson, Hampton then showed what he thought of it by tumbling to the floor when Roberson made minimal contact with him, Roberson apparently then said something to him, and RJ got up straight away and went for the trusty headlock.

The referees took a look, and Hampton was hit with a technical foul and an unsportsmanlike foul, finishing off his night.

Hilariously, even the home crowd booed.

Although Dan Shamir said RJ’s ejection had no bearing on the result, and you can see his point, considering the Breakers led 48-42 at the Half, before Mitch Creek drowned their hopes of victory with a crushing 15 point turnaround in the 3rd Quarter, and the Phoenix powered away to a massive win.

I still think RJ’s ejection had some bearing on the scoreboard.

They probably would have only lost by 15 points, not 25.

Illawarra Hawks 101 defeated Cairns Taipans 91 @ The Snake Pit

ESPN’s major basketball program ‘The Jump’ ran a story about Lamelo Ball’s progress in the NBL.

I hope they do a follow-up in the next 5 minutes, because Lamelo played his best game since he came to Australia.

24 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, the Hawks got the win, and best of all, his problematic 3 point shot looked a space age better, hitting 5/11 from, including one down the stretch in the 4th Quarter which was the equivalent of a hammer blow to the chest for the Snakes.

It was the Hawks’ 2nd win this season… funnily enough, both of them have been against Cairns.

Sunday

Melbourne United 109 defeated Adelaide 36ers @ Melbourne Arena

The Sixers were 27-19 up after the 1st Quarter, and that’s where the fun stopped, because after that, United utterly crushed them.

The final 3 quarters were 90-63, led by Melo Trimble’s massive shooting performance of 32 points, with 11-14 from the field, and going 3/4 from 3.

Another win on the comeback trail for United, as they now have a winning record at 5-4, and move up into 4th spot.

Sydney Kings 104 defeated Perth Wildcats 85 @ Qudos Bank Arena

If this win didn’t send a message that the Kings will not be accepting ferocious wild animals in their court, then not much will.

The game was close for 19 minutes and 58 seconds.

I say that amount of time, because with the scores tied at 46 just before the half, import Didi Louzada hit a monster buzzer-beating 3 to give the Kings the lead, and having picked up the hypothetical tailwind, they crushed all resistance in the 2nd Half, blowing the game out with 30-18 3rd quarter.

Despite being known for his defensive prowess, NBA draftee Louzuda terrorised the Cats by repeatedly sticking them in a pool of water, jacking up 28 points, as Casper Ware shot 23, with the Kings’ death line-up negating Bryce Cotton’s season-best 36 points.

Some have said getting a Brazilian can be a painful experience… Kings fans are sure as hell enjoying it.

Of course, the story about Louzuda, is that like RJ Hampton and Lamelo Ball, he came into the league through the NBL Next Stars program, although the difference is, he was already drafted back in June by the Atlanta Hawks, and was then on-traded to New Orleans, before he was then shipped off to the Kings.

When you can pull that off, plus signing Bogut as a marquee player, plus the other imports, the Kings have provided everyone the perfect example of how to play the system.


The Matildas 2 defeated Chile 1 @ Bankwest Stadium

With the W-League season being launched, and just few days after getting the equal pay deal they’d been hanging out for throughout the last couple of years, the Matildas came out flat in their first match since the World Cup, but fortunately, Sam Kerr was there to serve as the team’s vacuum cleaner, scoring within 3 minutes, and then after the Aussies warded off multiple Chilean attacks, Kerr scored the sealer in the 72nd minute, negating Chile’s 89th minute goal, which gave them no more than a sniff.

Having destroyed North America, Sam will now supposedly head for Europe, and possibly Chelsea in the Women’s Super League in England, which coincides with Optus Sport obtaining the rights for the league, starting with this current season that is still relatively new.


(V)A(R)-League: Round 5


Melbourne City 3 defeated Central Coast Mariners 1 @ AAMI Park

This happened.

Newcastle Jets 1 drew with Perth Glory 1 @ McDonald Jones Stadium

Another funny old match- Tony Popvich continued his nepotism by handing a debut to another of his sons, 16-year-old Gabriel Popvich, who came on with 15 minutes to play, and after Diego Castro found a late equaliser 4 minutes from the end of normal time, Alex Grant was sent off for a second yellow card, giving young Gabriel

As if his Year 11 exams weren’t stressful enough, Gabriel was having to defend a very angry Jets team still searching for their first win!

Another contentious moment was the Jets crying in their Kellogg’s for a penalty midway through the 1st Half, when midfielder Nick Fitzgerald had was pushed in the back in the 22nd minute.

Referee Barreiro said play on, had a VAR check after being asked the question from several Jets, but the decision was upheld, causing Ernie Merrick to crack the sads post-game.

Here’s a small snippet.

“Have you ever seen a more blatant penalty? A push in the back, extended arm in the penalty box. How is that not a penalty? “

PROBABLY BECAUSE THE REFEREE AND THE VIDEO REFEREE SAID IT WASN’T, ERNIE.

Western United 2 defeated Western Sydney 1 @ Kardinia Park

The biggest Battle of the Westerns since Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and John Wayne were still rolling around, and once again, technology struck again, denying Western United what appeared to be a goal to Scott MacDonald, that was waved away by the referees at first, and then upehld by another VAR check.

On the replay, it appeared pretty clearly to 100% cross the line, but obviously, there was no Goal Line Technology to confirm anything.

Once again, the apparent reason we can’t use GLT in the A-League is because apparently the League are still too ‘povvo’ to afford it for every stadium.

A very convenient excuse for a sporting organisation that apparently discovered El Dorado a few months ago.

Still, United stopped their whinging in the 58th minute, when Appiah-Kubi controlled Ersan Gulum’s shank that turned into a perfect pass, and fired home what turned into the winner, straight past Lopar on the turn.

The Wanderers suffered their 1st loss of the season, and Western United jumped up to 2nd by virtue of the goals scored tiebreaker.

Melbourne Victory 1 drew with Wellington Phoenix 1 @ AAMI Park

And thus, in a rematch of their Finals meeting last year, we had the Melbourne Victory against the winless and pointless Phoenix.

It was a team of rank amateurs… against the Victory.

On that note, given the amount of times I bag the crap out of the VAR, I suppose I’d better commend the referees for actually doing their job and using the technology to pluck out a blatant handball by Victory skipper Ola Tovionen right at the start of the game, giving the Phoenix a penalty that Davila converted.

Still, they couldn’t hold on, because Tovionen made amends to equalise midway through the 2nd Half, the Victory barraged the Phoenix defence, but couldn’t get the winner, and both teams’ struggles to begin the year rolled on.

Adelaide United 1 defeated Brisbane Roar 0 @ Hindmarsh Stadium

It wasn’t the greatest game you’d ever see, but United got the job done, but seriously, you’d think a Roar team managed by Robbie Fowler, one of the more accomplished strikers in the last 30 years of English football, would know how to see ball, get ball, and put ball in back of net.

Nope.

Their only goal this season was that last minute-equaliser in their season opener against Perth….. and they even needed the VAR just to get that one.

At this rate, the only way they’ll score again this year is if Robbie comes out of retirement and celebrates with that absolutely classic line snorting routine.


The Nags: Because Craig Williams hadn’t won enough this week

After finishing his plundering of the Flemington, the man known only as ‘Chompers’ went to Singapore and won the Gold Cup for Lee Freedman aboard Mr Clint, who had previously finished runner-up in the Group 1 Singapore Derby (To another Freedman runner in Sun Marshall) last season, and the Raffles Cup in September.

It was a nice moment for the former head of Freedman Brothers Incorporated, because Mr Clint was Lee’s first winner in Singapore after he moved to the island city in 2017.


The passing of Dwight Ritchie

The link to Michael Zerafa’s tribute

Is just brutally sad to even think about- Only 27 years of age, with 3 kids?

Crikey.

The circumstances as well- Michael Zerafa, preparing for a Battle Of Bendigo rematch with Jeff Horn, simply sparring off with Dwight, who was preparing for a bout with Tommy Browne, and landing what was a regulation body shot, which he eventually collapsed from in the ring, and never returned to consciousness.

I remember reading a theory Harry Houdini was supposedly killed after he received some fierce punches to his stomach from a college student wanting to test Houdini’s famed abdominal strength (Whilst Houdini was sitting down), which led to his death (officially) from peritonitis (An infection of the tissue lining the inner wall of the abdomen, typically resulting from an abdominal rupture), and a ruptured appendix.

Then again, Houdini was 52 and died several weeks after the incident, and Ritchie was a fit and healthy 27 and died on the same day as his injuries, which would suggest his blow was much more traumatic, but I’ve gone too far there.

It sounds especially sad looking at an article Ritchie wrote for the Players Tribute before he fought Tim Tszyu last year, which begins with a few paragraphs that summed up his passion for the sport, and what it did for him.

If I wasn’t a boxer I’d be in jail, 100 per cent. The things I was getting up to as a kid …

We just had no direction and we were following that same cycle that was around us then, the same traps everyone else was getting caught in.

I was lucky I found boxing, because without it there’s no doubt in my mind that I’d be locked up right now instead of in the gym preparing for a fight against Tim Tszyu, still working on my dream of a world title shot.

Boxing gives me structure, and routine. A bloke like me really needs structure in my life and something to work towards.

It feels like a cruel irony- The very thing that saved Ritchie’s life, was the thing that led to him being taken from us too soon.

The Fighting Cowboy, forever 19-2.


Neil Robertson winning the Champion of Champions again

That’s right everyone, there’s billiards players other than Ronnie O’Sullivan, and best of all, he’s an Australian who could very well be a reincarnation of Walter Lindrum.

He defeated Judd Trump, who is an amalgamation of the two most evil people in the known universe.

Chris Judd and Donald Trump.

Congratulations Neil, I haven’t seen a name that evil since the New York Yankees recruited Starlin Castro.


Brad Smith winning the MLS Cup with the Seattle Sounders

A great moment for the former Liverpool Academy product, being the first Aussie to play in an MLS Cup-winning team, a feat even Timmy Cahill couldn’t accomplish with New York Red Bulls, and I’m sure we’ll celebrate it as an achievement on par with Craig Johnston winning the European Cup with Liverpool.

Our national left back played 61 minutes, before being substituted for Victor Rodriguez, with the Sounders up 1-0 on Toronto FC in front of a sold out crowd at CenturyLink Field.

It was a perfect move, as Rodriguez scored 15 minutes later to seal the title, and the Sounders added a 3rd on the 90, before the Canadians got a consolation goal in injury time.

I must say, his victory celebrations were straight out of left field- Hours later, Smithy left on a plane for the Middle East to join the Socceroos in Jordan.

It’s a weird victory celebration, but it’s not quite Sticks Kernahan singing stand by your man.

Uh oh, did I just type that?

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