Written for nbl.com.au by Liam Santamaria
Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide all made statements throughout Round 6, while the ‘Cats escaped a WILD finish in the Tropics.
Here are your Round 6 studs and duds.
You have to tip your hat to the defending champs for the toughness they’ve shown throughout their brutal recent schedule.
After a high-quality win ‘across the ditch’ on Friday night, United returned home for their eighth game in twenty-two days and took care of business against the Bullets.
Melbourne trailed Brisbane at the half but responded by churning up their defence and, as usual, making key plays down the stretch.
“We spoke at half-time as a group, before the coaches came in, that we were twenty minutes away from a really, really good weekend,” United captain Chris Goulding revealed post-game.
“(We wanted to) muster up some energy and play defence the way we know we can… we upped it a little bit and managed to get over the line in the end and, as I said, come away with a really good weekend.”
Josh Boone was massive in New Zealand with 26 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks and I still can’t believe I didn’t make him captain of my fantasy squad. DJ Kennedy also stuffed the stat-sheet in that one, recording 14 points, 9 boards, 7 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks.
Chris Goulding averaged 15 points for the round while David Barlow (18 points) and Alex Pledger (10 points and 6 boards) also played well at home.
Melbourne’s main man, though, was…
Casper Ware (Melbourne United)
Ware’s slow start to the season is a distant memory now with the superstar massively elevating his production over the past four weeks.
The MVP-contender has now scored 20 or more in 6 of his past 8 and has put up 23 points per game across that stretch.
In round 6 Ware dropped 24 on the Breakers and 23 on the Bullets, shooting a combined 58 percent from the field and an impressive 66 percent from downtown.
He got to the foul line, dimed up his teammates, set the tone defensively and hit big shots in big moments across both games.
The back-to-back triples he drilled from ‘SKYCITY’ during the fourth quarter in New Zealand – those isolation pull-ups that had all kinds of Drew League swagger about them – were incredibly clutch
STOP IT CASPER 😱
— NBL (@NBL) November 16, 2018
Then, on Sunday, Brisbane paid Ware the ultimate compliment down the stretch by doubling him the moment he crossed the half-way line.
“We said, ‘He’s not going to beat us,’” Bullets coach Andrej Lemanis explained.
“We went after him and got the ball out of his hands. They did a nice job of moving the ball and got some scores as a result.”
It’s early… very early… but the MVP conversation has suddenly become a whole lot more interesting.
Coming off a tumultuous week, the 36ers snapped their four-game losing streak in style on Saturday with a 25-point win over Illawarra.
Adelaide started slowly but completely dominated the Hawks after quarter time, outscoring their guests 83-49 the rest of the way.
Jacob Wiley (16 points, 12 rebounds) and Anthony Drmic (16 points) both bounced back from quiet Round 5 games but it was the balance of Adelaide’s attack that most impressed; with 11 guys hitting the scoreboard including 5 in double-figures.
Ramone Moore is healthy, Conger is in the line-up and the 36ers look ready to roll.
Speaking of rolling, that’s exactly what the Kings are doing right now as they grabbed their fifth W from their past six games.
Battling a talented Kiwi side without the services of Kevin Lisch, the Kings got the job done at both ends to secure a comfortable home win.
Andrew Bogut (who probably deserves his own section) was brilliant with humongous numbers across the board, Jerome Randle was terrific while ‘Wild’ Kyle Adnam stepped up in a starting role on his birthday.
It was the second time this season the Kings have put triple-figures on the Breakers but it was their work down the other end that was perhaps most impressive.
“The foundation for all championship teams is what you do on the defensive end,” head coach Andrew Gaze said postgame.
“We are under no illusions to say that we are where we need to be but we’re certainly performing in a way to give ourselves a chance.
“If we grow from here and this is the base from which we grow you say it can only get better.”
Deng Deng (Sydney Kings)
Deng’s spinning oop was a thing of absolute basketball beauty. An early contender for dunk of the year.
DENG DENG! 😱😱😱
— NBL (@NBL) November 18, 2018
Adam Gibson (Brisbane Bullets)
The Bullets went down but veteran guard Adam Gibson continued his hot shooting in Melbourne, drilling 5-of-8 threes on his way to a team-high 19 points.
“A couple of lucky ones went down,” the always-humble Gibson commented post-game.
“Sometimes when you just have to jack them up pretty quick to get some quick scores, you don’t really think and your routine comes into play so a couple went down.”
The truth is: Gibson’s been stroking that thing all season, connecting on an impressive 50 percent of 4 long range attempts per game. He slapped 4-from-4 on Adelaide a few weeks ago and is now 8-of-11 across his past two games. En fuego!
South East Melbourne Phoenix
Yes, Tommy Greer is my guy, but I really do dig the name, colours and logo of the league’s newest club.
— South East Melbourne Phoenix (@SEMelbPhoenix) November 17, 2018
Let’s be real: that loss in Adelaide was a really bad one for the Hawks.
I mean, there’s losing… and then there’s losing like that, where the game turned into a bit of a lay-up line for the 36ers in the second half.
“We are very disappointed in that performance,” head coach Rob Beveridge said post-game.
“We need to start believing in ourselves that we can compete with any team in the league.”
They also need to get back to playing hard.
The Hawks were completely outworked in their previous game against the Wildcats and the effort just wasn’t there again when the going got tough in Adelaide.
That just doesn’t sit right for an Illawarra team. And it certainly won’t sit right with ‘Bevo’, whose squads have always played with maximum effort over the years.
“When you go through holes like this that we’re in, you’ve got to have high-level character people,” Beveridge said.
“We are in a hole, we know that. You don’t have any intent to go out and play poorly or lose.
“It’s important that we do stay together and we do have each other’s backs… we need to get everybody back on the same page.”
At 3-6, the Hawks have a big, big weekend coming up.
Bryce Cotton (Perth Wildcats)
This is obviously a little tongue-in-cheek as Cotton is an out-and-out stud but, c’mon, what on earth was the little master thinking in the final seconds of regulation up in Cairns?
Up four with the clock winding down, the MVP launched himself in front of Melo Trimble as the Cairns star flipped up a no-look, facing-sideways-if-you-don’t-mind, running three
— NBL (@NBL) November 17, 2018
Yes, it was an incredible shot, but what the heck was Cotton doing anywhere near that action?
The answer: he was trying to ensure the ‘Cats won by as much as possible. But, ah, yeah… let’s just say he’ll be a little more careful next time around.
“It was just a very bonehead play,” Cotton told The West Australian today.
“I guess it’ll be a very funny story to tell when the season is over, but right now I still can’t believe I made such a silly mistake.”
The following two plays were also kind of crazy as consecutive inbounds passes went sailing out-of-bounds, before the game finally went to overtime.
Wild times in the Tropics!
Jason Cadee (Brisbane Bullets)
It happens to all talented offensive players and right now it’s Jason Cadee’s turn to work through a confidence-shaking shooting slump.
Cadee’s been doing a great job distributing the ball this season – his first at the Bullets – but has not yet managed to strike the balance between setting up his team-mates and providing his own much-needed scoring punch.
Yesterday, Cadee went scoreless in Melbourne on just two field goal attempts, with United outscoring the Bullets by 15 during his 21 minutes on the floor.
It was the 27-year-old’s second donut of the season and the fifth time in Brisbane’s past six games that he hasn’t reached double-figures.
On the season, Cadee is now shooting at just 33 percent from the field and only 26 percent from long range – his lowest three-point percentage since his rookie year in 2011.
The thing is, Cadee is an excellent shooter.
He’s streaky, yes, but for the past few years the Boomers guard has been one of the deadliest marksmen in the league; someone who could blow a game open at any moment with consecutive long range bombs.
Last season, for example, he splashed two triples a game at an outstanding 44 percent; putting up double-figure points in over half his games.
An offensive explosion will come. It’s just a matter of when.
The Screaming Lady (Melbourne Arena)
If you watched the Brisbane/Melbourne game you’ll know exactly where I’m coming from. If you didn’t, here’s just a taste of what went down…
Whatever you do, don't scream when @chomicide is on the mic.
— 9Basketball (@9Basketball) November 18, 2018
I mean, that lady’s screaming stamina was amazing, wasn’t it? It was also very annoying as it rang out incessantly throughout the entire fourth quarter.
Corey, to his credit, did his best to ‘calm’ her… but to no avail. The Screaming Lady was a truly unstoppable force.