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NBL Rd20: Kings reign ends at unlucky 13

AFTER beating derby rival Illawarra in an overtime thriller in Wollongong and in one of the NBL season's best games, Sydney Kings' winning run came to a screeching halt at home yesterday in front of 10,000 fans when unfashionable Adelaide won by eight to close the streak at 13. 

Dejan Vasiljevic scored an NBL career-high 33 points as the Kings built their unbeaten stretch to 13 against the Hawks, but yesterday it was the 36ers with all the answers, just as they had in Perth earlier in the round.

The Wildcats looked like a chalk outline of themselves as Adelaide ran rampant early, then staved off a semi-serious Perth attempt to recover. This was Perth at its worst, and Adelaide taking full advantage.

Tasmania kept alive its Final Four dream by escaping the clutches of a sorely depleted New Zealand team before staving off South East Melbourne.







LET''S not make any bones about it, Illawarra and Sydney produced one of the games of the season in Wollongong, Dejan Vasiljevic on target for the Kings, Tyler Harvey with an NBL career-best 35 points for the Hawks. But yet again, down the stretch in regulation, Harvey hoisted a couple of cringeworthy attempts and if not for Duop Reath tying the game at 92-92, this could have been over sooner. Sydney's 10-0 run to open the five-minute extension made the result academic but sure made a lot of fans keen to see further matchups between the old rivals in the post-season.

SYDNEY KINGS 107 (Vasiljevic 33, Martin 21, Clark, Adams 17, Cooks 14; Cooks 13 rebs; Cooks, Adams 7 assts) d ILLAWARRA HAWKS 102 (Harvey 35, Jessup 21, Reath 17, S.Froling 14; S.Froling 13 rebs; Harvey 5 assts) in Overtime {92-92} at The Sandpit, WIN Entertainment Centre. Crowd: 4,872

THE opening play of the game in Perth said everything about what was to follow. Sunday Dech used a screen to get himself to the elbow - why isn't that part of the keyway called 'the shoulder'? - and swished an uncontested jumpshot. Bryce Cotton didn't fight over the screen, Matt Hodgson just held back near the basket off the screener and Luke Travers threatened to offer helpside D, but in the end could not be bothered. That play said it all. The 36ers were in front from go-to-whoa, played to win while to call this Wildcats' performance pathetic or insipid would not be sufficiently descriptive.

ADELAIDE 36ERS 82 (Dech, Johnson, Hannahs 23; Dech, McCarron 9 rebs; McCarron 6 assts) d PERTH WILDCATS 70 (Law 20, Hodgson 16, Blanchfield 9; Hodgson 6 rebs; Cotton 5 assts) at The Jungle, RAC Arena. Crowd: 10,272

TASMANIA's 15th win of the season was one of its toughest, not something the JackJumpers might have expected with Yanni Wetzell and Ousmane Dieng not in uniform for New Zealand in Hobart. Rob Loe (27 points at 78 per cent, 7 boards, 2 blocks) seized his chances and Rasmus Bach also enjoyed seeing some daylight. When Josh Adams (23 points) put Tassie ahead 88-83 well inside the last minute, they looked home. Tom Abercrombie then struck a 3-pointer for 86-88 and after a Loe block, Abers had a last-gasp chance, a three for the win. Fortunately for the Ants' finals drive, that one didn't drop. 

TASMANIA JACKJUMPERS 88 (Adams 23, McVeigh 16, McIntosh 12; 4 with 6 rebs; Magette 8 assts) d NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS 86 (Loe 27, Siva 13, Bach 12; Loe 7 rebs; Besson 7 assts) at The Breakaway, MyState Bank Arena. Crowd: Banished because who would attend a Breakers game against Tassie in Hobart??

JO Lual-Acuil continued to press his claims for Boomers consideration with a 25-point, 13-rebound haul as United saw off Brisbane in Melbourne. The Bullets showed more pluck than in several recent outings, scores level with a period to play. But that was when United put its foot down, its 27-18 final quarter ending this as a contest. Lual-Acuil also had two assists, three blocks and a steal, Melbourne forcing 18 turnovers.

MELBOURNE UNITED 88 (Lual-Acuil 25, Goulding, Ili 13, Dellavedova 10; Lual-Acuil 13 rebs; Ili 8 assts) d BRISBANE BULLETS 79 (Patterson 23, Cadee 20, Drmic 19, Franks 10; Patterson 10 rebs; Cadee 6 assts) at The UN, John Cain Arena. Crowd: 5,721

WEARING the old Westate Wildcats throwback uniform to celebrate their 40th anniversary in the NBL and the night presented as a major event, Perth never was going to succumb to its own recent demons in Perth against Cairns. In fact reinstated import Michael Frazier had 19 points for his best outing as a Wildcat, Bryce Cotton rediscovered his touch and six Wildcats scored in double-digits to stop the Taipans in their tracks. That is if Taipans make tracks. The only drawback was Vic Law injuring an ankle which did look a tad serious this close to the playoffs. 

*PERTH WILDCATS 106 (Cotton 22, Frazier 19, Law 17, Hodgson 14, Wagstaff 12, Travers 10; Blanchfield 7 rebs; Cotton 10 assts) d CAIRNS TAIPANS 87 (Pinder 24, Deng 16, McCall 13, Jawai 12; Pinder 8 rebs; McCall 11 assts) at The Jungle, RAC Arena. Crowd: 10,314 *(40th Anniversary colours)

AHEAD by 15 in the second quarter at home in Melbourne and still by 12 at halftime, South East Melbourne should have put this one to bed. Instead they tossed and turned as Tasmania swung this around into a nightmare, Jack McVeigh producing a career-high 26 points, the JackJumpers quickly erasing the deficit. When the Phoenix pressed up late, the Jackies definitely were jumping at shadows, turning the ball over and giving SEM every chance to claw back into this. Josh Adams produced one of the blocks of the season on Mitch Creek, and it was timely. Despite their best efforts, in the end SEM simply were not good enough, virtually a summary of their season.

TASMANIA JACKJUMPERS 84 (McVeigh 26, Adams 23, Magette 12; McVeigh 9 rebs; Krslovic 6 assts) d SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX 80 (Creek 27, Munford 17, Le'afa 11; Creek 7 rebs; Munford 5 assts) at The House of the Rising Sun, John Cain Arena. Crowd: 3,056

CALL them jaded and "due for a loss" or "unable to get up" again after that classic overtime road win over Illawarra, but the truth is Adelaide simply wanted to win more than the Kings in Sydney and promptly did so. From 72-72 midway through the last, the 36ers had a 3-pointer from Sunday Dech, then Daniel Johnson, then an unbelievably tough one from Dusty Hannahs for an 81-72 lead. Jaylen Adams pulled a bucket back, but Dech swished another triple and at 84-74 (soon 86-75), Sydney came with a rush. Too little, too late, despite a ridiculous phantom but oh so helpful off-the-ball foul on Johnson that still didn't do enough to change the flow.

ADELAIDE 36ERS 90 (Hannahs 22, Johnson 16, Dech 11, Gattorna 10; Johnson 11 rebs; Dufelmeier, Hannahs 3 assts) d SYDNEY KINGS 82 (Adams 28, Cooks 21, Makur Maker 15, Vasiljevic 10; Cooks 13 rebs; Adams 5 assts) at The Kingdome, Qudos Bank Arena. Crowd: 10,260

BEING able to seize the day has a lot to do with how far a person can go in any chosen field of endeavour. Cairns rookie Ben Ayre did just that tonight against United in Melbourne, starting in place of injured Scott Machado. Ayre led the Taipans with 20 points and nine assists and even though they weren't really in the contest the longer it went, his performance gave the Orange Army reasons to smile. As Melbourne locked up first place, Chris Goulding peeled off 27 points at 64 per cent, with 6-of-11 threes and Shea Ili dished eight assists. Ariel Hukporti also had his moments with 12 points, nine boards and three blocks.

MELBOURNE UNITED 92 (Goulding 27, Dellavedova 17, Hukporti 12; Hukporti 9 rebs; Ili 8 assts) d CAIRNS TAIPANS 80 (Ayre 20, Deng 16, Pinder 15, Kuol 12, McCall 10; Pinder 9 rebs; Ayre 9 assts) at the UN, John Cain Arena. Crowd: 6,042

Apr 18

Content, unless otherwise indicated, is © copyright Boti Nagy.