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'Cats-36ers in spotlight: NBL Rd.14 Preview


ADELAIDE has made a move and if Perth was intending to, its window well-and-truly shuts this round, turning their NBL clash into a seriously significant fixture.

A win for the 36ers, beaten at Titanium Security Arena by the Wildcats 99-91 in their season-opener, would throw the onus heavily back onto Perth, which backs up at home against a reigning champion Melbourne side which has to be feeling great about itself after last round's comeback win in Cairns.

The Sixers also have a second game, on the road to Sydney, both sides adding to their lineups this week.

Adelaide brought in Shaun Bruce to compensate the loss to injury of Ramone Moore (calf, probably season-ending), while Sydney signed American power forward Ray Turner because, well, it didn't have three imports (or three power forwards) until now.

If Perth was going to go that third import route, this week was when it had to happen.

ROUND 14

Perth at Adelaide

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TWO perennial playoff teams both coming off embarrassing home losses, the pressure in Adelaide will be greater on the home team after its meek capitulation last round to Brisbane. That's not to say the Wildcats will be feeling jubilant in any sense after last week taking a bullet from Cairns. Now 12-8, Perth is far from out of the woods in the race to finish in the Final Four but still starts from a stronger position than the 10-10 Sixers. Jesse Wagstaff logs his 300th NBL game in one of his least memorable seasons. Like several teammates, he needs to step up or Adelaide edges closer.

THE REST OF ROUND 14

New Zealand at Illawarra

BOTH clubs are trying to make a dent in that Final Four but are among the least trustworthy in the NBL. That simply means they cannot be relied upon, regularly mixing seriously disappointing performances with brilliant ones; terrible losses with inspiring wins. You can't trust that, which is why they remain at the lower end of the battlers aiming for the post-season. But be warned, their best is assuredly good enough and this is the first of three meetings to go, New Zealand having claimed the first one last month across the ditch 96-79. In Wollongong, maybe it is time to punt on the Hawks, unless Shawn Long has his way with the Illawarra frontcourt.

Adelaide at Sydney

SIXERS fans fondly recall when the club had 10 straight wins over Sydney in the Andrew Gaze era before the Kings ended all that in Adelaide the last time they met. Both teams come in off home losses, the 36ers over-run by Brisbane in the last quarter, the Kings playing catch-up against the Hawks most of the way. So will Sydney have a strategy to counter 36ers centre Daniel Johnson enjoying the perimeter at Andrew Bogut's expense? Or with Ramone Moore out, can Shaun Bruce bring sufficient experience to help counter the Kings' deep backcourt of Jerome Randle, Kevin Lisch, Kyle Adnam? Ray Turner debuts, Brad Newley loves playing Adelaide. Mmm, Sydney wins. (*Unless coach Joey Wright devises a match-winning strategy and the 36ers execute it.)

Cairns at Brisbane

IS Brisbane really Cairns' bunny? Two losses to the Taipans in two times at bat - once in Brisbane and once in Cairns - sure points to that as a logical conclusion. But especially so when you consider the Orangemen lost 14 consecutive games in between their two Brisbane wins. This absolutely though is the match in which the Bullets cannot afford to misfire. Sure, Melo Trimble can score and Nate Jawai is a force on the block, when he is receiving the ball, that is. Now it is time for Matt Hodgson and Cam Bairstow to get the job done on Big Nate and for Lamar Patterson to lead his team to an overdue intrastate win. Brisbane's depth is awesome and should prove too much.

Melbourne at Perth

HOW good would Melbourne be feeling about itself after that amazing comeback performance last round against an in-form Cairns unit? And what would Perth's mindset be as it struggles to find the form of the season's first half? When Perth beat United in Perth in October, Bryce Cotton and Terrico White combined for 58 points. When United handsomely reversed that 82-65 last month in Melbourne, Cotton and White combined for 12 on 4-of-21 shooting. It is obvious Melbourne has found the blueprint for taming the Wildcats. But Perth will be anxious to prove its 2018-19 team can go all the way, despite the naysayers. Sets this up nicely, doesn't it? United by a shade.

New Zealand at Cairns

DESPITE the great rivalry of two championship series, New Zealand this season has shown it can handle the Taipans and will hit Cairns confident of taking home a W. Of course, this particular version of the Taipans is far more dangerous than what the Breakers have run into lately and the head-to-head of Nate Jawai and Shawn Long should be a big-man battle of the highest order. DJ Newbill also needs to put in a big performance for the Orange, as must Melo Trimble. But equally importantly they also need to know when Jawai should be the focus. If the Taipans can get that mix right, their losing run against the Breakers would be over. Otherwise, it will not.

Jan 17

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