Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Penney Happy to be Back Home

Here's the Kirk Penney update, unfortunately he was cut by the San Antonio Spurs and his dream of returning to the NBA looks to be over.

"Making it" in the NBA is often about being in the right place at the right time and like many of his NBL counterparts (Gaze, Heal, Anstey, etc), it seems that Kirk just couldn't find that place. The NBA's loss in the NBL's gain and it will be great to watch Kirk in action this season.

(Click on the title to read the full story)

National Basketball League: Penney Happy to be Back Home

Kirk Penney is back with the Burger King NZ Breakers after exhausting his options to play in the NBA and he doesn’t regret a moment of his time and effort.

Penney was given leave of absence by the Breakers to pursue his dream of returning to the NBA to add to his brief stints earlier in his career. An opportunity was extended to attend veterans camp with the San Antonio Spurs but when that was cut short and nothing else was forthcoming for the 30 year old shooting guard, he made the decision to return to the Breakers.

Clearly it has been an emotional time for the former ANBL MVP but he knows he has returned ‘home’ and is focused on doing well with the Breakers.

“Getting into the NBA was my dream, I had an awesome time with the Spurs and feel like I gave it my best shot, but it wasn’t to be. Staying on the extra week after being cut gave me the mental space to prepare to return to the Breakers and the ANBL. I’m excited to be back with the Breakers, home to the team and the club I love.”

NBA Opening Day

Its probably wise that the NBA chooses to open the season with just three games, otherwise fans may not be able to control the surge of ecstasy that the first day of the season brings.

I'm not sure I've mentioned this before ... but I love you OneHD, thank you for starting the season with a double-header.

The 2010/2011 NBA season tipped off with the much-talked about Miami Heat travelling to Boston to take on the Celtics. Due to work commitments and a personal training session, I missed most of the game but got back in time to see the final two minutes and Ray Allen knock down the game-winning triple from the corner. The Heat will certainly take time to gel so them losing was no surprise to me, especially on the road. It was funny to hear the Celtics fans chanting "over rated" to the Miami big 3.

Back to Ray Allen tho ... he finished the game with 20 points on 7 of 13 shooting including 5 triples. Rajon Rondo was the other stand-out with 17 assists. For Miami, LeBron did what he does with 31 points but a costly 8 turnovers. Wade and Bosh both struggled from the field, don't expect this to continue.

In the second game of the One double-header, the defending champion LA Lakers hosted the Houston Rockets. I got to watch most of the 1st quarter while I was on lunch and much of the 4th quarter because work was very quiet today (not that I'm complaining!).

Houston got off to a quick start with Kevin Martin and Aaron Brooks hot early. I'm not sure if I've mentioned him before, but I'm a BIG fan of Brooks and love watching him play. With Brooks, Scola, Martin, Yao and Buddinger, Houston are a fun team to watch and you can't help but cheer for them. It would've been great to see them knock off the Lakers but it just wasn't to be. The Rockets had their chances and pushed the champs to the limit, but Gasol, Kobe and Odom were just too good in the end winning 112 - 110.

For the Rockets, Brooks finished with 26 points (including 4 triples), 9 assists, Martin led the way with 26 points and Scola had 18 points (which could've easily been more), 16 boards. For LA, Kobe had 27 points, 7 assists, 5 boards, Gasol had 29 points, 11 boards and Odom had 14 points, 10 boards.

Today was great, but I can't wait for tomorrow when there are 13 games on the card!! Welcome back NBA, I missed you.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Blaze vs Crocs

I was lucky enough to have one of my friends (thanks Nick!) hook me up with a ticket to the Gold Coast Blaze's home-opener on Sunday. I've got a friend's 40th coming up at Hyatt Coolum so I planned a quiet one this weekend and the Blaze game was the highlight. The first live game of the NBL season is always a highlight and after some major changes to the lineup, it was going to be interesting to see how the team looked.

The "look" was answered pretty quickly when Gold Coast found themselves down double-digits early in the game. Another friend who was at the game text me saying, "Worst game ever" as the Blaze found themselves down by 22 points in the 3rd quarter.

Just before it seemed that the home crowd were about to give up, the Blaze finally started to make some shots and they started to show some life. Sparked by Chris Goulding off the bench and solid play from Anthony Petrie, the Blaze started to work their way back in to the game. Superstar Mark Worthington also found his range and there was still hope.

Each time Gold Coast looked like it would cut the margin back to single figures, Townsville would immediately answer to keep them at bay. With just over 2 minutes in the game, Townsville led by 12 and I figured there just wasn't enough time left for them to really have a chance. A couple of turnovers from the Crocs and a couple of triples from the Blaze and the game was well and truly on. Miraculously the Blaze hit tough shot after tough shot and tied the game with 18 seconds to go.

It was here where the game turned on its head. Crocs point guard, ex-Detroit Piston, Will Blalock wound down the clock at the top of the key before driving left and putting up a tough runner. It missed and the last few seconds players were scrapping for the ball without anyone gaining control. Just as time expired the baseline ref blew a foul in favour of the Crocs and it looked like Gabe Freeman would step to the line to win the game. The Crocs celebrated but the Blaze were saying that time had expired and the whistle was blown after the buzzer. Head referee Scott Butler conferred with the scorer's bench and after much discussion ruled that time had expired and we were going to overtime.

Not surprisingly, Trevor Gleeson (Crocs coach) and the Townsville bench exploded at the decision. I'm not impartial, but considering the way the game played out in the final quarter, it would have been a terrible injustice to have the game decided on a scrappy play in the final milliseconds.

History now shows that the Blaze continued the momentum in to extra-time and got the win 94-90.

For the Blaze:
Worthington had 26 points (on 8 of 12 from the field), 6 boards
Petrie had 17 points (on 7 of 9 from the field), 9 boards
Harvey had 13 points, 8 boards

For the Crocs:
Blalock had 18 points
Cedar had 17 points with 5 triples
Freeman had 14 points, 7 boards

My notes from the game:
* Disappointing crowd numbers but that can be put down to the V8's, first game of the season, Sunday afternoon time-slot, etc
* Blaze are yet to secure a naming rights sponsor (they didn't have one last season either)
* Blaze were awful from the free-throw line (21 of 35) and need to work on this
* Blaze playing with one import, James Maye, and he'll have to do a LOT of work to survive the next month
* Blaze will take time to gel but showed in the final quarter that they should be ok
* Crocs have a good, deep team and they just had a rough weekend on the road

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

ONE HD ... I love you

I've mentioned it a couple of times before, but I want to make sure everyone knows and understands ... I love ONE HD.

Last season, it was "just" bringing the NBA back to free-to-air TV, this season they have added the NBL and in the last week they've also added NBA Classics.

The new season of the NBL kicked off on the weekend and its great to see from the story below that TV ratings for the games were strong. Hopefully it continues throughout the season and we see more and more games next season. Saying that tho, this week ONE are showing 3 live NBL games which is fantastic.

Now, as I mentioned above, I've also noticed ONE are showing NBA Classics. The first game was on the weekend and it was the Heat vs Mavericks in the 2006 Finals. Last night they went way back with a true classic, Nets vs Knicks featuring Bernard King in New York. Its great that these games are being shown so that the kids (and even Generation Y) can see that the NBA didn't start with Michael Jordan. Not surprisingly, King put on an offensive display and just couldn't be stopped.

National Basketball League: NBL viewership figures on ONE HD "outstanding"

ONE HD, the NBL's Australian Official Broadcast partner, issued the following media release this week:

Over the weekend, the NBL made an outstanding return to free-to-air television on
ONE, achieving a ten-fold increase for the season-opening Melbourne v Sydney
game on Friday night compared to the previous season opener.

The game saw the return of the Sydney Kings to the NBL after two years out of the competition and their win over the Tigers was watched by an average audience of 56,000 and a peak of 130,000.

Sunday saw the Adelaide 36ers host last season’s champions, the Perth Wildcats.
The 36ers win was watched by an average audience of 73,000 and a peak of 172,000.

Network Ten’s general manager sport, David White said: “This is an excellent result
for the first round and reflects the work that went into launching the season by all
involved. These early ratings are extremely encouraging and we look forward to
playing a part in the continued growth of this exciting sport.”

Round 2 broadcast details
Wednesday, October 20 @ 5.30pm: New Zealand v Perth
Friday, October 22 @ 8.00pm: Wollongong v Townsville
Sunday, October 24 @ 7.05pm: Melbourne v Perth

Thursday, October 14, 2010

NBA "Tour of a Lifetime"

One of the reasons I've been blogging less is because I've been working on a number of other things (plus its been the NBA & NBL off-season).

The basketball related one is that I've been putting together an NBA Tour with my friend Jeff, former GM of the Brisbane Bullets.

We have some great contacts in both the NBA and College basketball that will give you an "insiders" look at the sport that most people would never see.

Click on the the image below to see some of the highlights of the tour. For more details about the itinerary we have planned or for any questions you may have, simply e-mail me at:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Two days to go ...

For a basketball fan like myself, its two days until (my) Christmas!!

Not only does the NBL season get underway on Friday night but our fantasy NBA league has its draft at 11pm on the same night. Basketball overload on the way!

Draft night has been one of the highlights of the calendar for the last couple of years for me. Half our league gets together for dinner and drinks first, a lot of crap is talked and then after a few too many beers, its time to select your team.

I did a mock draft or two last week in preparation, but tomorrow night I'll be doing some more serious research in to team depth charts and potential sleepers.

As for the NBL season, with still no Brisbane Bullets in the league, I'll be supporting the Gold Coast Blaze. Its been a rough pre-season for the Blaze so far with a couple of very sub-par performances, sending an import home already (Bennett Davison) and the season-ending injury to star-signing Mark Worthington.

It'll likely be a slow start to the season for the Blaze, but hopefully they come together and find some form like last year and can finish in the top 4.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Kirk Penney one step closer to an NBA return

I got word a few days ago that Kirk Penney has been signed by the San Antonio Spurs. Going from the article below, he's actually been signed to the training camp roster, so he's still in with a shot of making the roster.

He's got a long way to go yet but if he can bring his World Championship form with him to camp, there's no reason he won't get picked up. As any Aussie who's been to the NBA will tell you, its about being in the right situation at the right time, hopefully this is it for Kirk.

Who Is Kirk Penney? | Air Alamo | A San Antonio Spurs Blog

Those of you may have known by now that Kirk Penney has made his way to the Spurs training camp roster. You maybe asking to yourself who is Kirk Penney?

Lucky for you we will be glad to share the information in which we have compiled.

Penney is a sharp shooter out of New Zealand and made an impression on the Spurs scouts as training camp is underway.

At the recent World Championship Penney averaged 24.7 points per game putting him second overall in the tournament in scoring and more per game than USA’s Kevin Durant.

Okay, okay so he is not Kevin Durant status but the kid can obviously shoot the rock and that is what we need on our roster.

Penney who has been signed to the training camp roster can now be offered a deal. It will though be a challenge for Penney as he is expected to go head-to-head with Gary Neal whom led the Spurs summer league team in scoring. Both are great shooters but many would give the upper hand to Penney given his international experience.

Before making his way to the states, Penney told media that he wanted to give this one last shot to see if he had what it takes to make it to the big time.

“I have to see if I have what it takes to make it in the toughest professional league in the world,” Penney said.

“There is no guarantee of an offer at the end of this process (but) it is up to me to impress the right people and show I can be of some value to the Spurs. I am going to give it my best shot and have no regrets.”

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Wildcats still the team to beat

Going in to the NBL season, which is now only 12 days away from tip-off, the defending Perth Wildcats have shown they are still the team to beat by winning the pre-season Top End Challenge.

A comfortable 20 point win the final against a surprising Cairns Taipans gave them the pre-season title and this is reflected in the current betting odds for the NBL season:

Perth Wildcats 4.00
Gold Coast Blaze 4.50
New Zealand Breakers 6.50
Townsville Crocodiles 6.50
Melbourne Tigers 9.00
Sydney Kings 12.00
Adelaide 36ers 13.00
Cairns Taipans 15.00
Wollongong Hawks 15.00

I'm not quite sure why the Hawks are at the bottom of the table but what the prices show is that any team could win right now.

National Basketball League: Wildcats down Taipans, win Top End Challenge

October 02, 2010, 03:58 PM AEST
By: Matt McQuade

In front of a big crowd Saturday night at Marrara Indoor Stadium in Darwin, the Perth Wildcats won the 2010 Top End Challenge preseason championship with a dominant 72-52 win over the Cairns Taipans.

Cairns came into the game as decided underdogs after going 1-1 in the preliminary rounds, and weren’t able to put the lie to that status as they were overwhelmed by Perth in a first and third quarter blitzkrieg and never looked like upsetting the 2009/2010 NBL champions, who added the 2010/11 preseason crown to their bulging trophy cabinet.

The Wildcats finished the tournament with a perfect 3-0 record after wins over Adelaide, Melbourne and then Cairns in the final, and there’s little doubt are primed to go back to back and win an unprecedented sixth National Basketball League championship this season.