Among the many things NBL-related to the Bushfire appeals, LaMelo Ball, who probably will have been very close to some of the devastation going on around the South Coast, announced he was donating a month’s salary to the Salvos Disaster Appeal.
That’s another way to leave a mark, and considering the money he’s got coming his way mid-year, I think Lamelo will be juuuuust fine.
In some sadder news though, the ever popular New Zealand Breakers manager Fata Letoa passed away after struggling for several years with lung problems – He did receive a lung transplant last February after being diagnosed with 14 months to live, but sadly, his health took another turn for the worst.
In a welcome touch, every team in the League wore black arm bands for the victims of the Bushfires, and to remember Letoa.
Cairns Taipans 91 defeated Brisbane Bullets 89 @ The Snakepit
In the latest Battle Of Queensland, we learned an important scientific lesson.
Snakes can dodge Bullets.
In classic Taipans fashion, like me doing a Uni assignment, they decided to make the extremely easy look difficult – This time they blew the Bullets out for 3 quarters to lead 77-59 with the final 10 to go, mainly thanks to Brisbane’s piss poor 3-point shooting (They ended up 5/30) then, exactly like they did against United on Boxing Day, went off for a late night Smoko break, and allowed the Bullets to absolutely roar back and cut the lead to 2 with 8 seconds left, and also gift them the last possession thanks to Scott Machado being called for an unsportsmanlike foul.
However, Nathan Sobey’s potential game-winner, like 24 of the other 3 point attempts, rimmed out and the game ended.
Melbourne United 104 defeated Illawarra Hawks 91 @ WEC
Just a few days after the Hawks randomly sprung out of their nest and plucked the Kings to death in one of the performances of the season, United travelled up what remains of the Princes Highway, seeking to reclaim 3rd place following the Taipans slithering past them the night before.
The Hawks were always pushing crap up hill, being without the tall timber of AJ Ogilvy and David Andersen, plus LaMelo Ball still not quite ready to return – Still though, they showed plenty of fight for 3 quarters, which is the very least that Matt Flinn could hope to see.
But the difference for United was fresh signing Stanton Kidd, not to be confused with his predecessor Casey Prather, or Elmer Fudd impersonator Jason Kidd, who was almost best on court, finishing with 21 points (5/8 from deep) and five rebounds, Chris Goulding added his customary 21 points, and Shawn Long finished with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Back to normalcy for United, after the Queenslanders ganged up on them in the Christmas New Year.
Sydney Kings 91 defeated Adelaide 36ers 77 @ The Fake Kingdome
For the 3rd time in 4 games, a team scored 91 points.
There is bound to be some form of conspiracy behind this.
Anyway, that was more entertaining than the game, because the Kings were simply too good.
NZ Breakers 97 defeated SEM Phoenix 92 @ The State Basketball Centre
On the subject of venues, this was the first game at the State Basketball Centre, located right in Phoenix heartland of Wantirna South, making it the 78th different venue in NBL history.
If my maths are correct, this is the last home game either of the Melbourne teams will play prior to the Australian Open, given Melbourne Arena gets used up until the second Monday of the tournament.
Of course, Tennis Australia actually own the naming rights to the Multi Purpose Venue that both teams call home – Conceivably, they could have called it anything from “Roy Emerson Arena” to “Tina Arena”, but they went for the vanilla icecream name of Melbourne Arena, which does make sense when you’re hosting a major international tournament…. Although many Seppos will still struggle to locate it on a map.
Ultimately, despite the fanfare of venturing close to Neighbours heartland (Big woop, you’re not the only ones), it would be the Breakers who became good friends, coming just a few days after Letoa’s passing, keeping up this amazing run they’ve been on since they began their road trip at the end of last year – After sitting at 4-10 just before Christmas, they’re now 9-10, and about 1.5 games behind the Taipans in 4th.
While John Roberson posted another 30 point game (31 pts and 6 assists) for the Phoenix and Dane Fineau hogging the boards with 17 & 19 rebounds, the Breakers overcame them with an even spread – Tommy Abercrombie with 24 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists, Scotty Hopson continued his scintillating form with 19 points and six assists, Finn Delany came up huge for 18 points (3/4 from deep) and six rebounds, and RJ Hampton returned with 11 points.
Brisbane Bullets 97 defeated Perth Wildcats 85 @ The Armory
In another flat road performance from the Wildcats, it was none other than Lamar Patterson who put up 35 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists to keep the Bullets with enough powder in the keg to stay alive in 2019-20, keeping up this weird pattern they have of following a disappointing loss with a really solid win.
Last week they lost to the Breakers on a buzzer beater with that massive blown lead, which they followed up by cruising down to Melbourne and ragdolling United, and now they followed up a piss poor shooting performance in Cairns by disposing of the defending champions.
Speaking of which, where on Earth are the Wildcats at?
Probably back in Perth, by the time this gets released.
Adelaide 36ers 102 defeat Illawarra Hawks 96 @ Adelaide Entertainment Centre
For the second time this round, the Hawks provided plenty of fight with a superb 1st Half shooting performance, but after the Sixers put the clamps on them in the 2nd Half to hold them to 35 points, combined with their sustained offensive performance, it was enough to keep the league’s cellar dwellers at bay.
It truly was a team effort from Adelaide -Anthony Drmic hit 24 points and 5 rebounds, Daniel Johnson with 22 points and 7 rebounds, Jerome Randle with 19 points, Eric Griffin 15 points and 9 rebounds, and even Brendan Teys added 13 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
It repelled Todd Blanchfield’s mega effort, posting a career-best 35 points on 12/18 shooting, including 7/12 from deep, with a +/- of +8 when he was on the court.
The unfortunate problem for the Hawks was that they didn’t have 4 more Todd Blanchfields.