Friday, February 27, 2009

Chris Mullin and some more Corey Williams

I was at the pub last night playing poker so I only got to see parts of the Crocs series-tying win against the Dragons. It was great to see that they fought back from a 3/4 deficit to force the series in to a game 3 decider in Melbourne.

With only 2 games in the NBA, its a rather slow day on the basketball front so I was checking out some sites that I don't look at as regularly. The main one today is Bounce which seems to be an affiliate/off-shoot of Dime (that I refer to regularly). One of the articles on there was about the "leader of Croc Nation", Corey Williams, click here to check out what they had to say about the NY playground legend doing his thing down under. Good to see The OT's DJ Rod in the comments!

The main story tho that I loved seeing on there was a feature on one of the greatest basketball shooting players of all time and one of my favourites, Chris Mullin. For those youngsters that only know him as the GM of the Golden State Warriors, check out the article below (click on the title to read the full story) to learn more about his life as a player, its a story of hard work and persistence. Watching Mully when he had it going was a thing of beauty ...

Speaking of the NBL, check out the Sports Illustrated cover in the article that has a college pic of Sydney Kings legend Dwayne McClain.

The Playground Gave Us “Mo”, aka Chris Mullin | Streetball, Sneakers, Bobbito, Nike Air Force, Jordans

By Ali

Christopher Paul Mullin was a simple, neighborhood guy from Troy Avenue in the Flatlands section of Brooklyn. The love affair with hoops was a multi-generational thing that began in the driveway of the family’s small row house.

His father Rod played street ball with Doug Moe before Moe would go on to star at the University of North Carolina in the late ’50s. His older brother Roddy played at Siena, where he was the team captain as a senior. Younger brothers John and Terence would later ball at Bridgeport and St. John’s, respectively.

Known to his family and around the hood as “Mo”, Mullin was the ultimate playground fixture and gym rat. Showing up for the run was only part of his childhood mission. The other component was hours of repetitive work on movement, dribbling and shooting the rock from an assortment of angles.

Perfect basketball shooting form ... no comment on the facial expression tho ...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

NBL semi-final updates

After the first game of both 3 game NBL semi-final series, the home teams are one game up.

I watched most of the Crocs game on Tuesday night but didn't see the Tigers-Breakers last night. Our boy John Rillie was rolling in the first half but hardly saw the rock after the break. Unfortunately Homicide couldn't buy a bucket, missing lay-up after lay-up ... the odd part was that despite this (and much to everyone's surprise), he managed to knock down a triple. Townsville was up by 12 at one point in the first half and had every chance to win this game but it was definitely the one that got away.

I'll be at the Shafston tonight playing poker so hopefully I'll see a fair bit of the Crocs-Dragons second game.

Also, I came across this interesting discussion about Player Efficiency rankings in the NBL for the 2008/2009 regular season. Click here to find out who was the most efficient ... trust me, you won't guess who was #1.

Click on the titles below to read the recaps of each game.

NBL > Match Report

The South Dragons are one win away from their first grand final appearance after defeating Townsville 94-81 in Game One of the best-of-three Semi-Final series at Hisense Arena on Tuesday night.

The top-ranked Dragons bucked a regular season trend, which saw them lose three of four clashes against the Crocodiles, to record a 13-point win.

A win on Thursday in Townsville will see the Dragons book their place in this season's Grand Final.

The Dragons received the quintessential captain's performance from Mark Worthington (27 points, 12 rebounds), who blew the game apart in the final term with 12 points.

NBL > Match Report

The Melbourne Tigers have edged one step closer to a fourth consecutive grand final appearance by posting a 117-99 victory over the New Zealand Breakers in the opening match of the best-of-three Semi-Final series at the State Netball and Hockey Centre on Wednesday night.

It was all one-way traffic right from the opening tip as the Tigers took a 15-point lead into half-time and never let up from that point on to eventually cruise to victory.

The Breakers may have been the best three-point shooting side during the regular season, but the Tigers were dominant in that area in this clash, with David Barlow, Ebi Ere and Luke Kendall in particular deadly from beyond the arc.

Too much Donta Smith (pictured below), Mark Worthington and Adam Gibson than the Crocs could handle in game 1.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Routine excellence is Allen's secret

Because we believe there is no such thing as too much Ray Allen, here's a good article I found earlier when I was researching his Shooter of the Month award. Click on the title below to read the full story.

Routine excellence is Allen's secret - The Boston Globe

By Jackie MacMullan
Globe Staff / April 20, 2008

WALTHAM - The routine is paramount. People don't understand that. They see Ray Allen, his head meticulously shaved, his jersey tucked carefully into his shorts, his socks pulled up to precisely the same length, and they are drawn to his silky jumper. Can you blame them? It is so smooth, so fluid, so seemingly effortless.
more stories like this

Everyone wishes they could shoot like Ray. They tell him that all the time. They are envious, they say, of his God-given talent.

'An insult,' says Allen. 'God could care less whether I can shoot a jump shot.'

As the Celtics kick off their campaign for an NBA championship tonight in the opening round of the playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks, Allen will leave nothing to chance. He will line up for the tip exactly as he has for his other 73 games. His pregame ritual does not waver: a nap from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m., a meal of chicken and white rice at 2:30, an arrival time at the gym at precisely 3:45 to stretch. Allen will shave his head, then walk out to the court at exactly 4:30. He will methodically take shots from both baselines, both elbows, and the top of the key.

Ray Allen - Shooter of the Month for January

We've just announced our Shooter of the Month for January, click on the title below to read the full story and exactly why our boy Ray Allen (pictured right) got the nod.

Ray Allen - Shooter of the Month for January

There was plenty of competition for last month's Shooter of the Month award. The contenders in no particular order were:

* Danny Granger - Indiana Pacers in the NBA (40% fg, 94% ft, 2.9 triples per game)
* Mo Williams - Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA (46% fg, 92% ft, 2.7 triples per game)
* Troy Murphy - Indiana Pacers in the NBA (47% fg, 90% ft, 2.6 triples per game)
* Shawn Redhage - Perth Wildcats in the NBL (54% fg, 92% ft, 20ppg)
* John Rillie - Townsville Crocodiles in the NBL (48% fg, 100% ft, 44% 3pfg)

The winner of the January Shooter of the Month award goes to Boston Celtic shooting guard Ray Allen. His numbers were 19 points per game, 51.8% from the field, 100% from the line and he averaged 2.7 triples per game. On his 100% from the line, Ray just missed a free-throw 3 days ago that saw his streak end at a club record 72.

Ray Allen is one of the best basketball shooting players in the world and has one of the sweetest, smoothest strokes you will ever see. We've written a number of articles on the blog about Ray so I'll let some of his records do the talking:

# NBA All-Star Weekend Three-point Shootout champion: 2001
# Holds NBA record for most three-point field goals made in a regular season with 269 in 2005-06
# NBA regular season leader, three-point field goals attempted: 2006 (653)
# NBA all-time career three-point field goals made: 2nd with 2,213 (as of January 29, 2009)
# Holds NBA record for most seasons leading the league in three-point field goals made with 3 (2001-02 with 229, 2002-03 with 201, 2005-06 with 269)
# Shares NBA record for most three-point field goals made in one half with 8 with Tracy Mcgrady (April 14, 2002 vs. the Charlotte Hornets).
# Shares NBA record for most three-point field goals made in a single NBA Finals Game with 7 with Kenny Smith and Scottie Pippen (June 17, 2008, in Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals)
# Holds NBA record for most three-point field goals made in an NBA Finals series with 22 (2008 NBA Finals)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Semi-final facts

I've been down in Sydney for the last 3 days so I'll catch up on the basketball world over the next day or two. Tomorrow night I'll be around at some friends place watching JR and the Croc Nationa take on the Dragons in game 1 of their semi-final series.

In the meantime, here are the semi-final facts from the NBL:


Only six times in the 46 Semi-Finals games since the best-of-three series began in 1987 has a team lost Game One and recovered to take the series. The last was the West Sydney Razorbacks in 2002, who fought back from a 21-point loss in Game One to win the next two matches against the Melbourne Tigers.

Ten of the last eleven Semi-Finals series have required just the minimum two games to decide a winner, with a three-game series between the Sydney Kings and the Perth Wildcats last year the first match up to go the full distance in five years.

Eleven of the last twelve Semi-Finals series have ended up with the first ranked team on the ladder going through to play the second-ranked team in the Grand Final, with the exception being the third placed West Sydney Razorbacks getting through to play the first-placed Sydney Kings in 2004.

The last four teams remaining in the 2009 NBL Finals were also the top four scoring teams in the competition.

Top scorers in season 2009:

103.8 ppg – New Zealand

101.0 ppg – Melbourne

98.9 ppg – South

98.7 ppg – Townsville

98.6 ppg – Adelaide

97.6 ppg – Gold Coast

97.5 ppg – Wollongong

96.0 ppg – Perth

94.1 ppg – Sydney

86.3 ppg - Cairns

Andrej Lemanis is the only remaining coach that has been this deep in the finals as a player. He played 42 career games including three playoff matches and was a part of the South East Melbourne Magic’s winning team in 1992 under Brian Goorjian against the Melbourne Tigers. Alan Westover played 48 games for the Tigers and Supercats in 1984/85 and his former Melbourne teammate Brian Goorjian played 24 games in the Tigers’ debut season in 1984, with neither appearing in any finals matches.

Coaching playoff experience:

Brian Goorjian (Kings) 107 games - won 63, lost 44

Alan Westover (Tigers) 18 games - won 13, lost 5

Trevor Gleeson (Crocs) 5 games - won 3, lost 2

Andrej Lemanis (Breakers) 3 games - won 2, lost 1

Incredibly, for the 20th straight season, Brian Goorjian will be coaching in at least the Semi-Finals. In every season since 1990, Goorjian has coached his team to at least a top four finish. Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis and Townsville head man Trevor Gleeson are both in the final four for the first time.

Coaching appearances in the final four (numbers include this season)

20 – Brian Goorjian

8 – Brian Kerle

7 – Lindsay Gaze, Bruce Palmer

6 – Bob Turner, Alan Black

5 – Cal Bruton, Phil Smyth, Brendan Joyce

4 – Barry Barnes, Ian Stacker, Joey Wright, Alan Westover

3 – Brett Brown, Ken Cole, Adrian Hurley, Mike Dunlap, Ken Richardson,

2 – Geordie McLeod, David Lindstrom, Gary Fox, Dave Claxton, Murray Arnold, Scott Fisher

1 – Dave Ankeney, Andy Campbell, Jim Ericksen, Brett Flanigan, Jerry Lee, Don Shipway, Cal Stamp, Ray Tomlinson, Andrej Lemanis, Trevor Gleeson

The 24th of February marks the 30th anniversary of the first ever NBL matches played, which kicked off at three venues on the opening night of the inaugural 1979 season. At Nunawading Stadium, the Spectres defeated the Newcastle 78-62 with Falcon Dave Ankeney the game high scorer with 28 points. The Glenelg Tigers won just one of their three victories in 1979 with a 68-65 win over the City of Sydney Astronauts at Apollo Stadium in Adelaide and the Brisbane Bullets hosted Canberra Cannons but went down 70-77 at Auchenflower. Future Hall of Famer’s Cal Bruton and Herb McEachin both made their debuts in that match.


Game 1 – Hisense Arena, Tuesday February 24

Game 2 – Townsville Entertainment Centre, Thursday February 26

Game 3 – Hisense Arena, Saturday February 28 *(if required)

All-Time: Dragons 3, Crocs 6

In Melbourne: Dragons 2, Crocs 2

In Townsville: Crocs 4, Dragons 1

2009 meetings:

Round 2: 25/9/08 Crocs 91 Dragons 89 at Hisense Arena

Round 14: 20/12/08 Dragons 88 Crocs 84 at Hisense Arena

Round 16: 31/12/08 Crocs 105 Dragons 95 at Townsville

Round 21: 6/2/09 Crocs 101 def Dragons 98 at Townsville

Finals history - South:

2007: Quarter Final lost at Cairns

Semi Finals history - Townsville:

2000: Semi Finals lost to Perth 1-2

2001: Semi Final beat Victoria 2-1: Grand Final lost to Wollongong 1-2

2003: Semi Final lost to Sydney 1-2

2005: Semi Final lost to Wollongong 0-2

Coaches head to head: Brian Goorjian 5 wins, Trevor Gleeson 5 wins

Trevor Gleeson will coach his 100th NBL match in Game Two of this series back in Townsville. Coincidently he made his coaching debut at The Swamp in September 2006 against Brian Goorjian’s Sydney Kings, who were the defending Champions at the time, with the Crocs winning 117-103. John Rillie top scored in that match with 37 points – the equal most he has ever scored for the Crocs. Gleeson won his first four games as coach in Townsville, with his first loss coming to the Dragons by 13. It remains South’s only win at The Swamp and the Crocs answered with a run of eight straight wins immediately after.

Currently the Crocs are on a nine-game winning streak at home, which is their best-ever run under Gleeson’s watch and is equal-third best in franchise history. Game Two of this series will also be Gleeson’s 50th game at The Swamp and in that time he has 39 wins and just 10 losses.

In 152 games played this season there was 22 times where the team that was behind at three-quarter time got up to win. However, South and Townsville were the only two teams that never gave up a lead to lose a game this season. The Crocs fought back from being down at the last change to win a record five times this year – with four of those in the top eight comebacks - while South came back four times from deficits.

Best comebacks from 3/4 time deficit this season to win:

13 – Townsville vs Cairns round 2

10 – South at Melbourne round 13

9 – Townsville at Cairns round 11

9 – Wollongong vs Cairns round 7

8 – Townsville at Wollongong round 19

8 – Sydney vs Adelaide round 2

8 – Cairns at Adelaide round 8

7 – Townsville vs Sydney round 6

Brian Goorjian has not got a good recent record at The Swamp, with just two wins in his last seven visits. At Hisense Arena his record has been very good, with 12 wins from 14 games with the only losses being to the Crocs (by 2) and the Wildcats (by 9).

With a 1-3 record against Townsville this year, it is just the second time in Brian Goorjian’s 22 seasons as coach in the NBL that he has lost three regular season games to another team. His Victoria Titans in1998/99 lost all 3 games that year by 15, 9 and 25 against Townsville.

Dragon Rhys Carter is the most experienced player making his playoff debut this season with 162 games under his belt – all in the regular season. Carter made his NBL debut at Hisense Arena for Victoria against the Melbourne Tigers in October 2002 and just completed his sixth season in the league with no finals to this point of his career. Last year Breaker Paul Henare made his finals debut after 155 games. League records are not complete in this area but Bullets and Crocs shooter Jason Cameron was one example of having a long career without team success by appearing in nine seasons and 207 games without playing in a finals game in his career.

Last week, Croc John Rillie became the first man to connect on 10 three-point baskets in an NBL playoff game when he helped his team eliminate Perth. Rillie has a career best of 11-from-14 long range baskets and also has the record for most points by an Australian player in a playoff game when he scored a career-high 45-points against the Wollongong Hawks in the 2003 Semi-Finals.

Most three-pointers in a playoff game:

10-from-17: John Rillie for Townsville vs Perth 2009 Quarter Final

9-from-16: CJ Bruton for Sydney vs West Sydney 2004 Grand Final

9-from-14: Marcus Timmons for Melbourne vs West Sydney 2002 Semi Final

9-from-13: Michael Johnson for Newcastle vs Brisbane 1993 Quarter Final

9-from-14: Shane Heal for Geelong vs Nth Melbourne 1991 Elimination Final

Crocs guard Corey Williams has averaged a team-high 22.5 ppg against the Dragons this year with Brad Williamson also causing problems at 13.8 ppg. Williams has only fouled out once this year and that was in the Crocs’ win in Melbourne. Twice this year Williams has picked up double-figure rebounds and both were against the Dragons.

Average points scored against Dragons this year:

25.3ppg – Kirk Penney (Breakers)

22.5 ppg – Corey Williams (Crocs)

22.5 ppg – Chris Anstey (Tigers)

21.0 ppg – Derrick Low (Spirit)

19.7 ppg – James Harvey (Blaze)

After averaging 10.1ppg in his first seven games with the Dragons, Donta Smith appears to have turned the corner with 20.7ppg over his last three where he led the team in scoring with 22, 21 and 19. His results from long-range have also been improved in the last three, hitting 6-from-10 after going just 1-from-13 in his first seven matches.

In Game Two of this series, Daniel Egan will become the 17th man to play 100 games for the Crocs. Egan and John Rillie have both played every game for the club under Trevor Gleeson since the start of the 2007 season.

The Dragons are a perfect 12-from-12 when scoring 100 points or more in a match this year, with Perth the only other team this year that were not beaten when scoring triple-figures (10-from10). Townsville were also one of two teams that the Dragons weren’t able to score 100 points against this season – in four games - with Perth the other (three games).

Townsville could not win a game when scoring 90 points or less this year with eight losses. Their lowest winning score was the 91 against the Dragons in Round Two. South scored just 82 points in their last game in Cairns, which was their lowest score of the year but it was enough to win by two points.


Game 1 – State Netball Hockey Centre, Wednesday February 25

Game 2 – North Shore Events Centre, Friday February 27

Game 3 – State Netball Hockey Centre, Sunday February 29 *(if required)

All-Time: Tigers 14, Breakers 5

In Melbourne: Tigers 9, Breakers 1

In Auckland: Breakers 4, Tigers 5

2009 meetings:

Round 2: 25/9/08 Breakers 120 Tigers 111 at North Shore

Round 8: 8/11/08 Breakers 86 def Tigers 84 at The Cage

Round 19: 22/1/09 Tigers 103 def Breakers 85 at North Shore

Round 19: 24/1/09 Tigers 96 def Breakers 89 at The Cage

Melbourne’s Semi Finals history:

1992: Semi Final beat Sydney 2-1: Grand Final lost to Magic 1-2

1993: Semi Final beat Magic 2-0: Grand Final beat Perth 2-1

1994: Semi Final lost to Adelaide 0-2

1996: Semi Final beat Canberra 2-1: Grand Final lost to Magic 1-2

1997: Semi Final beat North Melb 2-0: Grand Final beat Magic 2-1

1999: Semi Final lost to Victoria 0-2

2002: Semi Final lost to West Sydney 1-2

2006: Semi Final beat Perth 2-0: Grand Final beat Sydney 3-0

2007: Semi Final beat Cairns 2-0: Grand Final lost to Brisbane 1-3

2008: Semi Final beat Brisbane 2-0: Grand Final beat Sydney 3-2

New Zealand’s Finals history:

2008: Quarter Final beat Cairns 1-0

2008: Quarter Final lost to Brisbane 0-1

2009: Quarter Final beat Adelaide 1-0

The Tigers won their first eight straight games at The Cage against New Zealand before they lost by 2 points in Round Eight in a game that the Breakers led by as much as 22 points early in the third.

In their first meeting this year, New Zealand dropped 20 three-pointers on the Tigers, which is the Breakers’ all-time best in their history and the most any team had ever connected against Melbourne. In their first two wins over the Tigers this year, New Zealand made 32 baskets from outside the arc at 48%. In the next two losses, they could manage just 15 makes at 31%.

New Zealand’s last two games at North Shore have produced wins by 34 over Cairns and 30 against the Sixers. In their history the Breakers have never won consecutive home games by anything more than 14 points. Their 18-point loss to the Tigers in Round 19 was their heaviest home defeat of this year so far.

New Zealand are the only team in the NBL that has not been blown for a technical foul all year and could be the first team to go through a season without picking up at least one since records were kept. Last season the Breakers had racked up eight techs, which was second most in the league to the Sydney Kings (14). This year’s overall tally of 62 is also the lowest in history and 15 less than the 77 recorded in 2008.

Technical fouls this season:

12 – Gold Coast

8 – Adelaide; Cairns; Perth

6 – South; Wollongong

5 – Melbourne; Townsville

4 – Sydney

0 – New Zealand

Breaker Kirk Penney has a career scoring average of 24.3 ppg but in his three playoff games so far he has elevated that to 28.3 ppg with scores of 30 against Cairns, 24 versus the Bullets and 31 last week against Adelaide. In the last 10 years of the NBL Finals, his average is the best of any player who has played more than one game.

Leading career playoff averages (last 10 years only):
28.3 ppg: Kirk Penney (3 games)

26.5 ppg: Willie Farley (10 games)

25.7 ppg: Corey Williams (3 games)

24.0 ppg: Kevin Brooks (6 games)

23.8 ppg: Chris Williams (8 games)

22.4 ppg: Lanard Copeland (16 games)

Alan Westover is in his fourth year as full-time coach of the Tigers and has a perfect record in the Semi-Finals with six wins from six games in his first three years in the job. In 2006 it was Perth who were swept 0-2 with Cairns in 2007 and Brisbane (2008) suffering the same fate. Last season he became the first coach to ever make three appearances in the Grand Final in his first three years as coach.

Oscar Forman needs three more games to reach 250 in his career. Forman has hit 98 threes this season to lead the league in makes. Last year five players had made at least 100 triples in the regular season - Ebi Ere, Kirk Penney, CJ Bruton, James Harvey and Troy DeVries. Forman’s previous career best was 81 makes in 33 games for the Breakers in 2007.

Last week the Breakers clocked up a new club record 131 points in their thrashing of Adelaide, beating their previous high of 127 coming against the Bullets last year. In a runaway final term, New Zealand also set a new quarter scoring record for the club with a 45-point term.

Breakers best NBL quarters:

45 – vs Adelaide 2009 (4th)

44 – vs Adelaide 2004 (1st)

44 – at Perth 2009 (4th)

43 - vs Townsville 2007 (4th)

Chris Ansey is averaging a team high 21.8 ppg against the Breakers this year but he has shot just 4-from-20 from outside the arc against the Kiwis. It was his second worst long range percentage against any team this year behind only the Sydney Spirit, who he went 0-from-11 against in three games.

The Tigers had the best record of any team this season when on television, losing just one game and that was against the Breakers in Auckland. Sydney was the only team that never enjoyed a broadcast victory on either Fox Sports in Australia or Maori Television in New Zealand.

Combined television record this season:

Melbourne - 6 wins, 1 loss

South - 5 wins, 2 losses

New Zealand - 11 wins, 5 losses

Adelaide - 4 wins, 4 losses

Townsville - 3 wins, 4 losses

Gold Coast - 1 win, 2 losses

Wollongong - 1 win, 3 losses

Perth - 1 win, 3 losses

Cairns - 1 win, 5 losses

Sydney - 0 wins, 4 losses

Tigers Dave Thomas and Luke Kendall are attempting to be just the third and fourth players in league history to change clubs during the season and find themselves in a Grand Final. Thomas played 16 games with the Taipans and Kendall 12 games with Perth before both found their way to Melbourne. In 2002, Matt Garrison left the Taipans after 10 games and signed with Adelaide to eventually find himself with a Championship ring that year to add to the one he won with the Hawks in 2001. In 2004 Brad Williams spent time at both New Zealand and Cairns before playing out the year at the Razorbacks and qualifying for the Grand Final in which they were runners up to the Kings.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Crocs vs Wildcats

For the full recap of the Crocs win over the Wildcats in the first NBL sudden-death quarter-final, there can be no better person to tell you all about it than the game winner, John Rillie himself.

Click on the title below to read his full recap and to check out some footage of the post-game antics. Russell Hinder at his entertaining best.

(PS. No, JR is not 48 years old ... yet)

JR, On Fire

Perth Wildcats coach Conner Henry said he was disappointed with the space his team afforded John Rillie.

'He was getting free and finding cracks and once he hits one 30-footer it's on,' Henry said.

'He's been doing that in this league for a long time.

'How old is he? He's got to be 48, and we got beat by a 48-year-old three-point shooter.

'Hats off to John. I like John and he's a good player, but I'm disappointed in how we defended him.' Courtesy of AAP.

Steve Nash will beat you (again)

Thanks to the crew at Dime for pointing out the lastest challenge Steve Nash has thrown out to the world. Nash is a great basketball shooter so his first challenge was free-throws in a minute. Our boy John Rillie took the challenge, matched him and hoped to hear back from Nash about what was next.

Can JR keep pace with Nash from downtown? If you saw Rillie raining down an NBL playoff record 10 triples in a game against Perth last night, you'd have to say he can. JR ... time to bring it ...

Check out Steve Nash's basketball shooting display:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Crocs vs Wildcats ... and Corey Williams is talking the talk (again)

In the lead up to the first game of the 2009 NBL finals series, here are a few of the articles and pre-game talk from both teams. Not surprisingly, Corey Williams from the Crocs was one of the first to speak out about the do or die quarter-final.

As you can see below, Chris Pike has been a busy boy. Click on the titles below to read the full stories.

NBL > News

Williams ready to rumble
By Chris Pike, Sportal

Townsville Crocs guard Corey 'Homicide' Williams has ensured Wednesday's NBL quarter-final against the Perth Wildcats will be explosive as he arrived fired up for the cutthroat contest.

With the physicality of the clash becoming a big talking point in the build-up, Williams made no bones about his team, especially Rosell Ellis, being ready for it.

'I don't care what we showed the four times we played them, this is a whole new season and in order to beat them you have to play physical, rebound, push, hit shots from the outside and we intend to do that,' Williams said on Tuesday.

We know Perth is coming with it, we are coming with it and it's like a 12-round championship fight. If you don't play physical you are going to lose. It's going down and that's how Rosell plays. What are we going to tell him? Don't play like that? Come on, man, this is playoff basketball.

NBL > News

Henry: Let the best team win

By Chris Pike, Sportal

Forget any talk of physicality or referees, Perth Wildcats coach Conner Henry wants the best team to win Wednesday's quarter final with Townsville and is backing the NBL's most consistent team over the past 20 years to come out on top.

The Wildcats are entering their 23rd straight NBL finals campaign and are sure to be hosting the cutthroat game with the Crocs in front of a loud and full Challenge Stadium as success-starved Perth sporting fans get behind the team.

With other professional teams in the city such as the AFL's West Coast and Fremantle, Super 14 team Western Force, A-League club Perth Glory and cricket team Western Australia Warriors all struggling for success of late, the always contending Wildcats are a breath of fresh air.

NBL > News

Chemistry the key for Crocs
By Chris Pike, Sportal

If Townsville beats the Perth Wildcats in Wednesday's quarter final to advance in the NBL playoffs it will be its first win at Challenge Stadium in seven attempts and coach Trevor Gleeson has a team with great chemistry and confidence to do just that.

The Crocs' last win in Perth was September 18, 2005, and six losses since has included a defeat in last season's elimination final and two this season for a combined margin of 58 points, however, there is reason for Townsville fans to look at Wednesday's game with confidence.

The Crocodiles drew a line in the sand after losing to the Wildcats on December 27, and this year they have a 7-2 record which has included wins over playoff teams the South Dragons (twice) and the Adelaide 36ers.

Over that run, Townsville has seen Corey Williams, Brad Williamson (averaging 16 points over last five games) and John Rillie (48 points in last two), in particular, play at a higher level consistently.

Unlike rival NBL teams, the Crocs have kept their whole team together all season until Kelvin Robertson recently went down injured and it is that chemistry that Gleeson believes has led to the strong finish to the season.

NBL > News

Crocs prepared for physical 'Cats
By Jonathan Healy, Sportal

Townsville Crocodiles coach Trevor Gleeson is expecting a 'last man standing' affair in his side's cutthroat quarter-final against the Perth Wildcats on Wednesday night.

The Wildcats are well known for their physical approach to games and Gleeson knows his team must at least match it with their opponents to stand any chance of staying alive in the post-season.

"We all know Perth have a physical 'beat-you-up' mentality and they get away with a fair bit back in Perth," Gleeson said. "But we have been preparing for that. We know it is going to be a very physical encounter and we are not going to back down at all."

Who do you think will win tonight? I'm of course going for the Crocs!

NBL quarter-final facts

Thanks to Marc Howard from the NBL for sending through these historic numbers regarding quarter-final match-ups. With the Crocs playing in Perth tonight, hopefully they can buck the trend and advance to the next round.

NBL Fast Facts - Quarter Finals

There have been five previous seasons where the finals format has included sudden death Quarter Finals and no team has ever made it through them to win the Championship. The closest anyone has gotten was the West Sydney Razorbacks in 2004 – the first year of sudden death - and they made it to the Grand Final after finishing third, only to lose to the Kings in the first ever five-game Grand Final series.

15 of the 20 sudden death Quarter Finals under the current format have been won by the home team.

Last season, New Zealand was the only road team to win a Quarter Finals match when they defeated the Taipans in Cairns by 22. In 2007, every home team won the four knockout matches.

The first and second ranked teams have ended up playing off in the past four Grand Final series. In the 30 Championships that have been decided already, first and second seeded teams have taken the title 24 times with only one team ever winning the Championship from outside the top four. That was the Perth Wildcats who came from fifth to take the title in 1990 and win the club’s first ever Championship.

Ladder positions to end up Champion:
First – 13 times
Second – 11 times
Third – 3 times
Fourth – 2 times
Fifth – 1 time

Perth’s Conner Henry and Adelaide’s Scott Ninnis have both qualified for the playoffs in their debut seasons as coach in the NBL. Surprisingly, the last time the league had two rookie coaches make their playoff debuts in the same year was way back in 1993 when Don Monson was in charge at the Adelaide 36ers and Brett Brown coached North Melbourne, with both losing in the first round of finals.

Coaching playoff experience:
Brian Goorjian (Kings) 107 games, won 63, lost 44
Alan Westover (Tigers) 18 games, won 13, lost 5
Trevor Gleeson (Crocs) 4 games, won 2, lost 2
Andrej Lemanis (Breakers) 2 games, won 1, lost 1
Scott Ninnis (36ers) Debut season
Conner Henry (Wildcats) Debut season

Adelaide’s Brad Davidson is the most experienced player in this year’s finals that is yet to win a Championship with 392 games under his belt. Maybe his 13th season will be lucky for him. In 2009, the Gold Coast’s Scott McGregor was the active player with the most games without playing in a title winning team (413) with both players now in reach of the all-time league record holder in that category - 15-year veteran Andrew Goodwin on 431 matches. Davidson has played 245 matches since his Crocs lost the Grand Final to the Hawks in 2001 with just one playoff win in that time – a home win by his Taipans over the Wildcats in 2004.

Current most games without a Championship amongst players in this year’s Finals:
392 – Brad Davidson (Adelaide)
312 – Peter Crawford (Perth)
264 – David Cooper (Adelaide)
231 – Russell Hinder (Townsville)
188 – Matt Burston (South)
185 – Paul Henare (New Zealand)
162 – Rhys Carter (South)
159 – Adam Caporn (Perth)
147 – Shawn Redhage (Perth)
146 – Luke Kendall (Melbourne)

Tony Ronaldson begins his 19th post season as the second-oldest player in the NBL Finals and he hopes to celebrate with a trip to the Semi-Finals, which begin on his 37th birthday next Wednesday night.

Oldest players still in finals: (as at Feb 18)
37 years 3 months – John Rillie (Crocs)
36 years 11 months – Tony Ronaldson (Breakers)
35 years 10 months – Brett Maher (Sixers)
35 years 0 months – Phill Jones (Breakers)
34 years 9 months – Brad Davidson (Sixers)
34 years 1 month – Chris Anstey (Tigers)
33 years 11 months – Rosell Ellis (Crocs)
33 years 3 months – Stephen Hoare (Tigers)

Challenge Stadium
Wednesday February 18

All-Time: Wildcats 33, Crocs 17.
In Perth: Wildcats 19, Crocs 6
Perth have won their past six home games against Townsville dating back to 18/9/05

2009 meetings:
Round 3: 4/10/08 – Crocs 97 def Wildcats 80 at Townsville
Round 5: 17/10/08 – Wildcats 107 def Crocs 93 at Townsville
Round 8: 8/11/08 – Wildcats 115 def Crocs 78 at Perth
Round 15: 27/12/08 – Wildcats 97 def Crocs 76 at Perth

Previous finals meetings:
24/3/00 – Semi Final game 1 – Perth 104 def Townsville 101 at Challenge Stadium
31/3/00 – Semi Final game 2 – Townsville 101 def Perth 78 at the Swamp
2/4/00 – Semi Final game 3 – Perth 104 def Townsville 84 at the Swamp
22/2/08 – Quarter Finals – Perth 96 def Townsville 78 at Challenge Stadium

The Crocs have finished fifth for the third straight season under Trevor Gleeson with a record of 19-14 in 2007 and an identical 17-13 the past two years. In the past two seasons, Townsville have been eliminated on the road in the Quarter Finals. In 2000, Townsville made the playoffs for the first ever time and Perth were their opponents in the Semi-Finals after the Crocs automatically made it after finishing the year second. That year, three teams were equal on top of the ladder with 22-6 records. Townsville have qualified for the playoffs in seven of the last 10 years since.

Perth are the league’s most experienced playoff teams with this being their 23rd straight season in the finals. The Wildcats have played 95 finals, which is well ahead of Melbourne (84), Adelaide (72) and Brisbane (66). They have played five years without making the Grand Final which is nothing out of the ordinary for most clubs, but the worst run for Perth since their first five years in the competition. They have never had six straight years without playing in a Grand Final.

Townsville have a poor record away from ‘The Swamp’ in playoff games. In the last nine seasons since their playoff debut in 2000, the Crocs have played in 10 ‘away’ games for just the one victory. That was when they evened the 2003 Semi-Finals against the Kings 1-1 in Sydney, winning by a whopping 22 points (113-91).

There was a dramatic difference in the free-throw shooting for Perth in their series against the Crocs. In the first two games at The Swamp, the Wildcats had 17 and 16 attempts (average: 16.5), but back at Challenge Stadium they had their two games with the most trip to the charity stripe – 41 in game three and 46 in game four (average 43.5).

For the second year in a row, Crocs guard Corey Williams has led the league in free-throw attempts with 201 this year, just ahead of ‘Cats forward Shawn Redhage (197). Williams’ percentages from the stripe took a tumble at just 62.6% following 71.8% last year. Redhage on the other hand connected on 84.7% of his attempts, an improvement on the career 74.5% he started the year on.

Perth finished the year as the league’s best free-throw shooting team at 76.1% while Townsville were the league’s worst at 62.8%.

Townsville averaged 98.5 ppg over the season and scored 100 points or more in 14 of their 30 games but there was only one team they couldn’t score triple-figures against all year long – Perth. The Wildcats restricted the Crocs to just 86 ppg in their four meetings with only Wollongong (84.7) and Cairns (81.3) scoring less against the Westerners.

Despite playing four times this year, Perth only had one 20-point scorer against the Crocs this year, with Isiah Victor posting 23 in their final meeting. The Wildcats had six players average double-figures against the Crocs with Shawn Redhage the team leader at 15.5 ppg and Victor next highest on 14.8 ppg. Rosell Ellis was the best for the Crocs against Perth at 16.3 per game with Corey Williams averaging 13.8 ppg. Kelvin Robertson scored 27 for the Crocs in game one of the series but his season is unfortunately now over due to a knee injury.

The Crocodiles’ biggest loss of the year came against the Wildcats in Perth in Round 8 and strangely the four biggest defeats by Townsville came in their four trips West. Their biggest home loss of the year also came against Perth back in Round 5.

Crocs biggest losses in 2009:
37* – at Wildcats Round 8
27 – at Adelaide Round 1
21 – at Perth Round 15
21 – at Adelaide Round 13
16 – at Melbourne Round 22
14 – vs Perth Round 5

* Also Perth’s biggest win of the year

North Shore Events Centre
Thursday February 19

All-Time: Breakers 6, Sixers 11.
In Auckland: Breakers 5, Sixers 4

New Zealand have won 56% of their home games against Adelaide (5-from-9) while Adelaide have won 87.5% of their home games against New Zealand (7-from-8). The home team has won seven of the last eight games played between these teams, the only exception being the Sixers’ 10-point win in Round 8.

2009 meetings:
Round 3: 2/10/08 – Breakers 118 def Sixers 80 at Auckland
Round 8: 6/11/08 – Sixers 96 def Breakers 86 at Auckland
Round 21: 7/2/09 – Sixers 102 def Breakers 91 at Adelaide

These teams have struggled to have consistent line-ups this season with key players missing in each of the three contests. The Sixers also had import Mark Tyndale for the first two clashes and Rod Grizzard for the third. (Julius Hodge never played against the Breakers in his time with the 36ers).
Absent from 1st match: Adelaide: Adam Ballinger, Aaron Bruce New Zealand: Paul Henare
Absent from 2nd match: Adelaide: Brad Davidson, Brett Maher New Zealand: CJ Bruton, Phill Jones
Absent from 3rd match: New Zealand: Kirk Penney

This is the first time in NBL playoff history that two players that were teammates on a Championship winning team have coached against each other in a finals match. Both Andrej Lemanis and Scott Ninnis were a part of Brian Goorjian’s South East Melbourne Magic team in 1992 that won the title in the franchise’s first season. There have been just seven men in the history of the competition that have won a title as a player and come back to coach a winning playoff game, with Lemanis last year being the most recent.

To make this equation all the more historic (and complicated), it is also the first time two playoff coaches will have a player on their roster that they shared a Championship with as a player. Lemanis (and Ninnis) celebrated with Tony Ronaldson in the South East Melbourne Magic’s Championship season in 1992 and Ninnis was also a teammate of Brett Maher’s when they shared a title for the Sixers in 1998 in Ninnis’ last match of his 318-game playing career.
There have just been a handful of occasions this has happened to one team in a finals match with Shane Heal coaching Kavossy Franklin for the Dragons in 2007, Scott Fisher leading Ricky Grace for Perth in 2005 and then it goes back to Andy Campbell in 1989 and Jerry Lee in 1987, who both coached a long list of ex-Cannons from their 1983 and 1984 Championship years.

Kirk Penney played just twice against Adelaide this year and scored 34 and 24 points. Spirit import Derrick Low was the only other player to score more than 24 twice this year against the Sixers. Penney’s 29-point average against Adelaide was the second-best scoring average by any player this year, only topped by his 35.5 against the Hawks.

Best season averages by a player against another team:
35.5 ppg – Kirk Penney (Breakers) vs Wollongong - 2 games
29.0 ppg – Kirk Penney (Breakers) vs Adelaide - 2 games
29.0 ppg – Ebi Ere (Tigers) vs Wollongong - 3 games
27.5 ppg – Justin Bowen (Blaze) vs Perth - 2 games
27.0 ppg – James Harvey (Blaze) vs Sydney - 3 games
26.7 ppg – Shawn Redhage (Wildcats) vs Wollongong - 3 games
26.5 ppg – Kirk Penney (Breakers) vs Townsville - 4 games
26.5 ppg – Adam Ballinger (36ers) vs Perth - 2 games
26.0 ppg – Ebi Ere (Tigers) vs Townsville - 3 games
25.3 ppg – Kirk Penney (Breakers) vs Dragons - 3 games

Kirk Penney’s 24.2 ppg was good enough to lead the league in scoring and he becomes the second Breaker to do that after Carlos Powell averaged 28.2 in 2007. Only once in the last nine years has the team of the league’s highest scorer won a playoff series in the same season and that was Matthew Neilsen’s Sydney Kings, who went on to win the Championship in 2004. Last year Penney took 508 shots in the regular season – it was 507 this year – and shot the ball at 47.2% in 2008 compared to 45.5% this year.

Adelaide have lost their past four playoff matches, which is the worst ever run in their 28th season in the NBL. They have been knocked out in sudden death in 2004 (at Melbourne 107-103), 2005 (vs Brisbane 110-125) and 2006 (vs Cairns 103-106 in overtime).

The Sixers last won a playoff game in March 2003 but it was a famous one. After losing 116-119 to the Wildcats at home in the best-of-three series, Adelaide looked certain to be heading home when they trailed 54-80 at three-quarter time, but outscored the home team 45–11 in the final quarter to win 99-91 and set a new league record with the 26-point comeback. Perth did however recover to win Game Three at home 107-99. That comeback win remains the only winning finals match that Adelaide’s Jacob Holmes has played in during his 244-game career.

This will be the first-ever NBL finals match played in Auckland and is probably the most important game played in New Zealand since the Breakers debut game in October 2003, which was also against the Adelaide 36ers. That match was won by the Breakers 111-110 and featured four players for the home side that will be playing in this match in Phill Jones, Paul Henare, Dillon Boucher and Paora Winitana (who will be wearing the opposition colours this time around as a member of the 36ers). Brett Maher and Jacob Holes represented Adelaide that night with another man that has since switched clubs in Oscar Forman.

Paora Winitana is featuring strongly in the milestone games with his debut for the Breakers in their first-ever game against Adelaide and last year he was a part of New Zealand’s first ever team in the NBL playoffs when they were eliminated by the Bullets in Brisbane. This year he will feature in the Breakers first ever home playoff game but in the role of the spoiler. Winitana did not suit up in their first game in Auckland but played 18 minutes in the return clash which was won by the Sixers.

Tony Ronaldson is completing his 20th season in the NBL and has the unbelievable record of his teams never having missed the playoffs in his career. Ronaldson chose to miss the 1991 finals for the Eastside Spectres to attend college at Arizona State but has never missed a post-season since his return the following year. This will be his 13th campaign since his last taste of a Championship for the Magic back in 1996.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

NBL wrap - round 22

Here are the numbers from the final round of the regular season in the NBL:

Tigers 103 Crocs 87

For the Tigers:

David Barlow 20 points, 6 boards
Luke Kendall 17 points (6 of 9 shooting), 4 boards
Ebi Ere 15 points, 5 boards, 5 assists

For the Crocs:

Corey Williams 22 points, 8 boards
Brad Williamson 21 points, 4 boards
Rosell Ellis 12 points, 7 boards

A big win for the Tigers without their star Chris Anstey. Melbourne dominated the first quarter 29 - 16 and the final quarter 36 - 24. Michael Cedar and John Rillie combined to shoot just 2 of 12 from the field.

Breakers 103 Taipans 69

For the Breakers:

Kirk Penney 19 points (including 4 triples)
Rick Rickert 16 points, 9 boards
CJ Bruton 11 points, 11 assists

For the Taipans:

Martin Cattalini 12 points, 4 boards
Gary Boodnikoff 13 points, 3 boards

Not much to say about this one other than its good to see Kirk Penney back in action. The Breakers won the game in the second and third terms outscoring the Taipans 58 - 31. Phill Jones was the only NZ'er to play more than 24 minutes.

Hawks 102 36ers 95

For the Hawks:

Mat Campbell 23 points (including 6 triples), 5 boards
Dusty Rychart 18 points, 11 boards
Glen Saville 15 points, 4 boards, 5 assists

For the 36ers:

Luke Schenscher 37 points (14 of 17 from the field), 15 boards
Adam Ballinger 17 points, 6 boards
Rod Grizzard 9 points, 7 boards

A good win in the last home game for the Hawks, click here to read more about the night. A balanced team effort got them the win with 6 players in double figures. Schenscher was massive but the rest of Adelaide was kept well in check.

Wildcats 100 Tigers 86

For the Wildcats:

Shawn Redhage 28 points, 7 boards, 5 assists, 3 steals
Isiah Victor 22 points, 7 boards
Darnell Hinson 14 points, 6 boards, 5 assists

For the Tigers:

Ebi Ere 23 points, 5 boards, 4 steals (but 8 turnovers)
David Barlow 22 points, 9 boards, 4 assists

An important win for the Wildcats to move them ahead of the Crocs on the ladder. Perth dominated the final quarter 27 - 15 to ensure the win. The Tigers shot less than 40% from the field.

Dragons 82 Taipans 80

For the Dragons:

Tremell Darden 14 points, 13 boards, 3 assists, 3 blocks
Donta Smith 19 points, 4 boards
Joe Ingles 18 points (including 4 triples), 7 boards

For the Taipans:

Martin Cattalini 21 points, 8 boards
Ian Crosswhite 15 points, 7 boards
Kerry Williams 16 points, 4 assists

The Taipans did well to keep it this close against the minor premiers but unlike the Hawks they couldn't win their last game as a franchise. The Dragons dominated the boards 56 - 39 but had twice as many turnovers as Cairns (16 - 8). Joe Ingles seems to have turned the corner after a long mid-season slump. In a dramatic finish, Donta Smith drew a foul as time expired and knocked down both free-throws to win the game.

Blaze 114 Hawks 104

For the Blaze:

James Harvey 26 points (including 5 triples)
Justin Bowen 19 points, 10 boards
Luke Whitehead 13 points, 13 boards

For the Hawks:

Anthony Petrie 20 points, 4 boards
Kavossy Franklin 19 points, 6 boards, 7 assists
Dusty Rychart 14 points, 12 boards

The Blaze finish the season with 3 wins in a row ... granted, not against great competition but a positive none the less for the franchise. Was this really Shane Heal's last game in the NBL or will he see him back on the sidelines coaching? The blaze "lived" (rather than died) from downtown hitting 14 triples to just 5 from the Hawks.

Breakers 107 Spirit 97

For the Breakers:

CJ Bruton 30 points (10 of 15 shooting, including 6 triples), 5 boards
Phill Jones 23 points (9 of 12 shooting)
Oscar Forman 15 points (including 4 triples), 12 boards

For the Spirit:

Jason Smith 20 points, 5 boards
Matthew Knight 18 points, 9 boards
Graeme Dann 13 points, 10 assists, 7 boards

The game was close all the way but the Breakers were too good in the fourth quarter outscoring the Spirit 36 - 22. The Breakers hit twice as many (17 - 8) triples as Sydney and were better at the line (18 of 23 to 13 of 23). Spirit were a chance to make the playoffs but finished the season (and their existence) with 8 straight losses.

At the end of the regular season, the NBL ladder finished with the Dragons on top two wins ahead of the Tigers who were two wins ahead of the Breakers. Perth were 4th ahead of the Crocs only on percentages and the 36ers rounded out the top 6. Despite ending the season with three straight wins, the Blaze got the wooden spoon three wins behind the Taipans, Spirit and Hawks.

... back to finish this later

Monday, February 16, 2009

NBL quarter finals set

With the final round of the NBL regular season run and done, the quarter-final match-ups have now been set.

Game 1 sees the inconsistent Perth Wildcats host the streaky Townsville Crocodiles. Perth have the home-court advantage which is a big plus in this contest. The Crocs aren't great on the road (5 - 10) and give up a lot of size to the likes of Loughton, Victor, Knight and Redhage. If the Crocs are to win they will need their bigs (Ellis and Hinder) to hold their own while their guards (Rillie, Williamson, Cedar) need to be hitting their shots.

In the second game, the Sixers travel across the ditch to take on the Breakers. This is another great game that either team could win but again the likely result sees the home-team getting the W. With Kirk Penney back in the line-up and CJ Bruton finding form after his stint on the IL, the Breakers should have too many guns for the Adelaide team. Adam Ballinger and Luke Schenscher will need to dominate the paint to keep their side in the game.

Both should be great match-ups so check them out on Fox, details below.

NBL > News

The schedule for the National Basketball League Quarter Finals has been set following the completion of the NBL regular season on Saturday night.

The Perth Wildcats secured fourth position on the ladder after their 101-86 win over the Melbourne Tigers in the final game of the regular season. The victory also secured a crucial home Quarter Final for the Wildcats, relegating their first round opponents, the Townsville Crocodiles, to fifth position and the role of visitors.

The Wildcats will now host the Crocs in the fourth versus fifth Quarter Final on Wednesday 18 February at Challenge Stadium at 6:30pm local time.

The New Zealand Breakers, who finished in third position on the ladder, will play their historic first-ever home Finals game when they host the sixth-seeded Adelaide 36ers at the North Shore Events Centre on Thursday 19 February. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30pm local time.

Both games are sudden-death elimination, with the winning teams advancing to the Semi-Finals series.

The winner of the New Zealand – Adelaide Quarter Final will face the second-seeded Melbourne Tigers, with the best-of-three series opening at the State Netball Hockey Centre on 25 February.

The winner of the Perth-Townsville Quarter Final will advance to face minor premiers, the South Dragons, with Game One scheduled for 24 February at Hisense Arena.

All NBL Finals games will be broadcast live on FOX SPORTS.

Schedule (all times local)

Quarter Finals (single game elimination)

Game 1 – 4th vs. 5th
Wed. 18 Feb.
6:30pm WDT
Perth Wildcats vs. Townsville Crocodiles
Challenge Stadium

Game 2 – 3rd vs. 6th
Thurs. 19 Feb.
7:30pm NZDT
NZ Breakers vs. Adelaide 36ers
North Shore Events Centre

Thursday, February 12, 2009

NBL wrap - round 21

Its a little later than usual, but here are the numbers that matter from round 21 in the NBL:

Dragons 97 36ers 77

For the Dragons:

Adam Gibson 18 points (6 of 7 from the field, 4 of 4 from downtown), 8 boards, 4 assists
Joe Ingles 18 points (including 4 triples), 4 assists
Mark Worthington 13 points, 9 boards, 5 assists, 4 steals

For the 36ers:

Paora Winitana 14 points, 3 assists
Jacob Holmes 10 points, 11 boards
Rod Grizzard 10 points, 7 boards

The Dragons jumped the 36ers early and were up 55 - 36 at the half. Full credit to the Dragons defence for keeping Ballinger and Schenscher to just 8 points each and forcing the 36ers in to 23 turnovers (Dragons had just 12). Adelaide, you know you're in trouble when Winitana is your top scorer! Very disappointing result for the 36ers as it show they're just not at the same level as the top teams in the league.

Taipans 89 Spirit 81

For the Taipans:

Martin Cattalini 28 points (11 of 14 from the field, including 4 triples), 10 boards, 6 assists
Aaron Grabeau 18 points, 6 boards, 4 assists
Matt Smith 5 points, 13 boards

For the Spirit:

Matthew Knight 21 points, 11 boards
Jason Smith 13 points, 6 boards
Blagov Janev 14 points

The Cat (Martin Cattalini) showed he can still put up great numbers. Is this his audition for the Wildcats for next season? Not much to say about the game itself ... two not good teams, Cairns just shot better from the field.

Hawks 103 Breakers 98

For the Hawks:

Dusty Rychart 18 points, 10 boards
Glen Saville 16 points, 4 boards, 4 steals
Kavossy Franklin 11 points, 5 boards, 4 assists

For the Breakers:

Phill Jones 25 points, 7 boards
CJ Bruton 13 points, 7 boards, 5 assists
Oscar Forman 16 points (including 4 triples)

No Kirk Penney for the Breakers and they drop yet another. I would've made the case earlier in the season for CJ being "more valuable" to the team but this stretch is showing that the Breakers struggle when they're not all fully fit. The Breakers dominated the boards 53 - 35 but hit just 39% from the field while the Hawks shot 55%.

Crocs 101 Dragons 98

For the Crocs:

John Rillie 28 points (including 6 triples), 7 boards
Corey Williams 26 points, 5 assists (but 7 turnovers)
Rosell Ellis 17 points, 9 boards, 3 steals

For the Dragons:

Donta Smith 22 points, 5 boards
Mark Worthington 22 points, 4 boards
Joe Ingles 20 points, 4 boards

Very good win for the Crocs against the #1 team. Great to see more heroics from our boy John Rillie. Two Joe Ingles sightings in two games ... what happened to him mid-season?? The Dragons could have won this but shot just 23 of 34 from the line.

36ers 102 Breakers 91

For the 36ers:

Adam Ballinger 19 points, 10 boards
Luke Schenscher 17 points, 7 boards
Brett Maher 17 points, 4 assists

For the Breakers:

Oscar Forman 26 points (including 4 triples), 6 boards
CJ Bruton 14 points (including 4 triples), 6 assists, 5 boards
Dillon Boucher 8 points, 9 assists, 5 boards, 4 steals

This game marked the final regular season home game for Adelaide legend Brett Maher. Still no Kirk Penney for the Breakers and they drop yet another one. Oscar Forman with some "old team rule" action. For some reason, import Rick Rickert came off the bench for the Breakers. NZ again let the opposition shoot 55% from the field while they shot just 43%.

Wildcats 106 Spirit 88

For the Wildcats:

Darnell Hinson 13 points, 8 assists, 6 boards
Shawn Redhage 16 points, 8 boards, 4 assists
Ben Knight 14 points, 9 boards

For the Spirit:

Clint Reed 20 points, 9 boards (but 7 turnovers and 0 assists)
Matthew Knight 11 points, 5 boards, 4 assists
Blagov Janev 14 points

A game of spurts with Perth winning the first quarter by 11, Spirit winning the second quarter by 11 and Perth dominating the third by 16. A very balanced effort from the Wildcats with 7 players in double figures and even youngster Chris "Bubbles"Goulding had 25 minutes of court time.

Blaze 93 Taipans 88

For the Blaze:

Luke Whitehead 20 points, 24 boards
James Harvey 19 points (including 5 triples), 4 boards
Justin Bowen 18 points, 6 boards

For the Taipans

Martin Cattalini 19 points, 9 boards
Gary Boodnikoff 18 points, 8 boards
Aaron Grabeau 14 points, 4 assists, 3 steals

Another game with 2 bad teams. Blaze essentially shot the ball better (50% - 42%) and outrebounded (48 - 35) the Taipans and would've won by more but had 20 turnovers (Cairns had just 11). Luke Whitehead has had a MASSIVE second half of the season!

Dragons 93 Tigers 83

For the Dragons:

Donta Smith 21 points, 5 boards
Mark Worthington 11 points, 10 boards
Joe Ingles 9 points, 11 boards, 6 assists

For the Tigers:

Chris Anstey 23 points, 11 boards
Ebi Ere 16 points
David Barlow 12 points, 9 boards

Its unfortunate that when these two teams meet its always an arm-wrestle and neither shoot great clips (both were around 40%), credit the defenses for that. Dragons won the game in the second half outscoring the Tigers 49 - 37. It'll be interesting to see what happens when these two teams battle in the play-offs.

At the end of round 21, the NBL ladder sees the Dragons on top and they have secured the minor premiership already. The Tigers are just behind and the Breakers are in third having dropped 5 in a row. The Crocs, Wildcats and 36ers round out the 6 and will fight for vital positions in the final round of the season. Not surprisingly, the Blaze are still at the bottom and will finish there.

Earlier in the week the NBL announced that John Rillie was the Player of the Week for his game-winning performance against the Dragons. Great to see John really find form in the lead up to the playoffs. Last week the NBL gave the award to James Harvey so I was wrong with my first guess of David Barlow but suspected Harvey might get the nod.

Now to the Vlade Divac Flop of the Week. The runner-up is Tony Ronaldson from the NZ Breakers (2 of 10 and 3 of 13 from the field in two losses). The Flop of the Week however goes to Ronaldson's team mate Rick Rickert from the Breakers for his 3 of 9 and 1 of 10 from the field in their two losses. When your bigmen are shooting these sort of clips its not surprising the Breakers can't get a win at the moment.

As always our Shooter of the Week is brought to you by Shooting Basketball Tips. There were some great basketball shooting performances and the honourable mentions go to John Rillie from the Crocs (28 points, 9 of 18 from the field, 6 triples, 4 of 4 from the line in a win over the Dragons) and Adam Gibson from the Dragons (6 of 7 from the field, 4 of 4 from downtown and 2 of 2 from the line in a win over the 36ers). The award this week goes to Martin Cattalini (pictured below) from the Cairns Taipans for his performance against the Sydney Spirit. Like JR last week, The Cat showed some of his offensive arsenal that made him almost unguardable a couple of seasons ago. His full line was: 28 points, 11 of 14 from the field, 4 of 5 from downtown, 2 of 2 from the line, 10 boards, 6 assists and 5 turnovers. Martin essentially put his team on his shoulders and carried them to a win and for that we salute him as our Shooter of the Week.

Great basketball shooting technique from The Cat